2014: most about me, a bit about others

Where was I? What did I do?

January – I was on Block Island, which is where I am living most of the time. Lots of snow, storms, wind, then stillness, the island is cold and starkly beautiful.

Turn up High Street - view
on High Street

I got started on two big projects that have emerged while living here. The first was sounding out the Senior Advisory Committee and the Library and Recreation Committees about my plan to create a U3A [university of the third age] in Block Island, so that the many interest groups that exist can be found by all and sundry, communication and interest for all. The second was a resurrection of the Emotional Education classes I had enjoyed so much while teaching in Edinburgh. I dug in to my computer files and learned to Power Point so I could get going with a series of talks here through the winter. That started with “What is Emotional Education”? I gave these with the support of NAMI BI* and The Wellness Coalition*, and I have somehow managed to become part of each of these Boards. These activities continue.

Sea glass - mostly from Ballards - now I can feel more charitable about all the summer partying that happens there.
Sea glass – mostly from Ballard’s – now I can feel more charitable about all the summer partying there.

February much the same as above, more bird walks, windy and wild beach walks, some of it very cold.

March – still snow on the ground, then melt, then more snow flurries.

snow and sand
snow and sand

The bicycle has been hibernating. Not so the birds, I am becoming more and more interested in their varieties and habits, and join the Crazy as a Coot birdwalkers every couple of weeks, so I am learning a bit too.

April Block Island Poetry Project always meets in April, meeting of friends and new people to know. Photos to be taken, lines to be written. The tips of trees are turning green, it is Rory’s birthday, she is 10 already. She is affectionate and lively, I give her all the sea-glass to make jewellery. I began working with Socha to create the NAMI BI summer program of talks – aim to educate and inform about mental illness and recovery, how families and communities matter.

May – another birthday for me, I returned to Edinburgh this year for May. When I look back over my blog posts, it would seem that I also returned to the political rant mode. In contrast, my memory says I had a great time with Neill, saw Mary and other friends, went over to Ireland to see Irene and Veronica, and from there to London for a weekend with Sheila before returning to Block Island. Far too brief a visit, but I was lucky to coincide with the date of Alan and Judy’s anniversary/70th birthday Party (but missed coinciding with David’s 70th end of June). These are the days to remember that gladden my heart, so many good friends and colleagues with whom  to spend time.

I don’t always say it, but as I spend time in different places, I am always missing those who are somewhere else. And I wish I had more time for individual catching up.

IMG_5124
with Irene and the alpacas at North Light Fibres

June July August – Block Island summer season, Irene came to stay.

The NAMI BI summer talks happened. So did all the other stuff, like walking and swimming and cycling and barbecuing and being with others, the working population too stressed, the tourist population too crazy, the retired too tired some days but keeping going.

Fiona, Ruby and Rory
Fiona, Ruby and Rory

I think I am wondering where the time went, not just the summer, the life-time. Grand-daughters Fiona and Ruby both had summer jobs, another double -take, where did baby-girl time go? In August I gave a talk: “The Roots of Prejudice”. One effect of working to prepare it was the beginning of a disconnect that continues, that between being happy and fortunate and at the same time being aware and angry about how utterly messed up the world has become with its drones and damage and political nightmares intruding on so many lives. Surely we could do better? We are all in it, and we do not do well enough.

September brought all the excitement of preparation for the Scottish Referendum on Independence and the excitement of preparation for a month’s visit to Guangzhou.

Everything you can think of for sale. Note Walmart in the background.
Everything you can think of for sale. Note Walmart in the background.
IMG_5424
Ali and Louis, and a table top pool game

I was airborne when the referendum vote took place so I did not have to worry about my despair re wanting to agree with all the good things the YES Scotland lot said, disagreeing with the status quo camp and their arrogance, but at the same time utterly certain that nationalist independence is just not the way for a progressive fairer world to go. Regular readers will know I want ONE WORLD with lots of distributed collaborative countries, communities and cultures recognizing, acknowledging and celebrating all the goodnesses in difference.

Again, I just find myself missing Donal and Cindy and my grandsons so very much, I will have to visit again soon or persuade them to come to Block Island next summer! Now that it is winter here, the time difference is 13 hours ahead, I keep forgetting to phone at the OK time of their day.

October, November December… and so the year nears its end. I returned to Block Island mid-October, I had missed a memorial service for Joya. I had already missed services in Ireland for Sally (my cousin) and Jean (a friend from schooldays) and maybe others the grapevine has not told me of. I hear of a beginning: Amy and Matt in Edinburgh now have a daughter, Seren. When will I get to meet her? (Best wishes)

Halloween, more bird-walking, Thanksgiving (now my favourite celebration), a couple or three of birthdays, and soon it will be Christmas. I have re-started the BI writers group. I have been to hear Carols in English and in Spanish, and a guitar/flute carol concert. This island is a talented place. And full of love. I see Fiona and Ruby and Rory at least once a week!

IMG_5834

I have had a pretty good fulfilling 2014.

Thanks also to Virginia Dare for allowing me to share the song below: Requiem. The song was written by Eliza Gilkyson for those who suffered tsunami, earthquake and hurricane devastation in 2004/5. If you like listening, go to Virginia’s website to buy her CD of songs from around the world to Mary. Virginia says she created the CD as Mary is compassion personified. I had trouble choosing just one song from her collection to offer for 2014.

*NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI BI is an affiliate, a non-profit local organization that works to bring mental health services to the island, to educate residents about mental illness, and to provide support for families of persons with mental illness.

*The Wellness Coalition is established through grant money from the Federal Government and managed by the State of Rhode Island. With a part-time co-ordinator, a student assistance counselor, and volunteers [like me] from the various sections of the community,  the coalition aims to provide the Block Island Community with programs, interventions and support around drug and alcohol addiction. It reminds me of “community education” and “youth work” from long ago. We have a lot of fun on the way, taking part in organizing trips for the middle grades in school, the Halloween party, the school dance, the play production, as well as other stuff.

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