Sunday, April 26, 2015

30 Days - Day 15


A friend lent me the DVD of "Unbroken" to watch. That's the movie Angelina Jolie directed. I was full of high expectations as Friend had loved it and movies directed by women are far too rare on the ground.

I was disappointed. Flat as a pancake is about the kindest thing I can say about it. Three men spending 48 days at sea on a raft (looking quite Chippendaleish - unfortunately for truism)and multiple instances of savagery inflicted at a Japanese POW camp do not make for riveting watching.

The cinematography, however was fabulous. A true story rendered with no character development and cut short when the most interesting part of Zamporini's life was just beginning.

Along with this, I was reading JK Rowling's "The Cuckoo's Calling" (written under a pseudonym) - this was no Harry Potter, 456 page of absolutely cardboard characters, sprinkled with BIG adjectives and a plot that had more holes than the biggest colander I've seen. I should have dropped it but you know that train wreck thing? I kept staring in disbelief that a billionaire author could write something so appalling.

I prefer my life when I can weigh a good book against a rotten movie and vice versa.

Not two fails in each genre in the same swathe of time.

But oh, the knitting is going well. And so is the mystery dinner theatre I'm writing. And the writers' workshop series.

Into each life a few duds fall along with the roses.




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Saturday, April 25, 2015

30 Days - Day 14

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

30 Days - Day 13

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Life is very full, I have no complaints though. I'm performing tomorrow morning with the read-through of the mystery dinner theatre and then in the afternoon I'm conducting the seventh in the eight writers' workshops I've put together.

Today I met with some friends for coffee and chat and that was good. One of them pumped up my tire which has a slow leak, I was grateful. I was nervous with it. I am replacing these winter tires soon so don't want to spend money in the meantime on just one tire. Budgetary restraints.

I'm not very good at car upkeep and ongoing maintenance, I often feel my head's in the clouds with writerly thoughts. Other stuff is so mundane.

The warp speed of my weeks now stun me in their race through my life.

"My gawd," said a younger male co-worker the other day, "I only wish that I'll have half your energy when I'm your age."

Good, I thought, maybe it's the chia seeds




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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

30 Days - Day 12

The Sunset Years.

Ansa, my dog is old. She's at the stage where one minute she astounds me with her agility and the next she's enfeebled.

I try and deal with situations as they come up. She's the most intelligent of all the dogs I've had. I've now taught her the meaning of "slow" and she comes down the stairs slowly, she's worked out a way of two paws together on each step. But up the stairs? The other night was scary as she only made it halfway up and I had to slide by her to push her the rest of the way. She's a heavy dog so she can't be carried.

She won't ever go ahead of me as I've trained her not to - even through a doorway. It's the only way to get a dog to trust its owner, they have to respect the lead position of "the pack leader" to obey commands consistently.

One time she'll bounce around the meadow like a puppy, next she can't make it on a jump to the back seat of the car. It would break your heart to see her try. She never gives up. I took a portable step stool out of the house as an assist but she completely ignores it and manoeuvres her way around it, thus making her leap more challenging. Funny but... *sigh*.

She finds it difficult to get up sometimes. So there are mats all over the house to help her. She often reminds me of Daughter's dog, Shamrock, who did the same thing: she'll lie down in the most awkward places now. The top of the stairs, outside a closed door, along the outside of the bathtub, on the mat in front of the kitchen sink. As she is getting quite deaf as well I wind up roaring at her to move before I pitch myself into a mess of twisted broken limbs.

She always walks without a leash, though I carry one with me. She's allowed a few feet ahead of me so I can watch her and has the command "stop" and "sit" down pat. Out on our walk this evening she was ahead as always and a truck was coming and I realized, to my horror, that, yeah, she's deaf, and can't hear me commanding her not to move until the truck passes. My heart was in my throat.

Leashless walks are now a thing of the past.

Sunset accommodations.

I need them too.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

30 Days - Day 11

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It made for a long day today as I was volunteering for all of the afternoon followed by the Volunteer Dinner. Pro bono, I put together the monthly financial statements for a recycling/recreation/community project group. Bigger than it sounds as there are quite a lot of transactions needing the right pocket to fall into for presentation to council, etc.

The photo above I took in the general area, I drove out a ways on the "arm" (i.e. localese for "bay") and took Ansa for a walk and found this old boat which begged of me a shot. I wanted to lie down and angle a little upwards but the dirt was not accommodating and it wouldn't look well to show up for the din with clay falling off me.

Food was cold plate which always leaves me hungry, don't know why. But a jolly evening, I escaped just before 8 as there were reports of moose gallivanting along the road, released from winter confinement in the hills perhaps.

Right now, I'm boiling up some kidney beans on the woodstove having soaked them for 24 hours. I'm going to make my famous chili and freeze many wee pots of it.

Oh yes, on Friday morning I have a semi-public read-through of my mystery dinner theatre play. I hadn't read it in 6 months as those who commissioned it wintered in Arizona. But now they're back and rearing to go with it. I did a read through by myself this morning and I must say I'm delighted with it.

Usually with such a time lapse I find many flaws with my writing but these characters hold their own and are hysterically funny and the whodunit was a bit of a shocker even to me.{grin}

I love surprising myself and I'm so glad that the project is back on stream.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

30 Days - Day 10


Dear Faithful:

Thank you for the encouragement!

I had the most wonderful email from Grandgirl today. She's off to India for a stretch in a few days with her prof and a few other students. She's just finished her 3rd year university and went to a "tea" last Saturday in a prof's house. 12 out of 130 were chosen. Sorry -
Grandma brag now over. But she is doing so very well and I'm so very proud of her.

I conducted accounting software training today locally. I take on the odd job, it pays a little and it also keeps me fresh on software updates, the whole field is changing so very rapidly. All is now in the Cloud. I am glad of these opportunities to keep me abreast.

I am thinking of renting out more of my house for the summer and have evaluated the situation with regard to furnishing an extra room here and getting some painting done. There is a huge shortage of accommodations in the hospitality industry in Newfoundland and it might be an opportunity to bring my income to above the official poverty level. For some reason I aspire to New Mexico for the whole month of February. Year uncertain. But. Dry heat. Desert. Georgia O'Keeffe.

Tomorrow night I (along with some others) get honoured at a volunteer appreciation dinner. I honestly don't think I deserve this as I would have done more earlier in life but I was a single mom with two kids and two jobs followed by Grandgirl duty (and I cherished every single minute I had her to care for) and there was never a minute it seemed.

Now I have the minutes and they give me a prezzie AND a din-din and applause. I never got that as a single mom of two run ragged did I? {smile}.

I sincerely wished they didn't do this but it would be so rude not to show up.






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Sunday, April 19, 2015

30 Days - Day 9

The man in front is 95 YO next birthday.

I'm boring myself. These slices of life aren't too interesting are they?

Today. Well, today I made a huge stockpot of soup. I start off with my batches of stock from the freezer, every time I cook veggies or fish or meat, I save the water and freeze it. So the soup? I've been making this "recipe" for yonks, it's a pumpkin based effort with aforesaid stock. I fry up lots of onions and garlic first in a good oil, I then add my own pungent spices, coat masses of any on-hand veggies (I counted 11 different ones today) in this, golden them all up and add the pumpkin, the veg stock and about 16 cups of water and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of coconut flour on top. Adds a lovely smooth sweetness to it. After mixing everything thoroughly I simmer it all for 2-3 hours.

Then I take the immersible blender and have at it for a couple of minutes until it's smooth. This freezes beautifully in small containers. Yield today: 16 servings. Daughter dropped off all her fridge contents here before going to Ontario for a few weeks so soup was the solution to these masses of veggies.

But the big question remains: what do I do with the 3 dozen of her eggs. I already have 2 dozen of my own.

This afternoon I went to a party, see picture above. And enjoyed myself. Great live music and I entertained myself with taking pictures and smiling a lot. The gregarious loner emerged briefly from her cave.

And tonight the fire is beautifully warm as there is a distinct chill in the air.

And in the idle hands department: I started another afghan for a special person.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

30 Days - Day 8

More on Outport Living.

To detox from a major city is a big thing. Where everything is on a subway line or right around the corner now becomes a long jaunt into the city of St. John's.

Of course "everything" is subjective, isn't it?

My "everything" has changed drastically, refined you might say. What was important then isn't important now.

One thing I appreciate is the truck that comes around every Wednesday, loaded with organic meats and vegetables.

The same farm has been sending out its truck for over 50 years. Today the young trucker is the grandson of the original owner/driver.

They have beef and lamb and chicken and wonderful veggies.

The truck is equipped with a digital scales and Wi-Fi so you can pay on line.

The local store provides the staples and neighbours and hunters and fishers supply further bounty to me, free.

We have 10 free berry seasons here also to provide lashings of Vitamin C in the winter. And truly, you haven't lived till you've eaten bottled moose. I know it sounds revolting but did I change my mind in 5 seconds after tasting it?

All my daily needs are met quite adequately.

Adequate is a good word.

The "wants" work hard at destroying it.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

30 Days - Day 7


Big Question.

At times, I write about the bad old days. The days when women and children were treated like chattel and given no voices, no land, no vote. Beaten.Abused. Told what to wear, how to behave. Deprived of education and rights. All encouraged by the various religious despots pounding their important books, dictating laws offering forgiveness for transgressions - at a price of course.

And I bring up the hundreds of years of oppression and paedophilia, castrations and genital mutilations - and to bring it closer to home my mother's symphysiotomy - and the answer always comes back:

"Well, those were the old days, they didn't know better, we are more enlightened now," or some variant on this.

And I am flabbergasted.

So in the "good old days" these clerics and their male acolytes didn't know that when they raped and abused women and children that it was wrong? That when they burned witches and sent women to work free in laundries for life that it was truly evil? Women's suffering wasn't quite human, was that it? That banishing the bad seeds of unwanted pregnancies (unwanted by the male impregnators/rapists who remained anonymous, of course)to the dungeons of an orphanage was the RIGHT thing to do?

And tell me again how the ICH* approved of and condoned these horrific acts? After all he wrote The Good Book? Oh, only for men? Slaves and women and eunuchs are like animals and should be treated as such?

I don't think I'd care to be saved by such a misogynistic pedarest - however many times his stripes change according to the times and his interpreters, thanks. Why couldn't he do it right and respectful to begin with?

*Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

30 Days - Day 6


Interesting ~ this from today's paper: a listing of hidden and subtle forms of abuse. I've held many elder abuse workshops and did my own research but this one never came up in my studies. This article basically outlines forms of invisible domestic abuse, but this could apply to elders too.

Trivializing
Trivializing says, in so many words, that what you have done or expressed is insignificant. This type of abuse is often difficult to test, as it can be very subtle. One is left feeling depressed and frustrated but isn't quite sure why. Nothing you say or do is important or meaningful.

The invisibility thing again. But it drills down to incredible frustration in not having authentic feelings of hurt acknowledged while others' agendas are enforced.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

30 Days - Day 5


Some days I feel like a kid. An excited little kid. I started a town library. Yes, I did!

And today we were shelving books and chatting and laughing and expanding on ideas - let's have a children's section - we have many children shipping in for the summer. And we have a formidable movie section now. And along with that we are putting the town on line and digitizing the records. And we plan some readings by authors, and oh lord! maybe a book-club, too.

So I want to clap my hands and jump gleefully around and repeat "And next...?"

And a friend dropped off some moose for me. A nice roast. I so love moose.

And I socialized myself tonight and went and played community cards and we all talked gardening and how lovely April is, the light is extraordinary on the bay, and we all wanted to kick winter far out and down the road and some of us bragged we ran around - for five minutes like - in a tee shirt on the beach this afternoon. We didn't compare goose-bumps. But oh, this honeyed air pouring into the old lungs. A right tonic so it is.

Tonight it rains and that's wonderful and freshening. And not white and freezing.

And the calendar is getting really full with workshops and revitalization of theatre projects and the odd few tax returns I prepare, mainly pro-bono.

I'm really truly finally crawling out from under the bus.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

30 Days - Day 4


You could ask me why I like this picture so much and I couldn't tell you. Maybe it's a reminder that rarely do I reflect what this image projects.

Then again, I can look at it and think solitary is the best place to be. I'm becoming more risk adverse as I grow older.

Not to the risk of events or ventures or exploration or new directions. No.

But to high risk people. Some people are just not safe to be around - for this elder anyway.

I hang with the loving and kind.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

30 Days - Day 3

The Back Door.

If you're reading this for any kind of a while you know I have a missing daughter.

The years keep climbing on. Years that can never, ever be replaced or lived in harmony with the vanished one.

I've talked to others in the same boat and their stories of reuniting are not encouraging, for the eggshells in dialogue and memory recollection or photographs displayed refresh the pain of loss.

However, for the last few years Missing Daughter has contacted a neighbour of her estranged aunt (she has estranged her entire family), ostensibly to inquire about a son she was close to when she lived with her aunt, but updating her also on her life.

So she is okay. Neighbour fills aunt in, aunt fills MD's father in, father informs Daughter, Daughter tells me.

These are wizened little crumbs scattered on our never-ending love for her.

And part of me thinks:

She knows.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

30 Days - Day 2


Parties. There's one on tonight. A lovely lady who turns 88. Big hall rented. Loads of food, booze and live music. About 50km from here.

Invitations like this have two responses in me. Initially I agree to go, especially when the lady herself phones me and tells me I HAVE to be there. I always agree. Initially.

Second response is today. Reality: going there will destroy my Saturday. I despise participating in such events. Mainly because I'm not very social. Small talk evades me completely. Being around relentless conviviality leaves me exhausted.

My week's quota of rhubarb-rhubarb was used up at a dinner party yesterday and the host, a dear friend, was in bed with the flu and all the out-of-town guests milled around to lay out the food, etc., and I dredged my brain coming up with topics when called upon and responding with interest to those brought up. There was a toddler and lots of baby talk and the teevee on all the time even during dinner. I made it through for about 2 hours but I always leave such events thinking to myself: what the hell is the matter with you? I'm definitely and positively missing some kind of social gene.

See, I'm basically a gregarious loner and the prospect of two nights in a row making nice is frightening to me. Don't get me wrong, a gathering of likeminded spirits really turns my crank and one-on-ones are fantastic, I've had a few throughout this week.

So my strategy now is: an "oops, not feeling well" at the last minute. Which seems to work best though I need to brace myself for onslaughts of tubs of chicken/turkey soups which has happened before for this socially inept liar. Which makes me feel worse, i.e. sickened.

And I deserve to feel that way. Right?

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Friday, April 10, 2015

30 Days - Day 1


I'm going to try this, write a piece every day for 30 days. I've got other stuff on the go at the moment so it squeezes out my Scriobhnarin, my writing muse. A lot of stuff on the go. Exciting stuff which really helps me maintain stability and keeps me focussed on what's important.

We were awarded a grant for my town but more on that later. I'll have to come up with a project manager, task and timelines. A lovely project which will hopefully enhance our community even further.

I was down at our wharf last evening watching the crab boats heading out (note to self: for gawd's sake woman, always pack your camera) and it was one of those moments, you know? Where perfect peace descends and all feels right, just in the moment. The boats so beautiful and meaningful with their nets and pots and their soft thrumming on the water, the wide white wakes, the gulls cawing overhead, the crews in their yellow oilskins, the forty shades of blue in the sea and the sky reflecting off each other endlessly. I could live in that moment forever. The clean mission of it, orderly, fruitful, harmonious with the bounty of the sea.

A crystal moment in my life.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dreams


I analyze dreams. I'm pretty good at it. Yonks ago I took a course.

My dreams lately have been of despair. Of losing my voice. Of all those I hold dear turning their backs and darkening a bright room with heavy curtains. Très évident, you might say. And I would agree.

My subconscious working things out, of course. So I awake and lie there and fill my head with good thoughts. I sort them out and obliterate the lingering smothering of the others. Because I know, deep down, they can kill me. Death by a thousand cuts.

Because everything else? Brings me joy. And my mind is such that it can let all that shunning hatred coming at me stifle what is good and kind and fulfilling in my life.

And I'm a recovered addict too, so the siren calls of substances can be highly seductive. So I sail my own wee boat away from those lying lullabies.

And I keep the photos of the 3 loved ones I lost in the past 3 months nearby. And remember their words of unconditional support.

To remind me to live my life as if each day is my last.

As it well might be.



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Monday, April 06, 2015

Blog Jam


Yeah, I deleted a post. Why? It felt really incomplete even though I had stroked it and stroked it as us writers do. It was missing some element that I couldn't quite nail and I took it down to work on it some more. It's a hugely important topic for us emigrants and I need to do it more justice before publishing it. Thanks to those of you who responded to it in depth both on the blog and in private emails. I am never alone in these horrible, painful episodes of my life.

But? I found a cure!

Seriously.

When in pain from unkindness I've found that if I transform this into kindness to others it eases the load. Tremendously.

So that's what I did today. I wrote a few letters, made a few long overdue phone-calls, mailed a few gifts and some of my cards and projected out into the universe peace and healing to those who hurt me. Tons of it. There's really no more room in my life, at my age, for inflicted pain and grief and hurt and sorrow. I fill it up with love. Remind me of this statement when I'm less forgiving please.

And, interesting wee bit, I heard from this older man (yeah, older than me!), a retired policeman from Co. Clare and he starts off by saying:

"I've read every word you've ever written for years and years and years and I want to be your friend."

I just love it when lurkers make themselves visible.

Jack, if you're reading this, bravo my new friend!

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Heartbreak

This poem is so reflective of where I'm at today. Thanks to Daughter and my good friend Grannymar for offering me validation and shelter from the storm.

Lead
by Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing.,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Subtraction

When did I haul out an Alana Waterford Crystal glass last? h'mmmmmm.

I remember hearing this a very long time ago on a retreat, that life was never about addition but about subtraction: of excessive possessions, ill-serving character traits and defects, poor behaviours, resentments, anger, fear, ad infinitum and replacing them with non-material goodies like peace, serenity, service to others, kindness, etc. You catch the drift.

So a daughter of a dear friend, now passed, suggested, nay challenged, those of us willing to rid ourselves of 10 objects out of our lives for 100 days, thus divesting ourselves of a 1,000 bits of clutter in a very short space of time.

I've been doing this sporadically but today got down to business, the serious business of removal and donation to the less fortunate when appropriate.

I was in the appalling state of piling clean casserole ceramic dishes on the dining room table because there was no room for them in the cabinets due to an enormous collection of granny-china, crystal, silver casserole pieces - note the irony - crystal and silver butter and sugar containers not used since the marital home. I can't count the years back to that.

So armed with newspaper and plastic bags I started to wrap all this detritus, readying it for donation.

I did contemplate EBay, but wrapping, postage, treks of 20k to the post office had absolutely no appeal and my time is valuable.

I must take pictures of this daily subtraction, it hadn't crossed my mind in the past few weeks as I wrapped. A silver sugar bowl memory (my granny's best friend gave it to me as a wedding gift with it's own wee hanging spoon, pinkies high everyone!)raises the barest of nostalgia in me, and my slave children are no longer around to clean and polish this now ridiculous silver collection.

Tomorrow I tackle an enormous collection of candles and their holders.

And vases, have I mentioned vases?

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Malaise


I've come to dread those free floating anxiety episodes. I'm in one right now and I don't think I've ever written(apart from private journaling)openly during one.

I've no idea how long it will last.

It was a brilliant day. My fourth writing workshop this afternoon went really well, a big class, excellent assignments turned in, word is out there so visitors pop in for some sessions and also comment privately on the quality of the participants' writing. And I love conducting it.

Daughter (who attends) gave me lots of baking and cooking out of her trunk to take home with me and we then laugh as we find we've each been invited to the same house for dinner. Which was lovely. Another friend there gives me her special frozen soup to take home. I won't have to cook for days it looks like.

Chimney Man PMs me to tell me my parts are finally in, it took well over two months for 7" stove pipes to be found anywhere, there were certainly none on the island. The reason I know this is that others have been whining also. Our power bills were through the roof (no pun intended) waiting for them. Wood stoves save a whole wad of cash.

So all is going well, right?

So I bury myself in the Kimmy Schmidt series and I still feel that pit of the stomach thing which won't go away.

And I slap myself upside of the head, metaphorically, and it won't go away.

And I look at my dog and I worry. I look at all the legal papers that I had to sign yesterday at my lawyers. And I worry.

I listen to the rain outside. And I worry.

See?

There's nothing at all to worry about but I'm caught by the throat and I hope it won't be one of those endless nights.

I just hate those.


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