Thursday, December 18, 2014

Together


I get more charge out of spring, more bang out of the changing amber colours of autumn.

No, I'm not a Christmas fan. And truth to tell, never have been. In that way of things I made up for my lack of enthusiasm when my children were small. I'd have loads of people in, gallons of drink and food, hundreds of gifts stacked up against the blinking lights of the tree. And I'd still feel empty and try and fill the emptiness with alcohol, feeling defective and wondering what the eff was wrong with me anyway. As if all could be resolved and I'd be happy and jolly if only I could find the right button to push within myself.

Years later now and I do have the answer. I don't join in the merrymaking hysteria around me, the carts pouring out of Walmart and Costco loaded down with Chinese tat, grumpy, cranky faces at the helm, glaring at the world. Yeah, that was me. I can relate.

Now it's all very simple. Grandgirl has flown out here to the edge for 8 days and we (Daughter, Grandgirl, me, Ansa the dog and Sam the cat) will just spend it quietly, mainly in front of the fires in each others' places. Exchanging meaningful small gifts on Solstice and just hanging.

Together.

Together is such a powerful word.


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Imagine No Possessions



I think the most beautiful version of this song is by Eva Cassidy, who died far, far too young. Much like John Lennon himself. I've always found it somewhat ironic that John Lennon would write about no possessions, etc. when he was so incredibly wealthy. But there you go. We aspire. We all aspire.

Which is all in the way of saying that I am simplifying even more. I'm looking at the artifacts, the sentimental artifacts like china tea services (2 full sets) Waterford crystal tchotchkes - far too much, glasses, bowls, jugs. Platters, casseroles. You know. Glassware for vast parties of cocktailites with pinky fingers lifted. I've no idea why all this stuff surrounds me, still holding the spirits of long-dead aunts and grandparents and parents (the gifters). It seems like there was a world where all this was important but no more.

I take the bling out for an airing at my annual Nollaig Na mBan and then back it goes again into sundry cupboards to entertain the spiders for another year. It has to go. I'm a bit too distracted to start ebaying or kiijiiing, the bubble-wrapping and running to the post office would drive me mad.

So I wrap and box and wonder why the hell this stuff has trailed me around to so many houses over the years. Became this unwanted liability, this deadweight of possessions choking me.

I saw a post from a friend about lightening herself of possessions. 10 a day for 100 days. Just 10. And the thought appealed. And I've started to evaluate everything in my life.

And I know exactly where all the books are going.

Now the movies are nudder story.....but I may have the solution for that too.....

Any hints or thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Joys of the Simple Life


Daughter gave me a bread maker. I'd always wanted one but couldn't justify the cost. My wrists are the weakest part of me and kneading dough was always a challenge, so I'd make my Irish soda bread and leave yeasty concoctions to professional bakers.

See, she had this rather nice one she'd used before she became gluten-free for health reasons. It's hard to believe these kind of machines exist. They do ALL the work. You just measure out all the ingredients and put them into the unit in order. And push a button.

I can't tell you what this means to me. The scent of baking bread filling up the house fills up my soul.

I'm a pioneer woman, making her own yogurt and jams and breads.

There's no stopping me now.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Bravery, thy name is Ansa


My dog is getting very old.

Oh lawd.

According to the people she was taken from, she will be 16 in January. Extreme old age for a mainly border collie mixed with a vast unknown canine gene pool.

Arthritis, cataracts, poor old dear. Every morning, I give her a low-dosage aspirin for the arthritis. The stairs are becoming a huge challenge for her. It breaks my heart.

I've trained her to never go in front of me and to wait for commands when it comes to the stairs.

But these commands fail us badly when it comes to those stairs. Today, she fell down them again as she tried to go up and landed safely in the lower hall. She will not go ahead of me up the stairs even when I raise my voice.

I've got mats everywhere so she staggered up from her fall and went off to her downstairs bed and I went about my business upstairs only to find her curled up in her bed in my bedroom when I came out of the utility room. She had silently followed me up, in spite of the fall. Her love/protection of me outweighs her fears every single time.

It terrifies me that she will do serious harm to herself one of these days. She is smart enough for a "slow" command as she would always race down the stairs. Now she comes down slowly as she's also tripped coming down. I wait for her at the bottom, my heart pounding.

She still greets every day with joy, eats well and is continent even though she's drinking more water than usual.

In the moment: that's my girl.

As we all need to be.
In spite of.
Because of.

She has taught me so much.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Outport Stories


There's this couple. Nobody likes to visit them as he is an angry old bastard, pushing 90 and his emotional baggage could knock you sideways.

I'm a CFA* so I don't have any kind of history with them but his niece, who avoids him, filled me in. He calls me now and again and if I can spare the hour, I visit Denis.

Twenty years ago, he built this house, a truly lovely spot overlooking the bay, a long, long ranch of a log house, finished in polished wood inside, a house built for great parties with white leather sofas and a big roary fire and a dining room full of hand carved pieces. Except no one would ever come to those parties.

He's tried to sell the place for 4 years but he was so nasty to deal with purchasers ran.

He and his American wife retired here, his place of birth, from Boston where he had a successful construction business but, according to him, he was run out of Boston by the mafia, he had inadvertently married into a Mafioso family. According to him, as I said. And he was unwilling to pay them "commission" on his sales.

Within three months of coming home to live, he banished the wife and took up with his girlfriend of forty years before who moved into his house when the bed was still warm from the wife. He tells me that the wife (the mother of his children) was a b****.

In that way of karma, the new partner, Ellen, has been most unhappy for about 19-1/2 of those years but had sold up her own place in anticipation of the Great Romance and had nowhere to return to.

So there they are, the house was sold ("it was an insult, that price," he says to me) and he was selling all the contents and moving down to Boston to an apartment because "the b**** had poisoned all their children against him." And he needed to fix it. "Good luck with that, pal," I thought.

Ellen told me when he went off to the bathroom that in spite of the fact he thinks she's going to move to Boston with him, she's not. Her daughter is picking her up on the closing date of the house - a week from now - and she's riding off in the sunset with her. "This separation was a long time coming," she says.

Then apropos of nothing really, she fetches a box and out pours all these documents.

"21 birth certificates," she says to me, "Me and my sisters and brothers."

My only reaction to this kind of history, and I've seen so much of it here and in Ireland is: "Oh my gawd, your poor mother!"

She started to cry.

"21 children in 22 years," she said, tears pouring down her cheeks, "And dead from kidney failure after she delivered her last at the age of 46."

"What happened to you all?" and I'm crying too.

"Farmed out everywhere, the eldest was a new bride herself and raised 4 of us including me but our father took off for the Boston States and we never saw him again."

Women are and were such disposable grow-bags for the patriarchal RC church starting with the ban on contraception and proscribing alternative forms of sexual expression.

Around the many fires of my childhood I'd be unobtrusively tucked in a corner, and would overhear the women chat about sex and how awful it was (we'd call it rape today) but that "it was his right and the priest wouldn't like it if I refused."

What a truly grim business it was then. Not to mention the fear of another pregnancy.

Our foremothers were the unsung real heroes.


*Come-From-Away

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hold Still. Do Nothing.


One of those things that's hard to believe. I've always had dead straight hair. I envied my little sister's curls, the most curly hair you could possibly imagine. One of my daughters inherited it. Neither of Sister's daughters did. They got mine, straight and true. And then, yesterday morning, I wake up with curly hair. So many curls that at our annual card party last night everyone remarked on my "gorgeous perm". I didn't explain it wasn't a perm, as I knew it would sound like a lie but magic. It's still curly today. Me like. Lots.

My mind wanders down weird alleyways. I was wondering what would be the last smell of someone's life? It must be awful if you're in hospital and inhaling cabbage/antiseptic/urine/faeces/floor polish/bleach as your very last breath. Something so sad about that. When it should be lavender. The ocean spray. A good curry. Wild roses. A baby. I warned you I was weird.

I was out and about in a cardigan today so it looks like the freakish winter of last year is giving us a pass. Very mild, a few cold nights but on the whole back to our normally mild early winter. We usually don't get snow until February. Fingers crossed for a green December.

I was practising going around without any money on me. I know. Weird again. An experiment. And people, seriously, kept giving me money. I was asked over to a house as Commissioner of Oaths (I know, me, hysterical, right?) and the couple stuck $20 in my pocket for witnessing some papers. And then last night at the party, as everyone "knows I don't drink otherwise it would have been a bottle" I was given $50 as part of the card playing "profit-sharing" plan. The organizers have now converted the normal annual donation to the church as an annual benefit split amongst the card players. The RC church threw the seniors out on the street over a year ago when they closed the parish hall (land donated and built free by residents) and put it up for sale. We now have a new town hall, town owned and operated, a truly lovely space, and everyone is delighted. And next, this morning, the post mistress comes over from across the bay and buys 6 of my cards for $20. So within a day or two I have $90 without lifting a finger.

This could have something to do with my brand new curly head, you think? Magic.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Birthday Blues


Building to a crescendo in December
Each morning pierces a remember
The golden child, the laughing face
The quick wit, the stunning grace.

Happy birthday darling girl, wherever you are, whatever you are, whoever you are.

You are cherished and loved and missed so much.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Tribe


Sunset at Holyrood Pond - Newfoundland.

Once upon a time I decided to do something about my drinking, known as "The Failing" where I come from. The Failing was an exclusive classification given to drunken old priests in large stone mansions with a doddery old housekeeper cleaning up after them. Or a gawd-luv-'im bank manager soaking his braincells to mush every night in the pub while his wife and childer hid behind the curtains, starving and waiting for another smashup of the remaining sticks of furniture. Status was everything when it came to categorizing these swanky alcoholics.

A drunken woman wouldn't be spoken about in the same breath. She'd deserve a fresh gulp of air and a brand new paragraph full of words like "a drunken slut", or "she should cop herself on" or "her poor suffering husband should leave that terrible wan, the church would give him an annulment for sure, they'd understand."

The old double standard, still rampant to this day I'm sorry to say, especially out on this Rock where women die in droves from untreated alcoholism, too ashamed to make themselves visible in recovery houses or detox centres. Small island, endless gossip syndrome.

I hang around recovered alcoholics. They're my tribe since June 1986.

I've learned a lot about the disease. Yes, much of it is hereditary, some of it can be environmental. You get the old nature vs nurture argument. But the debating society can continue without me. I yam who(m)I yam. Whether it was because of grandparents or aunties having it, I really can't be arsed. I did once. But it's just a distraction from the recovery. The drinking is merely a symptom for all the emotional shyte underneath, festering, needing a regular airing. With those who understand completely.

All I know is if I walk into a function/party/wedding/funeral and one or two or three of my tribe are there we will seek each other out with an ESP that would astonish you and immediately zero in for an often silent hug before we move on.

Why? You might ask.

Because we live in spite of.

When so very many died because of.

My tribe.

My life.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

True Story.


So I was a wee bit sad, a lovely old lady died a week after celebrating her 90th birthday. A blast of a party in the local golf club was that event, band, food, hundreds of guests, full page announcement in the newspaper.

Dying at 90 has an air of jollity about it. Imagine living that long, dying in your own home, a widow for yonks, raising 4 boys just about alone (often slaving over long steel tables gutting fish in a fishplant, feet sloshing around salt water floors) and they're all lawyers and judges. Important fellahs. Job well done, missus.

So I write up my card and fire off my donation to my favourite local charity. I don't believe in BigCorpoCharity. Not one bit. Even if you tell me on the obit to donate to Cancer/Kidney Foundation/MS/Diabetes. I disobey. I will not line the pockets of those CEOs and those marketing fool-tools.

But I digress, for this is a story about how I adjust reality to suit me. Fatal flaw or comic genius? You tell me after you read onwards.

I get to the wake. We have a grandish wake room as an offshoot to the church. It would pass the litmus test of non-sectarian space if it weren't for the Holy Marys crowding the walls and the statue of Saint Joseph doing a bit of carpentry.

So I drop off the card in the little carousel set on a table for this purpsoe and face the corpse. And I think, Mein Gott, she has changed substantially in the week I last saw her. Shrunken, cheeks fallen in, a tinge of yellow on her. Death can wring your neck.

And I sit down next to some friends. And share this. And they tell me she's now 68 lbs, an awful change. And my brain fires off and I think, she must have lost 40lbs in a week, they must have syphoned it out of her and why for gawd's sake?

Marguerite was my next door neighbour for about 10 years until she moved, offers Thomas.

I shake my head and say: I never knew she had another name, I always called her Anne.

Oh, really? says Ruth, baffled, maybe when she moved to your outport she went to her middle name?

Duh, obviously, I think.

Have you met all the family? says Don.

Yeah, I know all four boys, I say, preening slightly. Anne/Marguerite had made a point of introducing me to her 4 sons when they were in town, they are scattered across the country in the judicial systems of various provinces. All good-looking runners too.

That's odd, says Thomas, she has 3 girls and 2 boys.

I can be slow but when I can shove my own reality out of the way in exchange for someone else's I show surprising quick-wittedness.

That is Anne Bishop in the casket? I say, very softly in case anyone's eavesdropping.

Ah no, no. That's Marguerite Ryan, says Thomas, looking at me funny, Anne Bishop's in the church next door.

I reflect: Life was more understandable when I was drinking. Now I have to get up, fish the card off the carousel if I can find it amongst the 100 already there and then, red-faced, walk down this aisle and into the church.

And these poor innocent people, gawd help them, voted me into public office.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bliss

I really don't care what happens to any of my work. Seriously. I'm just having the time of my life writing, writing, writing.

Some of my friends request work to read, I send it on. They comment. I love the feedback. I love when they're touched. But you know? It doesn't matter how anyone 'feels' about it. I'm writing just for me really. If it jells or sticks I'll be happy. If it doesn't, oh next!

The rolling cart containing all the tools of my trade is hauled over in front of the fire every morning. I added hooks for wires and headsets and backup flash and a nice pot of pencils and pens and wee note pads and it's a ready steady go for winter writing and easily shoved out of the way.

I took a break today and went off to an afternoon tea and a lovely performance by a top notch choir. We had a charming time, meaning we had our nice manners and clothes on and were totally charmed in turn. Several of my friends performed and it was all very festive and jolly and the food was delish. And the choir were sequinned which always pleases me. Not the guys though, they looked rather drab but wore nice smiles. And one had a bodhran.

There was a cute song about Mrs. Claus doing all the work behind the scenes keeping her man on track, the unsung busy heroine. It was very well received. And understood.

There's a sprinkle of Christmassy snow on everything. I've always wondered about that, the disconnect of saying it is so Christmassy as the snow laces our trees when Bethlehem was baking in the heat back in the day and Jesus was well, brown, a desert boots kind of guy. He would not have felt at home in snow. Or in Ferguson for that matter.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Reboot

A view from the Tigeen today. Gorgeous November weather.

Thanks for all the support, some private, some commenting on my last post.

I surprised myself by climbing back on the saddle almost immediately and I must say my output has been prodigious in the last while. Two short stories, one brand new and a play sent off for performance in February. Off. Did you hear that? Off.

I do apologise for not visiting all of you as frequently as I did. But amends will be made.

I have to put the head down and novelize in the next wee while as the creative juices have never been better. In quite a long while.

I wish I could bottle it when I feel this engaged with writing and over the hump of personal misery and/or writer's block you know? And give it away for free to all you toiling writers out there.

I decided to move the writer's domain out of the office and into what I call the family room (the old kitchen). I keyboard and edit in front of the fire with a rolling unit that holds printer and laptop and files and binders I can shove out of the way as needs be. It seems to really work quite well. I shut down the Tigeen today. The lowering sun does not charge up the panels in the winter and the outside rain barrel hosepipe to the sink freezes in the frost.

A friend and I are working on a small supplemental wind turbine to provide additional power.

And this, my friends, is what's happening next door. In its third month of digging. The camera can't quite capture the vastness of landscape destruction. I just about cry when I look over. So I won't.





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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Self Doubt

What do you do when self-doubt overwhelms you? Please tell me.

I received one of those letters yesterday. So far I only shared the contents with a friend over dinner. A friend going through her own troubles. Who couldn't offer me anything as she is riddled with SD herself.

I spent a week in September putting all the paperwork together for a grant application, excerpts, letters of reference, past successes. Wads of paper. These Grant Givers don't believe in the interwebz. I was fairly confident I'd get it. It wasn't very much, enough to tide me through final novel completion, editing, first readership feedback, etc.

I didn't expect to be demolished IF they turned me down. Note the big IF. I didn't believe that big IF for a second.

But they did. By letter (quaint, right?). Yesterday. Blah. Blah. I know the drill of these letters.

And yesterday and today I lose the faith and tell myself you are one shitty writer living in fecking fantasy land.

I am way too old to be a starving artist living in a garret reusing my teabag 99 times and fighting the dog for bits of kibble once a day.






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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Raining and Pouring


It has been very mild outside but the lashings of rain are matching my mood.

I've been over-peopled in the last while and desperately needed downtime so I grabbed it today.

I wanted to do mindless for the whole day. I watched Season 2 of The Good Wife and read my latest book and pushed some tiles around virtual Lexulous while looking for sheep farmers on the peninsula as a favour for a journalist friend. I never said my life was dull, did I?Through FB I assembled a whole bunch of sheep farmers, some of whom I know face to face along with their baa-baas (sorry). It's a tough business to be in and the invasion of coyotes - I hear they hang off the ferries to get here and then hide on the trucks on board - has made survival of the lambs an iffy prospect and an enormous challenge for farmers.

Then I get one of those emails, you know the ones that make your heart stop. I hadn't returned a call (I am phone-phobic at the mo) and it turns out the friend who had called is facing a life and death surgery this week and asked another friend to let me know. *hang head*.

It's rough on her and on all out there who face such incredible odds.

And, selfishly, I don't know whether I can take any more of such bits of "news". There should be another word for it.

The penalties of aging.

And yeah, I know, Dad.

You did warn me.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hit and Miss

English Harbour Newfoundland.

In my nearly 10 years of thought plops here I don't think I've neglected my blog for so long. My blog is hurt. One might say our relationship is rocky at best, distant at worse. And in the course of this flagrant disregard I'm neglecting its buddies too.

I hasten to make some amends. I miss all the readings, the debates, the differences of opinion my blogiverse offers.

Busy is a word I dropped from my lexicon. Extremely negative connotations. Not to mention how I overused it in the many years behind me.

It's meaningless and helpless and well, irritating. And I only became aware of it when others, who take on far too much, overuse it. Like I did. As if it were an answer. Well no, it isn't.

OK. My plate hath runneth over with much. Much to celebrate, and much to grieve too.

I was at a wonderful gala with Daughter and a dear friend to celebrate a wee publication. Now that was fun.

And the following day I attended a wonderful convention/retreat where my door ticket won what I thought was a basket full of all those delicious smellies we never buy for ourselves. But no it wasn't that. It was the entire enormous table load covered in goodies like movie passes and books and movies and crystal bowls and homemade scarves and socks and wooden carved treasures. I will photograph it when I lay it all out on my own large dining room table. Solstice arrived in two enormous bags. And I made a new friend. You know how that is when one is young but I am old and I made a new friend. She is nearly old too and rides a Harley and carves wooden treasures and writes. I am talking chronological age not spirit age but you know that.

I was off up north giving workshops and planning more - we are having glorious weather here on the island. Sweater weather. Hiking weather. Clean out the lungs weather. Breathe in and out weather. Gratitude weather I call it. See picture above.

And yes, working away on the writing. And the old muse, my Scriobhnarin comes and goes. But never, ever on my time table. She's aloof that way.

And my wee village is having its first town hall gathering today. I am looking forward to this open forum for presentation of ideas and connection with other residents.

And some dear friends struggle on with their health challenges. All enormous challenges. All of their precious spirits dear to my heart. And I am mindful of them everywhere I go.

I am out and about for four rather than for just me.

I love you all so very much.

Helen, Irene and Dianne.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Diamonds and Stones


I'm back again.

First of all the stone:

We had some nasty stuff happening in CBC Canada - our national partially tax funded broadcaster - when a very popular male host of one internationally popular programme "Q" was outed as a sexual predator par excellence. It turns out he'd been abusing women for nearly thirty years. Horribly. Hitting interns on the head, etc. etc., beating girlfriends around and filming the acts. It has opened up a can of worms for women very rarely seen in this quiet, polite little land of ours. I won't link to all of it here BUT if you Google "Jian Ghomeshi" you will get a shyteload of disgusting and upsetting material. Trigger Warning.

Then the diamond:

It has opened up a dialogue about the rape culture and feminism the likes of which I've never seen before. Women coming forward, like myself, to discuss their own sexual assaults, hidden because of the hopelessness of dragging the cases through court and rarely succeeding and meanwhile wrecking one's own life in the process. Some of my blog friends have also come forward. Rape and sexual assaults are breathtaking in their scope and seeing the final light of day on so much of it is validating and heartening and so very wonderful. To breathe the air of truth again is so very powerful. As is the solidarity. I truly believe I don't have one single close female friend who hasn't been sexually assaulted or molested or any one of the filthy perversions of it and just kept quiet. Often as a child. Like I was. Or as an adult again I kept quiet. We've been trained to do this, keep quiet, be nice, don't say dirty things. He didn't mean it. Or better yet - he'll make life hell for you. I wasn't believed or heard and told to shut up. No more.

This whole horrible secret and depraved sexual violence of the CBC's cash cow has been split wide open. Much like Jimmy Savile and the BBC.

We just didn't have to wait till JG was dead before it was out there for all to see.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thank you!

The scene on the shore opposite my house

Thank you!
For just being out there.
For all your wonderful comments.
For the support.
For the cheering squad.
For the writerly buddies I have out there in blogland.

Just thank you!

PS. They hit bogland and marsh next door when they dug and dug so they decided to drain. And drain. It involved moving tons of earth, tons of rock. Disruption, noise, earthen brown dust everywhere. And the inn on the other side of them and me on this side? Not one word of apology or "excuse us." Old merchant family, hat-tipping peasants.

Oh did I mention the noise? Dozers, trucks, scraping, pounding, lifting, moving.

It's hard to believe I came here for peace. And some days are very much worse than others with the constant banging and chugging. It reminds me a lot of when I lived next door to a railway station. But noisier. I still jump when one of the trucks bangs against the rocks as it offloads another load onto the shore.

On the good side - weather has been wonderful, Gonzolo ignored us and the book is coming together. And I have homemade pea-soup on the stove. And earbuds. And I'm booked to give a writing workshop.

And my nerves? Edgy. If I could have afforded it I would have gone away for a week or two to finish the book. Anywhere quiet and restful, like downtown Toronto.

I plan to read YOUR blogs.

Very soon.






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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Check In


OK. So there's a first reader delay of this novel to the end of the month. October 31st it will be ready. Today went well. Some days haven't. Noise. Diggers to be specific. Land that has lain fallow beside my property is being clear cut and shovelled away. Huge tunnels are being burrowed all the way to China. Ready for a monster home and monster shed. I grieved the trees. Hundreds of them massacred. There's no land use legislation out here on the edge of the Atlantic. You can do what you want. Changes need to be made. Obviously. And I will make them. Or, you know, die trying.

And the noise level? My dears. Some days were worse than others up there in the Tigeen. But today, I keep focussing on today, it was a very good day. I flayed the prior challenges, got ruthless with excess, trimmed the dialogue, expanded other sections. Cried. I cry at the sad parts. Always. And croon along with Ella to the happies.

Now I'm reviewing all the notes, all the workshop scribbles, all the annotations I made on the public readings I did of the chapters. This is the dog work. And the little envelopes and index cards with quick jottings made on planes and trains and boats and in cafes? Use. Discard. It is chaotic, this final stage.

And I do hope the noise will abate next door. It is not conducive to scholarly and intense perusal. Ha!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Especially to my first readers.

I think to myself: If I didn't write I'd go mental.

Seriously.

My alternate universe keeps me sane.

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Sunday, October 05, 2014

On hiatus

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Saturday, October 04, 2014

Taking Down the Scaffolding Part 2


See Part 1 here.

By scaffolding I mean memories. Pieces of the memory banks no longer shared with the participants. And my friend Allen held a chunk of joint memories.

I met him and his family through his sister, Judy, a dear friend. But I'll back up even further on the lives of the Butons (last name changed to protect their anonymity).

They were staunch Quebecers. And in that gifted way of most Quebecers spoke both English and French fluently.

The first tragedy in their family befell them when Judy was 13, Allen was 15 and their baby brother, Michel, was 3. Their father went off to hunt in the woods one Saturday morning and killed himself in their cabin with his own shotgun. No note. No reason. Just a legacy of puzzlement and grief and anger and despair.

Their mother, Cecile, had to go outside the home and find work just about immediately as Papa had left them virtually bankrupt.

Allen worked part-time to help the family and also attended college for a business degree and then started up his own small company.

He then married his high school sweetheart who had sustained him during the crisis of his father's death.

There was an economic meltdown in Quebec in the eighties (most Quebec based English businesses and head offices moved to Ontario during that period due to the enforcement of the French language by the language police).

It broke the Butons' hearts to leave their birth province but they did. The impact of so many corporations abandoning Quebec for Ontario put Allen's own small business (an import/export) in jeopardy so they "jumped ship". Successfully as it turned out.

To be continued.



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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Taking Down the Scaffolding.


I don't know whether anyone else feels this way. Like any time a friend dies there's another piece of their scaffolding taken down?

Maybe I'm weird that way? But I imagine that if I started out as a building, mine would be a higgledy-piggledy one, bright colours, odd windows with a bit of a tower (for reading) and a grand piano in the foyer with a solitary lamp. I saw a hall like that once when I'd run Forest Hill at night in Toronto near where I lived. I loved that house with its stark meaningful space in an otherwise busy home.

I have lots of doors, French doors, a half-door like an Irish cottage, a garden door with a shelf. a storm door like the real one I have out front, especially built for me by a craftsman recently. For battening down the hatches.

My building is always under construction but never finished. Held together by beautiful scaffolding. Mixed colours, blue, red, purple, bright silly green, laughing yellow.

And when there's a death of a loved one, a chunk of scaffolding detaches and there's a slight upheaval in the building, maybe a tilt to the right or the left or a subsidence. A couple of bricks falling down or a window popping out.

My scaffolding just had a major chunk taken out of it. No, not my Irish friend. This one took me from left field and I'm still processing.

I will write about him when my breath comes back and I can do him justice. He would never have thought he was a hero. But he was to me.

My building's at a weird angle.

I need to take time to shore up the foundations.

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