Friday, August 26, 2016

Another Quarter Heard From


Present: Me (M) and two Australian PGs* (APG) both academics on a three month leave - mandatory after 10 years' employment with one employer in Australia.

APG: What do you think of the current political climate in the USA?

M: Pretty scary.

APG: Yeah, especially with that billionaire Clinton woman.

M: What about Trump?

APG: Well, after Sanders dropped out he's the far better choice.

M (aghast): Why do you say that?

APG: He's a businessman. The USA needs to be run like a business.

M: He's a failed businessman. Every business he has been involved with has bankrupted. He's been sued.....

APG: Oh come on, most businessmen have failures, that's how they become successes. They learn from their mistakes!

M: But what about the people who have invested in his companies, their shares are worthless!

APG: That's real life. Some you win, some you lose.

M: So if he fails the USian people, and I can't count the number of ways this could happen, it would be an experiment?

APG: Of course. You don't want another corrupt Clinton running the country for her own personal gain.

I backed away with my hands up and didn't touch on Drumpf's comments on racism, immigration, privilege, creepiness (i.e desiring his daughters, et al)and mockery of those less fortunate.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Paying guests

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Tricks


It's not the years in your life.

It's the life in your years.

So the old clichés go, and there are many more, each yawn worthy.

I'm not one who plays all coy about my age, that would be to dishonour all those who weren't so lucky as to be still on this side of the daisies. And seriously what is all this age denial about? Pretending to be young? To be flattered when someone says you don't look sixty, or seventy or eighty? And "94 years young"? As if being an elder is a crime against humanity.

I'm an old woman, well seasoned, well historied, well lived. No apologies. And lucky enough that none of my cells (yet) have gone postal on me.

What a gift that is. To be an old woman.

Crotchety at times (I have to watch that, it's not very attractive - to me)but I'm basically a well intentioned person. I've rooted out the negatives in my life, removed myself from old dramas, old dynamics and hostilities. And feel all the better for it.

Peaceful.

Daughter had a lovely birthday luncheon for me. She's one of those who sets a very nice table. She comes from a long maternal line of great table setters. We're weak on the housework and hope that our lovely tables deflect any interest in the lack of dusting.

I had a long conversation with Grandgirl, we compared notes on Italy as she's back from another visit. Entranced with the muted colours as I was when I was her age and exploring it for the first time.

And new tricks. I'm working on these. Every birthday I try and plan something new for the coming year. A new skill, a new place to visit, a new interest, a new friend, a new club.

It's not happiness I've ever been after.

It's contentment.

And I do believe I'm almost there.



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Privilege

We take so much for granted don't we? At least I do. But now and again, more often than not, I become aware of how privileged I am. How good my life is. How I have opportunities to re-invent myself. How many lives I've lived. Opportunities and chances taken. Friendships solidified. Good health rescued.

I've visited my young friend twice now. She's still sober but needed help with other issues. So she went off for 28 days to learn about self-esteem and setting boundaries, and acceptance of herself.

And I get to see her companions in the treatment centre. All ages. All conditions, all stages of recovery. And my heart swells with love for them and for her. And I hope with all my heart that life will improve for them. That they will embrace this opportunity, this brand new life force and hold it tight so they don't drown.

And then feel privileged in turn. As I do, for being reborn as it were.

We go out for dinner, my wee friend and I. And she is full of hope and plans and nearly 4 months sober. I haul her back into the moment and talk expectations and ask her again, as I do every time I see her: "What's the most important thing in your life?" And her answer is uncertainty and contingent on others.

And I think: one of these days....

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tender Moments

They're better when you don't expect them, aren't they?


I had this email from an ex today that brought soft tears to my eyes. He's not a writer by any means. And I do think he struggled with his words. My birthday is this Tuesday and he remembered it obviously but forgot the much clichéd "Happy Birthday" and just brought up some random memories about how long we've known each other (since high school). Nearly 60 years. What a privilege, that, to know someone nearly 60 years. And share children and miscarriages, a failed adoption and a beloved grandchild.

He wrote of our emigration, our expectations then and what an adventure it was.

And he closed with a beautiful, heartfelt phrase which I'll keep private.

And I thought of our voyage and wrote back to him of this, of all our dearies on that small tender pulling away from that vast ocean liner that held our incredibly young hopeful selves leaving all we had ever known behind. Forever.

And the Irish coastline fading away in the distance as we turned and faced the new land of Canada.

Good tears.

Good love.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Count Me In


"New (2014) Statistics Canada data shows that 12 percent of seniors live in poverty, amounting to almost 600,000 people. Seniors living alone are particularly hard pressed financially, with more than 1 in 4 single seniors, most of whom are women, living in poverty."

Read more here.

Yeah, old single women take it on the chin, or in the stomach or in the roof.

I was asked how old I was today. The person was horrified I was still working at hosting a B&B at my age.

"Why?" he asked, puzzled.

"Why do you think?" I responded.

"Well, it's very hard work, cooking cleaning, bed-making, welcoming guests, chatting with them, concierging. All by yourself. I honestly don't know why you do it."

I laughed. "I love luxuries: Gas in my car. No transit out here so I need a car for medical trips, hospital trips, fresh produce when I can afford it. The list is endless. I cut off my landline to save $35 a month, that's a tank of gas..."

"You're poor?"

"Living well below the poverty line, my friend, like most women of my age. If there was an easier way to make a living I would do so. But there isn't."

"My gawd, I'd no idea."

"I know. Most don't. But I'm happy. I'll keep on keeping on. I'm so very lucky, for many aren't and fall right through the cracks."

Friday, August 05, 2016

King of the Broadcasters


Sometimes it's triply hard to make a living. Make that to the power of 1,000. 99% of the time my PGs (tourists) are wonderful, kind, aware, interesting and interested.

But the odd time, the very odd time, I realize I'm making barely 50c an hour for the time they suck out of me like this guy(TG)! TG booked in for 3 days and nights.

I am captive to his enchantment with his own company and his interesting self. He's a non-stop broadcaster. A braggadocio of the first order. From his family pictures lining the walls of some distant legislature to how wonderful a husband/father/son/advocate he's been since he was born. One night I had to leave my own house and go to the graveyard to commune with dead strangers as he had finally trampled all over my last remaining nerve ending.

I had to leave him in mid-flow in my living room last night when I felt a scream rush to my throat and only by a sheer act of will could I squelch it by running upstairs.

This morning, as he entered the dining room he started up again about me being his escort to his son's wedding (kill me now!) and then launched into how the Cree Nation honours him for all his work in the Cree Tribe. His solution (which is hugely successful, he remarked in passing) to tribal alcoholism: "Give the natives proper suits and employ them all in First Nations casinos and give them credit cards and then bingo! they'll have purchasing power and a fancy car. They'll stop drinking!" Can you count all the wrongs in that statement? Boy, I'd love to find me some Cree elders and have a chat about sainted TG and his final solution.

So I stood, pushed my chair in, went to the kitchen, cleaned up, then said abruptly as the verbal diarrhea poured all around me: "Look, I've work to do, phone calls to make, I'm going to my office now and need privacy."

He says, I kid you not: "Ah, don't leave me, I love our little chats, oh come on!".

I made it and closed the door with a firm thunk and leaned against it gnawing my own fist.

He leaves tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Forget-Me-Nots


I get lonely for Helen. I re-read some of the thousands of emails we exchanged over twenty years. News. Challenges. Grief. Stories. Support. Love. Solidarity.

She wrote about a mutual school friend who stayed behind to chat with her after a book club meet. Una was seven months pregnant forty years ago when she was summoned from Dublin to Cork by her family as her mother was terminally ill and wanted to die at home in the pre-hospice era. A few days after Una's arrival she woke up in the middle of the night with terrible pains that she thought might be labour. She lay there in terror.

Terror?

The only phone in the house was downstairs in the hall and no one in the house she was reared in ever disturbed her father, a light sleeper, in the middle of the night. Ever. The punishment for one of her brothers who had the temerity to do so resulted in injuries that kept him out of school for over a week.

Una wept as she told Helen how she cried and moaned into her pillow all night, her body writhing in agony. In the morning she waited for her father to leave for work before she got out of bed. The pains had now stopped and she was relieved but she felt nauseous. Once the doctor arrived to administer morphine to her mother, she mentioned the pains of the night before and he evaluated the situation. He immediately summoned an ambulance.

The baby was born dead a few hours later.

Una said to Helen it was the first time she'd ever talked about all of it.

Helen wrote to me: "I'm only telling you because you understand that kind of terror."

Sadly, I do.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Blue Window



So yes, open it
Just a crack.
The blue curtains
Need replacing.
Once I saw outside,
1935 it was.
I didn't like it then.
I doubt if I would now.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tales from my Couch

Characters

Bill, a man in his late fifties, slim - B.
Trudy, his wife, a hefty woman - T.
Me, their host - M.

B - (settling into the couch in my living room) - how are the roads around here?

M - (laughing) it depends on what you want to do with them: drive, lie, walk or dig them.

B - (laughing)Oh, I'm into running, I do half marathons.

M - Oh they're not bad for that, I trained on them, I can tell you where the best ones are.

T - Oh he's mad for the running, I don't believe in it myself.

B - Well now Trood, it's either that or die.

M - What?

B - (looking at Trudy) I'm going to tell her.

T - You tell everybody.

B - Because it's so amazing.

T - (eyeroll) He never shuts up about it.

B - I used to be 500lbs.

M - (gobsmacked)Seriously?

B - 4 Years ago I had a gastric band put in. I could barely stand up without help.

M - And you've changed your lifestyle. Well good for you!

B - Yes I run in different races now. I track my steps every day, I have hill training and mountain climbing and all sorts of physical events. I love it.

T - (in a flat tone of voice)From a couch potato to a marathon man in 4 years.

M - Talk of change, positive, life affirming.....

B - I love my new life. I took 6 weeks off work recently to have all the extra skin excised from my body, it was painful and horrible but as you can see...(and he waved his hand over his flat stomach and athletic thighs)

T - I hardly know him. He was 250lbs when I married him and now he's 180lbs.

B - I have loads of plans. A huge bucket list. Climbing mountains and deep sea diving. You name it, Bill's going to do it!

Ah, I think. Now where does all this leave Trudy?

At breakfast this morning, he asks for porridge, yogurt and a sprinkle of almonds and granola on top.

She has the big Newfoundland fry-up.



Monday, July 18, 2016

Dis 'N Dat

Mistaken Point, Newfoundland. Closeup of fossils.

I was going to write a post about degrees and it got away from me so I'll hold off until my thoughts formulate a little better on the topic. It sounded very interesting in my head. On paper it was clunky and awkward. So I breathe.

A guest read my two hander play. She made great suggestions. She's involved in community theatre and arts on a small island off the coast of BC. An enthusiast like myself. I picked her brains free of charge. She was gracious about it considering she paid me to stay for two nights.

I am awaiting 2 more PGS at the moment. I'm getting quite a bit of traffic from Maine, USA this summer. I love Maine, I've been there a few times and wonder why the residents are leaving one view of the Atlantic and wandering up to our view. All are driving. Quite a journey. Maine people are salt of the earth. And they have LL Bean. 'Nuff said.

My life is very full - a bit too dense, actually, but I'm heading off on Friday for a few days' break and I can't believe how excited I am. I love road trips and exploring and visiting. And Daughter is joining us to add another lovely dimension. Photos from the road to follow.

Mistaken Point not too far from here, has just been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Oldest fossils in the world - see photo above. We are bracing ourselves for even more tourists. All good for my wee haven also.






Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Instant Love

Have you ever had that experience? Meeting someone for the first time and feeling a bond, a special recognition and connection. An "I know you!" No, I'm not talking romantic love. And yes, I've had that instant lust a few times too.

I'm talking something else entirely. And it doesn't happen too often. And I'm glad it doesn't. Otherwise it wouldn't be that special, would it?

I was friends with this man, let's call him Donald. Not soul friends or anything. He was the brother of a close friend. She has many gatherings at her house and myself and Donald had this ongoing almost flirtatious relationship. We didn't see eye to eye on politics or religion or core beliefs but it was engaging and fun for others to listen to and watch. At another age, due to the sparks, we would probably have taken it further, as those mad days would demand, but even thinking of those mad days tires me out along with the idea of taking off my clothes.....

Anyway, Donald had one of those cancers that are insidious and invisible. He looked wonderful but his blood was in bad shape and he died, mercifully quickly, after several years of treatments and blood cleansing machines and chemo and gawd knows what else.

At the wake, a couple of months ago, I met his daughter for the first time, she had flown up from Boston for his funeral. And it was one of those things. For privacy, we went out to the parking lot and talked and talked. And hugged long and hard. And agreed, yes, there was a special connection.

She flew here a week ago and insisted I be invited to a family function recently and there I met her partner and her kids and that absolutely special connection was still there. I shared some of my art and poems with her and she showed me a special blanket she's making for her autistic son. And it's hard to explain, but we truly know each other, can see inside each other.

Loves her I do.

Friday, July 08, 2016

My World of PGs*

*Paying guests


It's busy out here in my little corner of the Edge of the Atlantic. Tourism season chugs along. I run out of Nice after a few days of it. Hospitality means I have to share my home with strangers. And ensure the rooms look decent and breakfast is palatable and I'm interesting. My reviews are such that I think my PGs walk through my door expecting a performance. OK. I'll give you an example:

We had a most wonderful night with WWW. We talked and laughed like old friends. She gave us a great dinner recommendation and we had a wonderful sleep. Breakfast was lovely with homemade yogurt and partridgeberry jam as well as eggs ham oatmeal and toast and more great conversation. We really wished we had longer to stay and know we will be back next time we are on the island. WWW is the most wonderful Airbnb host we have met.

WWW made us feel right at home and this was my favorite place to stay in Newfoundland. It was like stepping back in time but with a host who was a literary genius. WWW knows so much about the area and Newfoundland that it was a real education. It was also the best breakfast of our entire trip. I would love to stay there again.

And many in this vein. Which is wonderful for business but if you're like me, a gregarious loner, it can be a little wearying. Reading the reviews I fall in love with myself a bit and want to visit me but then I gladly welcome back my inner Cranky Crone and joked around with Daughter the other day asking her should I present CC to the guests, a la The Soup Nazi and bark orders at them to go to their rooms and not disturb me and if they don't wash the dishes tonight they won't get any breakfast in the morning, and only use one tiny towel as the others are just for show, and if they want sheets it'll be $100 extra, etc.

All in good fun and a stress buster. My guests are quite lovely. I just hosted an opera singer and his dancer girlfriend who were cycling around the Avalon. He and I bonded over Gilbert & Sullivan, he is set to play the lead in the Pirates of Penzance in January in Toronto.

And then there was the doctor and her wife who were so incredibly well-travelled and interesting and invited me to stay in Vancouver with them anytime I wanted.

And the French couple who were working in Guadaloupe who were on their way to St. Pierre and Miguelon to visit friends. There are many such French outposts on our globe.

Then there was elder-biker, a seasoned road warrior, and I can't forget the Quebec father and daughter couple and.......

And yeah, I get paid for this.

Which is the icing on le gateau.

As you can see, the francais is rubbing off on me.

Time for the Cranky Crone to emerge.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

This Much is True

Still life lunch. Alas, no, none of it grown by me.

I've come out of the shadow of darkness. Everybody keeps telling me. I look better, sound better, talk better, respond better. That's good.

A major part of this was letting go. Of so much I can't begin to tell you. Not just the 3 beloveds who died, but also my past, my missing daughter, and on.

Finding a new purpose(s), taking care of my health which is not terrific, being honest, distancing myself from those who harm me. Taking stock. Feeling pleased with the inventory. Finding some new projects, one over dinner last night with a long time client who's visiting St.John's for a conference and is expanding her core business and wants me on board for a while with this. Fortuitous.

July is heavily booked with my PGs, the anthology just about ready to go to print, a 3-day (free!)vacation planned with a dear friend to visit another friend's newly opened gallery about 250km from here, with side-visits to other places of interest.

And I spent some time designing a new afghan for a beloved niece. And was excited to get it on the needles this morning. Quite a few have said I should make a little industry out of this too, maybe I will.

All in all, I do love this quiet place in bright sunshine I find myself in. I think we only appreciate such contentment when we have wrestled for long stretches in the dark with shadows and hurt and pain.

And a huge bonus is knowing, truly and deeply, who one's soul friends are.

And it can be delightful to discover those who really care.

Along with stopping the cartwheels for those who couldn't give a tosser.

I am so grateful.

I truly feel reborn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Newfoundland Cop Stop

I can get my knickers in a twist about the sad state of the economy here and then the utter charm of this extraordinary place sets in and I am once more in love with this province. None of this exchange would happen in any other part of the world, I daresay but correct me if I'm wrong. I was heading out to an NQLWDL (Not Quite Ladies Who Do Lunch) meal today at Daughter's house, picking up others on the route. In case you ask - green curry with noodles, this divine lime-avocado spread, sweet potato fries, apple cobbler + mother's fresh soda bread out of the oven. I was running slightly late, I'm one of those annoying people who's always on time, when lard thundering jaysus, there's a cop on my tail with the lights flashing. I pull in to a parking lot and wait. I know I was speeding. A bit. Here's a verbatim transcript of our dialogue.

RCMP cop saunters up to the driver's window. He's 12 years old.

C: Do you know what speed you were at?

M: No, well, I know I was a bit over.

C: Brace yourself, M (didn't call me lady or ma'am but my first name)you were 46 over the limit.

M: What?

C: 46, yes. I need to see your driver's licence

M: It's in the trunk. In my purse. Can I get out of my car?

C: As long as there are no hand grenades or machine guns on your person or in the trunk.

M: (giggle) No. Only the usual stash of street drugs.

C: (solemnly, suppressing a smile)That's OK then.

C: (once he checks licence and ownership)I don't want you to have points or you know a rise in your insurance rates so I'm only going to record this as 10 over the limit. A small fine and no points.

M: You'd do that?

He smiles, goes back to the cop car and then returns with a ticket and my documents. I thank him.

C: I'm really sorry I destroyed your day.

M: No actually, you made my day. 10 points only and I was trying to break the sound barrier!
Thank you so much!

I recounted this story to the gang at lunch. I was anticipating a lecture from Daughter who burst out laughing held out her hand for me to shake and said:
"Well done Mum!"

I probably need a lecture from someone, anyone, on this, but yeah, I'm watching my speed. For now.

I'm the little old lady from Pasadena.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Reflections on a dark economy

I haven't written about the dark days of near-financial collapse in Newfoundland. Mainly because I vent on Facebook and to friends. So here is an encapsulated version.

It's a long story of blundering governmental and political incompetence in a drunker sailor scenario of spending when offshore oil generated unbelievable wealth here. Instead of creating a heritage fund, Dems Wot Rulez initiated a hydro electric project - Muskrat Falls - which is proving to be voracious in its appetite for more and more funds as the project is elayed due to structural collapses and disputes arising with Italian contractors. I won't bore you all with it here. Suffice to say taxpayers here are like taxpayers everywhere, bailing out wealthy banks, except we're bailing out this disastrous project which is already over budget by 100% - 6 billion dollars projected costs at the outset now tipping close to 12 billion dollars. We are a province of just over 1/2 million people to give you some idea of the monetary per capita overload incurred for generations yet to come.

To add insult to injury, the poorest and most illiterate amongst us are being penalized financially for this absolute boondoggle of an enterprise. Half of the public libraries are being shut down, taxes are added to insurance (my car insurance increased by 50% even though I am 47 years accident free)glucose strips distribution at pharmacies is being reduced and co-pays for home care for seniors are being increased. It is the most mean spirited budget ever. And we are all appalled and significantly less solvent as a result.

There was no hope offered in this budget. Our politicians are the highest paid in Canada and don't, truly, have an operating brain cell amongst the lot of them.

They bleat austerity whilst living lavish life styles completely out of touch with the rest of us struggling masses. For instance our finance minister owns 8 MacDonald's franchises in the province and refuses to even discuss a fast food tax. H'm. Along with believing herself to be an entrepreneur. Mull that one when every decision at a Micky Doo's is dictated by Head Office.

Protests were launched, one a massive poster demanding the premier resign affixed to every pole for miles around the provincial legislature. These were removed in the dead of night at tax payer expense.

Free speech, guaranteed by our constitution, denied to the peasants by their betters.

Our local MHA (MP)announced publicly that we just didn't understand the complexity of political decisions. This is her first crack at politics.

Fun times out on the Edge of the Atlantic, folks.

And I've just given you the bare bones.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reflections on African Soup


For those interested, here's the recipe. Roughly. It changes according to my mood and I've adapted it to the most reasonable combinations of ingredients. In season.

An immersible blender helps as it does in most soups. So if you're a serious soup maker go find yourself one. Easy on line shopping. I bought one for Daughter for her birthday. As no kitchen should really be without.

A good stock is essential too. I keep a big glass jar in the freezer part of my fridge and always save my vegetable water, fish stock, et al in it.

List

Stock - any amount top up with regular water if you have to and a veggie or oxo cube. Enough for 4-8 cups of liquid.
Pumpkin - 2 cups I use canned being in the frozen north
Root vegetables, turnip, carrot, yam, sweet potato, parsnip, whathaveyou - about 8 cups after chopping. I love to add chopped kale or turnip greens in season too.
Garlic: chopped fine
1 huge onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of curry - reduce if you don't like it too hot.
Salt, pepper
1 can of coconut milk - I use the powdered kind and add another cup of water.
1/2 cup peanut butter.

Method

Fry the onion and garlic in a little light oil to transparency. Then add the spice, saute for a minute or 2 to mix nicely.
Add the stock and veggies all at once. Then add the pumpkin and everything else. Stir really well.
I usually simmer this for a couple of hours.
Then I use the immersible blender to smooth it all together, leaving a few veggies floating around unsmoothed.
I serve in big bowls with crusty bread or my Irish soda bread or as a meal over rice or with salad. I decorate the top of the bowls with a couple of peanuts, a dash of toasted coconut and a swirl of unsweetened whipped cream if I have them on hand.

Check to make sure the consistency pleases you before blending. I like it thick.

Everyone loves this soup. It evolved from a retreat I was on many, many years ago. And it was an Irish chef who showed me the ingredients which were not as varied as mine.

For instance he used canned milk rather than the coconut and stuck to sweet potatoes and pumpkin only.

I much prefer my version. As do my guests who lap it up.

It freezes beautifully. I often get 10-12 servings for future use.

So there ya go.

You're welcome.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dis 'N Dat

We finally got some summer here. Seriously. Temperatures were so low I had my fire going up to a few nights ago. Today is sunny but around 11C. A joke really.

Tourist season is busy so far. Good bookings for June. Many bookings for July and August. Earning my crusts for the winter. Guests who Airbnb are very interesting. My observation so far (which I've shared with a few) is that only very contented couples go for the Airbnb experience as their relationships can be under intimate scrutiny by other guests and by the hosts. Just my thoughts. I mean if one is civil and respectful to one's partner over an early breakfast the happy couples exam is passed with flying colours. And I read human beings well. I can detect the false exteriors, the phony smiles and the passive aggressive underpinnings quite easily.

I seem to be on the go much more than I'd like. Today is my first day for ME in over a week. I took naps, from exhaustion, a few times in the morning after the PGs left. I've never done that before. Could be my energy is not as good as it was due to health issues or age. I did mention this to my doctor but I get the raised eyebrow of "what do you expect?" which is not helpful.

Friends from Ontario have bought a gorgeous house here and held a little dinner party Friday night and served Lobster Newburg.


A friend has been experimenting with woodpiles and built me two of these. They are in the German tradition and called Holzhaufen. Huge advantage is they dry very quickly with the wind running through them.


I met an old blog friend and her husband for dinner this past week. The previous time we'd arranged it in Ontario she had health issues, but this time they were touring Newfoundland and we met up. Absolutely delightful in the flesh, so to speak, it is extraordinary how the internet has changed the way of forming friendships. I can honestly say, having met quite a few bloggers, that the friendships in real life "meets" are warm and always feel as if we've known each other a long time. Thank you Tessa and Martin!

My wonderful grief counsellor is giving a workshop in our town community centre tomorrow. Looking forward.

Looking forward is what it's all about. Truly. And that was my father's secret in life. Always looking forward. Happy Da's Day, old man.

Wherever you are.



Friday, June 10, 2016

Lunch

Two friends came for lunch today. Odd that in I met each of them individually and then discovered a few years later that they were best friends.

It was a four and half hour lunch. I love these extended meals, they are far too rare. I made my African soup which is a meal unto itself. And my home made Irish bread, ham salad, potato salad, egg salad. One of them had been on sick leave suffering from major depression but she brought her guitar with her. And said to us if there is anywhere to start playing again, it is here. And I was so touched.

What I took note of in myself, because these friends are so dear, was that I was able to talk about my losses in the present, the impact each had on my life and cry a little but not in that deep anguish of the past. We all conferred about how unprepared we were for loss. The only way to transform it is to do one good thing to compensate when the grief hits.

And K sang this:



There's such comfort in shared memories and recognizing as well that we have each other in the present and can be open and loving to each other. Like a rebirth. And talk of rainbows and kids.

My friend is a magnificent singer. Truly awesome. She sang Gordon Lightfoot's "Bitter Green", another Kristofferson and then this with her own folky heartbreak alto spin on it:



She was completely restored when she left.

As were we all.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Encouragement

-------------------------------------my mantra------------------------------------

I get encouragement from unexpected sources.

I'm not a person who's greatly disciplined.

I have routines that give me pleasure. The slog work I tend to avoid.

I envy others who can pack the slog and pleasure into a smooth run. I watch them wipe counters and brush up as they accomplish other tasks. Like a a ballet.

I'm a reactive housekeeper. I'll clean up like a mad thing if you're coming over. I've been known to pile up dishes because I don't have time to unload the dishwasher as I'm too busy binding a handcrafted afghan or immersed in an unputdownable book or writing a chapter or prepping a workshop.

I get private emails from those who read my blog. And sometimes it's a lash with a wet noodle.

One of them recently had me mulling - in a good way. (S)he questioned why I salivated over others' words in books when I should be working more on my own creative words.

Another, who lives in France, wrote me directly having lurked on my blog for years, and asked me why I'd never finished my thoughts on emigration from Ireland as she could relate. So yes, I need to concentrate more on writing.

I did write a piece on emigration but it was brutal, savage, blunt and harsh. And I hesitated with it, filed it away. But honesty can be brutal. Honesty can be harsh. But as Granny said: hesitation buys no tea.

Maybe I do need to back away for a while from distractions. And salt myself away in the Tigeen and write.

Encouragement.
It wakes me up.
I need that.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fun

I didn't think I could have fun again, so much loss my dears. So much I didn't write about the half of it, it sounded like so much fiction. Like a fantastical situation, my gawd, you'd say, the woman has to be exaggerating. So I didn't. I just carried it. Sometimes not so bravely. Under covers. Not functioning too well. Performing life, one might say. Knowing life will never be the same again is a huge adjustment. Knowing that those who purportedly love you absolutely do not.

And then this little one walks into my life in a hell of a mess. I've written about her here and here.

And the fun starts to happen. She is dyslexic but has a photographic memory so if she's seen something once, her memory stores it. Very handy in a store where I was looking for a small fan for a bedroom and she whizzed off and came back with one small white convertible one and I said "perfect". And we laughed. And she got her hair streaked foiled today for the first time in her life and she looks amazing. And she bought stuff for her kids and a big rosebush for her mother and a special halogen light bulb for her father ("how do you know which one?" - "my photographic memory!"). And she was so full of joy and gratitude and just plain into life that I realized that for the last week or so, some huge black heavy object has been lifted from my heart. And it's all due to her pushing me out of my own misery and she wouldn't even be aware of that. She connected me with fun again.

I see the world through her eyes and she's funny and talky even though her life story would make you cry for her. She doesn't cry for herself.

I hope she makes it. I truly do. And so far so good at 2 weeks and 2 days.