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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hangin' with my new friend.


Through a variety of circumstances which I won't get into here I'm spending a huge quantity of time with a 28 year old young woman. To my astonishment, we never run out of conversation and she has invested quite a degree of trust in me which warms my heart. I'd never met her before. And from an initial standoffishness I see how her face lights up when she sees me now and she introduced me to her 4 year old on the phone tonight. (She's lost custody of her babies)

She asks me intelligent questions about my life, how I came to this point, did I like being a mother, my job, my relationships.

She mentioned that she was going to a big birthday party for her grandmother in a few weeks' time and it was the first birthday she would ever attend for a really old person.

I asked her how old her grandmother was.

"Oh," she said, thinking for a minute,"70 or 80 I guess."

I guess we all look the same to the young'uns when we cross that old 40-50-60 mark.

But the sweetest thing, when I dropped her off at her parents' home tonight she says:

"Now you be sure to text me when you're safely in your door, k?"

I seriously can't remember when that was said to me last.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Jam

(1) I don't know about you but I get invigorated when I go out with a placard and protest. Which I did today. And we had massive media coverage. There was a great big pile of us protesting the appalling conditions of our roads. Unfit. Unsafe. Hazardous to people and vehicles. Don't get me started on what I've already spent on tires and rims shredded by the potholes craters. We'll see if we're heard. Maybe we need to throw ourselves across the road the next time if nothing is done. I thought those days were behind me. But I'm delighted to report: No, they never will be. We amused ourselves by planting trees, fairly large ones, in the potholes. Great for TV camera optics.

(2) Conversation with Leo, my sorta handyman, wood bearer and scavenger.
L: Do you know anything about Chuck Connors?
M: Rifleman!
L(delighted with me):Ya you!
M: Why did you ask?
L: I'd like to know more about him. So I can have a conversation with people. He was born in Newfoundland.
M: I can google him on my device, look!
L: No, it can't tell you everything, like who his parents were and stuff.
M: Yes, it does, look. Parents were Marcella Lundrigan and Allan Connors both from this area of Newfoundland. And get this: Chuck's real name was Kevin! He was born in Brooklyn, New York.
L: Can you repeat all that so I can remember it forever.
And I do.
L: I must get one of those googly machines.
M: Anytime Leo, I can do the asking for you.
L: It's magic.

(3)Daughter won a small cash prize and she's treating me to a replica of a Titanic Meal this Saturday night. Here, take a gander at the menu, click to enbiggen:
We're going to scramble around in our closets and find some old fashioned clobber to wear to match the event. I don't even own a dress anymore. Seriously. I'm a jeans woman. And black dress pants. So I may have to buy a long skirt and some pearls.

(4) My grief counsellor asked me to write about a traumatic event that took place in January 2015. I haven't been able to write about it, I would go into a state similar to of PTSD, shaking, crying, wanting to hurt myself physically. And then it all flowed out of me yesterday afternoon. And I finally realized what had happened to me. I was a victim of gaslighting. More later on that. But a mighty load was lifted. Mighty.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Getting Excited


We have an anthology coming out. We are in the final stages before the print/e -run. I can't believe it. My writing workshop series' harvest. The work, the work m'dears. Agony. Words become meaningless after stroking and stroking the sentences and paragraphs. Especially when in the depths of grief and despair as I have been. I never want to edit others' work again. Intense. Unless it's just one author or one book or one story. Not this enormous compendium of multiple and varied writing styles.

Many local authors including Daughter and I are featured. Many interesting memoirs and stories of times past around this gorgeous bay of ours. Some contemporary - one of Daughter's is about Brooklyn, NY. One of mine is a Cork city story.

I'm very proud of the bunch of them, so much talent previously unexplored. We're having fun planning multiple launches. We thought: background live music, samples of readings, food. We figure if all our families bought 50 each we'd have a best-seller. *Snort*. One family of one writer has ordered over 100 and will probably want more. I can't even imagine that kind of family love!

I'm into the last week of stroking here with a final pre-publishing meeting next week.

It's amazing. I'm amazed.

And thrilled beyond belief to see this baby take flight.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hospitality

hos·pi·tal·i·ty


/ˌhäspəˈtalədē/


noun

noun: hospitality

1.
the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

synonyms: friendliness, hospitableness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality, geniality, cordiality, courtesy, amenability, generosity, entertainment, catering, food
"we found nothing but hospitality among the local inhabitants"

adjective

modifier noun: hospitality

1.
relating to or denoting the business of housing or entertaining visitors.
"the hospitality industry"

I just hosted a young teacher from Boston. She booked for one night and then booked another. We talked solid for both nights. She was in her early thirties and had travelled the world. It is extraordinary in this hospitality industry the deep connections that are possible. I think it's the opportunity to reinvent oneself. To present this temporary self: a shiny version of what one would like to project all the time to the world. Fresh, clean, no hang-ups, positive, tidy, organized and optimistic. A scintillating raconteur. A story teller par excellence. A few days of mutual discovery are just about right. Though I have hosted singles for nearly 2 weeks. Twice.

It shows me also I am not too reclusive, I love good conversation but not all the time. These interactions sharpen my skills and also extend me a little as I include breakfast so thus have to be a little creative in the culinary arts. But not too much.

The gregarious part of my "gregarious loner" status comes out to play and interact. And that is all good. And to get paid for what I love to do is pretty damn amazing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Exits


I'm trying to think of happy deaths. You know, death surrounded by loved ones, favourite music playing, candles lit, hugged and loved to "the other side" from the peaceful hospice or home.

I can only think of one. One!

We have industrialized death. All the way through to formaldehyding bodies and encasing them in expensive varnished caskets and "laying them to rest" in ridiculous funeral "homes".

(See all the sanitizing language used?)

But it's the pre-death procedures that have me appalled. Final days, hours, minutes in a sterile hospital room or worse, a noisy ward full of strangers. Tubes and drugs and chemical injections. Bruised, battered and bloodied from all the medical procedures and "interventions". Especially, oh especially, when there is no hope. One is terminal. Stop the procedures already. Let me go home, my precious home, or a serene hospice, away from the loudspeakers, the clanking trolleys, the anguish of strangers, the nauseating smell of industrial food permeating the corridors.

Surely, mein gott surely, in this 21st century, a doctor, specialist, surgeon, knows when there's no hope. So why doe she put a terminal patient through surgeries, through chemo, through radiation when there is only a few months of life left? Surely it is all about the quality of that life then, rather than misery and hopelessness and immobility and the body unable to heal from incisions and the patient confined to bed and bedsores (misery piled upon misery)worried as in D****'s case, about the last thing left to her, her brain, abandoning her too? Or in H****'s case, her face turned to the wall in despair and loneliness and indignity?

Have we commercialized medicine to this huge degree? There's so much money to be maid from death and dying that Big Pharma and their poodles have to pick the very bones of these tragic potential corpses and leave them with absolutely nothing?

Surely when the lights are turned out for the final time, the leave-taking has to be better than this horrific travesty of compassion and "care".

PS sorry to be so graphic but truth is rarely pleasant and what I have witnessed in the last 20 years freezes my heart and I weep anew for my deceased loved ones.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Shifting Sands

Something has shifted. Don't know what, how, where or when. It could be the weather. It could be taking myself off some pills which were doing me in with constant coughing (with an 8 week afterlife, good gawd Big Pharma, you're killing us!). Still coughing 3 weeks later. Nighttime is the worst. But it's not getting me down or anything or making me feel hopeless and sad and you know, that depression thing.

I reported what I'd done to my doctor yesterday and we shifted meds again. Doctors are awfully disappointed when meds and patients don't play well together. Especially when it's a now a couple of meds that don't agree with me at all. I felt his disapproval. A personal failure on my part. Sorry doc.

I actually look forward to a doc visit. Not for the doc. It's the waiting room and next door pharmacy which are like social clubs. I meet neighbours and chat and get caught up and the doc or the pharmacist become almost incidental. I was pleased when a stranger (to me) walked in and looked at me and said "Oh, you're ____'s mother!" And I said "How do you know?" and she said "Oh, you're so alike!" Daughter was the head off her father for years and years but as she ages my gene pool seems to be taking over.

My crying jags are less frequent, grief takes its own journey, patience is essential along with acceptance and letting it all out somewhere safe like in my counsellor's office.

It is gorgeously beautiful here so I got out and about and took some photos. A camera in my hand makes me happy.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Immortality

Completed afghan (sofa blanket) spread to show detail.

Do we all strive for some form of immortality I wonder. Maybe not.

I've known some who scurry around inconspicuously, making time in quiet civil service type pensionable jobs, dreaming of days in future senior years of endless travel, mainly effortless cruises with none of that strange local food, thank you very much. Abroad with very little interest, if at all, in immersing themselves in local culture and peoples. There to merely group-shop and possibly summoning up enough energy to haggle with the local vendors, then scurrying back to the safety of the ship clutching shell laden gew-gaws to strew on those loved ones back home. Safe. Detached.

Then again, us more creative types or perhaps with less monetary choices, struggle on in our garrets: blogging, writing, painting, photographing, weaving, knitting, lace-making. I suppose it is an unconscious yearning for immortality. Who shall stumble upon my written ramblings and discourses, my now vast repertoire of knitted pieces, my photo-cards? Or not.

I have mementoes from my friends on my walls. Needlepoint, photos, paintings. Pottery. A wooden bowl. Not many. But it is in these I catch their spirits as I walk by. A comfort. Even when they are dead, as many are. They are immortal in the work they produced out of their very spirits.

"Here," they proclaim,"is a piece of me. Forever. Know I live on through you by these works."


Detail of lighthouse, ferry and my house from afghan.


Detail of reading, music and love of coffee.


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Unfinished Business


A friend and I touched briefly on this today. Our loved ones are leaving us in droves it seems and there's a stark reminder in there of unfinished business left everywhere the moment we leave.

People plan to finish up tidily, don't they? At least my circle does. We joke about paying for the funeral in advance, putting all the papers in a neatly marked file with the label "Upon my Death" typed neatly upon it. And final blog posts logged under the same heading. Last will and testament neatly signed and witnessed, last piece of knitting finished, tax returns filed, bank accounts notated, all passwords in the death file.

I was struck by what surrounded my dearest friend Helen as she lay for the last time in her house. Her half-read book was particularly poignant. Her day planner full of bridge meets and book club gatherings and dinners and baby sitting preplans and vacations that would never be taken. For most of us are taken unawares. unprepared.

In the final weeks of lives, energies are often consumed with treatments and hospitals and surgeries and decisions and just trying to hang on.

In D....'s case, she had talked to me of her lists, her many bequests to friends, her gifts to the daughter taken from her. She worked so hard for her wealth, very hard, at one time her trusted manager had defrauded her and she had to rebuild it all. She wanted everyone who loved her to have something when she died. The list was extensive. Her lawyer was coming in to the hospital the following day to witness this will formally and legalize it. And she died 8 hours before the appointment. So now the lawyers have taken over and who knows if the courts will approve this list even though it was clearly her wish and witnessed, verbally, by her friends, me included.

I do have a death file, I do have a will, I do have DNR instructions, but I look around me here and think: mein gott, this office is, well, unreal. I know where everything is but will anyone else?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Dis & Dat

Grandgirl at 2 - her personality and joie de vivre haven't changed one bit.

We saw a great production of "Rock of Ages" last night. A trip into the Big City for us rural rubes, with a before show treat of an exotic dinner of Indian lamb curry with all the trimmings. A lovely night out. An advance Mother's Day gift to me as Daughter will be working on the real one in May.

We had some great weather, record high temperatures but outside right now? Wind, rain, all day. Fire going. Cosy indoors. Wretched outdoors.

Real moment of ohmygawd the years - where have they flown? - when Grandgirl forwards her university graduation photos to me yesterday. A burst into tears moment: pride in her, but a sense of loss and gratitude all mixed up. That I'm alive to experience this when so many don't make it. That she has grown up in a blink. Her world is her oyster now as she is considering grad school in Europe.

I've got a procrastination list as long as my arm. I'm living like some spoiled diva, knitting and reading and doing a bit of writing and living off the benefits of previous labour, i.e. frozen meals, bread and soups in my freezer. Recommend. Also ideas. I think I'd go mad without my brain generating ideas all the time. Some small, some large, some executed, some stored in one of 10,000 notebooks. Do I burn them all before I die?

But reality beckons, a few tax returns, some writing commitments and a completely deferred editing job. My brain just wasn't there. It's coming back. I need to straighten up and fly right.

So there I am. For now.