Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Label


Labelling, self-labelling I mean, can be extraordinarily useful. I was struggling with the Black Dog - and thank you so much to all those who commented in support. It is remarkable how the ether world and caring others in the real world can offer so much comfort and understanding.

A man I worked with said to me he was going to this six part workshop on chronic conditions.

chron·ic

/ˈkränik/

adjective
adjective: chronic
(of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"chronic bronchitis"
synonyms: persistent, long-standing, long-term; More
incurable;
immedicable
"a chronic illness"
antonyms: acute
•(of a person) having an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"a chronic asthmatic"
•(of a problem) long-lasting and difficult to eradicate.
"the school suffers from chronic overcrowding"

synonyms: constant, continuing, ceaseless, unabating, unending, persistent, long-lasting;

I asked him what his condition was if he felt comfortable telling me and he said "Anxiety" - he's had this basically non-stop since brutal orphanage days (Five years old at incarceration - Sweet Jaysus).

I thought for a minute and said: I have a chronic condition too.

And then: I think I'll go too.

So there. Just affixing the label to myself I felt a load lift off me. And the workshop? I can't say enough about it. 2-3 hours each. All of us (Including the two facilitators) have chronic conditions. All of us suffer periodic depression. All of us had difficulty labelling ourselves.

There is such solace in just saying it out loud to a bunch who totally understand. And boy, are there degrees of "chronic".

I got off lightly.

More on this in the next few weeks as I learn more.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hello Darkness, my old friend....


I was wondering when you'd show up.

It's been a while and you're way overdue.

Yeah, there's been changes. It seems to me you always sense these life altering corners I have to turn. You give me a few days, maybe a week, to feel confident and secure and then, without a knock on the door, in you walk bringing your cold breath and that murky miasma that clings to everything you touch.

I ran. Upstairs. And into bed. I couldn't face work, and there was a bit of it, not much, but I knew you'd take that weird position on my desk and shoot those thoughts into my head, the why bother ones, the life is hopeless ones, the lonely ones, the nobody really cares ones.

Bed is safe, though not as safe as with Ansa in it, I have to admit. It gives you free reign really when I'm this vulernable. Though you haven't stolen sleep from me yet. Maybe that will come.

My analytical mind just about destroys me after you show up. I think: what attracted you back. The Handicapped sticker the doctor suggested? My young friend saying to me yesterday she was having a hard time seeing me taking up residence in the apartment as we sat in it drinking coffee? The suggestion made by a facilitator-friend of taking the Living with Chronic Diseases series of workshops? Finding so much poignancy in every aspect of my life at the moment? Losing interest in cooking for myself?

Yeah, none of it mattered to you. You saw the opportunity and you rushed through the door.

I don't know if I can summon the energy to shove you out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Melange a Trois

(1)I can't imagine what life is like without some creativity or passion in it. Any creativity. One of my dear buddies now since gone, would make log cabins out of those flat icecream sticks, with a working fireplace of pebbles and the chimney lined with tinfoil and a porch with rocking chairs on the front.

Me? Well I write and knit. And yesterday I finished this massive knitting project. It took me months but now it's winging its way to Massachussets to a sweet young friend whom I wrote about here. She sent me this incredible yarnbowl, right out of the blue, when Ansa died and signed it "Sunset for Ansa".

We had one of those rare instant connections at her father's wake. The kind that sees into each other's souls. Rare enough to be treasured.

(2)Since I moved here I've had the chance to explore my personality in ways I couldn't even dream of when I lived in the metropolis. Time, the gift of time and beauty all around me frees up the mind and imagination like nothing else does. The timelessness of the ocean at my door, the salt-laden walks on the shores or in the pine drenched woods invigorates, wakes up dormant brain cells.

(3)I continue to whittle away at "stuff". Discarding 5 items a day. Should be more like 10. Attaching the words precious or important or valuable to pieces of it is dangerous. A burn barrel is where much of it is going. And the dump. I don't want any kind of clutter in my new home. I'm listing what's coming with me. And so far it's not much. Clutter is weighty and murky and has a stranglehold on the psyche. I lived that in a marital home way back and remember feeling so overwhelmed as we conducted a 3 day sale around and in the property. Given space, I will fill it. Time to let go. Of inner and outer stuff.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Goosebumps


So I was at the car dealership this Monday past. It necessitated a long wait of 6 hours. In walking days I'd go off for a walk or run, there are some interesting shops around and a giant mall across the street and a beautiful lake with boardwalk nearby. Or if I had anywhere to go without spending 6 hours in the one spot, I would have taken one of their numerous shuttles all over the city.

So there I was, ensconced one might say. Or incarcerated as another might. I never mind as I come equipped with both book and device but the knitting was too enormous to drag, I'm in the final stages of a vast shawl.

So I read and try and tune out the endless large screen TV which broadcasts non-stop sports to the slack-jawed men in the front row. I wouldn't dare touch that channel and click it to Discovery (would you?). The coffee is good, there is fresh popcorn and a few boxes of Timbits.

A woman a few rows up gets up to look at a notice board on the wall. My heart stops. She looks just like my Helen who died in December 2014. I feel tears bounce into my eyes and a golfball hit my throat, the loss can be so keen at times. She was closer than a sister, there was nothing we wouldn't tell each other. I so miss that and Stranger Woman brings the loss into such sharp focus.

I pretend to read as she sits down again, now in the row in front of me but to the side. Her hair, her profile, her slender attractive body, even her eyes with that half-moon shape, so unusual (I'm so glad one of Helen's granddaughters inherited those extraordinary eyes).

As if she senses I'm looking at her, she turns and I smile at her, urging myself not to go weird, not to say anything about Helen.

We chat, we're the same age, we uncover life stories, children. Daisy lost her husband 22 years before but as he was an only child, she stepped up to the plate and took care of his mother who died at 94 this past December. She admitted the sacrifice, but had created a separate apartment for her mother-in-law (referred to as Missus) and had a helper come in once a day to do what was necessary in personal care. But Missus insisted that it was only Daisy who could cook for her. It tied her down terribly. I mentioned my favourite Aunt Daisy to her, who was the only other Daisy I'd known personally. We talked of our daughters and their opportunities and moved on to our singular granddaughters. Daisy'd been an entrepreneur up north but moved to the Avalon when her children needed more educational opportunities. She was as fascinated with my journey as I was with hers. We were together about 90 minutes.

Now here's the zinger.

She got up with many goodbyes and desires to see me again some time just as they were paging her one more time.

Her last name was Cassidy*.

As was Helen's.

*changed at last minute for protection of her privacy as a quick FB search found her so very easily.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Car


Dateline: Monday May 8th, 2017, St, John's

It's like this. Everything happens at once. My car lease is up next month, my tourist season has started, word got out my forte is filing delinquent tax returns and some are dribbling in, and I'm busy minimalising and bagging and donating excess, and oh yeah, my domain went down and new owners of same could not be traced through multiple sales of the domain holding company so I lost my address book and my domain name and the website I've had for 20+ years. And it's like the Irish pension I tried to get, I just don't have the energy anymore to keep chasing down my rights. Whatever they are - do we still have any? Do exhausted elders?

Daughter came for dinner yesterday. Her main purpose, apart from dinner, was to get me up to the Tigeen to survey what I was taking from there and to tidy up after the winter. I was terrified of the climb up. But I took one of my sticks and paused many times, the pain can be mind-numbing, but I made it. It was very emotional as I love it so much up there and Ansa and I spent so much time in this wee paradise as did some very interesting artist guests. Ansa'd go off up back and explore the woods. I'd write or just soak in the entire bay and the birds down below. But I am always mindful of attachment and hope the next person to inhabit this space will take as much pleasure in it as I did.

Speaking of, I was approached by a local who is interested in purchasing my little estate and batted not an eye at the price I'm asking. He needs to convince his wife, as he's in love with the place.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Scrutiny


This morning, I read in my Tao meditation book (always fortuitous these readings) that problems are never solved in a small room but rather on a mountaintop looking down. Yay I say unto thee and all that.

Looking at my life from a mountain top I see the beach stones are many, the rocks overwhelming and the trees overgrown.

Whittling is a frightening thought indeed. So I look at what my needs are. Not my wants. I want far too much for a small space. Now that I'm scrutinizing and evaluating and sometimes tearing up a little, I began to bag up possibly a 100 journals of my life to date. A friend will burn them in his burn barrel. We may have a small ceremony, that would be fitting. My collection of silver and old china is another story. We can all get sentimental about old stuff, long dead relatives presenting the Waterford crystal, the country auctions of acquisition when the kids were small and fascinated with the bidding. (I had to fill a four story century home - I don't use "fill" lightly, I knew auctioneers by name and could nod briefly to show I was still in the game). Stuff that has trailed me around.

I thought the times of 12 around the dining room table at brunch are gone, ditto dinners for 8. So dishes? 4 mugs, 4 small plates, 4 large plates and 4 bowls. Notice the absence of cups and saucers, passé, my dears. Ditto for cutlery. I graduated to all matching only 4 years ago when I opened my little B&B. Before then it was quirky.

Candles, candle holders, I look down from the mountain top and say: choose 2 out of the collection of 20+ and make sure you have a place for these two, I recommend small but beautiful. You must visualize them in use and where.

I have decided I am taking this narrow in depth but tall and wide bookcase, handmade and gifted to me by a carpenter many years ago. It will fit in the hallway from the front door. There I will lodge movies I love, books I love (mainly reference)And that's it. Everything has to fit in this bookcase. Right now I've spread everything out over 4 large bookcases.

So that's it for now. I'm being firm with myself.

And yeah, life is very busy and full which I enjoy, though the mind is willing and the flesh lets me down more than I'd like. I tire very easily. This does not suit me but I do pay attention.

I'm hoping to get approval for a beautiful hiking trail in the town tonight. It's a long held dream of mine. And the spot is magnificent.

So fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Key

Possible concept for a minimalist desk.

I hope it's not a foreboding of bad luck but when I laid claim to my new dwelling, all suited up with preliminary baggage: the important stuff like the small French press, mug, dark roast coffee, cream, some basic pantry stock, a small table, chair, layouts, suggestions, wouldn't you know it the key wouldn't work.

Because it didn't I met two of my neighbours, Elizabeth and Carol, who endeavoured mightily to help me. No luck. Not even a twitch out of the lock. I called the administrator (not a super, no, he's an administrator) no answer, left a message. Schlepped (with difficulty) my stuff back down again to the car (the ladies offered to host my bits in their apartments but I declined) and waited. I don't know about you but as I age I find the Type A personality has not being paying attention to meditation and OM practices whatsoever. So frustration and a small pity party ensued. He called me within 10 minutes. He'd been at the hospital and left his phone in his car. Upside was he found another key in the office and told me there were trolleys and roll-y carts to assist residents in hauling stuff around. He took my baggage up and we did the transfer of keys.

So I made myself a cup of La Java Française and sat down at the wee table and pondered my new space. And pondered. And thought: cripes what have I done. And thought: this is all good. And once again, I forgot to take pics for Grandgirl. She is the space expert. Seriously. At twelve she was organizing my car. At fourteen organizing my storage space in Toronto. At 20 she travelled Europe for the summer with a small backpack. At 21 she taught in India for months with a ditto. A genius with space and minimum necessities.

As a boost I watched The Minimalist. Recommend. Seriously. I love the 333 concept too. Though I've been adhering to minimum clothes for a while. And shoes. I was comforted by both. Yes, I'm doing the right thing.

I set up an area in the garage today with a table and loads of boxes of all sorts of stuff for me to go through. I set it up out there as my tourist season starts soon. Leo is an amazing help for the lugging as I am no longer able. I've recycled so much paper, cards and letters already but there's still more. Frighteningly more. But not as intimidating as I feared. The movies and books are the next go-through, though I've donated a lot already.

So yeah, I'll get there.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Purge

I never tire of the sunsets here

I've started the purge. Not that there's much enough. Sentimental stuff hauled all the way here from Toronto. Letters, photos, cards. And the journals I need to burn. Tripe as my father would have called such "rubbish". He burned and dumped all his own stuff about 6 months before he died. "The Evidence" as I like to mentally call it. Cartons of papers and gawd knows what else.

I found lovely photos of my Helen. Cards from Missing Daughter loving me forever. Forever is always negotiable, isn't it. At the time we mean it. Can never imagine forever being over and done with. I philosophize as I work my way through stuff. A lot of thank you cards extolling my kindness, etc. Many from people whose names do not stir any remembrance at all. Weird that. Many items from people long dead. I am being ruthless. I don't need these memento mori anymore in my life. We change. We evolve. We devolve. We move on.

I had to make two hard decisions in the week. One was not to attend Grandgirl's Convocation in Ontario. She was limited to inviting three people only. Her father, her mother and I were her choices. The health thing. I am bockety, unsteady on the pins. I thought about this. Being a constant worry to my loved ones. Because worry they would. And distract. There is endless walking and grounds and halls and parking lots. I'm good for about three minutes and then kazoom. And a fresh worry, legitimate, deep vein thrombosis on the flight. I shouldn't say worry as I sound a mite obsessed. I'm not. At all. This was a carefully thought through decision with no regrets. I'll see the pictures and the fact she included me in her three beloveds meant the world to me.

I'm putting a small stayover bag for my apartment together. I'm quite excited about this. And then I walk across to my iceberg in this sparkling shine of a day and I feel the tears. Leaving here, leaving this magical place where I finally found myself. I still have a busy final tourist season happening ahead of me.

That's all good. I'm going out with a bang.

I keep reminding myself: This is all so good. So very good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Da Week Dat Was

Painting by Maud Lewis "Covered Bridge"

It was one of those weeks, non-stop gallop. I don't particularly like those but they can be fun too. I planned a surprise birthday dinner for Daughter who turned, gasp, fifty.

I am the mother of a 50 year old. I don't feel adequate or mature enough. She is thoroughly basted in middle age now, isn't she. Feel so very fortunate for living this long when of my friends more are now dead than alive.

The birthday was held at a local restaurant which closes during the week in non-tourist season but opens for large groups.

They especially made huge platters of Jiggs Dinner which included lashings of roasted turkey, masses of veggies cooked with salt beef, pease pudding, dressing, turnip, cabbage and mounds of potatoes and gravy. Man oh man, we were all groaning. There was hardly any room for the cake which was especially made by a friend who designed and made this gluten free number, complete with mathematical symbols which is Daughter's forte.

We all had a jolly good time.

We had a Book Club Meet thrown in during the week too. I was on duty for the dessert.

Then Car developed weird lights on the dash which alarmed me and I had to take it into the dealer, a long haul in freezing rain, you know it's bad when the trees are exquisitely ice-draped along with the power lines. But I made it in. Parts ordered.

Then it was off to see "Maudie" with a friend who texted on the off chance I was in town and would like to see it. Oh, I recommend. It left me spellbound. What I love about living in a small province is that I run into people I know at the movies all the time. So instant discussions on the quality of the film. And I know one of the producers too, she had the grace to see my play when it was on its run and expressed an interest in filming it at some point.

So there you have it.

All is well.

Overnight it seems, I have an elderly daughter.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Peopled Out, Iceberged In

Because I'm a gregarious loner, I like a lot of downtime, away from the maddings. This week was a rough one, an ongoing intense quality and quantity to human exposure for me. Drop ins. Don't like them. But I foolishly hung out the tax services shingle and I figure all told, with the drops and convos about life stories and Uncle Ned, great fellah you should have met him, I'm making about $5.00 an hour if I factor in the social aspect. Big Mistake.

I'm very fussy as to friends. Loads of acquaintances but friends I can count on one hand. So I have to wear my nice for these tax clients and engage with them reluctantly but smilily. I am sensitive to social cues but most people are not, I find. I say I'm sorry but I'm busy but I imagine they think that applies to others and not them as they ramble on about Auntie Mildred and Grandfather Jack and just who are in these photos around my living room.

Meanwhile some ancient ice has been hanging around outside my front door. Pictures, yes. And this is after a couple of weeks as the weather has been glorious and most of the ice has melted, it covered the bay at one point and there were mini-mountains bobbing along.

I can't imagine what this gigantic ice melt has done to the glaciers of Greenland and to the planet's health. And they are here far too soon this year. And apparently are only the precursors of more yet to come.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Measuring a Life

I officially took possession of Tiny. I use the word Tiny as a comparative to Sprawl which is my existing dwelling. I am sprawled out over:

(1) A saltbox house
(2) An off the grid cabin.
(3) A large garage
(4) A barn
(5) A baby barn shed.

I take measurements of Tiny. And then took them again, blinking in disbelief. Nothing from Sprawl quite fits, I think. And then I think: Help!

I look at the freshly painted walls, a lovely lemony shade. And fresh carpet, kind of grey-blue. And then I look out at the southern exposure view, lashings of sunshine. I look up at Signal Hill in the distance. And think: this is truly perfect. You won't need drapes, says the Administrator, as nothing overlooks you. There are lovely white opaque blinds on the windows, you can keep these if you want, he says, they're brand new from the previous tenant who never quite moved in as he had a heart attack and stayed in Ontario.

He tells me I should be around next weekend as there is Easter Dinner for all the residents in the community recreation centre downstairs. Free. What? I ask. Oh, all festivals throughout the year have a free dinner for the residents, he responds. Bonus.

I texted my friend who introduced me to this building a few years back and we met for coffee. I'd forgotten how much we laugh together. How alike we are in many ways.

Her place, similar in layout to my apartment is zen like in its simplicity. I aspire, I tell her. Tips, please.

In this new age of digital access, physical books and movies become redundant, we agree. What are my treasures? Pictures, my writing life and its accoutrements.

What defines me? How do I measure my life without the extras?



PS As I write this there's a film crew, cast and extras of 12 around my house. Filming a wedding scene. Using two of the bedrooms and my living room and many outside shots. They're all so young. Well, yeah. I don't see too many elders making movies, do you? Shame, really.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Blog Jam


This is a joke I posted on Facebook. I love jokes that are clever and clean and have a surprise at the end.


Laugh of the day~~~

"You're both in your nineties," said the judge to the elderly couple, "Married 70 years! Why would you want a divorce now?"

Said the old woman: " We were waiting for the children to die."

I have a film crew coming on Sunday to make a short film in my house as it is old and hasn't been drastically renovated but has the original exterior and interior. Interesting, I think. Now I'm thinking it's a huge disruption. Then again......

I had two rejection letters. How do you deal with rejection? I had loved these two submitted pieces, and so did others, so I felt rather very crushed and then got so busy later that I forgot to feel sad but now that I'm here at the end of the day I've got time to brood and flay and tell myself give up, I'm useless. So I'm writing here instead for the 4 or 5 that do read me and appreciate. Thanks guys.

Yesterday, I visited my friends whose daughter died and actually made them laugh helplessly about the first marriage proposal I received out here in the Far East. Have I told you I've had hilarious marriage proposals? I will some day. It could be a book. I always cry in my car when I leave my friends, I can't imagine their suffering. Now they are putting their daughter's Jeep and house on the market. She was only 40 and death stalked in, in the middle of the night, and grabbed her. A congenital heart defect. I discuss books with him, he's an avid reader of all things Newfoundland - he was a coast guard in his time - and make them both laugh. I don't plan it that way but I'm glad it works out that way when I visit. Getting out of bed is their enormous act of courage for the day.

I had this friend, well, she's more of an acquaintance. When I moved here she'd phone me about once a month. Strange conversations. She'd never a ask a question but would launch into a sort of list of people who'd let her down by not phoning/dropping in/not picking her up/not letting her know about events, etc. She had a stroke many years ago, I remember visiting her every day in the hospital, not an easy thing as the location of her hospital was both a subway and streetcar ride away from where I was headquartered then in downtown Toronto. But I knew visits to her would be minimal or zero from others during the day as she lived way out in the outlying suburbs and the hospital was in the west end. And there were other occasions too when I filled in as her caretaker on weekends away. All this to say, I was up against myself in dealing with her. I never felt close to her but I would still feel guilty, the stroke for one, and the fact she didn't establish deep friendships with anyone mainly because her demands never stop when you're with her. There are always extras you have to do and there is no acknowledgement of driving out of your way or picking up extra stuff along the route. And then guilt again for feeling like that. It's a vicious cycle. I dropped my landline months back and now I'm just on mobile. And of course she doesn't have that number. But lawdie, now she's phoned many of my friends to demand my mobile number but none feel they want to give it to her. So today she calls a buddy in Florida and he immediately puts her request for me to phone her right away on my FB wall. She is tenacious. And truthfully, normally I don't think about her at all. Guilt again.

So yes, I will call her. If I don't forget yet again. I need to brace myself. I don't wish for more friends to get harassed by her. There's none as queer as folks. If it were me, I would have given up long ago and put it down to disinterest and move on. But not J.

I take official possession of my home in the city tomorrow. Exciting times. Though I won't be moving there full time until the fall for there's a lot to wind down here over the next few months.

So new pastures, new opportunities await. Sadness too at leaving this little paradise behind.

But I'm ready.






Saturday, April 01, 2017

Away

In light of the horrific recent events unfolding in Holy Ireland, with babies starved, tossed into septic tanks and sold to the highest bidders by demonic clergy, please read here and here for further clarification. Bessborough is where I would have been interred like a few of my friends who were abandoned by their boyfriends or raped by relatives or priests.

If you need further enlightenment on these horrific crimes against humanity I thought to bring to light my own narrow escape story that I still grapple with emotionally. I'm trying to set my story all down and come to terms with it, but it still festers in my heart, it is still so difficult to speak of. And I don't. Because I cry. Writing is what I do best.

And in case you're wondering, everyone knew about these institutions. We girls lived in fear of them and pitied the poor creatures within them when we would visit - as privileged private school girls - to entertain them. But never speak to them. Contamination, you see. and looking back, us girls must have been obliviously rubbing further salt into their scalded souls.

And yes I've had the therapy and tried to establish an understanding of my past with the male members of my birth family, to no avail.

For seriously, how can any Irish man, no matter the age, understand the Ireland of 1966 when a frightened, pregnant young woman, not more than a girl, together with her young husband, made life changing decisions to protect themselves and their families from the cult that was the RC church in Ireland? And make no mistake, it was (and still is) a patriarchal, hypocritical cult, steeped in misogyny, condemning so-called "unmarried mothers" to a life time of slavery, their babies stolen and sold, or killed or starved. Or horrifically raped by the parish priests who had unlimited access to these vulnerable girls and children.


I was secretly five months pregnant at my wedding. A very tight girdle.

Away

A wedding ring away from a workhouse, a lifetime of indentured slavery.

A wedding ring away from a child kidnapped and sold.

A papal blessing away from tribal condemnation on a secret side altar of the parish church.

An emigration away from family disgrace and pursed lip judgement

A lonely birthing away from family joy and support, among strangers in a strange land

A frightened young couple away from all they knew dear, alone and terrified.

A baby born away, questioning the whys and wheres and hows of the banishment of her parents.

A lifetime away in a country which beckoned when Ireland closed its doors.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Things


Small things. Big things.

Every week I make my own yogurt and my own Irish whole wheat soda bread which I cut into quarters and then put 3 in the freezer, I set aside a quarter and then extract from the freezer as I need. Irish soda bread has to be eaten fresh. It was usually made every day in Ireland using up the sour milk pre-refrigeration. My yogurt's starter must be years and years old now. I just save a tablespoon from the last batch and use in the fresh one. And if I'm going away for a while I freeze a tablespoon of it.

There is something validating about taking care of one's basic needs. I think if pushed I could survive for a while on soda bread and yogurt. If I have interesting seeds and dried fruits and nuts I throw into the soda bread pre-baking, but it's not necessary. With the yogurt I use bottled fruit or sugar free home made preserves. I've tossed around making home-made country butter. I despised it as a child ("you can taste the grass, ew Mum!") but now what I wouldn't give for a pot of it! The high processing of food has made imbeciles of us all. Bleached white bread, chemical-laden yogurt with artificial thickeners, chemical-laden spreadable concoctions called margarine (low cal, light).

Even cheese. What have they done to cheese? I shop the stores that carry Irish cheeses. All the good Canadian brands are now rubbishy plasticized homogenous florescent orange slabs. Inedible. and yet they go flying off the shelves. There is no comparison in taste. Thank you Ireland for keeping cheese cheesy and sausages herby and edible.

I'm waiting for the pump man. I have no water. Again. The freezing cold attacked my pump-house and throttled the water pump. Winter continues on. Storm is expected tonight or tomorrow. 30cm of snow. Seriously.

At least my woodstove was fixed yesterday after a month without. Thanks to a couple of townsmen who refused even to take a cup of coffee and were horrified when I tried to pay them.

I am grateful for small things today, like wood, and homemade bread and yogurt. And heat. Blessed heat.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Whatcha At?


My blog friend Tom has a great post on retirement.

Which got me thinking about successful retirement. Redefining oneself.

There are many retired teachers and some retired professors in my community. And truth tell they "do" a lot of TV and shopping. By "Shopping" I mean driving in and out of town, which here is the capital city of St. John's about 1-1/2 hours one way on the "Old Road", maybe an hour on the highway. And it always involves many carts rattling out of Costco.

Shed life is big here. The Boys gather in sheds and work on "stuff" like trucks and snowmobiles and boats and generators and ATVs which are used for hunting. Hunting and fishing are huge and there's no retirement age from either.

Women volunteer in church: cleaning and altar fixing and choir committees and parish committees and church fundraising. If they have spare time (church volunteering becoming a dead art, so to speak) they community volunteer in card games for seniors, exercise class and library duty and 50+ club events.

Whatcha at? Is an all purpose catchphrase here. Used when you pick up the phone. I've adopted it as it is quick to the chase. "Whatcha at?" they say to me. "Oh, I'm knitting," I say, or "Getting ready for a walk", "watching Netflix", etc. And you're off and running with a conversation.

I hung out a small tax service shingle, metaphorically speaking, this year. I had basically terminated my tax business a few years back, apart from a few diehards, but felt a little financial need due to power bills being so enormous in NL. You can be freezing your arse off and the bill can be $400 for the month. Full heat would be close to a $1,000. And that's with a wood burning stove. As I type this, I'm cold. And I have had a huge cold tolerance. No more. I'm looking forward to moving in the fall so that next winter won't be a financial worry. I will be warm and the bill will be less than a quarter of what I pay now!

My time is always full. I had 3 clients drop in this morning. I have my volunteer municipal job that I love. I'm building a data base for the town library. I continue to write. I am taking bookings for my hospitality Airbnb and that will keep me busy from Spring on to late September. Needs must. And yes, knitting products for sale. Thinking of getting an Etsy account to sell on line perhaps. And cards. I sell my own cards too.
I'm a wearer of many hats.

Bored? What's that?

So - Whatcha At my friends?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Books of 2016


I'm late with this annual post. No excuse apart from a life that I always seem to be running behind but not in a good way. I make great plans, go to the trouble of writing them down in number and point form and then lose hopeless track of my good intentions. I know I'm the only one on planet earth with this problem. Any helpful hints? I should abandon my lists but it's similar to my collection of "useless artifacts" which I will write about some day too. The dark underbelly of my life.

So here goes with the 2016 list.

(1)Puccini's Ghosts - Morag Joss****
(2)Dead Simple - Peter Robinson. dropped could not engage 0
(3)Plain Song - Nancy Huston***
(4)All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr*****
(5)The Mistress - Philippe Tapon*
(6)A Sudden Sun - Trudy Morgan-Coles****
(7)Eventide - Kent Haruf*****
(8)Burning Down The House - Russell Wangersky {BC}***
(9)The Night Following - Morag Joss*****
(10)England, England - Julian Barnes 0
(11)The Birdcage - Marcia Willett***
(12)Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova***
(13)And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini*****
(14)My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout*****
(15)The Girl in the Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold {BC}**
(16)Among the Missing - Morag Joss****
(17)The Dipper - Marcia Willett**
(18)The Corrigan Women - M.T. Doheney
(19)Eve - Iris Johansen*
(20)A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway 5th(?)re-read*****
(21)A Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans*****
(22)The Piano Tuner - Daniel Mason (I'm struggling with this one 100 pages in)
(23)Settlers of the Marsh - Frederick Philip Grove ****
(24)Baggage - Jill Sooley ***
(25)Moments of Being - Virginia Woolf***
(26)The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner***
(27)Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler *****
(28)The Old Jest - Jennifer Johnston *****
(29)The Illusionist - Jennifer Johnston ****
(30)A Sixpenny Song - Jennifer Johnston
(31)The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor {BC} a re-read for me*****
(32)How Many Miles to Babylon? - Jennifer Johnston*****
(33)What We Want - Trudy J. Morgan-Cole**
(34)This is Not a Novel - Jennifer Johnston*****
(35)The Captain and the Kings - Jennifer Johnston*****
(36)The Railway Station Man - Jennifer Johnston*****
(37)By the Lake - John McGahern*****
(38)Closer Home - Karen Anne King**
(39)Shadows on our Skin - Jennifer Johnston*****
(40)Love & Summer - William Trevor****
(41)Fool's Sanctuary - Jennifer Johnston****
(42)I Let You Go - Claire Mackintosh****
(43)The Lake House - Kate Morton (500 pages, 200 too much)***
(44)The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence - 3rd re-read*****
(45)Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey - poor construction**
(46)A Badly Misunderstood Dog - Paul Rowe - *****
(47)The First Bad Man - Miranda July - she literally lost the plot - *
(48)The End of Your Life Bookclub - William Schwalbe*****
(49)Everyone Hates a Beauty Queen - Kenneth Harvey - Awful bilge, will not read him again*
(50)Save Me - Lisa Scottoline - cliché driven ***
(51)The Distant Hours - Kate Morton - challenging size, unsure
(52)The Ocean at My Door - Ken Pollett
(53)Perfect - Rachel Joyce*****
(54)Still Alice - Lisa Genova*****
(55)My Father's Tears - John Updike*****
(56)La Rose - Louise Erdrich****
(57)The Doctor's Wife - Brian Moore*****
(58)Thrice the Brindled Cat Had Mew'd - Alan Bradley***
(another Flavia De Luce but not so compelling)
(59)The Good Doctor - Paul Butler
(a few pages in and I'm tripping over edit-goofs and holy metaphors, batman!)
(60)People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks*** {BC}
(61)Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen*****
(62)Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger
(63)The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein***** {BC}
(64)The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick****
(65)The Roncesvalles Pass - Paul Bowdring
(66)The Lizard Cage - Karen Connolly*****
(67)Lost and Found - Brooke Davis*****
(68)A Sport of Nature - Nadine Gortimer - dropped, couldn't.
(69)Continental Drift - Russell Banks - dropped, couldn't.
(70)My Secret Sister - Edmonds & Smith***
(71)Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore {BC}***

TOTAL TO DATE: 71{BC}=Book Club}
Ratings:0(awful) *(poor)**(fair)***(good)****(very good)*****(excellent)

Those I loved:
4
7
9
14
20 (about 6th or 7th reading, annual event!)
27
28
31
All of Jennifer Johnston I adore.
37
44
48
61
66

A good year of reading. I won't work at reading a boggy book anymore. My life's too short. I like immersion, good editing and grammar, engaging characters, thoughtful prose. I'm not asking too much, am I?

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 2


And I use the word "beginning" for it truly feels like another one. I've had many, I've been blessed. And in my last two homes they reflected me, solo me, my décor, my artifacts, my friends, my colours.

And so will this new one that my spirit will enter on April 1st, but through circumstances of my hospitality business and my municipal position, my body won't enter fully until September.

It's a one bedroom apartment in an independent senior living complex. A friend already lives there. A friend after my own heart as we value privacy and abhor unexpected dropping around. The complex is small and charming and includes a gym on each floor, a free laundry on each floor, an outside patio with barbecues, an enormous communal two storey recreation room with library and kitchen and piano, it's overlooking a lake and is a short hop to the city of St. John's.

A few things, of many, that impressed me were it was so quiet, I loved how some of the artists living there had hung their artwork in the hallways, I was also impressed with some of the residents being in their nineties and having home care help coming in for a few hours a day if needed thus deferring the day when an assisted living home might be rquired. And twice a week there's a free bus that takes everyone out to shop if they are beyond driving.

My friend tells me we are the two "babies" in the complex being the youngest. I find that very amusing but also highly educational in that I hope to learn more about ageing in place and an ease and familiarity with the process.

The complex is close to the East Coast Trail and some gorgeous trails in the city itself.

Simmering down to a one bedroom is going to be challenging. I am hoping to market my current dwelling as a turnkey hospitality heritage home, all furnishings and appliances included. My plan is to take very little from here.

So yes, I am excited. But daunted too by the task of downsizing my existing lifestyle into one more manageable and easy.
But I am also blessed with an attitude that once I make up my mind, I don't look back. I don't want a life of regrets.

Looking ahead and with anticipation is where I'm at.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 1.


When I bought this place over 13 years ago, I knew my relationship with my darling house and land would all end some day. I'm very conscious of the ticking of my own clock. I stay in moments and cherish them and reflect on my privilege and gratitude to have this house overlooking the ocean, surrounded by trees and hills, with views right out of some exotic magazine. With its own off the grid artist's cabin tucked up on the hill overlooking the bay.

We are so finite in this world and sometimes a tap on the shoulder comes, intuition if you will, and we must pay attention.

My friend Helen's death was a huge tap for me. Then a whole series of friends fell to the wayside shortly thereafter way before their time. I say way before their time when, really, what is human time? Three score plus ten? I've been losing friends since I was six when Geraldine died of meningitis and at eight Eithne was burned in a house fire and at fifteen Rosario had brain cancer. So death walks along beside me even though many of us behave as if we have two hundred years to live. And to live with full mental and physical functions intact. Not so. Take a look around at your Zimmer frames, oxygen tanks and wheelchairs and bewilderments in the supermarkets. I do. Not morbidly but noddingly, know what I mean? Constantly aware too that most health impacted seniors don't shop for themselves so we don't see the Alzheimer's, the dementia, the legless and blind and stroke victims.

I thought to take charge then, back in 2015. I live alone. Have a fierce streak of independence, turned down potential partnerships here, 3 or 4 at last count to offer an example, and wish to be proactive rather than reactive to any future challenges I might face.

I remember a dear blog friend, I was her role model of aging well for some reason, saying at one point: "Well it's a good job I have ten more years to catch up to you and loads of time to live creatively" but sadly she didn't. She died Christmas 2013 rather quickly, from cancer.

So the power of now became a mantra for me long before it was fashionable.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Porta-Post

And no, it's not working. A post from my device, that is. Frustrating. As to brace the Siberia of my office which now holds a treadmill and a door that won't close and also an iffy laptop that objects to being moved and goes off in a sulk, is challenging.

So this is a post from a week ago:

I'm basically testing this post on a different platform. I've been hoppin' busy. Good busy. Like I'm accomplishing things.

I may be delusional.

Yeah, I treadmill and yeah, it hurts. And cramps in my legs at night frighten me. And one of my specialists is thawing out and oozes competence. One of my....Did you hear that? Do I win this week's MedSpeak contest?

On other fronts, and there are many, I will be moving from one paradise to another. More on that later.

Meanwhile I offer you this picture of my knitting, my porta-knitting vs the big shawl I'm also working on, which inadvertently pleased some artistic eyes even though that effect was unintended.

And we had a bad storm after all that, frightening hurricane winds, power outages and evacuations. A reminder, once again, that Mother Nature's rage can be fearsome.

Thanks to all who sent me messages and blog concern. Always appreciated.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Perception

I am troubled when I see lofty opinions offered particularly about other races, strata of society, sexual orientation et all.

Someone who reports to me, a former teacher, thinks it hilarious to imitate Chinese people. What he perceives to be Chinese. He's never met one apart from in a Chinese restaurant. But, in spite of my objections, I will catch him amusing residents with this appalling accent accompanied by the gesture of slanting his eyes. To say I am shocked at his insensitivity is to understate my reaction. I sat him down and talked to him about this racism. He was offended I called him a racist as he is "Open-minded". And truly, he says, a "Chinaman" would not be offended, they would laugh too. And he wouldn't mind if they imitated him, ah lighten up. To make things worse, he took his show on stage much to the hilarity of the audience as someone was kind enough to show me a video of his show-stopping routine. But, you know, he is extraordinarily kind in other ways. He goes beyond. So, yes, I like him but I keep hoping my repeated careful evaluation of his disturbing mockery will enlighten him one day.

Blanket statements about segments of society are bordering on prejudice also as in: "I love Lesbians". I know many lesbians, some I disliked, some I loved. Just like anyone else, I accord them humanity and differentiation. I can't like everyone. The same with gay men. Some are my friends, others are anti-feminist and exclusive of heterosexual women. I don't care for them or their opinions if they are misogynistic.

And speaking of feminism, I remember on one of my posts about this particular F word, a comment by a fellow blogger about once meeting a strident feminist thirty years before so she had no time now for feminism. I couldn't count the wrongs in that tiny statement.

No class of society is a monolith. I don't make pronouncements on the wealthy as a class. Or the impoverished for that matter. I've known nasty selfish wealthy people who gather their ill-gotten gains to themselves and never share, and others who are unlimited in their generosity. I've known poor people who are horrible, abusive and greedy and others who are gentle and kind.

A blog friend posted recently on a class or label of society he took offence to and found it wanting. I assumed he was talking about people he knew. But no. He was just blanket-judging. It puzzled me and I had to think about it and my own judgements on others.

Black and white thinking leads to racism and misogyny and anti-gay stances and yeah, fascism.

For if we don't take the time to get to know people, all people in our path, all races, classes, how can we possibly judge? I offer you Muslims.

We all bear the stamp of uniqueness.

And are one river.