Thursday, December 31, 2015

Life Long Learning

Isn't it great? - I mean the fact that we are never finished learning about this life business.

I had a session yesterday. What should be obvious often isn't. And vice versa. I can't believe what's tumbling out of my head. Stuff I hadn't thought about in years. Linking previously (to me) unrelated events. And sharing. And it's astonishing how he can weave a tapestry out of all this.

Like the man says, terrible losses can open up every single loss in one's life. All over again. Fresh. Or for the first time if they've never been looked at before and dealt with. I'd rather deal. For what happens is: every creative stream inside is finally set free and becomes "magnificent in its flight". We shall see. The pieces of every sorrow are gathered within us ready to fracture again when a new loss is inflicted on this huge ball. I wouldn't have believed it until it happened to me.

Plus insight. Example: living life like a stereotype, a cliché, for most do. Automatons, told how to feel, desire, behave, respond, accumulate, judge, terrified of anyone who marches differently and thinks tangentially. Never for me, thanks.

Maybe we need to be more like metaphors. Ha!

Happy New Year 2016 to all you duckies out there. Keep waddling and quacking.

Breathe. Feel. Learn.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

For the day that's in it.

I'm taking that to heart.

Along with acceptance. And being mindful to stay where my hands are. To be joyful for others. To feel the deep empathy and sadness for others' unbelievable tragedies. On December 23rd, a man and woman I greatly admire, for many, many qualities (kindness, gentility, commitment to their own health in the worst of weather conditions, pillars of support when their son and his wife took on the raising of abandoned twin grandsons, their great-grandsons and so on)lost their beloved teenage granddaughter in a stupid, careless, dumb automobile accident. Unspeakable. Truly. Good people suffering the unbearable. I can't imagine.

Grandgirl was here. We love her, we do. But she's gone now. Back to grinding school work and intense studying, a part-time job and her incredible social life. She really doesn't understand rural living in spite of the changing seascapes and breathtaking sunsets and wilderness. I don't think I did at her age either. My life was the city. And also in Toronto for years and years. I get it.

But a craving for peace sets in in later years, away from the madding crowd, and I knew if I didn't jump then, I never would. So here I am, enjoying this serenity of living, no sidewalks, ocean at my doorstep and a life I only ever whispered about as I was afraid I would jinx it.

And I get social fulfilment when I need it. Like yesterday. An all day "Hash Party", no not that kind, but every bit of leftovers from Christmas put on heated platters that run down the kitchen for about 12 feet, never seen the like, and an enormous cast of characters coming in and out of my friend's house, from all walks of life where one is encouraged to talk of the past year and travels and achievements and hear of everyone else's. A Boxing Day tradition for Daughter, Grandgirl and I.

And friends from the city call and we chat and one is visiting me again later on this year.

And all is good.

And kindness.


Monday, December 21, 2015

To Do List

(1) Saw the doctor as my own (new)BP machine was scaring the hell out of me. It scared him too. He added another pill to my expanding pharmaceutical shelf. If you knew me well you'd find this absolutely hilarious. I've had a war going with Big Pharma for, like, most of my life. Bellicose was my stance.

(2) I had a wonderful couple of days alone with my beloved Grandgirl. Now she's gone to her mum's and they are spending one-on-one days together and are coming back here on Xmas Day and then Grandgirl leaves on Boxing Day. Far too short a time for this grandmother. But my, at 21 she's such a very interesting person and truly kind and beautiful. I can hardly wait to see her in her future plans which truly encompass the world.

(3) I wrote to the husband of my BFF, a task I had long put off. What to say? But the words came and flowed. I was ready.

(4)Plan Writers' Workshop outlines starting January 4th.

(5)Rehearse the 2 person play, opening sometime in February.

(6)Finish editing the anthology that came out of the last series of workshops.

(7)Knit a bit

(8)Buy a yoga mat

(9)Plan beginning of training for Tely 10 2016. Can I do it? Sez I to Doc. Why not? Sez Doc, but train slowly and work your way towards it.

(10)Defrost turkey.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


As I age, I get an almost frightening clarity of thinking. Frightening because, oh lawdie, life would have been better if I had this insight, like, maybe, 40 years ago. You know?

My family of origin has this uneasy relationship with love. As children, love could be withdrawn instantly at the slightest misbehaviour or provocation if you didn't meet the standards of The Master. Or adhere to certain previously unmentioned criteria. I'm not saying love was actually withdrawn but it had all the appearance of it. I had a memorable encounter, as a very small child with this type of deprivation here. Much as I understand my own story it can take a very long time to take an altered perception of life on board.

I was struck recently when I spoke truth to an intimate, my truth, the truth in my last post (my excitement)and it was labelled in an unsavoury way, repelling. And I said: what on earth would make me confide my innermost self to you again?

Are we all going to live superficially? Is this the Victorian manners type of lifestyle that is now acceptable? When I am hurt or excited or disappointed or worried, do I now have to shelter these feelings from those who purportedly care about me for fear of labelling, attack and withdrawal of affection?

Are we expected to wander in the wilderness of being afraid to show our authentic selves?

I can still love someone without agreeing with them or approving (as if it's my job to approve!)of their behaviour. I respect their feelings, even if I am opposed, and anticipate the same in return.

But hey, I'm usually disappointed in this expectation.

Thankfully, I've moved beyond outrage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Inside Me

You know how that poem goes, don't know the author, it may not be even a poem but it has always resonated with me:
"Inside my winter there is an endless summer?"
or something like that.

I tailor such quotes to fit my own brain.

Well, inside me there is this 3 year old. She doesn't 'adult' well. I love how "adult" has now become a verb, much like many other words. I remember Grandgirl saying to me one time" "Oh Grandma, don't harsh my mellow". Loved the phrase, adapted it for my own use.

So I work madly on this 2,000 word article/essay request that came in, I loved the process, even the intense editing involved and I submitted it. And, and, and, the editorial team send me individual emails raving about it.

I mean what do real adults do when this kind of response is elicited? Sit quietly, I imagine and get cracking on their next oeuvre? Sounds very mature and responsible and grown-up, right?

Me? I race around the house and then out to the meadow a la Rocky pumping the fists and then I PM Daughter and Grandgirl. A humble brag. And then run around again, just for the hell of it.

Each time a piece of my writing is well received, I can't believe the feeling I get. That crayoning 3 year old escapes and races around in delirious excitement.

I observed similar in an author friend today who's been nominated for a major award. "57 congratulatory emails and climbing", he sez, "And I'm sitting outside a small convenience store at the edge of nowhere, syphoning their wifi, unable to leave in case I might miss another."

May this feeling never leave me, may it encourage me and sustain me.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Old Lovers

Some die off.

Some move on.

And the very few Somes keep in touch


The Christmas Letter Email!

I got one today.

I can't tell you how many years I've been getting them from a former gentleman lover. As my name is sprinkled throughout with a couple of dearests, I think perhaps, unless there were many such as myself all bestowed with this fairly common name, that the email is personal. For my eyes only, so to speak.

I'm at the age where lovers can be pretty thin on the ground, ex- or otherwise.

He's a few years older than I, I wrote about him - kinda sorta with my usual poetic and literary licence - here, for those who are curious. (And I know I would be if you were writing this post). Go to the extreme right column for the succession of instalments - there are 6. That 1st draft remained that way.

It's rather gratifying to have any kind of passion declared for one at my doddery age. I imagine the passion is for my younger, adventurous self as is my passion for his sprightly, but fearful, self (he is now crippled with arthritis).

One of life's greatest kissers was Ian.

An admirable skill set at any age.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

December 9th, 2015

A lovely comment on Facebook today from a friend who has an estranged member in her family also.

"I remain friends with her younger self."

Extraordinarily comforting.

My estranged child remains estranged. No change there. This is my annual post on her birthday.

But now, today, her younger self surrounds me, the witty, vibrant, artistic woman she was. She lived with me for close on 28 years. We read the same books, visited art galleries together, jointly wrote reviews of the best greasy spoons in Toronto: de rigeur: Formica, elderly crotchety waitresses in grubby uniforms, maroon lipstick, smokers' coughs, a belligerent unsmiling chef rolling out the bacon, eggs and homefries, and thirty year old hits on the table top juke boxes.

I would never have anticipated her cutting off her entire family and her oodles of friends. She was popular. She was brainy. She was loving. I joke that I wore her for the first 9 years of her life. She was always hanging off a part of me. The complete opposite of her older sister. She is somewhere in England.

And she is missed and loved every day.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A Lonely Old Month.

The last ember of the year, fizzling and dying. Pauline writes so beautifully of twigs and birds. E writes of creating new memories.

I am inspired by such writings for many reasons. There's nothing wrong with a lonely old month. I do have choices. I force myself out the door to a large gathering of turkey eaters yesterday. I bring my camera to such events which gives me purpose and avoidance of small talk. I am so hopeless at small talk. I must have missed those lessons early on in life.

Small talk lessons:

# 1: The weather

# 2: Clothes, hair styles, makeup, nails, OMG shoes!

# 3: Vacations in the sun. Cruises.

# 4: Neighbours.

# 5: Christmas, shopping for, cooking for, baking for, preparing for.

I get tongue-tied or glazed over or both. I also have the challenge of being the only genuine Irish person on the whole peninsula who chose to live in Newfoundland so I am the resident expert on all things Irish and everyone here has visited Ireland at least once and wants to talk about the enchanted land forever and ever amen. (Um, I emigrated for many reasons, left fairyland behind me, I'm awful, I know, I should go back, yeah.)

Those particular convos can take hours as every tour, every castle, every city and town is stroked and fondled in memory. To me it's massive small talk. So I skedaddle early with my photos and put them up on FB for the town to savour when they get home after the dancing. And we're all happy.

Did I mention the dancing after the feed? (i.e. the scuff after the scoff - I love Newfoundland English). Lots of it. And the Irish music. The sentimental yankee kind, ah, Mother Macree, toorah, loorahs.

I know. I should shut up now.

With the assurance: I do play nicely. I do smileys and happies quite well. And. The big and: the huge, big hearts of Newfoundland people never fail to warm me and revive me and nurture me. They are a breed apart. I've never met the like.

In this lonely old month.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Yeah, weird alright.

< I took this pic last year at the side of my house. I love the red mailbox against all the white.>

That's me. I had a super busy week, jammed with meetings and sessions and training and budgets and planning. And at one point of it I was struck, when talking about making our community more age-friendly (all ages, not just elders)as we were discussing a few who are having challenges (loss of licence, mobility) and I reflected, internally, ah, the poor old things. And then realized, mein gott, they are waaay younger than you, babe. A kind of chill runs through me, you know? Gratitude I am so active, and extraordinarily mindful to make improvements in the lives in my community. We are seriously discussing appointing a volunteer "helper" to each challenged resident. Nothing too extreme: a daily check-in, a Sunday drive, coffee or tea in the community centre.

Anyways, after this week, there's a massive storm (20-30cm) forecast for tonight and you know what? I am so looking forward to it. Leo has brought in a load of wood. I have spare water in case the power kicks out. And I've now indulged one of my end-of-day's greatest pleasures: the bra comes off, the PJ's go on and the "robe" which isn't really a robe at all, it's an ancient oversized LL Bean hoodie, gets donned. Like a private uniform. The books are stacked, knitting's in the basket, the 3 oil-lamps are freshly wick-ed and filled, the candles are loaded and the car has been tucked into the garage. AND the snow shovel's put in the hall. I'm ready. Bring it on.

I love these kinds of days. Isolated and snowed in. No demands. No meetings. No office. Just me and the fire. And my pleasures, my knitting, my books and my writing.

Life is very precious and sweet in this moment.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

What happens in between?

I seriously envy those who blog every day. Sometimes twice. Interesting posts. I lurk on some as they get something like 100 comments and I just KNOW they're not reading them all. How do I know? Well, I don't really. The ones who get just a few comments, well I comment. Because they notice I do and usually reply. So we're all happy, our egos and us.

In between my blog posts, when I'm up for it, I do other writings. Climbing back into the saddle after my annis horribilis. There's always fodder for writing even in the sad and miserable times. I'm working on this play of mine, another reading tomorrow with one of the two cast members, a "feelz" meeting for the character. And then there's my "Job" which involves budgeting and newsletters and several liaison committees all of which eat away at my time but leaves me with no fodder for a blog post as you'd all snore away at how dreary meetings can be.

Speaking of meetings, the most successful I ever attended were a series of brain-storming sessions in Toronto which lasted 1/2 an hour tops. No coffee, no sticky buns, and NO chairs. Business moved at the speed of light, everybody jonesing for those missing items.

Out here? Endless, if you let them. When I chair, I clip along, nip the expounders and broadcasters in the bud (butt?) and use the word "focus" a lot which is non-offensive and works - most of the time. There's always one who will tell you his discourse is important, doncha know. Then I use the word "please" elevating my voice in gradations until it's just shy of a banshee's howl.

Yesterday was a book finalization meeting. I was thrilled when they all begged me to include "Norah", my story which was short-listed for the Fish prize in Ireland.

I think the old fashioned sepia cover with the oil lamp is going to fly, the blur is deliberate. That's a picture of my parents beside it.

So that's my life in between.

How about yours?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What the man said

This is what the Calgary, Alberta, Canada mayor said after a public meeting:

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi:

"I had a meeting this morning where we had a community forum on refugees. And I was a little bit nervous walking in because it was an open invitation, anybody could come, and I thought there might be some angry people or people with a lot of very difficult questions. And who was there were churches and synagogues and temples and mosques and grandmothers and volunteers and people from across the community, who were just asking the same question, which is by the way still by far the most common question I get, how can I help? And at one point a First Nations woman stood up. I only knew that because she said, I am a First Nations woman. I thought she was going to say, why are we having all this focus on these refugees when we have so many problems closer to home? And what she actually said was, I need some help. Because I need to understand how and when they’re coming because I want to make sure, and many of my First Nations colleagues, want to make sure that when these people come, we have an opportunity to have the elders there to drum them in and to do a smudge ceremony so we can welcome them to this land... I might have lost it at that point."

This is served to you as an antidote to all the hate, prejudice and racism out there.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Being Present

Fogo Island at yesternight taken by Paddy Barry, enbiggen to take your breath away

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with people's kindness. Today, and I hope all days, I will notice and be grateful.

In the last few minutes, an acquaintance, a boat captain, dropped off a passel of freshly caught cod.

After lunch at a friend's today, she gifted me with fresh limes, more cod, moose and my dinner for later.

Then my cousin called from Ireland, it was "free calls to Canada" day on her service.

And it looks like my two person play is going to fly with wings now and play here and maybe Ireland in the fall of next year.

I feel like I'm coming out of an awful, stumbling, numbing fog. I haven't shared a lot of it here as, seriously, I thought I was losing my mind along with my health. I can't thank my grief therapist enough. My treatment is ongoing and his assistance in my process is invaluable. It's far from over. It's almost like I have to reinvent myself and focus more, much more, on my existing support network and forcibly interact at a level I'm comfortable with, with those who care for my wellbeing. For a gregarious loner like me that can be a bit of a mountain but I'll put on the climbing boots. I was making streams of excuses about old friends being far better than new friends, why invest time in new friends when they could drop off the face of the earth too, blah-blah. And no joint history doncha know. I'm awfully good at shopping from the excuses wagon.

As the man said, I had lost all trust in myself and now it's filtering through.

Being present. Meditating. Suiting up and showing up. All is beginning to feel well.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Small Things Noticed & Praised.

Petals of Asiago cheese.

Jars of red jewels - partridgeberry jam - on my counter. I can't put them away.

My dog, Ansa, who now sleeps in in the morning and has to be awakened. A reversal if ever there was one.

The smell of wood-smoke and a beautiful meatloaf in the oven at this very moment.

A nearly completed knitted "window worm" for another drafty window.

Playing around with the book cover possibilities for the anthology I put together with the writers in the writers' workshop (see above) - I wish to incorporate the old and the new. And now that I look at it again I think the addition of an oil-lamp alongside the laptop would be a nice touch, what do you think? The intent for the image on the cover will be fairly blurry but catchy.

Blood sugars manageable.

Another session tomorrow with my grief counsellor.

Thanks for all the comments, so heartfelt and helpful, on my last blog post.

I sure am at the stage of life where stuff is not added but rather taken away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Carol Doesn't Say Goodbye

I wrote about her a while back. Here. Just over 4 years ago. Carol* moved away to the city and we stayed in sporadic touch. She finally met the man of her dreams she told me only a week ago. And sent a picture.

And then, her daughter, who gave birth to Carol's first grandchild a few months ago, messages me today that Carol took her own life yesterday.
I can only conclude that the latest knight in shining armour had clay feet too. Or Carol just gave up on her dream.

After my initial shock and a welter of tears, I am still baffled. Carol was beautiful in an exotic way. Dainty. Petite. Her childhood was one of the worst I'd ever heard of, full of foster homes and abusive men. She lost a brother she was very close to about 5 years ago and told me she could never get over it. He was her pillar of strength.

I met some of the men she was involved with but not the latest. I was not impressed with any of them for a variety of reasons.

Over the years, I got to know Carol at a deep level and understood far too well her motivation in wanting a safe life with her very own fellah and security. Security was important to her as she'd never, ever had it in her entire life.

I don't think she really understood what it meant. Apart from the fairytales depicted on television. I had suggested a few times that the only security she could ever find and hang on to was the security residing within herself.

I weep tonight for all the Carols out there.

And for all the "if-onlys" of life.

*a pseudonym

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Kindness takes many forms, doesn't it? And I can miss it. It gallops by sometimes when I am focussing on past unkindness, the sort that slaps you in the face from loved ones, trusted loved ones.

So awareness. A long time ago, a cousin mailed me a treasured book on awareness. The waking up to spirit, to the world around, to truth, to reality. I open it now and again and reflect on its messages.

Awareness to kindness. Not taking for granted even the smallest act or loving words. To really see and savour.

My washing machine is on the blink. It can manage small loads but not sheets and towels. It gets overwhelmed and won't spin. It galls me that it is only 6 years old, purchased with a legacy from an aunt. And I already spent ill-afforded cash on a repairman who couldn't fix it but had to charge me for his time. So as I save up for another, Daughter takes my sheets and towels. Very kind, you think. But more than that, and this brings me to tears: every single item is folded so neatly and perfectly and put into cardboard boxes so they stay that way. You have to know that Daughter is not a folder. I am and Other Daughter is. I'm talking sheets, pillowcases, towels. Folded perfectly by a non-folder. Kindness.

And Friend. I can't count the number of times she's dropped off tasty soups, stews, muffins and a book along with loving words and cheery predictions about life once I get back into the saddle of it but take all the time I want.

And others who assure me: "I know what you're going through. I've been there."

I posted this on my BFF's FB memory page today. One of her daughters is now the head off her - as we say back home - so much so that my heart skips a beat when I see her photos. That is the legacy for some, the faces of their mothers or fathers on them to light a candle of hope or elicit a cry of anguish for the observer depending on the day that's in it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Me and Da Couch

It's been a while since I had "outside help" - I'd say close on 30 years now. Well actually "outside help" is a misnomer for surely it is "inside help". Stuff for the spirit, soul and psyche. If you believe in that kind of thing. Which I do. It's either that or pills and I am surrounded by sedative/tranquilizer and anti-depressant takers. I'd rather take the therapy route. I don't judge the others who opt for the chemical solution. Ever. It's a very personal choice, some like to keep the daemons buried. I wanted to stop feeling so discombobulated and raging after sobering up so had no hesitation about unlocking all the childhood misery so many decades ago.

I just looked up my therapist from close on 30 years ago and found his obituary. He was 93 when he died last year. An amazing man, he brought me from darkness into a place of peace with my past.

The thing is when I seek this kind of help I'm always hesitant and almost apologetic. So much serious crap in the world and here I am sullying your doorstep with my trivial concerns.

Was I set to rights rather quickly with my case review yesterday. Dr. Patrick (pseudonym)looked at me intently and said:

"I have rarely seen anyone in my long practice with so much devastation in 8 months. Actually, come to think of it, never."

And I bawled my eyes out when he said "you've lost 3 anam caras", using the Irish language. Anam cara means, literally: friend of my soul.

And over an hour and a half I poured my heart out and he said to me then:
"The privilege in my job is that I really, really get to know dead people and the families supporting or abandoning the bereaved."

And he proceeded to gently cast a light on behaviours that have hurt and baffled me and the ongoing pain and loss of creativity that have me plagued and the overwhelming tides of grief that take me unaware.

He told me to try and find one small moment in every day that brings me a sliver of joy until he sees me again.

I feel the beginning of hope and renewal today, a little match struck in the darkness.

Monday, November 09, 2015


I just finished binge-watching Season 5 of Downton Abbey.

It's addictive, like Belgian chocolate. A secret public indulgence.

And like good chocolate, once you savour it all down and lick the lips, the memory is gone.

It's a fleeting "feels", Downton Abbey, for it's basically a more classy form of soap opera: plotlines (plot?!)push the credibility metre all the way to the top of the forehead.

Sure and it's all about the frocks. They're gorgeous. And endless in their variety and detail and fit. I was an excellent dressmaker in my time so I appreciate a good cut and fabric and draping and fine stitching and French seams and pleats. So the frocks please me on many levels.

I had an aunt who worked in such a great house. Life below stairs was a form of slavery. Long days, pitiful wages and one half-day a week off where she would sometimes catch a bus and visit us in the great metropolis of Cork. Nothing like the gadding about and free weekends of the servants in DA. But as she said to me, there was no time to spend those wages so she could save them. She wore uniforms and was fed quite well at the Hall where she worked so she had no overhead. I loved her stories about the guests who stayed and their conversations about travelling and hunting and balls.

There was an old beat-up piano off the kitchen in the bowels and here she taught herself to play. Her bedroom was in the attic dormitory where the rest of the servants slept. You always needed a hot water bottle she told me and there was hardly any privacy. And you had to watch your "things". I'm sure her tale of life below stairs was the reality of so many servant's lives.

But I suspend my disbelief and indulge myself and gaze with admiration on all those delicious frocks.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

In Real Life

You FBers. Have you ever gazed upon the glamourous, clean lives full of magic unicorns and cuddly kittens that your friends live on FB?

I know. Some of you are not on FB. Well done, y'all.

But for those who are on FB, you understand what I'm saying, I'm sure. Always smiling, children so well behaved and clean, mein gott, how do they manage that - not a bib or a spit-up or sagging leak in sight and smiles on those kids reflecting the beaming pride on their parents' faces. In my time, it would have taken me an hour to wrangle my kids, their father and the assorted animals into a tidy pile, not to mention cleaning them up beforehand and begging them to smile. I had one kid who timed her dreadful faces to the moment the money shot was being clicked.

But I digress.

Yesterday I caught two couples in real life. Really glamourous couples on FB. The first couple (restaurateurs) - loads of happy pics on FB - were staggering out of Walmart with bockity trollies loaded down with tat and were grim-faced and putting out that "don't even look at me vibe" so intensely that they didn't spot me as I pulled into the parking lot close by their jangling, screeching carts.

The next couple (both artistes of some renown, she's about 30 years younger than him) were heading into Starbucks as I was stepping out, clutching my bag of decaff. espresso - I think it's the only company in NL that stocks this nectar of the gods for my late-night snarfling - and I did a double take on them. I don't often see them in real life you see, but the shots I do see have them glammed up and laid back and at spiffy events. Here he was cranky and feeble and honestly, she looked like his granddaughter.

I love catching people in real life. It humanizes them. Makes me realize that the FB status that is projected into the ether does not reflect a normal life balance.



Tuesday, November 03, 2015


It's a sin, that coveting business. Neighbour's wife, neighbour's goods. Those ten commandments never did mention neighbour's husband though, did they. I guess it was assumed women weren't capable of coveting. I remember, being the awkward one with awkward questions all the time about everything, asking one of the holy nuns who were married to Holy God Himself, (the world's most prolific polygamist of all time) why couldn't women covet. At times I just got vicious, shrivelling, silent, mean looks when asking awkward questions. That was one of those times.

Anyway. Today. I toddled into Home Hardware desperately in need of a pair of sawhorses. More on that later. No, it's not for what you think. And if you could believe, they had one sawhorse. One. I was outraged. What the eff good is one sawhorse to anyone? I didn't keep this thought to myself. It was a cranky day for me so I collared the store manager and demanded an answer - see above re awkward questions. Why? said I imperiously. What good is one sawhorse to anyone? He scratched his head and mumbled something about one could break, it could be a replacement. I harrumphed and noted I sounded just like my father when foiled by stupid sales managers who should know better than to have one of something that should be presented as a pair.

So in the midst of my high dudgeon march as I left the store in the foyer I spotted this:

And I just about fell to my knees in adoration. And I was enveloped in a cloud of Satan's helpers whispering in my ear "and you thought you were way above coveting anyone and everything? - Ha!"

And I whimpered as I stroked this magnificent beast and imagined the soda bread hot out of its oven, plates warming in the high rack, the cast iron pots and pans on its ready range top. And its heat leaking into all my old drafty rooms.

I must be alive. Sinning feels almighty good.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam

I don't know about you, but I find that the creative energy can be sucked right out of you when life goes sideways. Like there's only room in the head for some flotsam and jetsam - no choice, take it or leave it - and it pushes everything else right out the ear. So you're left with maybe a book that you can climb into or various games of solitaire, the kind that you can get over involved with. I imagine if I had a teevee that I would be glued to it, anything to completely numb out and NOT THINK. Noise, distraction, meaningless repetitiveness.

The bench you see above is at Daughter's Place. I designed and knitted the cover for it back in August as the existing cover that was on it (a marvellous flea market find) was falling apart. The colours match her living room furniture.

I stayed with Daughter over the weekend and I kept staring at it. And then I took a picture of it. And then I thought: I have that old bench in my house, cover falling apart too. Maybe? And I took designing pen to paper and now I've started on another cover and the flotsam and jetsam can hardly breathe, I do believe they're choking.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I am struck so much by memory lately. Not in a morbid way or anything, strictly reflecting on its power.

I read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" again for my book club. I loved it the first time around (2009) and the re-read was equally delightful.

I had thought in the past that it was such a shame most of us can't plumb the depths of our parents' memories. I spent a huge quantity of time (afternoon upon afternoon) with my mother when she had terminal cancer where she shared so many memories with me. I didn't take notes, much to my regret now, I thought it would embarrass her. But I could have written so much down in privacy later but it didn't occur to me caught up in my own grief and the care of my own two babies. She had fascinating memories. I'm trying to assemble them in a book. For instance, she recalled, in detail, the shock and horror of a barracks explosion in Castlemartyr, County Cork when she was a very small child. And contrary to many others, she remembered the kindness of the Black and Tans throwing her and her sisters English toffees as they rolled by her house in huge, loud trucks on their way to Youghal.

And then this line in the aforementioned book struck me:

"I am betraying you by dying, I am truly causing you to die....must we also put to death those who were still alive only through us."

And I think of living with my grandmother and grandfather for a while in that small village, and watching him, a labourer, set off for work in the morning and coming home at night with sausages in his back pocket (an enormous treat) and me helping him set the traps for the rabbits on the back acre, and tossing grain at my granny's chickens, and being kept up for all hours - don't tell yer mammy sitting on his lap while he and his pals set Ireland to rights and sang impossibly long olachons (laments) in the Sean Nos style. And one time, dancing with my granny while a fiddle and a harmonica and spoons and bones kept time. My granny was old to me then (in her late forties!)and I remember clapping my hands in glee at her agility on the flagstones.

I would be the only one remembering all of that (eldest grandchild)and I suppose, when I go, it'll be a second death for those, now long gone, who continue to live, and so very clearly, in my memory.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Round Pegs, Square Holes

I was cleaning off a kitchen shelf. I like open concept shelving. Things in jars can be akin to works of art: beans, coconut flakes, almonds, apricots, dried cranberries.

When it suddenly struck me that the designs of jars are to be so far wrong as to be ludicrous.

Walls and shelves are at right angles. Fridges are rectangular. Cupboards are square or rectangular. Jars are usually round. This design makes for an appalling waste of space. Everywhere.

I don't know why in all my born days I haven't drawn this conclusion before.

I just blindly accepted the antagonistic relationship of containers and their nemesis, the shelves they sit upon.

Think also of spice jars. And tins.

Shouldn't all containers be square?

Or is this crazy old lady ready for the bat-wing?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Into the Grief Room

Some trepidation in the parking lot.

Some downtalk as I enter the room, you know the drill: "what the hell are you doing here when so many others are so much worse off?"

Some tears. Gulping them back.

Recognition of others and others of me, my gawd, we're all in the same boat of anguish and pain. We're all new to this process wondering what to do next with our lives which have this meaningless, hollow ring to them.

Understanding. Everyone here gets this. Understands the absolutely crazy insane thinking inside of the skull of the bereaved.

Down to the total lack of comprehension of the process from family members. The sheer cruel isolation of it all.

I was totally at ease in that strange, loving, kleenexed room. For two hours.

My blood sugars were normal when I took a reading a few hours later.

For the first time in months and months.


I'm a believer.


There's a point in which life stops giving you things and starts to take them away.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes it's blowing the budget on $6 lavender candles.

Sometimes it's the view from my front deck (above) taken yesterday.

Sometimes it's the loaf of partridgeberry bread left in the front seat of my car (text: don't sit into your car without checking the front seat!)

Sometimes it's an engrossing read like "The Green Road" by Anne Enright with a line such as this which lifts me right out:

P70: "Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Everyone dies. It's the timing that matters. The first and second of it. The order in which we go."

Friday, October 16, 2015

Diversion & Distraction

A view of St. John's, capital city of Newfoundland & Labrador, taken a few days ago by moi.

A friend of over 40 years standing came and visited me for 6 days. Which accounts for my lack of attention to your blogs and to my own.

She couldn't have timed it better as it was her first visit here and I pulled out all the touristy stuff within easy reach. The weather was kind to us and the pace was leisurely. Art galleries, fossil sites (oldest fossils in the world), Signal Hill (see view up above)and Cape Spear - the most eastern point in North America, to name a few. And oh yes Thanksgiving dinner chez moi thrown in there too. We had long conversations into the small hours catching up on all the doings that phone-calling and emailing don't quite cover.

Now that she's gone I am taking the day off to regroup. My new grief counsellor phoned me and we had a lovely chat, he right away went into a recent grief process of his own which resulted also in physical health issues and he won me over. So my first F2F session is next Wednesday.

I can't thank everyone out there enough for all the support, both private and on comments, that has been offered so lovingly and with such compassion.

My sometimes difficult and challenging passages through life are rendered easier because of you, my web gang.

You are truly the family of my heart.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Mind over Matter

I would consider myself fairly in tune with my body, my emotions, my mind, you know?

Imagine my shock when my doctor adamantly, adamantly disagrees with me.

I thought I was cruising along nicely, yeah, it's been a shyte year, so many losses I can't count them at the moment.

And yeah, I feel on the edge a lot of the time. The edge of what I couldn't tell you. Disaster I suppose. Another awful thing maybe looming around the corner ready to grab me by the throat.

And Doctor tells me my health is really, really suffering. My blood pressure is now worse than before, my blood sugars are all over the place, my body is not happy, my outlook is depressing. And to top it off my eyes are red like I've been on a bender.

Surely to gawd, I say to him, grief couldn't cause all this havoc in my body.

And he laughs at me.

List all the griefs for me, he says, pen poised.

And I do. And I was surprised, the list was so very long.

And he says: death of many major friends, loss of family, loss of emotional connections, a dying dog, a long-time missing daughter - you need grief therapy. Stat. Meanwhile I'll up your meds again, but this is it. There's no more up, we ran out of ups today.

I've obviously lost the run of myself.

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Poem and a Picture

The dogberries in my meadow tell me it's going to be a long hard winter.

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here, and I can't turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those

wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:

I am living, I remember you.

~ Marie Howe

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Back in the Saddle.

I am sick and tired of this depraved and senseless world we live in. I look at the statistical map of mass killings in the US and think: no one does anything, those who are elected to serve and protect only protect the gun lobbies, the NRA. 'We the people' is a fallacy, truly. A sop to the masses.

I look at the murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada well over 1,000 and counting just about daily and think: no one gives a shyte. Our man Harper focuses on Niqabs and the wearing of them at citizen oath-taking ceremonies and the troops rally around that particular flag and sends him skyrocketing in the polls,(our election looms shortly)which says a whole pile about our electorate and their hidden prejudices and women hatred. Forgetting, of course, that not too long ago Xtian nuns were so garbed and in some cases hidden behind screens even from their parents, looking at you Carmelites.

I predicted, way back months ago, that Trump and Harper would be the kings of North America. Two first class manipulators, millionaires, man-beasts. Both held in thrall to the worst of capitalism and fundamentalism, slurping at the troughs of oil, the standards of industrial militarism held high, death to the brownies, the blackies, the other than Xtian belief systems. Not forgetting, in Harper's case, overt references to the "Old Stock" Canadians - i.e. the founding-rampaging-death-to-all-aboriginals "fathers". In Harperland your legitimate citizenship can be revoked if you don't behave. Even if you were born here. Stasi-land, Harper style. And I haven't gone into the spying network he has set in place to monitor the "New Stock" citizenry like yours truly and presumably those pesky First Nations people with their protests and marches against clear cutting and unbridled oil-derrick hoistings.

I backed away, consciously, several years ago from political commentary, it was frying up my brain. But it seems that lately the corruption, callousness and trampling of rights is breathtaking in its audacity and horror. I am compelled to vent.

Terrorism as 'out there' no longer exists, if it ever did.

Terrorism, in many forms, is right at our own front doors.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blog Jam

I take my front yard for granted sometimes. Until I catch other people taking pictures of my house or in one case an artist painting it from the beach.

And I look outside and catch views like this and it never fails to squeeze my heart. I mean, seriously, this is my front yard?

Things are a-hopping in my town, many interesting upcoming events like an art/artifact show. Plans in the works for a harvest fair next year with competition for the biggest potato, prettiest lettuce, etc. and sales of produce.

I am amazed at how much growing happens here. And then all those berries (12 berry seasons!) free for the picking on hill and dale. My freezer is full. Jamming season has begun. Pictures to follow.

More and more residents are truly seeing this beautiful town with new glasses.

We had a competition for the best photograph for a new sign - now installed - and the feedback has been amazing. A sailboat at sunset and two locals planted a matching flowerbed - all red and yellow and orange - underneath it. A stunning work of art on the roadside as you approach the town.

I am taking a simple joy in simple pleasures and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Observation

I attempted to post this a few days ago from my android but blogger was having none of it.

I was mulling. As I am wont to do.

I've noticed something new in people recently - as in what they tell you or what they humble-brag about, are in direct conflict with their actions.

For instance, they will talk of their compassion and charity to the 3rd world in a careless or humble way ("it was the least we could do")and then every behaviour they exhibit shows anything but, as they drive away in their huge jeeps wearing their designer clothes made in child labour sweat shops.

"We're never any trouble, are we dear?" the guests affirm to each other and then proceed to demand a 3rd cup of coffee over a staggeringly late breakfast (giggle - we're till on Alberta hours! - giggle)even though they've already emptied the pot and you now have to make another.

"I always give to the beggars on the street, poor unfortunates, unless they're drunk or drugged or plain filthy, you know?"

And what kind of beggar performance would please you today, ma'am/sir?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Out of Left Field.....

Is when it hits me. What a bloody awful year of loss and pain and grief.

And days go by and I think I'm dealing well with it. And then I'm caught sideways and I just want to cry all day long under the covers.

Any friend I would have shared this maelstrom of feelings with is gone.

I had to force myself out the door today and then pull over several times in the car as grief just overwhelmed me. To say I was shocked and, yes, ashamed, is to understate it. The day was glorious which made it even more poignant. The two words "Never Again" kept reverberating in my head.

Some emotional states you can't think or reason your way out of. It just takes you like a tide of longing and despair. I haven't felt that alone in a long, long time. It's a horrible feeling.

And I go into this cheap dollar shop, I'm sure I was a total mess but I didn't care. I wandered uselessly in the aisles, talking inwardly (I hope) to my dear, lost BFF, when a voice hailed me by name and I cringed as I turned to face her and drew a blank. I had to sort through all the filing cabinets in my head and there are many. You come to a new province and meet well over a 1,000 people and it's difficult to place them. My daughter was on TV and that was her opening gambit. And then she fell into her proper file box - a member of my book club but she hasn't been for 6 months.

I yanked myself forcibly out of my own pit of despair long enough to notice how dreadful she looked and discovered she'd had multiple serious surgeries, been divorced from Husband # 2 and husband #1, father of her kids, had died. Plus her only son, brother to her two daughters is transitioning to female.

Reluctantly, feeling whiny and rather stupid, I filled her in on my year so far and you know what she said?

"You must feel like a cork bobbing on an ocean, all adrift, all by yourself, pretending most of the time you're fine when you're not. Not at all."

And she gave me one of those hugs that lasts and lasts. And I attempted a joke about her taking me home and she said:

"Anytime, honey, anytime. There's always a chair at my table and a spare bed somewhere upstairs."

And slowly I felt much better, her kindness so genuine in the midst of her own anxieties and troubles, a fragile connection with all that's so good in the universe.

Monday, September 21, 2015


It was one of those days today, I had a serious run-on of PGs, needs must as they say, and then no more bookings for about 10 days. I need the time for me, for other stuff that calls. Sometimes I wish I was in my forties again, with the life experience of my own age behind me but the sheer ENERGY of my forties would be lovely.

But elder exhaustion caught up with me and I took two naps. One before a meeting in the morning and then one after my Book Club Meet in the afternoon before a fire department meeting in the evening. I know. But tomorrow is MINE all mine. I get excited about mine days. No one pulling on my sleeves for anything. No meetings, no people.

I took the pic yesterday after a social event. Fog and uncertain sun and calm seas and sand. I trudged across the beach with the dog and the camera.

I said to her: "We'd better make it through the winter old girl, what do you say?"

Her back end is uncertain, lots of helpful mats on the floor, sometimes a small assist from me to get her cranked up in the morning. She's thinner. But gameball. That's all that matters now. Gameball.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


*Paying guests.

An advantage of having PGs is that it forces me to be tidy. And clean. And smiley. And to interact nicely with strangers.

Another is I get to meet people from a specific walk of life. These people are the non-Holiday Inn types who thrive on different types of vacations, take the road less used and are usually far more travelled, globally, than the norm. Interesting in other words. No CBs evah.

The couple with me at the moment are a case in point. They are spending a month in Newfoundland, two nights with me, and are seeing all the sights and soaking up the experience by using AirBnB when they can, getting to meet the locals on a one to one basis. Of course I throw everyone for a loop when I tell them I am Irish hatched, matched and dispatched to Canada. But when they recover they're interested in my journey from there to here.

I truly find life is all about stories. Theirs and mine. I soak them up. Current female PG is a choir master/music teacher. I asked about her unusual name and she tells me a story of her mother escaping from Poland post war. He is more reticent, an IT man, eagerly asking me if I had computers to sort. Where are these guys when you really need them, I think. But, knowing myself so well, I will get to the bottom of his life too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One of these days.

One of these days - yeah verily I say unto you - I will rescue some good photo shots out of the Best Shots folder in some dark dungeon of the interwebz and get prints made for an art show and sell them on Etsy in response to those who have asked me to.

One of these days I'll actually set up an Etsy site.

And verily again, I will truly totally pack up the 200 megatons of unwanted extraneous crap-shyte in my office and store it in the empty plastic bins on shelves purpose built, oh six years ago, for such crap storage in my garage. Crap storage=abandoned client files which may, at some point, be audited by the CRA - Canada Revenue Agency.

One of these days I will actively pursue a literary agent or failing that self-publish.

One of these days I will wake up, yeah verily, and be one of those highly organized efficient people dressed in yoga pants and floaty orangey tops and bits of spandex and will run 5k either outside or on my treadmill in my freshly magnificent clear space with ocean view followed by one hour of yoga stretches before breakfast and then work 6 hours just writing in my spacious Zen office. And be one of these people who has a laptop for just her writing. And NOTHING ELSE.

One of these days I will get a treadmill and a yoga mat and assorted spandex bits and a floaty orangey top.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

CBs Anonymous

I've had more than my fair share of these lately. CBs - my code name for Crashing Bores.

While I start out with a great deal of sympathy for them, as the time elongates and elongates my nerves start to jangle, I have to come up with more and more questions to keep the conversation flowing. And the CB answers run into a full length novel ("I opened the door of the car, but had to go back in the house for my purse and then the phone went and I was late for my doctor who took another patient which upset me as I was meeting Elsie at Tim Horton's which didn't have my morning glory muffin, good for my bowels" know the drill) or conversely a monosyllable. I don't know which is worse.

I've been afflicted with several in the last few weeks. I think what bothers me most is their complete and utter lack of self-awareness. Not even a smidgin. Followed quickly by their astonishing lack of curiosity as to the world around them and specifically to the people who inquire after their health or their opinions or their wellbeing.

I had an unexpected CB last night. An acquaintance from yonks ago. We didn't hang out then but she has chased me over the years on email.

I live in a small village. She remembered the name of the village and inquired in our small store and he was kind enough to lead her to my house. At 8.00pm when it was raining and getting dark.

And she stayed and stayed and regaled me of how she was in the business of helping people as she was like Mother Theresa that way, her role model, always thinking of others and how she could help them and she thought she might set up a kind of monastery in Newfoundland for all those people needing help, I would be amazed at the number of people she has helped with her wisdom, a gift from JC high above, only very few got this gift so she was thankful every day she was so gifted, she knew how rare it was and most people, probably me too, didn't understand or appreciate all she had to offer us unfortunates, she could lay on hands if I wanted her to - no? - I didn't know what I was missing as she had this gift...........

For a few hours I endured this. I had to lie to get rid of her, not a nice lie either, a sleazy kind of lie about my "friend" sleeping over, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

And after she left, I thought: Crashing Bores Anonymous. Where CBs would work there way through a socialization structure, starting with forcing themselves to ask just one question of an acquaintance or family member a week (they could practise with each other) building up to a full conversational interaction after a year or two. Or more.

But then I thought: But these unfortunates never, ever have the self-awareness to recognize their problem. Even when their targets fall asleep in front of them.

It's all rather hopeless really isn't it?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Lament: I don't often hear the word. A fine old word. Comes from the Latin "Lamentum" which means moan or wail. Many sad old Irish tunes are "Laments". We're a great lamenting lot, us Irish. We lament everything: our children's emigration, our history, our language, our land, our people. I think we're born with a lament written on our psyches.

So I was mulling all this over in my car yesterday. I had to go to town and mulling is de rigeur when I drive by myself. I was trying to come up with a brand new short story for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. To keep me sharp,I made a resolution this year to plaster all these short story competitions with entries. I get short listed, usually, which pleases me intensely, as it means the stories are readable and interesting. I don't aim to win or place, though that would be a lovely shock. But to go on a list of 100 out of, oh, 3,000-5,000 submissions is very, very pleasing.

So y'all know what I'm talking about - here's a sample of one lament. You can hear the sorrow threading through it. Words are not necessary in a lament.

This is called Lord Mayo and Joanie Madden, she of "Cherish the Ladies" fame, tackles it.

So I was playing this in my car and as luck would have it (it does happen now and again) a short story fell into my head. About this woman at a dinner party being asked to sing an Irish lament. And I wrote it last night and have been polishing it today amongst other stuff like my washing machine breaking down and blueberries needing to be jammed and a Tigeen needing to be cleaned.


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Crystal Moments

You're up at the crack of dawn and a laundry load is ready (gratitude for "delayed wash cycle") and you start another. And now you're working on the second clothesline, the one for the sheets.

It's a denim day, air you take deep down into the lungs like a heroin addict who can't get enough of a hit. It's so early there's no traffic and you can hear a gathering of loons around the bay, calling to each other. The sun, the enormous sun, blesses all around you with shards of golden light. You think to yourself: that dinner with the former husband went really well, really, really well last night, a good Newfoundland dinner. A lovely gathering around your table. And you peg up the clothes and what the hell throw on a final load of laundry and think of the day ahead: make soup and bread and stock the new batch of fresh yogurt in the fridge and welcome new PGs at 6 when they arrive and maybe feed them some of that homey goodness. Just what you yourself would want after a six hour road trip.

And everything else recedes for that moment, Syria, the death of close friends, bills to be paid, repairs to be made, editing to be done.

And deep down you know life couldn't get better than this.

And you smile.

What the hell is it about clotheslines anyway?

You wish you could just bottle it up and sell it as your granny would say.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


The comic linked below is easily read and understood and captures the whole situation in Syria succinctly.

There are many reasons for the refugee crisis but the major one is climate change. Millions of small farms have been wiped out. I and many more have maintained for years, that the next global catastrophe and massive migrations of starving people will be over water. This is just the beginning.

See it here.

So it takes the death of one small boy to make the world sit up and take notice. And I do wonder why my small province, hungry for immigrants, can't hold out its welcoming hand to these desperate refugees. I'm sure they would contribute, at the highest level, to Canada as a whole and to Newfoundland particularly.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

What kind of a world is this?

We are a sad, sad, species.


I have to question the sanity of us all when a helpless 19 year old girl moves far, far away from her family 50 years ago to give birth to a child "out of wedlock". Her parents and friends don't know about the pregnancy. It would be a cause of enormous shame and embarrassment. Girls who got pregnant without the sanctity of the ring around their fingers were sluts and the parents who gave birth to these sluts were shamed and often shunned. The tentacles and condemnation and judgement of the RC church was everywhere, even in Canada. Especially in Montreal.

So this 19 year old found an obscure town on a map of Ontario and gave birth in the local small town hospital and insisted on keeping the child. She had to fight to keep this baby as the chaplain and the holy sisters of the hospital were adamant in their lectures about the "child's best interests."

She left the hospital with the baby in a blanket and caught a bus to her rooming house and her money was running out so she asked around, in shops and the neighbourhood, about a private care home for the child and found one. She then secured a job in a nearby city. And commuted to her rooming house and paid the care home for the 5 day care of her daughter. She'd pick her up on Friday night and then spend the weekend with her. And this went on for 9 months, her life revolving around her job with its long hours, the minescule paycheques, the payment to the care home and her weekends with the baby.

And then, out of the blue, the temporary care parents took her to court. They said the child was upset at being disrupted every weekend. They didn't think the mother was fit. Their children were grown and gone. They could dedicate themselves to ensuring this child had a better quality of life than what this irresponsible single mother was offering.

And the 19 year old pleaded at the judge's bench she had to work to support the child, she saw her every chance she got, she was studying every night of the week after work so that the two of them could have a better life, maybe a live-in nanny.

Her tears and eventual sobs fell on deaf ears. The judge ruled in the care couple's favour and they could proceed with formally adopting the child. The mother was classified as unfit.

Years later, years and years, she reconnected with the child. The child refused to meet with her. Over and over and over again.

She said she would never, ever forgive her for "giving her up," even when she knew she was dying.

The other side of this story has never been written.

And I wish it was.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole.

My dear D**** left us early this morning. I had written to her as I had every night before going to bed. Recounting another memory of some event we'd shared. I always loved hanging with her. The thick and thin strands of our shared lives.

I may be getting custody of her dog. Which will all work out.

I took in another pet years ago when another friend died and no one wanted her beloved cat. Her cat was hard to love but I made of it an office cat and it got socialized and lived happily ever after. For years and years.

Maybe that's my function, taking care of the pets of my deceased friends. I don't know what happened to Helen's dog. Another out of control snarly pet. I would have taken it too but quarantine stuff between Canada and Ireland would be a huge roadblock. I think she was "unrescued." I don't ask.

The rabbit hole is weird, my day to day stuff keeps me going. I'm glad of the PGs who are not aware of my broken heart, my private tears.

It's been a year from hell so far, I feel the wind blowing through my soul for far too many moments.

I am so very glad for those in my life who reach out and comfort me in times as these. I've never been more aware of the love offered by those I trust in my times of almost unbearable fragility. I am truly grateful.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blog Jam

Lovely days out here on the Edge of the Atlantic. Big moons, big suns. Green grass. Denim water.

What's there to whine about?

There's always something. My legs are still causing me difficulty even with the switch in meds. I'm not up to much, about 2k, and the pain is something I have to meditate through. I keep at it - Elder dog and I, she's very slow which suits me.

I talked to Ansa's groomer a few days ago. She's going to take her in as a solo with no other dogs to make the occasion as free from stress as possible. Sixteen years old (over 100 in human terms) is pretty ancient and deserving of slow pampering. I was reluctant to add the burden of clipping and shampooing to her, BUT she needs it.

I've been editing up a storm on this anthology we're producing at the end of Workshop 1. Some really good writing.

PGs are trickling in. I get a lot of last minute PGs which I decline as it is too stressful given an hour or so's notice. But I'm looking forward to a visual artist from Quebec coming on Monday and Larry The Gambler is still here and we had a lovely chat tonight.

I feel I could bore for Canada right now. I could go off on a political rant but I don't have the energy. I want to curl around the end of my current book "Girl on a Train" - anyone else read it?

And oh, I did my volunteer stint at the library today and while there I designed and made this dishcloth. Can you tell what it's meant to be?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I've got a weird brain, it shoots off in strange directions sometimes. And I so enjoying mulling.

Like: I have a PG staying with me for 8 days. Let's call him Larry.

Larry has removed himself from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada to spend a year in Canada due to U.S. Tax laws which will assess him at a far lower tax rate if he hasn't lived in the US for 330 days. So he's travelling the length and breadth of Canada in a fancy car he drove up from LV. And I imagine he likes the non-sterile environments of regular people's homes to stay in through the web-based service where I and many others are registered to rent out rooms for a fee.

The thing is that Larry's fortune has all been made on gambling.

Mull: aren't these millions infected? In some way their foundation is based on other people's pain, desperation, addiction and possible bankruptcies, isn't it?

Does the misfortune of others cling to this money?

Mull: what money is clean? We don't really know if it's clean, do we? Do hardship and sorrow cling to the bills I throw in my wallet?

I remember a spiritual guide once telling me we have to be careful as to the karma each piece of earthly treasure holds as it can steal our very health and wellbeing.

"Keep your good money separate," she advised, "Pass on this goodness to others."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Strange Times, Unimaginable Scenarios.

Edvard Munch - at the deathbed of a child.

My friend, who is so ill and looking at the final exit door has a huge challenge tomorrow. I keep thinking about it. My friend is nearly 70 and her parents are still alive and she has to tell them, face to face, she is dying. She wasn't going to. She had intended to have her brother break it to them when she'd passed as she is highly sensitive to prolonging pain for them. But her brother is, as he always has been, a complete and utter jerk. Oh, the stories I could tell you.

Her parents are on their way from the seniors' complex in Ottawa to Toronto where D**** is in hospital.

I can't truly imagine what this is going to be like. She's very close to her father particularly, and he will be devastated. I met her parents a few times back in the day. A spry and fun couple, her dad one of those enthusiastic jokesters interested in everyone and everything. Much like her. The news may just about kill them. Seriously.

And my own previously unimaginable scenario? Planning a dinner here in my house for Daughter, her father and his wife.

Strange times indeed.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jackets and Gooseberries

"It wouldn't buy a jacket for a gooseberry" was one of my mother's phrases when observing a pittance of cash offered for some bauble or other.

Well, that was me last night.

I got paid to perform. And the lovely audience there bought some of my greeting cards featuring my photos and my poetry.

And all the big bucks were added up and there wasn't a jacket to be had for the poor gooseberries.

But was I thrilled to pieces?


So I stroked the wee cheque. And counted the cash and put it into an envelope and tucked it away.

And I tell you: There's nothing better than getting paid for something you'd do for nothing you love it so much.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Maybe it's my age, having lived looooong but today I was caught completely unawares at my hairdresser's. I think I wrote about her place before. An old Victorian house in St. John's. All artifacts preserved, fire places, chandeliers, crown mouldings. A darling place with stairs running everywhere and the best atmosphere.

Every six months they mix up all the cutters and stylists and colourists, give them new work stations in different rooms in the house, match them up with those they haven't worked with before.

"Keeps us all fresh," says Bernice my faithful stylist. She's a gift, took me from hair to the waist to a smooth bob that lasts and lasts. You find a good cutter you stick with her/him.

So now she's been matched with this absolutely outrageous stylist for 6 months. I think my jaw dropped when I cast eyes on her for the first time today. Breddie, her name sounded like. Breddie was dressed in an absolutely wild purple and orange mini-dress revealing much of her body. Bright red pumps with 6" heels. Piercings with hardware all over her face including her mouth and nose. Matching colourful tattoos featuring wild flowers covered both her legs, her arms, her breasts and her neck. Her dyed blonde hair with purple streaks swung to her waist festooned with yellow bits and bobs. And one long ostrich feather of emerald green. I took her for an out of control 19 year old.

"Breddie's a card," laughed my stylist who's in her mid forties and dresses soberly in black with sensible work heels and a soothing manner.

Well, thought I grouchily, "card" would be a massive understatement in my book. I can just see the drug den and the biker boyfriend and their lives of dodgy cop avoidance.

An older woman toddled in and sat in Breddie's chair and proceeded to ask her for the wedding photos from the weekend. Whose wedding, thought I, surely Breddie and her criminal dimwitted druggie biker wouldn't be invited to anyone's weddinge

So Breddie hauls out her Iphone and treats the four of us in the room to HER wedding pictures at a pricey well known golf club. In white. All tats under wraps. All hardware removed. Criminal Biker Boy is in a black tux and a perfect hairdo with not a tat or a piece of metal or leather or hairy armpits in sight.

And the killer shot? Their two little flower girls scattering blossoms at their feet as the bride and groom kiss.

Their daughters, five and three years old.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Downhill to the Barriers

My friend goes downhill rapidly. We talk. She wants me to come. So we can hold hands for a while. All expenses paid (she can afford it).

I didn't sleep last night. Tossing and turning. "I have to." "I can't." Nothing was clear. There are too many commitments here. Not least of which is to elder dog, Ansa, who is getting frailer by the day. The walk tonight was pitifully slow. She's gone a bit barky also because she's deaf and also "sees" danger in the shadows of trees. She will go down protecting me. I can't pass her over for care to anyone. For one, she can't jump into the car anymore plus she's too heavy to lift. And she's a real care now.

Next, I have a performance - advertised on teevee yet - this Saturday, sold out. Like, I don't show for this?

Then I have two separate PGs coming to stay next week.

I could go on, there's loads more but I'm boring myself to bits as it is. Someone reminded me of how sick I got the last time I was in Toronto and I positively dread the polluted air there. I have weak lungs (double pneumonia and pleurisy as a 9 year old)and last time was so bad I had to leave earlier than expected.

And guilt, we haven't talked guilt yet. I'd love to see her and there is such urgency to it as she tells me she's terrified her brain won't be there by the weekend even. I cry a lot of useless tears.

But, I can't surmount all these obstacles to get to her. And I'm old. Did I mention that? And, um, tired and not overly well myself. And still reeling from Helen's death. And Laura's death.

Apologies to faithful readers: I'll get around to reading your blogs one of these days. Promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Anybody out there know how to "fix" the formatting on my blog. It's been wonky for a couple of weeks. I went into the backlog of posts to see if a photo/picture was too big or book list too long, etc. But to no avail. My posts are thrown to one side and my archives list emerges on the left.

It shows up on devices with none of these issues it appears.

Much appreciated, it's, well, irritating.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Keeps Us Going

I don't know the answer to the question for the "US" of it. I can only talk about me.

Talk. My friend and I talk. Yes, she's still in the hospital. We chatted into the wee hours of this morning, even though I had a "look-sharp-and-alert" meeting in a few hours focussing on local demographics. It was good to hear her voice and wit and intelligence. She's a brilliant woman.

She's taking notes of all the stuff going on around her and she read it to me and we were hysterical laughing even though a lot of it wasn't really funny at all but taken out of context it is. Hospitals can be cruel, callous places. Particularly for those who don't behave as expected - subservient to Demz in Charge.

I said to her: these writings of yours need to be a performance piece, seriously. For example: she is lying there with her eyes closed and two nurses are changing both her colostomy bag and her diaper and she overhears one of them say to the other sotto voce: "Did you ever see such a weird vagina?" And of course, this begged the question: how could they see inside her vagina, or did these two supposedly medically articulate people mean vulva or labia? How confident am I, she says, when the hospital staff can't accurately name body parts?

Meanwhile we crack up through further readings from her journal. Every overheard conversation or off the cuff remarks by doctors to each other, her hand-wringing visitors who find her 'difficult', her inept wheelchair pusher who loses control of all her life-giving gear in the garden and literally trips over all her tubes.

And that, my friends, that joyful hooting, keeps me from curling into a ball and sobbing my heart out.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Blog Jam

Ansa's getting old. Really old. Bad incident last night with her bleeding from her mouth all over the downstairs. I think her cataracts cause her to bump into things. At first I thought it was another animal attack outside but there were no scratches on her face and I think she pierced her lip with a tooth when she ran into something in her 2 minutes out of my sight. I can't get near her jaw to check.

Tonight she got stuck on the floor. I'm not an engineer and she's a heavy dog + bad back here too. I tried a sling with a sheet and then as she licks my hand (gawd, it breaks your heart it does) I heave upwards with her back end and she lets me. We are both weepy from the indignity and the effort. Problem solved. For now. I've now banned her from the office as she won't walk on the rugs laid down all over it. Dog are like that, delicately stepping around all safety measures. She's on the back hall big rug now. I may have to fence her in a little more.

Meanwhile my PG* has fallen so deeply in love with Newfoundland he's bought a house here and is not going back to the U.S. but is outsourcing the sale and disposal of his properties in Massachusetts. Imagine. I don't think it's my delicate crepes for breakfast or my wee Tigeen doing the trick but how lovely. He is enchanted. As I was and am. The fairies got him too, as the saying goes.

We have our big community midday dinner tomorrow. Hot turkey meal, veggies, dessert, tea/coffee all for $12.00. I mean seriously. I couldn't cook it for that.

I made an old recipe from Ireland tonight. It was served in spring when there were more winter onions than they knew what to do with left over hanging from the rafters in the barns and sheds, so they'd be incorporated into a lovely whole wheat bread. Lashings of them. Usually served for breakfast with an egg or two. The carmelized onions sit on the bottom of the pan when you stick the loaf in the oven and then they swim their way through the bread, some breaking rhrough the top. Heav-en-lee.

*Paying guest

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

In praise of the ordinary.

All under this very same moon some are going through rough times right now. I think of them as I do my day to day routines. I hang clothes on the line. I have a long term PG* staying at the Tigeen. I cook breakfast for him every morning. We talk. For hours it seems.

I list my two spare bedrooms for rent. I rewrite draft 8 of a short story I am submitting to a local competition. I pay bills. I knit a bit. I read. I nap. I drive to get the mail. Friends drop off produce from their garden. I plan a curry for tomorrow night. I talk to Daughter who invites me for a lunch of shark meat. I email my hospitalized friend a few times during the day. She is writing a story too. I cry reading a few blogs. I laugh reading a few more.

I pick some beach blossoms and vase them. I frolic with the dog on the meadow. I breathe in the smell of the sheets and duvet covers fresh off the clothesline and think of my granny who dried hers on top of the hawthorn at the side of her field. Oh - that scent of all that is good and simple.

I think: ain't life grand. Look at that moon! Oh, the golden light of it reflected in the water!

Thank you, grandmother moon. Thank you for this extraordinary, ordinary life.

*Paying guest