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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mixed Bag



I'll write of the good stuff first:

One of the highlights of the summer is that Grandgirl is coming here for a month. I never expected this. She will be 18 this coming October and off to university in September. I am over the moon about it as she will see two performances of the play and we can hang out as we normally do.

I'm off to a surprise 60th birthday party tonight which should be fun. We're going to celebrate the birthday of a 'new' friend who is more like family to me. Serendipitous is this rare circumstance when one meets someone and knows right away. In my case it was the right place at the right time. She had just gone through a terrible upheaval at her longterm workplace. I was able to share a similar equally devastating experience I'd had in a workplace years ago and could offer concrete support and advice. Hire a lawyer being the first piece of it.

I've taken on too much and this is the downside of my life right now. Daughter and a long term friend said to me that I've again lost the ability to say 'no' when others ask me to take on a 26 week commitment which holds no interest for me whatsoever and will bleed my energy and will demand skills which repel me - and also being with others excessively. I do not play well with others when they are too much with me. I need a lot of alone time. More than most. I resent intrusions into my creative space and taking on others' ideas of where that can go. No. No. And NO. I am rehearsing the word.

I was reminded of what I love to do. Being creative and in my bliss. Deciding when and where I can be in community with others (and I am surprised by how little I do need outside community stimulation). I'm self driven for the most part. I think other artists are with me on this. Solitude is a balm.

It took me a while but I am cancelling the daily newspaper which occasionally publishes me. Why? I counted the negative articles in the last while. Nearly all. I can almost feel my blood pressure rising as I read an old fart's half page on why feminism has destroyed the world. Seriously. His main point? We are finding fulfilment in outside interests and refusing to breed, thus endangering all countries as decreasing populations can't sustain them. Seriously. This moron has obviously not heard of our existing rampant population growth which endangers the world and starves millions abd millions of children? And he gets a full half page to enrage women and thinking readers?

Enough already.

You can see in some areas I am an extraordinarily slow learner.

And that's /30 from me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Packed Agenda


What's this about?

I find myself getting overly explanatory lately. In that irritating way of some seniors and elders of my experience.

Example:

Making an appointment at the car dealership and they change it by about two hours and I start in on how busy my day is. Not in an aggravated or aggressive or annoyed kind of way or anything. Nicely. Going through the entire day until I hear myself and think, sweet Maude, my grandmother would do this, my elderly aunts would do this, other elders of my acquaintance would do this. Usually people who lived alone. So I stopped and coughed and said to the patient lady:

“Oh, who cares, I'll shuffle things around, no problem”

And I got to thinking, why do I do this? Is it to make my life valuable now that I am older as in:

(1) See how important I am (to strangers, yet),

(2) I may be old but you can't shove me around, lady,

(3) I am so busy, listen to the list of all I have to do.

(4) I matter.

Who am I trying to convince? It's hard to admit it but of course it's myself. And half the battle of changing or eliminating any negative trait is the awareness of it. Right?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Blog Jam



There is so much I want to do right now but I am completely engulfed in the work that pays my bills. Nearly.

I think a combination of age and a desire to be doing OTHER STUFF is the major burden I'm working under. I tire easily and lengthily. I neglect self-care. My writing life is shoved to the side. I rarely get out and take art photos. I want to experiment with some photographic software. I briefly jot down some knitting designs. Oh to execute!

I was sending off - by mail, how quaint - one of my cards to a friend who has been diagnosed with a mass in her lung. She quit smoking too late. And get this - she was an emergency room nurse. I've known her an awfully long time. She was married lots before she outed herself, having surprised herself immensely by falling in love with a woman late in life. She had great movie and Scrabble parties. And you'd think that would be all there is to her, right? Well, no.

You see about twenty years ago she went off to Africa for two years. Her mission? Both to prevent and heal clitorectomies. How many of us can say that we made one small change in the world that would go on and on and on? Well, she did.

She did.

And do you know what she said to me, among lots of other positive stuff today on the phone?

"I'm ready to go if that is my next step. I've had a bloody marvellous life".

I felt immensely cheered after the phonecall. I was expecting tears and grief for I love this woman.

I looked around the scads of files, the mountains of paperwork.

I thought: one file at a time, duckie, one file at a time.

And be glad of it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My First Memory



My mother and me back in the Good Old Days with Dad taking the picture.



A blogger consortium which blogs on a Friday every week had the topic of first memories for this week. And all are fascinating. If you want to check them out, feel free. Most of them are listed on my sidebar ~ Grannymar, Blackwatertown, Ramana's Musings, etc.

My first memory is totally clear to me. And I remember how absolutely flabbergasted my parents were when I brought it to their attention when I was about six.

I was under two and still in my pram.

It was just after the war (or "The Emergency" as it was called in Ireland) and petrol was rationed. So my mother and father and me would take to the roads to visit my grandparents in East Cork on Sundays when the weather was fine. It was exactly 6 miles from our town to the little village where my grandparents lived. My parents were enthusiastic bicyclists but were waiting for me to turn the magical age of two before purchasing a child seat for the crossbar of my father's bike (and those cycling trips I remember clearly also).

So there we were heading out the Youghal Road, my father was pushing me, I remember that clearly as he was a little faster than my mother and would whistle for my entertainment. My father, in those days, lived to amuse me, my being an only child for quite a while.

Next thing, he stopped pushing and was clutching his head and doing this absolutely crazy dance. I can remember laughing and laughing until I got the hiccups and had to be taken out of the pram by my mother and banged on the back until I could catch my breath.

Like I said, I brought this scene up with my parents when I was older.

As in "Why did Daddy do that dance in the middle of the road? It was so funny!"

They were totally gobsmacked I would remember a scene from my pram days that they had just about forgotten.

It turns out poor old Dad had been bitten by a bee and his forehead had swelled out in a huge bump and when he had calmed down, Mum had to get the sting out with her thumbs.

So the reality of NOT having a Fred Astaire as my daddy forced me to adjust that memory.

I preferred the singing, dancing and whistling Daddy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Restoring our Faith in Humanity


.

After yesterday's post, this brought me to tears. I urge you to look at all the photos and the text underneath.

We are all capable of extraordinary acts of kindness and caring. And we need reminders like these.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Democracy and other Fantasies




And for my friends outside Canada, Ford Nation refers to Toronto and its embarrassing and truly moronic mayor, Rob Ford.

We often look to the south of us here and point the finger as we pride ourselves on our free health care and the line from our national anthem - "The True North Strong and Free". Well, no more I can assure y'all.

For if ever there was a democracy or the semblance of one in Canada it has now vanished like the winter snow.

Here in Newfoundland the majority provincial government has put further muzzles on the press by extending the Official Secrets Act to include all cabinet discussion. Of any kind. There was a filibuster in the House of Assembly for 3 days as our brave little 'oppositions' (far too few) fought and fought. There was one notable standoff when the opposition called this new legislated secrecy act worse than the governments of most Third World Countries (he spoke the truth) and was held in contempt by the speaker. Seriously. There are many secret happenings going on in our provincial government here. Most notably a hydro dam project in Muskrat Falls which will destroy the aboriginal lands, put Newfoundland in debt for forty years (at least 8 billion dollars, and no one talks about overruns in these huge projects)give penny farthing rates to commercial enterprises and triple the hydro rates paid by us peons. So it is bleedingly obvious why fresh, tighter muzzles need to be applied and pages and pages of redaction from any papers released.

And federally we have the PM, Stephen Harper, rushing through an Omnibus Bill (much like our friends down south) which (amongst a huge, awful list) promises to trash the environment, ruin our fisheries, and remove health care from the neediest of our refugees who arrive here sick, sore and terrified. This is not the Canada I chose to become a citizen of. Harperland is more like it. And our own Premier of Newfoundland, Kathy Dunderdale, sits at his knees in worshipful adoration.

So there you have it. I haven't linked, there would be too many. It is an extremely depressing state of affairs.

So I concentrate on other, brighter things. Like a trip to Ireland. Further performances of my play here. Knitting a baby blanket. Going to my book club. Getting some work done. Reading. Writing. Walking. Taking photos. Watching whales.......

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sunsets at my Door




I'll never get used to them. I never want to. I sometimes put my hand in the golden water and bow to the Sun King.

I treat each one, at the end of every day, like I see it only once a year.

Awe seems like an understatement.

I'm often the only ones who notices. But others notice me with the camera and wave and hulloo.

I always want to say: look behind you. See what I see?

And they sometimes oblige me. And shrug a little.

I'm the CFA*, out there looking at sunsets, taking pictures even. They've seen thousands.

What's new?


*Come From Away





Friday, June 15, 2012

Comfort (and maybe joy?)




Have I ever told you how much I love Newfoundland? No? Well, I do, my arms can't stretch out wide enough to show you. Over the past eight years more and more treasures have been revealed to me. Not just the scenery, that is a class unto itself. But so are the people. And the words.

Holy Hannah - the words. Comfort is an ordinary word you'd think. Not so in Newfoundland.

It's used both as a noun and verb here. Meaningfully. You get an old fellah and an old gal, both widowed. And they hook up. They mightn't shack up as Revenue Canada would immediately start shaving away at their single status Canada Pension and Old Age Security - fellah and gal now being coupled and domiciled at one address. No, they maintain separate addresses, usually.

Now how would you describe such a relationship?

Well, they are each other's "comfort". Oh, Eddie up the road? Oh, his comfort is Annie, lives down by the church. And vice versa.

No one thinks twice about it. I was delighted to see it formalized in an obit in the paper recently and shared it with my daughter.

John Smith (pseudonyym) survived by his comfort Shirley Murphy.

My neighbour Gracie (5 years older than me) is currently in the enviable position of having two comforts and she shares her time equally with them both, one is 87, the other is a spry young fellow of 62. She has tremendous difficulty wiping the smile off her face and tells me she looks forward to going to her own home for a night or two for a rest.

I've no idea how to get a bit of comfort for myself. Perhaps I should hang out a shingle?

"Comfort both offered and received. No strings attached."

And now I can't pass a Comfort Inn without an internal giggle overtaking me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bizarro



I was up the road today to help a neighbour set up a website for her business. You'd think I knew what I was doing. Well, I knew more than her and was able to offer her a bit of assistance and load some photos and pricing and other bits and bobs.

It is wonderful to be thought of as some sort of techno genius. I am far from it, I assure you. I just know the highways and biways of the interwebz a little better than her.

Anyways, her hubbie is stretched out in his recliner at the other end of the room, exhausted, having mowed their meadow all day. He barely waves at me. He's a very good looking man with the manners of a turnip. Don't get me started.

They lost a son to brain cancer last year and I just made up my mind to be kinder than I used to be to them. Kindness doesn't cost a dime. And some need it more than others, right?

So there we are, I'm loading up some (awful) pictures to her site and I glance over at the teevee that he is nodding off to.

"Isn't that porn?" I ask her as I watch a couple contort themselves into those peculiar positions beloved by Hollywoodland - female appendages in full throttle, male's discreetly entwined in blankies. Everything hanging, banging and howling.

"Whut?" she says, barely glancing at the screen, "Oh that? Johnny needs it to go to sleep."


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vulnerability




Is it through our vulnerabilities we get to know each other that much better? By revealing them, I mean. Taking the risk. Showing our underskirts to each other.

I saw much of it today. There's a lot of pain kicking around. And once the door is opened, if only a sliver, the sadness within begins to waft out. In little dollops at first, then some cloud bursts, then a steady stream. We are stitched together very lightly, aren't we? More like a basting seam. I suppose we only get the perfect French seams when we are aged as far as we can go and moving over to make room for someone new and there's no room for leaking.

I know some that keep that stiff upper lip going all the time. And it is only through the odd little slippage of the mask you get to assemble some of the story. Piece by piece. I was at a wonderful birthday dinner tonight, a packed hall. The recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal, among other medals and certificates, is a dear friend, like a mother to me since I moved here. And it was only when, privately, she took me into the archival room where all her awards were encircling us and I held her hand that I saw how truly important all this was to her. This made sense of her life. Her volunteerism, her stoicism in the the loss of her husband and the death of a barely adult son a few months later. This filled the void. She let me see that void, briefly, when she squeezed my hand tightly and said: What does this all mean anyway?

Bling, I wanted to say back, like pollyfilla on the walls. Filling the holes. Making it all look pretty. I didn't, of course.

Would I want such honours? I wouldn't say no to a Booker now, would I?

And another. Sharing the pain of his daughter's marital collapse. It's sad when our children's adult dreams shatter in their faces. Sadder than the failure of our own dreams. Why is that?

And another, her identical twin sister in the final ravaging stages of alcoholism and there is nothing she can do. I know what familial alcoholism is all about. I just have no idea what it is like to care so deeply for someone who is dying from it who is the exact mirror of one's self. Who shared the womb with you. Who is locked underneath her demons with a layer of vodka keeping the world at bay.

It is only in revealing our sadness and weakness, we allow others the opportunity to touch us, to feel the connection, to say, perhaps - me too. Me too. I know. I was there. I am there.




Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cartoon of the Week



Well, the Republicans keep saying they're the voice of the people, right? And this is what the people want, right?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On Blue Tooth and Blue Notes




Daughter (who lives 3000k away) and I have long conversations on the phone, our record is 6 hours. Yet to be broken. It will, I've no doubt.

A few months ago I purchased a blue tooth headset for my landline. Mein Gott, what a liberator that's been. I am no longer chained to a handset or a computer. I make meals, wander about in the garden, have a coffee with her, even get some work done. Like today. I needed to make 10 CDs for the cast and crew of the play and I did this while chatting with her. I bought her a blue tooth for her birthday. She took a bit of convincing but now she is thrilled. Today we purged her closet while chatting, reminiscing about our race running days together (she still had the race t-shirts, I tossed mine a long time ago). We talked about the sweaters we had knit for each other and how sad it is when one no longer wears them and has to make a decision before Goodwilling. I suggested photographing these handknit beauties. I've done that. None of us want a museum of old clothes and shoes and christening robes and wedding dresses or could I be wrong?

She said this is why people move, so they can store their history. I said this is why I'm so awful with empty rooms, I am compelled to fill them. I feel we are almost physically together during these long conversations.

And Blue Notes.

I watched Daughter do this a few years ago and found it to be a satisfying side effect to my compulsive book reading.

(Quote recently seen about book readers such as myself: I read so much my bookmarks are smaller books. Yeah.)

Like her, I now make little notes of passages I like. And I don't limit myself to books.

For stressful days:

My eyeballs aren't playing as a team. Dooce Blog.

On describing a hangover:

His head was filled with exploding drums of used motor oil. P239 - Good to a Fault.
A description of a disconnected woman:

A strange dim woman, like a flashlight with the batteries run down. P 301 - Good to a Fault
.

On London:

Black taxis soughed through the skin of recently fallen rain. P263 - Mistaken.

On a fruitless conversation:

Monosyllables were planted like bollards closing every avenue. - The Transit of Venus.

On love:

The tragedy is not that love doesn't last. The tragedy is the love that lasts. - The Transit of Venus.

Such bon mots can't be found on teevee or in the movies. This is why I read. And savour such phrasing. Again and again.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Blog Jam



Please share in my glorious flowers.....which fill every room in my house

Give more weight to your dreams than to your fears(seen on post by friend who has realized his dream).

I am nearing a 1,000 posts over nearly 7 years. Am I running out of words, thoughts, ideas?

Late at night, I often hear music in my head. Always classical. Short. There is possibly a name for this syndrome if syndrome it is.

Today I was playing the soundtrack from Frido Kahlo and it never fails - it affects me like a punch in the stomach. Don't know why. Or there could be a 1,000 reasons.

My hearing is nearly restored. What a gift hearing is. And sight. And speech. And walking. And....

Far too many work files here. But they are listed and I am attacking them.

I love things to look forward to: Saturday night there's a friend being bemedalled by a senator and this is all disguised as a birthday party for her. I can hardly wait to see her face.
And Sunday we're having a cast BBQ to celebrate our recent success.
And oh yes, Friday night I am off to a play - a theatre performance by a father and daughter.



Sunday, June 03, 2012

Joke of the Week






Three Irishmen are sitting in the pub window seat, watching the front door of the brothel across the road.

The local Methodist pastor appears, and quickly goes inside.

"Would you look at dat!" says the first Irishman.

"Didn't I always say what a bunch of hypocrites they are?"

No sooner are the words out of his mouth than a rabbi appears at the door, knocks, and goes inside.

"Another one trying to fool everyone with pious preaching and stupid hats!"

They continue drinking their beer roundly condemning the vicar and the rabbi when they see their own Catholic priest knock on the door.

"Ah, now dat's sad." says the third Irishman.

"One of the girls must have died."


With hat tip to my ex-husband

Friday, June 01, 2012

Blog Jam


Yeah, June 1st and I have the fire going. Grateful for this. Why? I can't stomach the humid solid heat of other places I've lived.

Day 13 of ear infection. Battled by two antibiotics and ear drops now and only a teensy improvement to hearing and pain. Back to the doc on Monday if no change.

Day 3 of stomach flu, not as bad as yesterday but I am self-confined to barracks.

Being alone gives me time to reflect and create. I need a lot of alone time. I designed a baby afghan in my beloved aran knitting for a child arriving in August. I outlined a new play.

Mantras are helpful in reprogramming the brain and distancing from hurtful behaviours of others. I no longer take on the rejection and spite of those who profess to love me. It is their issue and not mine and I will not make it mine.
"My reaction to others is entirely controlled by me."
Fall back mantra:
"I am far too old for this shyte."

The older I get the more I realize that I have to make time for play, running (OK, loping) on the beach, collecting little treasures as my forty-mumble daughter does, making ridiculous scrapbooks, playing hide and seek with the dog, wearing a bright red floaty shirt just because, trying new recipes, playing music far too loudly.

And I will reflect daily on the line of the old song:

"And always remember the longer you live, the sooner you'll bloody well die."

Make each moment count, my friends!