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Thursday, June 30, 2016

This Much is True

Still life lunch. Alas, no, none of it grown by me.

I've come out of the shadow of darkness. Everybody keeps telling me. I look better, sound better, talk better, respond better. That's good.

A major part of this was letting go. Of so much I can't begin to tell you. Not just the 3 beloveds who died, but also my past, my missing daughter, and on.

Finding a new purpose(s), taking care of my health which is not terrific, being honest, distancing myself from those who harm me. Taking stock. Feeling pleased with the inventory. Finding some new projects, one over dinner last night with a long time client who's visiting St.John's for a conference and is expanding her core business and wants me on board for a while with this. Fortuitous.

July is heavily booked with my PGs, the anthology just about ready to go to print, a 3-day (free!)vacation planned with a dear friend to visit another friend's newly opened gallery about 250km from here, with side-visits to other places of interest.

And I spent some time designing a new afghan for a beloved niece. And was excited to get it on the needles this morning. Quite a few have said I should make a little industry out of this too, maybe I will.

All in all, I do love this quiet place in bright sunshine I find myself in. I think we only appreciate such contentment when we have wrestled for long stretches in the dark with shadows and hurt and pain.

And a huge bonus is knowing, truly and deeply, who one's soul friends are.

And it can be delightful to discover those who really care.

Along with stopping the cartwheels for those who couldn't give a tosser.

I am so grateful.

I truly feel reborn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Newfoundland Cop Stop

I can get my knickers in a twist about the sad state of the economy here and then the utter charm of this extraordinary place sets in and I am once more in love with this province. None of this exchange would happen in any other part of the world, I daresay but correct me if I'm wrong. I was heading out to an NQLWDL (Not Quite Ladies Who Do Lunch) meal today at Daughter's house, picking up others on the route. In case you ask - green curry with noodles, this divine lime-avocado spread, sweet potato fries, apple cobbler + mother's fresh soda bread out of the oven. I was running slightly late, I'm one of those annoying people who's always on time, when lard thundering jaysus, there's a cop on my tail with the lights flashing. I pull in to a parking lot and wait. I know I was speeding. A bit. Here's a verbatim transcript of our dialogue.

RCMP cop saunters up to the driver's window. He's 12 years old.

C: Do you know what speed you were at?

M: No, well, I know I was a bit over.

C: Brace yourself, M (didn't call me lady or ma'am but my first name)you were 46 over the limit.

M: What?

C: 46, yes. I need to see your driver's licence

M: It's in the trunk. In my purse. Can I get out of my car?

C: As long as there are no hand grenades or machine guns on your person or in the trunk.

M: (giggle) No. Only the usual stash of street drugs.

C: (solemnly, suppressing a smile)That's OK then.

C: (once he checks licence and ownership)I don't want you to have points or you know a rise in your insurance rates so I'm only going to record this as 10 over the limit. A small fine and no points.

M: You'd do that?

He smiles, goes back to the cop car and then returns with a ticket and my documents. I thank him.

C: I'm really sorry I destroyed your day.

M: No actually, you made my day. 10 points only and I was trying to break the sound barrier!
Thank you so much!

I recounted this story to the gang at lunch. I was anticipating a lecture from Daughter who burst out laughing held out her hand for me to shake and said:
"Well done Mum!"

I probably need a lecture from someone, anyone, on this, but yeah, I'm watching my speed. For now.

I'm the little old lady from Pasadena.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Reflections on a dark economy

I haven't written about the dark days of near-financial collapse in Newfoundland. Mainly because I vent on Facebook and to friends. So here is an encapsulated version.

It's a long story of blundering governmental and political incompetence in a drunker sailor scenario of spending when offshore oil generated unbelievable wealth here. Instead of creating a heritage fund, Dems Wot Rulez initiated a hydro electric project - Muskrat Falls - which is proving to be voracious in its appetite for more and more funds as the project is elayed due to structural collapses and disputes arising with Italian contractors. I won't bore you all with it here. Suffice to say taxpayers here are like taxpayers everywhere, bailing out wealthy banks, except we're bailing out this disastrous project which is already over budget by 100% - 6 billion dollars projected costs at the outset now tipping close to 12 billion dollars. We are a province of just over 1/2 million people to give you some idea of the monetary per capita overload incurred for generations yet to come.

To add insult to injury, the poorest and most illiterate amongst us are being penalized financially for this absolute boondoggle of an enterprise. Half of the public libraries are being shut down, taxes are added to insurance (my car insurance increased by 50% even though I am 47 years accident free)glucose strips distribution at pharmacies is being reduced and co-pays for home care for seniors are being increased. It is the most mean spirited budget ever. And we are all appalled and significantly less solvent as a result.

There was no hope offered in this budget. Our politicians are the highest paid in Canada and don't, truly, have an operating brain cell amongst the lot of them.

They bleat austerity whilst living lavish life styles completely out of touch with the rest of us struggling masses. For instance our finance minister owns 8 MacDonald's franchises in the province and refuses to even discuss a fast food tax. H'm. Along with believing herself to be an entrepreneur. Mull that one when every decision at a Micky Doo's is dictated by Head Office.

Protests were launched, one a massive poster demanding the premier resign affixed to every pole for miles around the provincial legislature. These were removed in the dead of night at tax payer expense.

Free speech, guaranteed by our constitution, denied to the peasants by their betters.

Our local MHA (MP)announced publicly that we just didn't understand the complexity of political decisions. This is her first crack at politics.

Fun times out on the Edge of the Atlantic, folks.

And I've just given you the bare bones.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reflections on African Soup


For those interested, here's the recipe. Roughly. It changes according to my mood and I've adapted it to the most reasonable combinations of ingredients. In season.

An immersible blender helps as it does in most soups. So if you're a serious soup maker go find yourself one. Easy on line shopping. I bought one for Daughter for her birthday. As no kitchen should really be without.

A good stock is essential too. I keep a big glass jar in the freezer part of my fridge and always save my vegetable water, fish stock, et al in it.

List

Stock - any amount top up with regular water if you have to and a veggie or oxo cube. Enough for 4-8 cups of liquid.
Pumpkin - 2 cups I use canned being in the frozen north
Root vegetables, turnip, carrot, yam, sweet potato, parsnip, whathaveyou - about 8 cups after chopping. I love to add chopped kale or turnip greens in season too.
Garlic: chopped fine
1 huge onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of curry - reduce if you don't like it too hot.
Salt, pepper
1 can of coconut milk - I use the powdered kind and add another cup of water.
1/2 cup peanut butter.

Method

Fry the onion and garlic in a little light oil to transparency. Then add the spice, saute for a minute or 2 to mix nicely.
Add the stock and veggies all at once. Then add the pumpkin and everything else. Stir really well.
I usually simmer this for a couple of hours.
Then I use the immersible blender to smooth it all together, leaving a few veggies floating around unsmoothed.
I serve in big bowls with crusty bread or my Irish soda bread or as a meal over rice or with salad. I decorate the top of the bowls with a couple of peanuts, a dash of toasted coconut and a swirl of unsweetened whipped cream if I have them on hand.

Check to make sure the consistency pleases you before blending. I like it thick.

Everyone loves this soup. It evolved from a retreat I was on many, many years ago. And it was an Irish chef who showed me the ingredients which were not as varied as mine.

For instance he used canned milk rather than the coconut and stuck to sweet potatoes and pumpkin only.

I much prefer my version. As do my guests who lap it up.

It freezes beautifully. I often get 10-12 servings for future use.

So there ya go.

You're welcome.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dis 'N Dat

We finally got some summer here. Seriously. Temperatures were so low I had my fire going up to a few nights ago. Today is sunny but around 11C. A joke really.

Tourist season is busy so far. Good bookings for June. Many bookings for July and August. Earning my crusts for the winter. Guests who Airbnb are very interesting. My observation so far (which I've shared with a few) is that only very contented couples go for the Airbnb experience as their relationships can be under intimate scrutiny by other guests and by the hosts. Just my thoughts. I mean if one is civil and respectful to one's partner over an early breakfast the happy couples exam is passed with flying colours. And I read human beings well. I can detect the false exteriors, the phony smiles and the passive aggressive underpinnings quite easily.

I seem to be on the go much more than I'd like. Today is my first day for ME in over a week. I took naps, from exhaustion, a few times in the morning after the PGs left. I've never done that before. Could be my energy is not as good as it was due to health issues or age. I did mention this to my doctor but I get the raised eyebrow of "what do you expect?" which is not helpful.

Friends from Ontario have bought a gorgeous house here and held a little dinner party Friday night and served Lobster Newburg.


A friend has been experimenting with woodpiles and built me two of these. They are in the German tradition and called Holzhaufen. Huge advantage is they dry very quickly with the wind running through them.


I met an old blog friend and her husband for dinner this past week. The previous time we'd arranged it in Ontario she had health issues, but this time they were touring Newfoundland and we met up. Absolutely delightful in the flesh, so to speak, it is extraordinary how the internet has changed the way of forming friendships. I can honestly say, having met quite a few bloggers, that the friendships in real life "meets" are warm and always feel as if we've known each other a long time. Thank you Tessa and Martin!

My wonderful grief counsellor is giving a workshop in our town community centre tomorrow. Looking forward.

Looking forward is what it's all about. Truly. And that was my father's secret in life. Always looking forward. Happy Da's Day, old man.

Wherever you are.



Friday, June 10, 2016

Lunch

Two friends came for lunch today. Odd that in I met each of them individually and then discovered a few years later that they were best friends.

It was a four and half hour lunch. I love these extended meals, they are far too rare. I made my African soup which is a meal unto itself. And my home made Irish bread, ham salad, potato salad, egg salad. One of them had been on sick leave suffering from major depression but she brought her guitar with her. And said to us if there is anywhere to start playing again, it is here. And I was so touched.

What I took note of in myself, because these friends are so dear, was that I was able to talk about my losses in the present, the impact each had on my life and cry a little but not in that deep anguish of the past. We all conferred about how unprepared we were for loss. The only way to transform it is to do one good thing to compensate when the grief hits.

And K sang this:



There's such comfort in shared memories and recognizing as well that we have each other in the present and can be open and loving to each other. Like a rebirth. And talk of rainbows and kids.

My friend is a magnificent singer. Truly awesome. She sang Gordon Lightfoot's "Bitter Green", another Kristofferson and then this with her own folky heartbreak alto spin on it:



She was completely restored when she left.

As were we all.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Encouragement

-------------------------------------my mantra------------------------------------

I get encouragement from unexpected sources.

I'm not a person who's greatly disciplined.

I have routines that give me pleasure. The slog work I tend to avoid.

I envy others who can pack the slog and pleasure into a smooth run. I watch them wipe counters and brush up as they accomplish other tasks. Like a a ballet.

I'm a reactive housekeeper. I'll clean up like a mad thing if you're coming over. I've been known to pile up dishes because I don't have time to unload the dishwasher as I'm too busy binding a handcrafted afghan or immersed in an unputdownable book or writing a chapter or prepping a workshop.

I get private emails from those who read my blog. And sometimes it's a lash with a wet noodle.

One of them recently had me mulling - in a good way. (S)he questioned why I salivated over others' words in books when I should be working more on my own creative words.

Another, who lives in France, wrote me directly having lurked on my blog for years, and asked me why I'd never finished my thoughts on emigration from Ireland as she could relate. So yes, I need to concentrate more on writing.

I did write a piece on emigration but it was brutal, savage, blunt and harsh. And I hesitated with it, filed it away. But honesty can be brutal. Honesty can be harsh. But as Granny said: hesitation buys no tea.

Maybe I do need to back away for a while from distractions. And salt myself away in the Tigeen and write.

Encouragement.
It wakes me up.
I need that.