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Monday, September 29, 2014

The General Dumbing Down of the Human Race


Grumpy Geezer Gripes.

I give you this:

Pods. Kuerig machines et al. Coffee Pods.

It seems like everyone's into da pods.

Did you know that pods, environmental harm be damned, increase the price of your pound of the most expensive java by THREE TIMES. Yeah, 3 times. Plus disposing of those little cups into the landfill/ocean/air. Take your pick. Because: Nothing is recyclable. Think about it.

And on to washing machines and dishwashers.

Pods. More than twice the price of your regular cardboard box of detergent when you work out the poundage and load usage(always overestimated in the pods -h'm I wonder why?).

And they all need spiffy containers of their very, very own.

And oopsy! they poison children because they look like candy! And yes, elders beware. Because grandchildren!)

And premeasured lotioned arsewipes in a pop-up plastic box for those disdaining toilet paper. Septic system or stinky garbage can or sewer-ocean disposal? - take your pick again.

Like some of us can't be arsed to measure our coffee or detergent or toilet paper.

Or have lost the ability.

Or we're so far into idiocy that we're more to be pitied than blamed.

More grinding nasty labour for the Third World.

Less thinking for the so-called First.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Irony


It's odd this. But I have 3 places to stay in France. Free. And other distant places too, truth be known. And I can't afford the travel costs. Not just the airfare, though that would be a bit of a slice of money. But travelling around once I reach the destination. And food. And wee giftees. It all adds up. Until I have the bestseller. Ha.

Then another friend has decided to spend her fortune when she retires renting exotic places around the world for a month or two and then inviting her close friends to visit her and stay as long as they wanted. All they'd have to pay are their airfares and then head for Patagonia or Hong Kong or the Outer Hebrides where she'd be. Food and shelter provided. Again, I have to laugh. Airfares being a huge chunk of change for this pensioner.

A beloved niece sent me a lovely note about her upcoming wedding. Advance warning. A year in fact. To please be there. I'm going to try. I'd like to be there as I'm extremely fond of her. As I am of all my nieces.

The more I read of elders' writing (mainly solitary women, but some men) the more I realize how many of us are impoverished. Dreading expensive dental work or intensive house repairs or increases in rent or a new car. On the edge of financial catastrophe so to speak. Travel is in the class of bon-bon, a frippery.

I'm not complaining, in case you think I am. Not at all. I have my health, my writing and the odd wee fee for workshops, etc. And my knitting. And my photo-cards. And my books. And my darling Tigeen with a bonus of some rentals thrown my way.

And I buy the very best coffee beans. Always. One thing in my life is simply not negotiable.

Luxurious living is all in the mind.

And excellent coffee helps.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blog Friends


Over the years I've made a few good friends through this blog. It's extraordinary this world of the internetz and webz isn't it?

I've exchanged personal emails, offered and been given support and meeting some in the flesh too has only affirmed the on-line friendships. In every single case. Remarkable that, yeah?

Yesterday, in the mail, I received a gift of handmade soaps from a good blog friend in the USA. No further identity will I provide to maintain her privacy.

Beautiful soaps. Something I wouldn't normally buy as they would be a bit out of the old league, price wise.

I'm thinkin' I must knit her some Newfoundland dishcloths.

Thank you lovely lady!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Story to Dine Out On.


My brother tells this true story. Every time I think of it I burst out laughing. Now, you might have to be Irish to get the humour in it but I'll take my chances as the story truly deserves the light of a bigger audience.

Bro is an engineer and would travel a lot up and down Ireland. You might think being an engineer would be an awful bore of an old job. But no. It had its moments.

He was up in the backside of Mayo one day and was running out of petrol and he found this old shop off the beaten track with a petrol pump outside and pulled in. An oul fellah came out, a dirty, greasy oul fellah and filled up the car.

"Where would I get a bite to eat?" sez Bro, noting it was well past his lunch time and he was starving.

"Ah, sure, I can take care of yez," sez Yer Man.

So Bro follows Yer Man into the shop which reflected the condition of Yer Man himself. It hadn't seen a duster or a wipe down since God was an altar boy.

"I'll be fixing yez up so, a good thick sammich," sez Yer Man, hauling out a big round of brown soda bread and slapping it on the filthy counter. Next, he retrieves a huge slab of ham from somewhere and Bro notes it is crawling with bluebottles (big flies). Yer Man then goes into a drawer and selects a rusty, dusty carving knife and with a flourish pulls out a filthy rag from his back pocket and proceeds to wipe down the knife.

It's at this point in the proceedings that he catches the appalled look on Bro's face. Completely misinterpreting the look as approval for how well he's conducting his lunch preparation, he says proudly:

"Arragh I'm a hoor for the hygiene."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jazz Writin'


Charlie Parker.

Diana Krall.

Ella Fitzgerald

Peggy Lee

Thelonius Monk.

Oscar Peterson.

Today I was up in the Tigeen writing some complicated dialogue that needed to read well and effortlessly.

Normally I just listen to the sound of the ocean, its distant soughing on the stones of the beach, trees sighing and rustling around me, birds flitting mindful of my privacy.

But today I tried a jazz soundtrack in the background. I created a playlist for the book I'm winding up. My protagonist is a jazz singer in the style of Peggy/Ella evolving towards Diana. And I wanted the rhythm of jazz in the talk. If that makes sense.

And I was surprised.

It worked.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Month


First blasty winds of winter scoop down today, shovelling leaves from trees, flattening the blades of grass to a green ocean, scattering the cornflowers.

Shoulds crowd my head. I should make rosehip jam. I should paint the spare bedroom.

Oh yeah, and deadline for first readership lineup of book looms ever closer. I should be editing, should be fixing that last chapter.

But I worry. Next door they are burn-clearing a hill. Smoke hangs like a pall over everything and then gets scooped up by the wind and filters through windows and doors and lurks, gasping, over the bay until the wind snarls it up again and throws it against distant houses.

What if?

I run to the post office to send back some library books. So I don't have to look at the flames licking the vast hill about 500 metres from my house. But I smell it even 5 km away.

Yeah, they ran hoses across my property as a precaution. I gave them permission for this. But the fire starters/carers are about 12 years old. How would they know anything about flame-killing if the trees catch? Or maybe it will leap across the grass over the fence and on to my house?

Anxieties.

Now unfounded.

Day is done.

The winds are intense and noisy but warm.

I will take the dog for a walk along the shore. As is our wont at this time of day. I love watching the waves pound up the cliff on the other side of the bay and then fall back exhausted.

Much like me.

Worrying about nothing knocks me right out.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Intensity


When I was growing up emotional extremes were a defect of character. As if I could change my intrinsic nature. Even though at times I wanted, badly, to toughen up.

Yes, I feel life too intensely. And my feelings are often worn on my sleeve. Or shut away so tightly (you might see the real me, you know) that it hurts.

Like those quilts in the wake-room. All hand created by my friend Patricia. Thrown over every surface, every chair. Every piece of scattered fabric in her life tied together so beautifully, so creatively. Colours of the land and the ocean and the boats and the wonderful drenching of colour that residents flood their buildings with. All you had to say was "I wish I had one of your quilts" and next thing, she was on your doorstep with one.

Picasso is honoured. Why aren't these handcrafters of such beauty so respected? Women's work of course. There should be many female only art galleries, flooded with the colours of the creations of artists like Patricia. With knitting and embroidery and weavings and crochet and lace. And many, many quilts.

It seemed like my floodgates opened today. I had been locking so many tears inside me, for what seemed like a month or two.

It was Jennifer Johnston who started it. I am reading "The Gingerbread Woman". And it struck chords. And more chords.

Life is about loss, isn't it? Mainly the loss of what went before. What formed us. What ignited us. What sustained us. What we leave behind. She writes of this like no other I've read.

And I had myself a really good cry.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Humble Heroes

I wrote about her here she's one of those dear ones locked in my heart who will forever inspire me.

Today she lies in her casket up in the wake-room of the church. I haven't visited yet. Though I will. The finality of death is never more enforced than in a wake-room with an open casket and yes, I'm deferring the moment.

She was a dignified, pretty woman who kept her light under a bushel. Always superbly dressed even in a tracksuit for her road training.

"Hush," she'd say to me when I'd congratulate her on yet another Tely 10. She hated being in the limelight.

She had 9 children, all university graduates. Her husband was twenty years older than her and died in his nineties. She would speak of how wonderful he was. It always brought back my granny's advice of being with a man twenty years older: "Better be an old man's darling than a young man's slave." And Granny lived it also, being married at 18 to a man of 38.

Patricia hated being alone and could never understand my desire and choice to live in such a manner.

"I was born lonely," she said to me more than once as we played cards, "From then on I always wanted company".

Rest in peace, Patricia.

You never did believe me when I told you that you are one of my stars.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mind Control


I'm up at the Tigeen. Replete with deadlines. Replete. What a great word. Let me think about that for a minute or two.

I say to Leo a few hours ago as he shoots up and down the back 40 7+acres - please bring up a few logs to the Tigeen, it's a fire lighting day and I'm nearly fresh out. Leo nods, agrees and then ignores me. He does this a lot. I have to accept it. On his own time. And here he is now.....

As I pondered the shortfall of wood for the wee stove I thought: I have a lot of old wool there, I should knit a carrier for wood. Wool and wood. With a long wood handle. Open ended. Something to design and make up here when my muse, Scriobhnarin, flees. As she has done.

Knitting pushes the writing around, fills my head with fresh thoughts and approaches. I need to read, edit, add notes, descriptions, fill in the voids of symphonic phraseology(!). Attempt lyricism. Knitting plays the counterpoint to this.

And Sister gave me a brand new knitting bag when I was back home.

As if I don't have enough already.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Lemony Prune Mouth


I have to watch myself.

A dear friend maintains that as we get older our character defects become more emphasised and more entrenched.

Evidence corroborates.

If you're messy and cluttered the habits get worse as the energy dissipates with which to deal with them. The debris piles up in the face of decreased desire and perhaps a lifelong ennui. Whatever the cause.

I have to watch my inner judgemental self .

Particularly around drunks.

I was at a dinner party Saturday night. I should have left earlier than I did. Before it descended into loud arguments and hot debates and facets of friends that turn antagonistic/weepy/belligerent/ridiculous. Take your pick.

None of them will remember any of it in the morn. But I will. Alone in my rigid sobriety. Apart from one other. Who also engages in these mindless debates. He hosts and can't go to bed and leave his living room to an iffy scenario of mess and slop.

I sometimes have difficult with timing. Part of me doesn't want to desert the sinking ship of drunken debate and leave him alone on his island of sobriety.

And for a while, before the ocean of booze tips everyone into incoherence, the chat and food are enthralling and interesting.

And then.

Timing is everything. I can't seem to assess the best time to leave.

I think: I can't believe these people, all in their sixties, still behave like frat boys/girls when it comes to booze.

And I feel my mouth prune up and inner tut-tuts bang around in my head.

But I do manage to escape before the spliffs get passed around.

Not that anyone notices.




Friday, September 12, 2014

Over the Edge and Into Laughter


Seriously. My house is a construction zone. Grit covers my floors, my windows have been semi-replaced (11 of them), wet paint hangs off doors and foundations, thingies are propped open or shut. Bins of debris surround the house, abandoned scaffolding lines the deck. The only living beings who enjoy this mess are the blue jays who patrol the railings and dive bomb the bird feeders. And that's just the front of the house.

At the back of the house Leo is sawing wood for the winter. He treks up the hill into the woodlot with his noisy ATV and trailer and drags down logs and chain-saws them into stove-shapes.

And then: friends I haven't seen in 10+ years show up from Ontario, I'm very easily found on this island. Ask in most shops on the Avalon Peninsula and you'll get excellent directions. Normally I don't mind and this has happened a few times in the past.

But today? It was a chaos of hammering, stamping, banging, sawing, dragging, accompanied by indoor window fixings, dust flying everywhere and debris crunching underfoot.

On top of all this, Ansa watchdogged like a mad thing trying to keep track of all the invaders and barking while protecting me by sitting on my feet and glaring and sniffing and yapping at Those Who Dared Enter the Holy of Holies.

Timing? Sweet Jeebus. Couldn't be better.

And speaking of Jeebus.

My friends had found Him a few years ago.

And wanted to share the Good News.

It was then I broke all the way down and laughed and laughed like a lunatic.

A tonic, I tell ya, a tonic.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Whatever happened to wearing the world like a loose garment anyway?


I can't seem to settle into my own skin.

It's been hectic since I got back, workers still crawling around the house, municipal matters piled up while I was gone now scream for attention and the plans for finishing off Book 3 and sending it around recede into the background. I don't think my brain could cope.

Yeah, I'm living in chaos.

On top of that my android phone appears to have been stolen while I was gone. The wee shelf where it lives and sucks power is bare. Daughter hunted high and low while she was staying here. As did I when I returned. That leaves me feeling queasy.

Dozers and other machinery tear up and down next door building monster summer homes for the sons of the local merchant.

Discombobulated is what I am. Restless and irritable. And anxious. About what I couldn't tell you. Pileup it feels like.

This could be seasonal, or it might be the noise and banging around me not to mention the crunch of scrapings, dust and debris underfoot. Summer people are now leaving for warmer climes and that makes me sad.

Oh yes, good news in that a play I submitted to a St. John's theatre is being "considered" for production.

And no news on the artist's grant I applied for.

I can really see now how elders/artists living alone make a monthly choice between food and heat.

Seriously.

Nudge: To the Universe - grant, please, now. I need this grant!

Then it will be loose garment time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Conversation


My friend is home.

First telephone conversation with me after all she's been through:

"I'm only on the phone with you because you're so worried. I'm not supposed to be on the phone at all. You're the first phone-call. Now. Relax. I am perfect."

"But the surgery? The recovery? The prognosis?"

"Listen to me, I am perfect. My doctors say that I am in such great physical shape I can have the chemotherapy at home and have six weeks of radiation in the hospital in conjunction."

"I can't believe how you're sounding."

Laughter.

"I'm eating like a pig again, all lovely foods, I'm being spoiled I tell you. They all run out of the house and get exactly what I want. Like a 5 star hotel."

"You had me in bits - and now listen to you."

"Listen: I went all through this before with the breast cancer and I had so many other stresses in my life, remember the trouble I had with Daughter at the same time?"

"Yes, you got through that and no flies on you."

"And right, this time is perfect. I am older and no worries and this is an absolute doddle compared with then."

"Well, not a doddle....."

"It's a perfect doddle. So stop all the fuss. I am perfect."

Yes, ma'am.



Sunday, September 07, 2014

Update

I am still processing a trip back to my home country.

A trip which started with an enormous shadow cast over it.

A shadow which crept into every aspect of it, which had me telling extended family members or close friends as I sat down to table or met them in cheerful places:

"I'm really, really sorry if I appear sad and distracted. It's not you."

And then I would creep off stage to take or make a phone-call on my Irish mobile.

My very best friend, my friend of over 60 years (how rare that is, a friend from kindergarten, from everything and everyone important in one's life who knows all your secrets and you hers)was sick when I arrived. Doctors had thrown anti-depressants at her, she wasn't eating, her brain wasn't functioning, her balance was precarious. This I saw when I arrived.

I was shocked, appalled, frightened. She is a livewire, had completed a marathon in June, was on the Irish bridge team, formed her own successful book club and was a host, along with her husband, of salon type gatherings of interesting, wonderful people, one of which she'd planned for me the following night.

The wheels were set in motion from that point. Immediate medical attention from other consultants if necessary.

Within days, she was under a surgical team of 4. The brain tumour was huge, 5 centimetres. And they didn't get all of its evil tendrils as it would have impacted her mobility and intelligence.

And I haven't written about it until now, even my personal hand written journaling of the whole scattered time of it brings me to tears.

I am frozen in the processing, something inside went numb and scared and can't get up.

I don't know what her comprehension is of what is going down. Only her husband's. He is being so brave and positive for their adult children but lets more of his bewilderment and loss and fear out with me.

To say we are stunned is to put it mildly. To say we are lost for words when words are lost to us seems trite.

The magnitude is incomprehensible.

I can't imagine my life without her, without her cheerleading, without her daily emails, without her chat. Without her, my glorious, wonderful friend.

I had thought to stay on in Ireland to dither around the edges of the pain and loss and helplessness.

I thought long and hard and alone on this but decided against it. Our usefulness can often be more helpful in the simple carrying on of our own lives.

Pretending everything is okay.

When the heart is shattered.