Thursday, September 13, 2018

Returning Home

Today was one of those days of laundry and catching up with my St. John's Life. And exhaustion.

I've taken on two long road trips this past summer and maybe that wasn't so wise of me. A lot of driving.

However, the other side of me thinks this is a good thing, to still be semi-active, not as much as I'd like, of course, but savouring the sweetness of life. Particularly beautiful Newfoundland. I never tire of the scenery and here are a few samples:
The Architecture of Trinity

I spotted this man painting his extraordinary shed, more delicious architecture, again in Trinity, I was desperately trying to get that can of paint on the ground in the picture:

We stayed in Eastport also, the beach was breathtaking, my friend is a speck in the distance in this picture and she's going to enlarge it and put it on her bedroom wall.

And finally, Salvage. An artist's paradise.

The great news is that I am newly inspired, freshly minted in fact, with many wonderful events and projects about to unfold. More on that later.

Once I catch my breath.




Wednesday, September 05, 2018

We Count Blessings


A dear friend has come to stay, one with her own health challenges.

We are heading off today to points northish.

A Grand Tour.

Of Trinity
Of Twillingate
Of Fogo.
Of Eastport.

Much theatre is scattered in there. And if we can manage wee hikes we will do so. Sticks and stones.

Weather is spectacular today. But we pack books to read. And an excellent coffee.

I have found her visit here so far has been about blessings, good fortune and contentment.

I will post when I return.

Write amongst each other for now.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Septemberember

No, that's not a typo. An acquaintance self-published a book. Without formal editing. Five years ago. About women's lives, which is beside the point for this post. Very few men I have read and indeed have known intimately, know very little about women's lives and heartbreakingly to me, don't want to know. But that's another post entirely.

Unfortunately he wrote about the month of Septemberember frequently as he was a schoolteacher (I know) for many years. He also performed insane things to other words, particularly place names which made the stumbling reading of it a headache but generated guilty laughter amongst us wannabe literatis as the writer is extraordinarily pompous and self-important.

To get back to Septemberember, even now as I type it, spell check alerts me a "WTF is this word, numbskull?"

It has become the family name for this most poignant of months, the end of summer, the colours of fall, beginnings for so many students, evaluation of the sweaters in the closet, maybe gloves and caps and where are my good socks and a precis of the summer on everyone's lips, too sunny, too smoky, need rain for the crops.

Septemberember makes it linger. Stretches it out. Keeps us tasting it a bit longer, rolling it around our hopes and dreams as we stoke up our winter expectations and look behind us at the fresh memories of vacations and the love of family and friends and adventures.

As to our writer who gifted us with this word? I've never seen a man more distraught when he discovered the multiple errata in his book, especially Septemberember which he counted at 25 times. He clutched his head as he told me this, being very much a drama queen, moaning his reputation (?) was now ruined and what was he going to do.

Speaking of books, I updated my 2018 list on my sidebar, I am so pleased that one of the upsides of moving to a simpler life is the time it gives me for indulging my voracious and sometimes unsatisfied reading addiction. 2018 is a stellar year for good books for me.

I now leave you with the September song from one of my favourite all time singers.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Domestic Chaos

Given the absence of guests or cleaning woman, I can descend rapidly into my own kind of chaos. My housekeeping is reactive rather than proactive. For instance, I always figure a geographical cure will fix me for once and for all. Downsizing so extremely into a one-bedroom apartment as I have done would be a superb motivator, I thought. A brand new me, organized and ready for anything.

Well, no. In analyzing my behaviour I come to the conclusion that it is a case of not putting stuff back where it belongs when finished with it. I never seem to be "finished" with anything and am highly visual. I like to "see" items - my knitting, my wools, my books on the unread shelf, my clothes, my shoes, my food.

Now to the clothes. A purge is desperately needed. I made a "rule" for myself many years ago that if not worn in a year it gets donated. Also one item comes in and another gets donated. The latter formula has been neglected so my closet needs to be investigated thoroughly and dealt with. I have (unfortunately) a rather large bathroom and I use a clothes rack there to dry some of my more vulnerable items rather than throwing them in one of the communal dryers. I deal with those only when under threat of a visitor, it is far to easy to walk around them and think, oh yeah, well tonight. Tonight never comes. I have a toolkit in my hall that I can't seem to find a home for. Drives me a little batty as I step around it and shake my head. And unhung pictures are still an issue though shrinking a little in quantity.
I do keep the kitchen relatively tidy as it is small and awkwardly designed. For instance there is an enormous built in pantry which in concept you'd think would be just great for everything foody. But in practice it's another story entirely. Note the sets of shelves on the left (I brought these from the utility room in my house) as is was just a wide open space for what gawd knows. I have taken it apart several times and bought step-shelves to go on the right-side shelves but I've never seen such a poorly designed space. I may have to break down and get someone to install pull out wire drawers so it could hold everything in an organized but visual way. There is a serious lack of counter-space and only one sink. We take our double sinks for granted don't we? I did. So dirty dishes left lying around can impact the tiny space in the kitchen making of me an (almost) instant washer-upper.

Joanna, my cleaning woman, my saviour, was here yesterday and did the needful: dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and counter-shines.

Into every life should fall a reassuring Joanna, garrulous but now under control somewhat, a woman who takes pride in bringing order to domestic upheaval.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fraud

Credit Card Fraud

My visa card is mine alone. Safe in my wallet. I am cautious with on-line shopping. I check vendors carefully. I've only ever had it abused once and that was a clerk at a Self-Storage unit in Toronto who ran up a few thousand dollars on it five minutes after I left her office but the good news was that she was arrested and charged.

Imagine my shock today when my comfort zone was rudely interrupted when all these euro charges from Brussels, Belgium showed up on my statement. How on earth can this happen? Individually the amounts are not enough to be suspicious but overall they add up to a significant number. I imagine a large cartel of unscrupulous wankers selling off hoards of such numbers grabbed from goddess knows where. Abe books? Walmart on line? Itunes?

Credit card fraud cost the US 16 billion dollar in 2016. No numbers exist for Canada though at one point I believe it was nudging close to 2 billion dollars.

Meanwhile all my fraudulent charges are suspended, the Visa fraud unit is on top of it all and I'll be getting a new card in 10-15 days.

A time consuming business for me today, I logged a couple of hours between the bank, being put on hold for multiple personnel at visa, and taking a verbal oath that all I said was true, etc. I spent a fair whack of that time wondering when, where and how the breach occurred.

Anyone else out there with a fraud story?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ruminations 2


See Ruminations 1

But also see this previous post

What kind of world is it when yesterday someone I love was threatened with rape and death countless times (she stopped counting at 500) for posting the simple, scientific and biological fact of "Women don't have penises."

I had written a very long follow-up post to my previous one. But I'm not going to bother posting it.

Suffice to say is I only have one question for those who believe that being a woman is just a feeling:

Can you describe what that feeling is without resorting to stereotypes?

Please. I am serious.

The women with penises brigade and their supporters don't want to engage in any serious and respectful debate. Instead they spew hateful and murderous threats. It is absolutely frightening.

And yes, I know, just like #notallmen #notalltrans. But only 10% of trans have SRS. And are raised with all that masculine privilege affords them. And FYI: there were trans in my inner circle in Toronto.

I offer you this one insanity without comment, there are hundreds of others: an abused woman in a Toronto Women's Shelter.

Women have been colonized and oppressed for far too long. We need our safe spaces. Desperately. Including our girls. In a restaurant recently I was asked by a dad holding his little daughter's hand outside the washroom was it safe for her. Dear Goddess. We have come to this.

As to my beloved, the matter was reported to the police who announced they could do nothing in a world of free speech. Death threats are free speech. This is how women get murdered in Canada when they complain about restraining orders being ignored.

I'm too old for this shyte.

Loud and proud: The emperor wears no clothes.

/30


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Fine Art of Dying


I will come back and write a followup on my post "Ruminations" shortly. And please, can we all be civil? If you knew me you'd know how tolerant and loving I am and I know that my readers are the same. I like to believe that no one is hating on anyone, particularly on the marginalized in our society of which there are far too many.

Meanwhile one of my stories is up at As Time Goes By and for those long term readers: you will recognize the protagonist from previous posts (2014). She is still beloved. And she still makes me smile when I think of her, especially when I walk by a framed needlepoint she gave me many years ago which hangs in my kitchen but it breeches my anonymity so I can't post a pic.

Those are some of my birthday flowers above. My friends and wee family are treasures. Treasures I tell ya! More on that fabulous surprise party later.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Ruminations


“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

― Margaret Atwood

On the love between women: "A certain tenderness, a certain reciprocity, not having to make allowances for the male compulsion and fundamental sense of superiority. What man doesn't have it? Gay men included."

- May Sarton

“Many women, I think, resist feminism because it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships.”

- Andrea Dworkin

For a couple of years Daughter tracked the number of women killed by their partners in Canada. It was difficult, traumatizing work but no one else was doing it. Police records are not helpful. Most of it is classified under "domestic incident", with the victims' names erased. She had to give it up as it was too painful and heartbreaking. Every 6 days in Canada a woman or girl is murdered by those who purportedly love them. These victims are not commemorated in any way. She wanted to start a wall of remembrance in her town rather than the planned wall/monument/hallelujah gizmo honouring another dead male soldier. The soldier won. They always do.

This inherent male violence still has the power to startle me. A male blogger, who projects an image of gentleness and compassion, was accosted recently by a female neighbour, one he dislikes, and his immediate reactive desire (not acted upon, thank heaven) was to punch her in the head "until her eyes popped out."

And yes, I know #notallmen - but that is not the point. Where are the #notallmen condemning their violent misogynistic brothers? ( PS they don't, reference an intense conversation I had on weekend with two good male friends).

Furthermore, I am getting so sick and tired of female statistics now being skewed by "transwomen" who are invading female bathrooms, jails, police cells, locker rooms and women's shelters and along with raping their victims and intimidating little girls insist on being called "women" while us born women are labelled "cis". Not to mention competing in women's athletics and winning trophies. And seriously, if you're trans, live long and prosper, but please keep your penised presence away from our most vulnerable spaces. And realize, please, you have absolutely no idea of what it is to have lived a woman's experience in this world. None. Stilettos and makeup and push up bras and the lipper and slap is all we are? Stereotype much? Seriously?

All I've ever wanted for myself and other women is liberation, to be who we want to be without the inherent underlying threat of male violence and control and now, goddess help us, we've admitted it to our most personal and private spaces.

And don't get me started on how most seem to conflate gender and sex.

That's another post entirely.









Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wildfires


The smoke from the wildfires in BC and California (the Pacific ocean) has spread across Canada to our island of Newfoundland (the Atlantic ocean), affecting our weather.

Here's a map of the BC fires.

Here's a map of Canada

We are over 7,000 km away from these fires (see distance from Vancouver on our west coast to St. John's on the east coast).

That's over 4,350 miles.

We have entered the zone of the 4 Cs = Constant Chaos of Climate Change.





Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Jewel of a Day

Yesterday, Daughter and I and an Ontario friend who spends the summers here hung out for the day.


First of all, we went to the Mad Rock Cafe, a treasure of a place well off the beaten path. They serve the best toutons in Newfoundland. And also the best fishcakes. Believe me you haven't lived until you have eaten these fresh made treasures with lashings of molasses.


The day was glorious and the chat was mighty. We then headed to Cupids where the summer Perchance Theatre was in session. We saw "Our Eliza". And were blown away by both the script and the cast. Daughter and I were sobbing at the end, a truly powerful play about the dynamics between a demanding father, played by Greg Malone and his caretaking daughter, played by Allison Moira Kelly.

In that way of Newfoundland and as I know Greg slightly, I met up with him afterwards to chat. He told me he drew his devastating "father" from his own father. We also chatted about his last book, "Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders" a remarkable recounting of the story of Newfoundland, which I read from cover to cover as it reads like a novel.

And lastly - a picture of the town of Cupids I took a few years back, pre theatre and heritage centre days.


All in all a truly splendid day.








Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Today's Photos

I love the security of books on my headboard. Some are library, some are from Grandgirl and some from Daughter. All unread. Luxury.


Looking out my window right now I see this faithful son bringing goodies to his mama. I love the contrast of tough biker vs the pastries in the bag.


A very dear friend, now since passed at well over 90, painted me this when I was very ill one time. It goes everywhere with me and is right beside my computer corner.


And in today's mail - my new swimsuit. There are many pools around me now and aquafitness sessions so I'm going to give it a bash. Mail ordering is the bomb.

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Factory

I joke that when I am knitting small items on consignment for some tourist type outlets I speak of the factory in session.

Well, it has been.

When I had finished all of these I thought not to offend delicate sensibilities so typed up an explanatory card for those puzzled by such acronyms as follows:

WTF: Where's The Fish?

FFS: For Fish Sake.

OMG: Oh My Goodness.

Here are a few samples of my wares:

As I was packing up both these and my cards (and so many of my cards have been sold I have very few remaining) I thought to myself - I haven't aired out my real camera since Ansa died so I immediately charged it up. It's time for some new cards and poems. I will leave it in my car and use it for some local sights and sounds in my beautiful city and possibly find some new markets.

There is no greater thrill to me than selling works of my own creation.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Sweet and Sour

The world is in a frightful mess I think. When I allow myself to think.

I'm avoiding my newsfeeds. I just don't want to know how Trump is going to get his way again, how he will evade justice, how he will have his slavering mobs adore him as he screams Fake News! It sours up my life and I'm too old for this shyte.

I retweet the odd item. I disengaged from Facebook until the fall. But I really don't miss it.

I meditate daily. Today's was refreshing in that it reminded me that the world is a chaotic place, always has been. We fancy ourselves as bringing order to everything but we just can't. Not even to our bodies where rogue cancer cells may lurk ready to careen around our internal hidden corridors or alternately block our veins and arteries and squeeze our heart until it fails.

So in a Barbara Bushy way I realize that I need to think pretty thoughts. So I started up my little knitting factory again (my stuff really sells well). To start I made a lovely little shawlette for my sister who has her first and long awaited grandgirl of her very own now. So I incorporated herself, her husband, her four adult children and her darling grandgirl into the shawlette. I get hot looking at it (it is scorching out her on The Rock and in Ireland) but in winter it will be welcome when all this heat is behind us.



I will share the other products later before I ship them off to the shop for sale. I believe y'all may enjoy them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Comfort of Lunacy


I've mentioned before I have this kind of face. Total strangers come up to me and confide secrets:sadness, joy and everything in between.

I was at the deli section of my local grocery story today. I love how delis have adapted to aging single people. Love how I can get a 1/2 cooked chicken for $5. Local and kinda organic too. I wonder about their demise as chicken catcher jobs are frequently advertised in the local papers. I envision these lithe young people hoisting butterfly nets and chasing unwilling birds around the green fields of our enormous local chicken farm giving me the illusion of chickens with a sporting chance of escape. But I digress.

This old man stood beside me and asked me how my eyes were. I said grand. He asked me to read him some labels off the 1/2 price deli items. I obliged. It truly astonishes me the number of old people I know who refuse to wear their glasses or have inadequate contact lenses. I read for them a lot. Large store banners, worrisome traffic signs, library book spines, etc. But I digress again.

OM: Oh I could tell you my life story.
Me: Really? (not really interested, want to get home)
OM: I used to be a train driver on the Newfoundland Railways.
Me: Seriously? (I love railways, old abandoned, spanking new, riding the rails has been a joyful part of my life, he's got me)
OM:Yes, I was a train driver for 35 years, could tell you the names of all the little stations on the route. And then I was a worker here in Sobey's, a meat cutter for 25 years. See I know all the people in the butchering department (and he waves at them). I was forced to retire at 65, not too long ago. I loved my job.
Me:Interesting life indeed (having done the math on his life, I realized he was around 5 when he took over the trains of Newfoundland).
OM: You don't know the half of it. I also played banjo with Great Big Sea and I was featured on CBC with these artistic key rings.

And without a pause, he hauls out of his pockets a series of shortened bicycle chains with small key rings attached to their ends.

OM:See, they're works of art. Individual pieces. A lot of work. After the CBC show I sold 10,000 of them.
Me: Oh well done! Now my husband's waiting for his supper so I have to leave you, goodbye!




Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rear View Mirror


An old journal survived in another box. From well over 30 years ago. I don't know does anything good come out of this sorting through old crap thing at all. I started reading it and it was so compulsive I didn't stop until half way through and found myself teetering on the edge of an abyss.

I realized I was reading about an undiagnosed nervous breakdown I had. It was awful stuff. Heartbreaking too. Do all of us suffer, in the past, from such dark nights of the soul/spirit? I frankly don't know how I survived as I wrote about suicide and death so frequently and I was still in my thirties. Briefly: I had unexpectedly got fired from a career position. At the same time my former husband was having an affair and missing from home frequently. One of my kids had quit school and was on drugs. I was flat broke, pennies in the bank, no energy even to lift the phone and hire a labour lawyer as my self esteem was in the toilet. I can tell from the writing how I had rejected friendships, anyone reaching out to me. I must have been a one note samba, full of lament and hopelessness. Everyone stopped calling and that's how I wanted it. Isolation, fear, poverty. I certainly didn't let my family of origin know - in hindsight probably a very good thing - and I was nursing a seriously infected leg without medical attention. And oh yes, drinking heavily. I must have been an alarming sight. Well to anyone showing up on my doorstep and actually seeing me for I didn't answer my door. Or my phone. Or open my mail.

My father arrived in the midst of all this unbelievable mess. He never showed how distressed he was. He asked to see my leg. I cried at him: no doctors, no hospital and he showed me how to treat it with salt and sunshine. He assured me it wasn't cancer (my mother had malignant melanoma and died after multiple amputations, I was sure I was following in the same path). He took me out for walks every night, long walks along rivers and lakes and on one weekend to the art gallery in Kleinburg to look at Group of Seven paintings for hours. I had forgotten all of this. He must have been disturbed and scared at my condition but he never let on. By action and deed he showed me he was on my side.

My leg healed with a big scar. My mind took another couple of years before I was good and ready to deal with my alcoholism.

Last night I couldn't sleep (and I sleep well today and for many, many years) as my thoughts raced over again and again that absolutely awful, terrifying time when I felt death nudging at my door every hour of the day and I would succumb to the cold comfort of that bottomless pit of hopelessness and despair.

Sometimes we need to glance briefly in the rear view mirror but staring in it for too long can be a very dangerous visit to the dark side.

Can anyone relate?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Memento Mori


I thought I had destroyed all mementos of the relationship. Truly. I did that with most of my romantic history. A few photos remain, maybe. But all letters and emails and tokens of a once seemingly profound and everlastin' love were tossed, burned or otherwise disposed of.

I don't know whether I regret this or not. I believe there is something oddly pathetic about clutching dried roses and love-cards to one's bosom in old age. As if that was all that mattered about one's life when there is so much more. Often in solitude but also involving deep and abiding friendships.

Anyway, this fell out of a box of photos, don't know why it survived because the other 27 were destroyed I think, but I'll tell you the story behind it. I was away for a month in Ireland. But before I left, my lover handed me a package of sealed notes, one for every day of the month I would be away.

It was 1997. And yes, he was my last great love.

Well, its Tuesday
I wonder where you'll be
I wish I was there with you seeing you do your party pieces, hearing you sing, enjoying the vitality, the fun, the warmth, the excitement.
I'll be missing you terribly.
But I know you'll soon be coming back and I have all the wonderful memories
of moments shared
magical feelings
incredible passion
but above all the joy and peace of mutual love.
H.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Vox Arboribus (The Voice of Trees)

On the same day I receive an email from a friend:
"Wanted to share this with you. I’m a willow, I spread many roots, have a tangle of branches that dance in the wind, more leaves light and airy than most which suits me fine, in spring my colour is lime like, just in time to fall I silver ever so slightly and occasionally I’m not afraid to say I am a weeping willow! What tree be you my friend? Today I friended a sugar maple, a poplar and a silver birch!"

From a previous post:
"So Lana, upstairs in the cabin, made friends with this enormous tree outside of one of her windows. She'd come down in the mornings and tell me about the movements of the tree, how it was reacting to the sun (light and shadow, ever changing) and how the rustling sound of it soothed her thoughts and kept her present in the moment. The tree was speaking to her every day."

I texted Lana this:
"When we have learned how to listen to trees,” Hermann Hesse wrote in contemplating what our arboreal companions can teach us about belonging and life, “then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.”

This is one of the pines outside my window. She applauds the weather every day, no matter what dance the wind demands. She trails fog tendrils in her branches, peeking through them on misty mornings. We whisper to each other on soft, still nights.

I Would be a Pine.

I wouldn't be an oak
Or a maple or a larch.
Nor beech nor chestnut
Underneath an arch.

The willow or birch
Are just not me
The pine, now the pine
Is a friend to me.

Strong and green
The whole year through.
Hardy and constant
And prickly too.

Her scent wafts upwards
Then down to the ground
Her branches host juncoes
The whole year 'round.

Her cones burn brightly
In fires red and blue
Her loyal stout heart
Is constant and true.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Home from Home

I have a couple of dear friends out here. I met him not long after I moved here permanently and subsequently met his wife. They live up a hill in the town where I was resident for 14 years and their gorgeous homey place became like a second home to me. She is a marvellous cook. Their dog Salty was great friends with my beloved Ansa. Salty was and remains a total gentleman. When Ansa arrived he would immediately cede his bed, his toys and his food to her and just about genuflect when he passed her. She was a very humble dog by nature, totally non-aggressive, and would take his grovelling overtures with a slight sense of entitlement and then turn her back on him as she enjoyed his treats. This courtship gave us a vast amount of amusement.

I spent the night out there last night and we chatted till 3 in the morning, dissecting politics and world news, meandering into provincial and then into local and family politics. They are very well read and have keen analytical minds. I am included in their family gatherings and feel utterly blessed that they are like a brother and sister to me.

I am always at a loss as to how to gift them so I make or create things for they break the outer limits of generosity to me always.


I made this shawlette for C and called it after the spectacular sunsets of my former town. She was over the moon.

Here it is being blocked:


I brought B beautiful potted plants for outside. He loves his garden.


I brought Salty sausages, his favourite kind.


I slept in their tiny luxurious guest room on one of those high beds that you float into and then fall asleep instantly. I don't think I've ever known such an incredible bed.

We had sorted our worlds out both global and local and were much satisfied.

And I was completely spoiled.




Thursday, July 19, 2018

Catch & Release

A lovely shot of Grandgirl as we sat on the Southside Hills of St. John's.

Time dribbles away from me. I couldn't seem to get much of anything done. Living in a fugue of disappointment in myself. I decided to make some changes. Small. How on earth do I manage time more successfully and not feel I had "wasted" it even though I'd have 2,000 words written or a piece of knitting completed or a book read. I couldn't seem to get a handle on it at all, to feel satisfied instead of this miasma of dissatisfaction and a sense of failure and disorganization.

And in the past few days, after a few Tao meditations the answer came.

What I have found successful in the distant past and subsequently abandoned was the timer system.

So what I've been doing is timing my activities, or I should say adding a timer to my days. For instance in the mornings after meditation and reflection and gratitude, I read for 30 minutes. Then I knit for an hour (a great way of thinking also). Then I do an hour of dreaded housework and I find it's not shirked anymore. I can get a lot done in an hour of housework in my apartment, putting away laundry, bagging up the detritus that Grandgirl left behind for her mother, doing the morning dishes, sorting out clothes for this weekend as I'm away overnight for part of it, tidying up the bathroom - I had not only 2 staying here for nearly 2 weeks but 3 staying here last weekend: you can't imagine the havoc this creates in a hermit's life! Then I sorted all the lovely haphazard cards and notes I've received this year and displayed them nicely. You catch the drift.

My free creative time is now so I blog and then am going to design a shawlette for my sister as my next project.

For the first time in ages I feel I'm on top of my time and my enjoyment level of my life has risen dramatically.

I highly recommend it to others who tend to fritter and fooster as I did and have this sense of unease and failure.

I may need reminders of this post.