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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Irish Emigrant on Hiatus.



One of the best versions of this song I've ever heard. Hanky time.

Behave yourselves while I play on the other side of the pond.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Potluck


Me and my H20 today (from my deck).

A friend of mine and her brand new husband have built their dream retirement home. All cedar and pine with a huge great room with a vaulted ceiling and a wood burning stove and comfy chairs and sofas and cushions everywhere. Quarried stone floor, honeyed pine walls. One of those enormous cast iron chandeliers beaming down on everyone. Vast vista windows everywhere. Overlooking, well, nothing, really. The shed where hubby tinkers out back, the front stone driveway with parking for twelve cars. The reason I mention her view is that Newfoundland is an island with lashings of water everywhere. Ponds (we don't use the word lakes), streams, rivers and oceans and waterfalls. You'd have to work hard to get a building lot not overlooking some kind of H20.

But they managed it. I've seen this oddity of habitation/domicile here before. And I've asked about it. Like, WTF? The response has always been the same.

"I just hate the bloody water."

"Why?"

"My grandfather/uncle/father died in it. Murderous is that water. A killer."


Yeah, so go ahead, really punish that water.

We had a potluck there yesterday. There were fifteen of us lounged around the Great Room. With space for about thirty more if needs. The food was amazing. I brought my braised coconut spinach dish which I've written about.

The company was wonderful. Very enriching and interesting and time raced by as it does when you're having lots of laughs and interesting convos.

But I couldn't help thinking: why would anyone build such a gorgeous place and have it overlook such mundane and utilitarian humdrumity?

To each her own.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I've got a little list, I've got a little list



Anyone who knows me knows I'm a mad fan - and one time performer back in the ancient Cork City days before interwebz and kidlets and emigration - of Gilbert & Sullivan. You could sing their ditties off key and standing on your head and I would fall in love with you. Then again, That was a mistake lesson I made twice in my life.

Mistakes are lessons learned. I try not to use the word mistake. For if I don't try something how will I ever know I will like or dislike it? I know. Some people are cautious. But I prefer to err on the side of trying anything once or twice and learning the lesson and then moving on or staying and enjoying the result.

I was doing a survey of lessons in my own life. And seriously, I am very glad I made them. Even when I was engaged to two young men at the same time. Seriously. How ready was I for marriage? Harumph. I confessed the dilemma to my dad. Who made like a sphinx. I think he had apoplexy. His face went purple. He lost his voice. Completely. And when he regained it, he told my mother to "take care of your daughter, she's out of control, again." But I wasn't. Or was I? I learned my lesson. I wouldn't say it was the wrong man I married. I don't like the word wrong when applied to human beings. Maybe we were wrong for each other. Fire and water. I remember one of my dear friends who would come from her travels all over the world and nestle into our family home in Toronto for a while and observe us. "WWW," she would say, "I've never known a more mismatched couple. Your horizons are so wide and T----'s are so narrow." Well played, R, well played.

But I learned a good lesson then. I don't think I'm meant for marriage. Fine for me to say you'd think after messing about so much. But we have to try and learn, don't we? And how else to learn but by messing about and experimenting? See, I'm not one to run home and make you supper. Or wash your knickers. I'd forget. I'd get involved with my music or my book or my writing or my knitting and feel resentful if I had to interrupt myself to take care of you. You can see what I mean? Marital duty 'n all, that doesn't sit well with me. Though if you were to change the oil in my car or deal with the lesson I've learned from Cara the caravan, now that would be nice.

So yes, I was dealing with a list today and managed to strike off many items. Hence, the post....which could go on and on but I'll shut up now.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gratitude


I had this box from Daughter. A big huge serious box.

Stuffed. With books. And bookmarks. Great books. And a chair cover that said "Happy Birthday" and old photos that made me smile including a gorgeous one of my dad I thought I'd lost forever, and a little owl (my totem). And a beautiful card that made me cry. And a card from Grandgirl that started me up again. And an official knitting notebook for my projects. And two huge packages of my favourite vermicelli made from sweet potatoes which I can't get here - it was a treasure trove. The thought and care that went into this harvest makes me feel so special and loved.

And in the past wee while I had the most ridiculous urge to jog again. It's like my feet have a life of their own. This was completely irresistible in the last few weeks so jog I did, I'd look ahead and mentally note a tree and jog towards it. And it feels free and easy and connected to the mantra I would recite in the old days when I jogged every morning for an hour or so. "I am a strong capable woman." So I said that a few times. And believed it.

And then I get a private message on Facebook tonight from a young woman (anyone younger than my daughters are young to me, younger than Grandgirl? - infants)in which she said: "I couldn't believe that was you I saw on the road tonight running. Running! It was only when I was passed you that I recognised you. Could I start running with you do you think? You are so inspiring!"

It's in the tiny things of how we live our lives that are the most observed and the most validating to our existence, I find.





Friday, August 16, 2013

Deadly Laughter.


A dear old friend called me tonight on the cusp of my turning into a serious elder - my birthday is the 16th. She hesitated to tell me her news and then burst out with it. Her dad had died. A dad who was in his 97th year of life. A handsome dude who was a magnet for the ladies. Tall, elegant and he'd gallop through five miles a day as part of his constitutional. Until a couple of years ago when things started to slow down. But not his sharp mind. No, never that.

But. And I hesitated about writing this. But some things? A blogger just has to share. Especially if they've made you nearly throw up you've been laughing so very hard. I knew her dad and liked him. He played a mean game of cribbage. As mean as me. And enjoyed taking us out to dinner, one of us on each arm.

So her dad. I mentioned he was nearly 97? He had a really, really bad fall. It appears he was hanging up his trousers in his closet and lo and behold, he leaned back too far and fell backwards into his bathroom, cracking his head off the toilet while one of his ribs punctured a lung. A bit of a mess. So he lands in the hospital and my friend - I'll call her Susan - hears this story and something is not quite jelling with her. She knows the layout of his little suite in the seniors' residence and the closet is in the hall and the bathroom is around the corner from that just off his bedroom. A fall too far in other words. So she investigates. And ascertains that Kate is the one who reported that her father had fallen. So she goes to see her. Kate, Susan tells me, is power walking on the seniors' track in the shortest shorts Susan has ever seen on an 80 year old. Kate is embarrassed as she fumbles with the story. Won't meet Susan's eyes. Then Susan gets it.

Her dad was protecting Kate's honour. Sharp enough, gentlemanly enough to remember the reputation of his lady. So Dad decides he's going to leave now and refuses to eat and the doctors want to shove tubes down his throat but the family insists, it is his choice. Absolutely no tubes. So Dad arranges private farewells with all the family, his two surviving children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. This took a couple of days. And then Susan slept beside his hospital bed for two nights holding his hand until he quietly tossed his mortal coil.

At the funeral, many older ladies came to Susan and told her they all loved to read to him, especially Kate. One of them would always read him to sleep every night after tucking him in. And sometimes in the afternoon too, Dad couldn't get enough of Kate's reading.

So now you know where we went with this right? Like I won't spell it out for you. But you can imagine how she and I savoured this, rolled with it, played with it, couldn't stop with the scenarios. Honked, screamed, slapped our thighs, snorted, ran out of breath. Tried. Oh, we tried to get sensible and serious and well, work up some wee bit of sads and grief. And failed. Again and again.

Oh, you handsome, wicked daredevil.

May we all crash out of life with such a, well, bang.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Additions


I often bring you views of the ocean at the front of my house - but this is a view of the meadow at the back.

"Magical are the additions to one's life that don't involve money or material goods." (an original quote from me)

Following up on the last post, I reflected on what I had added. I try not to take anything for granted but some lovely stuff just slips under the wire and I hardly notice until I think. Hard.

1. Being present at my own life.
2. Participating in the full spectrum of life.
3. Being of service in whatever way I can.
4. Physicality - dancing, walking and, lol, racing.
5. Music, ah the charms, listening to it, dancing to it, singing to it.
6. Writing.
7. Writing.
8. Writing.
9. Excited as each fresh stage of my life unfolds - I must post about the latest soon.
10.Directing.
11.Photography.
12.Rediscovering cookery, experimenting with more exotic and fancier dishes, sharing these discoveries with others.
13.Blogging - making new friends and actually meeting some on the flesh so to speak.
14.Crafting of all kinds.
15.Book Club.
16.Theatre troupe.
17.Gratitude - what a wonderful feeling that is. Focussing on what is in my life and not what is NOT in it.
18.Staying in the moment.
19.Learning from the past.
20.Realizing everyone is here to teach me both what not to do and what to do.
21.Seeing clearly that it is not the years in my life but the life in my years.
22.Some incredibly supportive family and friends.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Life is Series of Subtractions.



A blog-mate and I were exchanging emails about how she was giving up this 'n that and I was sharing with her what I had chosen to give up when I was reminded of a spiritual retreat I was on back in the day, when the facilitator mentioned he'd always thought life was about what we could add to it (addition) when actually it was the exact opposite (subtraction).

I've never forgotten that. We were all a bunch of recovered alcoholics there so we'd already let go of the "divil dhrink" but being told we would improve our lives greatly if we subtracted other stuff - Whut?, give up more? - had us just about running for cover.

But he was right. Now I'm listing some of what I've given up over the years since I first gave up alcohol. Much of it's not "stuff". It is behaviours and attitudes that do not serve me well no matter how cushy they feel. And some were not by choice but by circumstance.

Alcohol
Tobacco
Compulsive eating and/or restricting food
Television
People pleasing (still working on that!)
Sex (not by choice!)
Abusive people
City living
Well paying work I found unfulfilling
Pharmaceutical crutches
Toxic relationships in the guise of "romance".
Unsupportive relationships.

I'm sure more will come to my mind.

I'll write about the additions I've made to replace these subtractions in another post for nature does abhor a vacuum.


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Memento Mori


He was a tough, stocky fellow with a loud grating voice. I sure didn't enjoy his behaviour at our weekly village card game. He banged the table a lot. He was a school bus driver and had a rough cut to him. Apart from his beard. Which was immaculately trimmed. A big red face. If I'd been a kid on his bus I'd have been terrified of him. He basically ignored me even when we shared the same table. And then a couple of months ago I found out from someone else he had cancer. Real bad.

So next time he was at my table at cards I hesitated and then said to him I was sorry to hear of his troubles. And meant it.

"Oh," he said in his big roary voice, surprised like, "I'm just about getting used to it. I had a treatment in Halifax last week and they said I was riddled with it."

I scrambled for something to say. What in gawd's name does one say?

"I can't imagine what you're going through...if there's anything..."

"Why!" he shouts, "That's very kind of you. See, I'm trying to spend as much time with the four young grandchildren. And the wife. She's sick too....."

Yesterday he died. We had two minutes of silence at the card game.

And then, simultaneously, everyone in the room banged their tables.



Sunday, August 04, 2013

Wet Days


Soft days
Mauzy days.

A soft day thank God
A wind from the south with a honeyed mouth....
I had great plans for myself today. A good long hike on the East Coast Trail.

But all came to naught.

Rain, some of it pelting, some of it belting, some of it like a veil. we must have had 18 varieties of it.

I always feel on wet days that the pressure's off.

You might ask what pressure?

Well none. Pressure being all relative. An old standby from childhood where I loved wet days when no one would bother me when I read in my bedroom all day.

So I made some phone-calls. One to my sister. She's never home these days, always at her wee summer place in Kerry. But I struck gold, caught her on her one day in Cork ready to take some of her scattered but temporarily homebound tribe back to Kerry. So we chatted. And chatted.

Then I made some kale chips. I love kale chips. And a sweet potato frittata for dinner with portobellos and sweet onions. Oh my.

And a few other calls came in and I had the luxury of just listening with all the time in the world and not having any outdoorsy plans calling me.

And then I watched an army of gulls march across the meadow picking up the worms. All peaceful and no squabbling.

And I thought: why can't us humans behave like these creatures?

Friday, August 02, 2013

No Do Days


A friend had a stepfather she didn't particularly like very much. I think her feelings were fairly conflicted on that matter as he was very good to her mother. He'd been a lifelong bachelor and only married her mother when he was in his mid-sixties after his own mother died. He was handsome but fairly boring and came from an old Toronto family and still had the airs and graces (but alas no wealth) which went a long way to attracting her mother.

The marriage lasted over thirty years and ended upon his death in his mid-nineties. He never had any of the worldly worries that beset most of us. His mother took care of him. She died. Then his newfound wife took over. Hardly a wrinkle on him, full head of white hair. Tall.

Anyway the point of all this backstory is to bring the title of this post into play. This man never worked up a sweat over anything. He often took to sulking in his car when his wife wanted to visit her adult children.

BUT, a couple of times a week he would declare "A No Do Day" and we would have a bit of a hoot about this as he never lifted a finger on any day. No Do Days were days spent in his pyjamas and sleeping a lot to recover from, well, what he viewed as stress. We could never figure out what stress. It's all subjective I suppose. He would work himself up into a lather now and again if it came to even making a decision about getting a new vacuum cleaner. Or car. Or phone. Or selling his bit of stock. He would take to his bed and No Do for a a whole day. No Do meant no thinking also.

Maybe that's why he lived to 95 with no wrinkles and a full head of hair and lovely erect posture. No Do Days.

So I declared one today. It's a gorgeous day out there. And I haven't been outside. And my lovely comfy pyjamas are still on me. And I asked the dog to run around the meadow in lieu of. And she did. I've bored you all with her brilliance. She just takes care of herself when I ask her to. And now she's lying on the deck slobbering over a big bone given to her by one of her adoring aunties.

And what DID I do? Well, nothing. I didn't even cook but reheated leftovers. And watched Sons of Anarchy Season 2 recommended by a good friend who, like me, loved The Wire and The Sopranos. Not for the faint of heart but appealing to those of us with a good slice of darkness in our souls.

No Do.

Try it.


Flippin'


I don't know about you but me?

The older I get the more reluctant I am to flip the flippin' calendar on to the next month. This is the one that faces me, hanging on the centre column of my two office windows. A gift from a school-friend in Dublin every year. The picture has Kylemore Abbey in Connemara on it, with the boat in the foreground.

My big formal one in the living room for July features a photo of mine (and a rather nice blurb about moi), so I'd like to keep it stuck in July, but visitors might wonder as to my braggadocio quotient. Humility is far more attractive.

Even though August is quite a lovely month, lots of plans and events and even travel. But still.

I'm not flippin' ready, am I.

Flippin' tempus fugiting 'n all.