Sunday, April 23, 2017

Da Week Dat Was

Painting by Maud Lewis "Covered Bridge"

It was one of those weeks, non-stop gallop. I don't particularly like those but they can be fun too. I planned a surprise birthday dinner for Daughter who turned, gasp, fifty.

I am the mother of a 50 year old. I don't feel adequate or mature enough. She is thoroughly basted in middle age now, isn't she. Feel so very fortunate for living this long when of my friends more are now dead than alive.

The birthday was held at a local restaurant which closes during the week in non-tourist season but opens for large groups.

They especially made huge platters of Jiggs Dinner which included lashings of roasted turkey, masses of veggies cooked with salt beef, pease pudding, dressing, turnip, cabbage and mounds of potatoes and gravy. Man oh man, we were all groaning. There was hardly any room for the cake which was especially made by a friend who designed and made this gluten free number, complete with mathematical symbols which is Daughter's forte.

We all had a jolly good time.

We had a Book Club Meet thrown in during the week too. I was on duty for the dessert.

Then Car developed weird lights on the dash which alarmed me and I had to take it into the dealer, a long haul in freezing rain, you know it's bad when the trees are exquisitely ice-draped along with the power lines. But I made it in. Parts ordered.

Then it was off to see "Maudie" with a friend who texted on the off chance I was in town and would like to see it. Oh, I recommend. It left me spellbound. What I love about living in a small province is that I run into people I know at the movies all the time. So instant discussions on the quality of the film. And I know one of the producers too, she had the grace to see my play when it was on its run and expressed an interest in filming it at some point.

So there you have it.

All is well.

Overnight it seems, I have an elderly daughter.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Peopled Out, Iceberged In

Because I'm a gregarious loner, I like a lot of downtime, away from the maddings. This week was a rough one, an ongoing intense quality and quantity to human exposure for me. Drop ins. Don't like them. But I foolishly hung out the tax services shingle and I figure all told, with the drops and convos about life stories and Uncle Ned, great fellah you should have met him, I'm making about $5.00 an hour if I factor in the social aspect. Big Mistake.

I'm very fussy as to friends. Loads of acquaintances but friends I can count on one hand. So I have to wear my nice for these tax clients and engage with them reluctantly but smilily. I am sensitive to social cues but most people are not, I find. I say I'm sorry but I'm busy but I imagine they think that applies to others and not them as they ramble on about Auntie Mildred and Grandfather Jack and just who are in these photos around my living room.

Meanwhile some ancient ice has been hanging around outside my front door. Pictures, yes. And this is after a couple of weeks as the weather has been glorious and most of the ice has melted, it covered the bay at one point and there were mini-mountains bobbing along.

I can't imagine what this gigantic ice melt has done to the glaciers of Greenland and to the planet's health. And they are here far too soon this year. And apparently are only the precursors of more yet to come.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Measuring a Life

I officially took possession of Tiny. I use the word Tiny as a comparative to Sprawl which is my existing dwelling. I am sprawled out over:

(1) A saltbox house
(2) An off the grid cabin.
(3) A large garage
(4) A barn
(5) A baby barn shed.

I take measurements of Tiny. And then took them again, blinking in disbelief. Nothing from Sprawl quite fits, I think. And then I think: Help!

I look at the freshly painted walls, a lovely lemony shade. And fresh carpet, kind of grey-blue. And then I look out at the southern exposure view, lashings of sunshine. I look up at Signal Hill in the distance. And think: this is truly perfect. You won't need drapes, says the Administrator, as nothing overlooks you. There are lovely white opaque blinds on the windows, you can keep these if you want, he says, they're brand new from the previous tenant who never quite moved in as he had a heart attack and stayed in Ontario.

He tells me I should be around next weekend as there is Easter Dinner for all the residents in the community recreation centre downstairs. Free. What? I ask. Oh, all festivals throughout the year have a free dinner for the residents, he responds. Bonus.

I texted my friend who introduced me to this building a few years back and we met for coffee. I'd forgotten how much we laugh together. How alike we are in many ways.

Her place, similar in layout to my apartment is zen like in its simplicity. I aspire, I tell her. Tips, please.

In this new age of digital access, physical books and movies become redundant, we agree. What are my treasures? Pictures, my writing life and its accoutrements.

What defines me? How do I measure my life without the extras?



PS As I write this there's a film crew, cast and extras of 12 around my house. Filming a wedding scene. Using two of the bedrooms and my living room and many outside shots. They're all so young. Well, yeah. I don't see too many elders making movies, do you? Shame, really.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Blog Jam


This is a joke I posted on Facebook. I love jokes that are clever and clean and have a surprise at the end.


Laugh of the day~~~

"You're both in your nineties," said the judge to the elderly couple, "Married 70 years! Why would you want a divorce now?"

Said the old woman: " We were waiting for the children to die."

I have a film crew coming on Sunday to make a short film in my house as it is old and hasn't been drastically renovated but has the original exterior and interior. Interesting, I think. Now I'm thinking it's a huge disruption. Then again......

I had two rejection letters. How do you deal with rejection? I had loved these two submitted pieces, and so did others, so I felt rather very crushed and then got so busy later that I forgot to feel sad but now that I'm here at the end of the day I've got time to brood and flay and tell myself give up, I'm useless. So I'm writing here instead for the 4 or 5 that do read me and appreciate. Thanks guys.

Yesterday, I visited my friends whose daughter died and actually made them laugh helplessly about the first marriage proposal I received out here in the Far East. Have I told you I've had hilarious marriage proposals? I will some day. It could be a book. I always cry in my car when I leave my friends, I can't imagine their suffering. Now they are putting their daughter's Jeep and house on the market. She was only 40 and death stalked in, in the middle of the night, and grabbed her. A congenital heart defect. I discuss books with him, he's an avid reader of all things Newfoundland - he was a coast guard in his time - and make them both laugh. I don't plan it that way but I'm glad it works out that way when I visit. Getting out of bed is their enormous act of courage for the day.

I had this friend, well, she's more of an acquaintance. When I moved here she'd phone me about once a month. Strange conversations. She'd never a ask a question but would launch into a sort of list of people who'd let her down by not phoning/dropping in/not picking her up/not letting her know about events, etc. She had a stroke many years ago, I remember visiting her every day in the hospital, not an easy thing as the location of her hospital was both a subway and streetcar ride away from where I was headquartered then in downtown Toronto. But I knew visits to her would be minimal or zero from others during the day as she lived way out in the outlying suburbs and the hospital was in the west end. And there were other occasions too when I filled in as her caretaker on weekends away. All this to say, I was up against myself in dealing with her. I never felt close to her but I would still feel guilty, the stroke for one, and the fact she didn't establish deep friendships with anyone mainly because her demands never stop when you're with her. There are always extras you have to do and there is no acknowledgement of driving out of your way or picking up extra stuff along the route. And then guilt again for feeling like that. It's a vicious cycle. I dropped my landline months back and now I'm just on mobile. And of course she doesn't have that number. But lawdie, now she's phoned many of my friends to demand my mobile number but none feel they want to give it to her. So today she calls a buddy in Florida and he immediately puts her request for me to phone her right away on my FB wall. She is tenacious. And truthfully, normally I don't think about her at all. Guilt again.

So yes, I will call her. If I don't forget yet again. I need to brace myself. I don't wish for more friends to get harassed by her. There's none as queer as folks. If it were me, I would have given up long ago and put it down to disinterest and move on. But not J.

I take official possession of my home in the city tomorrow. Exciting times. Though I won't be moving there full time until the fall for there's a lot to wind down here over the next few months.

So new pastures, new opportunities await. Sadness too at leaving this little paradise behind.

But I'm ready.






Saturday, April 01, 2017

Away

In light of the horrific recent events unfolding in Holy Ireland, with babies starved, tossed into septic tanks and sold to the highest bidders by demonic clergy, please read here and here for further clarification. Bessborough is where I would have been interred like a few of my friends who were abandoned by their boyfriends or raped by relatives or priests.

If you need further enlightenment on these horrific crimes against humanity I thought to bring to light my own narrow escape story that I still grapple with emotionally. I'm trying to set my story all down and come to terms with it, but it still festers in my heart, it is still so difficult to speak of. And I don't. Because I cry. Writing is what I do best.

And in case you're wondering, everyone knew about these institutions. We girls lived in fear of them and pitied the poor creatures within them when we would visit - as privileged private school girls - to entertain them. But never speak to them. Contamination, you see. and looking back, us girls must have been obliviously rubbing further salt into their scalded souls.

And yes I've had the therapy and tried to establish an understanding of my past with the male members of my birth family, to no avail.

For seriously, how can any Irish man, no matter the age, understand the Ireland of 1966 when a frightened, pregnant young woman, not more than a girl, together with her young husband, made life changing decisions to protect themselves and their families from the cult that was the RC church in Ireland? And make no mistake, it was (and still is) a patriarchal, hypocritical cult, steeped in misogyny, condemning so-called "unmarried mothers" to a life time of slavery, their babies stolen and sold, or killed or starved. Or horrifically raped by the parish priests who had unlimited access to these vulnerable girls and children.


I was secretly five months pregnant at my wedding. A very tight girdle.

Away

A wedding ring away from a workhouse, a lifetime of indentured slavery.

A wedding ring away from a child kidnapped and sold.

A papal blessing away from tribal condemnation on a secret side altar of the parish church.

An emigration away from family disgrace and pursed lip judgement

A lonely birthing away from family joy and support, among strangers in a strange land

A frightened young couple away from all they knew dear, alone and terrified.

A baby born away, questioning the whys and wheres and hows of the banishment of her parents.

A lifetime away in a country which beckoned when Ireland closed its doors.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Things


Small things. Big things.

Every week I make my own yogurt and my own Irish whole wheat soda bread which I cut into quarters and then put 3 in the freezer, I set aside a quarter and then extract from the freezer as I need. Irish soda bread has to be eaten fresh. It was usually made every day in Ireland using up the sour milk pre-refrigeration. My yogurt's starter must be years and years old now. I just save a tablespoon from the last batch and use in the fresh one. And if I'm going away for a while I freeze a tablespoon of it.

There is something validating about taking care of one's basic needs. I think if pushed I could survive for a while on soda bread and yogurt. If I have interesting seeds and dried fruits and nuts I throw into the soda bread pre-baking, but it's not necessary. With the yogurt I use bottled fruit or sugar free home made preserves. I've tossed around making home-made country butter. I despised it as a child ("you can taste the grass, ew Mum!") but now what I wouldn't give for a pot of it! The high processing of food has made imbeciles of us all. Bleached white bread, chemical-laden yogurt with artificial thickeners, chemical-laden spreadable concoctions called margarine (low cal, light).

Even cheese. What have they done to cheese? I shop the stores that carry Irish cheeses. All the good Canadian brands are now rubbishy plasticized homogenous florescent orange slabs. Inedible. and yet they go flying off the shelves. There is no comparison in taste. Thank you Ireland for keeping cheese cheesy and sausages herby and edible.

I'm waiting for the pump man. I have no water. Again. The freezing cold attacked my pump-house and throttled the water pump. Winter continues on. Storm is expected tonight or tomorrow. 30cm of snow. Seriously.

At least my woodstove was fixed yesterday after a month without. Thanks to a couple of townsmen who refused even to take a cup of coffee and were horrified when I tried to pay them.

I am grateful for small things today, like wood, and homemade bread and yogurt. And heat. Blessed heat.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Whatcha At?


My blog friend Tom has a great post on retirement.

Which got me thinking about successful retirement. Redefining oneself.

There are many retired teachers and some retired professors in my community. And truth tell they "do" a lot of TV and shopping. By "Shopping" I mean driving in and out of town, which here is the capital city of St. John's about 1-1/2 hours one way on the "Old Road", maybe an hour on the highway. And it always involves many carts rattling out of Costco.

Shed life is big here. The Boys gather in sheds and work on "stuff" like trucks and snowmobiles and boats and generators and ATVs which are used for hunting. Hunting and fishing are huge and there's no retirement age from either.

Women volunteer in church: cleaning and altar fixing and choir committees and parish committees and church fundraising. If they have spare time (church volunteering becoming a dead art, so to speak) they community volunteer in card games for seniors, exercise class and library duty and 50+ club events.

Whatcha at? Is an all purpose catchphrase here. Used when you pick up the phone. I've adopted it as it is quick to the chase. "Whatcha at?" they say to me. "Oh, I'm knitting," I say, or "Getting ready for a walk", "watching Netflix", etc. And you're off and running with a conversation.

I hung out a small tax service shingle, metaphorically speaking, this year. I had basically terminated my tax business a few years back, apart from a few diehards, but felt a little financial need due to power bills being so enormous in NL. You can be freezing your arse off and the bill can be $400 for the month. Full heat would be close to a $1,000. And that's with a wood burning stove. As I type this, I'm cold. And I have had a huge cold tolerance. No more. I'm looking forward to moving in the fall so that next winter won't be a financial worry. I will be warm and the bill will be less than a quarter of what I pay now!

My time is always full. I had 3 clients drop in this morning. I have my volunteer municipal job that I love. I'm building a data base for the town library. I continue to write. I am taking bookings for my hospitality Airbnb and that will keep me busy from Spring on to late September. Needs must. And yes, knitting products for sale. Thinking of getting an Etsy account to sell on line perhaps. And cards. I sell my own cards too.
I'm a wearer of many hats.

Bored? What's that?

So - Whatcha At my friends?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Books of 2016


I'm late with this annual post. No excuse apart from a life that I always seem to be running behind but not in a good way. I make great plans, go to the trouble of writing them down in number and point form and then lose hopeless track of my good intentions. I know I'm the only one on planet earth with this problem. Any helpful hints? I should abandon my lists but it's similar to my collection of "useless artifacts" which I will write about some day too. The dark underbelly of my life.

So here goes with the 2016 list.

(1)Puccini's Ghosts - Morag Joss****
(2)Dead Simple - Peter Robinson. dropped could not engage 0
(3)Plain Song - Nancy Huston***
(4)All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr*****
(5)The Mistress - Philippe Tapon*
(6)A Sudden Sun - Trudy Morgan-Coles****
(7)Eventide - Kent Haruf*****
(8)Burning Down The House - Russell Wangersky {BC}***
(9)The Night Following - Morag Joss*****
(10)England, England - Julian Barnes 0
(11)The Birdcage - Marcia Willett***
(12)Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova***
(13)And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini*****
(14)My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout*****
(15)The Girl in the Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold {BC}**
(16)Among the Missing - Morag Joss****
(17)The Dipper - Marcia Willett**
(18)The Corrigan Women - M.T. Doheney
(19)Eve - Iris Johansen*
(20)A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway 5th(?)re-read*****
(21)A Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans*****
(22)The Piano Tuner - Daniel Mason (I'm struggling with this one 100 pages in)
(23)Settlers of the Marsh - Frederick Philip Grove ****
(24)Baggage - Jill Sooley ***
(25)Moments of Being - Virginia Woolf***
(26)The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner***
(27)Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler *****
(28)The Old Jest - Jennifer Johnston *****
(29)The Illusionist - Jennifer Johnston ****
(30)A Sixpenny Song - Jennifer Johnston
(31)The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor {BC} a re-read for me*****
(32)How Many Miles to Babylon? - Jennifer Johnston*****
(33)What We Want - Trudy J. Morgan-Cole**
(34)This is Not a Novel - Jennifer Johnston*****
(35)The Captain and the Kings - Jennifer Johnston*****
(36)The Railway Station Man - Jennifer Johnston*****
(37)By the Lake - John McGahern*****
(38)Closer Home - Karen Anne King**
(39)Shadows on our Skin - Jennifer Johnston*****
(40)Love & Summer - William Trevor****
(41)Fool's Sanctuary - Jennifer Johnston****
(42)I Let You Go - Claire Mackintosh****
(43)The Lake House - Kate Morton (500 pages, 200 too much)***
(44)The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence - 3rd re-read*****
(45)Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey - poor construction**
(46)A Badly Misunderstood Dog - Paul Rowe - *****
(47)The First Bad Man - Miranda July - she literally lost the plot - *
(48)The End of Your Life Bookclub - William Schwalbe*****
(49)Everyone Hates a Beauty Queen - Kenneth Harvey - Awful bilge, will not read him again*
(50)Save Me - Lisa Scottoline - cliché driven ***
(51)The Distant Hours - Kate Morton - challenging size, unsure
(52)The Ocean at My Door - Ken Pollett
(53)Perfect - Rachel Joyce*****
(54)Still Alice - Lisa Genova*****
(55)My Father's Tears - John Updike*****
(56)La Rose - Louise Erdrich****
(57)The Doctor's Wife - Brian Moore*****
(58)Thrice the Brindled Cat Had Mew'd - Alan Bradley***
(another Flavia De Luce but not so compelling)
(59)The Good Doctor - Paul Butler
(a few pages in and I'm tripping over edit-goofs and holy metaphors, batman!)
(60)People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks*** {BC}
(61)Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen*****
(62)Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger
(63)The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein***** {BC}
(64)The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick****
(65)The Roncesvalles Pass - Paul Bowdring
(66)The Lizard Cage - Karen Connolly*****
(67)Lost and Found - Brooke Davis*****
(68)A Sport of Nature - Nadine Gortimer - dropped, couldn't.
(69)Continental Drift - Russell Banks - dropped, couldn't.
(70)My Secret Sister - Edmonds & Smith***
(71)Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore {BC}***

TOTAL TO DATE: 71{BC}=Book Club}
Ratings:0(awful) *(poor)**(fair)***(good)****(very good)*****(excellent)

Those I loved:
4
7
9
14
20 (about 6th or 7th reading, annual event!)
27
28
31
All of Jennifer Johnston I adore.
37
44
48
61
66

A good year of reading. I won't work at reading a boggy book anymore. My life's too short. I like immersion, good editing and grammar, engaging characters, thoughtful prose. I'm not asking too much, am I?

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 2


And I use the word "beginning" for it truly feels like another one. I've had many, I've been blessed. And in my last two homes they reflected me, solo me, my décor, my artifacts, my friends, my colours.

And so will this new one that my spirit will enter on April 1st, but through circumstances of my hospitality business and my municipal position, my body won't enter fully until September.

It's a one bedroom apartment in an independent senior living complex. A friend already lives there. A friend after my own heart as we value privacy and abhor unexpected dropping around. The complex is small and charming and includes a gym on each floor, a free laundry on each floor, an outside patio with barbecues, an enormous communal two storey recreation room with library and kitchen and piano, it's overlooking a lake and is a short hop to the city of St. John's.

A few things, of many, that impressed me were it was so quiet, I loved how some of the artists living there had hung their artwork in the hallways, I was also impressed with some of the residents being in their nineties and having home care help coming in for a few hours a day if needed thus deferring the day when an assisted living home might be rquired. And twice a week there's a free bus that takes everyone out to shop if they are beyond driving.

My friend tells me we are the two "babies" in the complex being the youngest. I find that very amusing but also highly educational in that I hope to learn more about ageing in place and an ease and familiarity with the process.

The complex is close to the East Coast Trail and some gorgeous trails in the city itself.

Simmering down to a one bedroom is going to be challenging. I am hoping to market my current dwelling as a turnkey hospitality heritage home, all furnishings and appliances included. My plan is to take very little from here.

So yes, I am excited. But daunted too by the task of downsizing my existing lifestyle into one more manageable and easy.
But I am also blessed with an attitude that once I make up my mind, I don't look back. I don't want a life of regrets.

Looking ahead and with anticipation is where I'm at.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 1.


When I bought this place over 13 years ago, I knew my relationship with my darling house and land would all end some day. I'm very conscious of the ticking of my own clock. I stay in moments and cherish them and reflect on my privilege and gratitude to have this house overlooking the ocean, surrounded by trees and hills, with views right out of some exotic magazine. With its own off the grid artist's cabin tucked up on the hill overlooking the bay.

We are so finite in this world and sometimes a tap on the shoulder comes, intuition if you will, and we must pay attention.

My friend Helen's death was a huge tap for me. Then a whole series of friends fell to the wayside shortly thereafter way before their time. I say way before their time when, really, what is human time? Three score plus ten? I've been losing friends since I was six when Geraldine died of meningitis and at eight Eithne was burned in a house fire and at fifteen Rosario had brain cancer. So death walks along beside me even though many of us behave as if we have two hundred years to live. And to live with full mental and physical functions intact. Not so. Take a look around at your Zimmer frames, oxygen tanks and wheelchairs and bewilderments in the supermarkets. I do. Not morbidly but noddingly, know what I mean? Constantly aware too that most health impacted seniors don't shop for themselves so we don't see the Alzheimer's, the dementia, the legless and blind and stroke victims.

I thought to take charge then, back in 2015. I live alone. Have a fierce streak of independence, turned down potential partnerships here, 3 or 4 at last count to offer an example, and wish to be proactive rather than reactive to any future challenges I might face.

I remember a dear blog friend, I was her role model of aging well for some reason, saying at one point: "Well it's a good job I have ten more years to catch up to you and loads of time to live creatively" but sadly she didn't. She died Christmas 2013 rather quickly, from cancer.

So the power of now became a mantra for me long before it was fashionable.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Porta-Post

And no, it's not working. A post from my device, that is. Frustrating. As to brace the Siberia of my office which now holds a treadmill and a door that won't close and also an iffy laptop that objects to being moved and goes off in a sulk, is challenging.

So this is a post from a week ago:

I'm basically testing this post on a different platform. I've been hoppin' busy. Good busy. Like I'm accomplishing things.

I may be delusional.

Yeah, I treadmill and yeah, it hurts. And cramps in my legs at night frighten me. And one of my specialists is thawing out and oozes competence. One of my....Did you hear that? Do I win this week's MedSpeak contest?

On other fronts, and there are many, I will be moving from one paradise to another. More on that later.

Meanwhile I offer you this picture of my knitting, my porta-knitting vs the big shawl I'm also working on, which inadvertently pleased some artistic eyes even though that effect was unintended.

And we had a bad storm after all that, frightening hurricane winds, power outages and evacuations. A reminder, once again, that Mother Nature's rage can be fearsome.

Thanks to all who sent me messages and blog concern. Always appreciated.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Perception

I am troubled when I see lofty opinions offered particularly about other races, strata of society, sexual orientation et all.

Someone who reports to me, a former teacher, thinks it hilarious to imitate Chinese people. What he perceives to be Chinese. He's never met one apart from in a Chinese restaurant. But, in spite of my objections, I will catch him amusing residents with this appalling accent accompanied by the gesture of slanting his eyes. To say I am shocked at his insensitivity is to understate my reaction. I sat him down and talked to him about this racism. He was offended I called him a racist as he is "Open-minded". And truly, he says, a "Chinaman" would not be offended, they would laugh too. And he wouldn't mind if they imitated him, ah lighten up. To make things worse, he took his show on stage much to the hilarity of the audience as someone was kind enough to show me a video of his show-stopping routine. But, you know, he is extraordinarily kind in other ways. He goes beyond. So, yes, I like him but I keep hoping my repeated careful evaluation of his disturbing mockery will enlighten him one day.

Blanket statements about segments of society are bordering on prejudice also as in: "I love Lesbians". I know many lesbians, some I disliked, some I loved. Just like anyone else, I accord them humanity and differentiation. I can't like everyone. The same with gay men. Some are my friends, others are anti-feminist and exclusive of heterosexual women. I don't care for them or their opinions if they are misogynistic.

And speaking of feminism, I remember on one of my posts about this particular F word, a comment by a fellow blogger about once meeting a strident feminist thirty years before so she had no time now for feminism. I couldn't count the wrongs in that tiny statement.

No class of society is a monolith. I don't make pronouncements on the wealthy as a class. Or the impoverished for that matter. I've known nasty selfish wealthy people who gather their ill-gotten gains to themselves and never share, and others who are unlimited in their generosity. I've known poor people who are horrible, abusive and greedy and others who are gentle and kind.

A blog friend posted recently on a class or label of society he took offence to and found it wanting. I assumed he was talking about people he knew. But no. He was just blanket-judging. It puzzled me and I had to think about it and my own judgements on others.

Black and white thinking leads to racism and misogyny and anti-gay stances and yeah, fascism.

For if we don't take the time to get to know people, all people in our path, all races, classes, how can we possibly judge? I offer you Muslims.

We all bear the stamp of uniqueness.

And are one river.




Sunday, February 26, 2017

Good As New


I'll tell you something about what you see on the left here. It's a knitting scissors now falling apart. It's beyond help or repair. Besides it's covered in white paint from a long forgotten project. It bites back at me every time I try to use it.

BUT I keep it in a jar beside my knitting table.

In my knitting basket there are two fairly new scissors but they hide under balls and hanks of wool.

The yellowish one up there I use, well, sorry, use is a fairly strong term.

I haul it out and hack at yarn that needs to be cut or packages that need opening or at loose threads. The points on it are worn off, saying it has dull edges would be a euphemism.

Hack. Because the effing thing doesn't work. At all.

But I keep trying. I have perfectly wonderful scissors up in the craft room and under aforesaid wool in the knitting basket.

And then, when all the above fails after an intense workout by me, I hunt for a working scissors.

See, there's life in Old Yeller.

If only I could find it.

(Similar stories, anyone?)

And gawd, it's painful, but I'm tossing OY today.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I Tweet, Therefore I am.


Of course I also fill my days with other stuff. I tweet when I'm mad or am amused. Today I was amused at the puffins, they are such incredible birds. I'm always nervous when they take off, they never look as if they're going to quite make it. But they do. They wobble crazily into the sky and can't be bothered building nests. They just dig a hole any old where.


I tweeted about City Hall here hosting an all-hail to prostitution sex workers. Simple question of them: special shrine to pimps and johns and trafficked women and girls? Not to mention all the thousands and thousands of murdered and missing victims? I suppose the councillors want their daughters/sons growing up to be involved in the sex trade? Have they ever known exited sex workers? I have.

I took a picture of my fireside table. You can't see the daily journal and my Tao meditation book which grounds me every morning. You can see my knitting. I could be working on a larger unfinished project but I'm not. Just these pretty little (fast) cloths in a sunburst of colours.

I have big news but I'm holding on to it for a while. I never know who reads this and I have to impart news to beloveds first. It's good, it's great, it's wonderful.

We broadcasted a shout out for my young friend who's moving into her very first home by her very own self, asking for household goods.

And my gawd, she is completely furnished from her cutlery to her bed to toilet paper and cleaners. Not a thing to be bought. People's generosity makes me cry in gratitude. She is overwhelmed.

And that's the really good news of the day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Letting Go


A long time ago I wrote about this topic. About life being a series of letting go steps if we are to attain any degree of serenity and peace.

As we do, I forgot about this great philosophy for a while.

Struggling.

And letting go is ceasing to struggle. Verily.

And it was brought home to me by a friend on Thursday. As he talked of letting go of who he was, his balding head reminds him, his lack of flexibility, his achy back, his paunch.

As I climb on my new-to-me gift of a treadmill every day I let go of dreams of another Tely 10, road racing, snazzy running gear, nimble legs, endless energy. And have I mentioned I've always hated treadmills with a passion? Not anymore, for this may save my life.

I was cold, cold is a brand new thing to me, and I put on an Aran sweater over the tights and tee-shirt, threw on a sweatband. And laughed as I realized after an excruciating 15 minutes that there was no sweat and I wasn't warm enough to remove the sweater.

It's a huge process for us elders and for others physically challenged out of the blue or after an accident to confront an altered life, while trying not to sentimentalize or glorify the past. I hadn't realized I was engaging in this magical thinking. Until my friend B talked of it.

And self-smack to the side of the head.

I better embrace the changes, work with them and yes, celebrate them.

Even if it's only for those who can't, ever again.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tadpole

I'll tell you: I'm taking a well-earned break right now.

When I put word out on FB (I think I mentioned before that FB is quite different out on this thinly populated enormous island on the East Coast) that I needed a treadmill, cheap, and helpers and a truck to drive it here when I found one, the community got busy. A woman 50k away that I met once or twice, had a son living in the other direction from me who had a treadmill he'd never used, top of the line she thought, built in TV (?), and he was giving it away. Then I heard from two friends who had the means and transportation to pick it up tomorrow and cart it into my house and set it up.

All fine and dandy, right? Except my office is the worst nightmare in my house with so little uncovered floor space as to make you tiptoe in gently, or in Grandgirl's case when she was here and looking for my unused eReader, to shake her head at me and say: "Seriously, Grandma?" To the absolute astonishment of Daughter and I, she is a bit of a neat freak. Breaking the chain of generations of proud non-housekeeping women, 5 at last count.

There is only one spot for this treadmill and it's in aforesaid office. The only dump in my house. The rest of my house is pristine because of PGs so everything spare has been thrown in here. I was waiting for expiry dates on tax files, to finish sorting through old photos, 10,000 pens, pencils, markers to spontaneously combust, reference books to sort themselves and land on shelves, all my writing files (ye gads!) to bind themselves, annotate themselves and throw themselves into a lovely wood and glass cabinet purchased yonks ago for their usage.

I wouldn't let anybody at anything as, you know, valuable papers, old photos, all my sheet music since I was 6, and stuff: don't touch my stuff syndrome.

So there I was tonight. nearly in despair looking at that catchall six foot long side table that holds every piece of undealt-with crap of my life. Marking the exact and only spot where my new treadmill is going to sit.

And I put on my big girl knickers and I tackle everything on it, under it and around it. And I find Ansa's lost toys, which break my heart, and get everything out into the front hall, stacked. And resist the urge to go through old photos and letters and cards and files and my published stuff.

And I say to Grandgirl via text as she is a fount of wisdom at 22: give me a good idea to get me on the effing magic treadmill when it arrives.

And she says: audio books and podcasts and Big Rule: they can only be played when you're on the treadmill. That way you have something to look forward to.

OK Legs.

We are going to regenerate you, a la tadpole.

Sorry about all those tears.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Day Zero


I watch the seabirds flying close to the stormy bay, eyes alert for fish. I throw out some seed for the littler birds. It's cold and windy and bitter out here.

I've lost water in my house. Yesterday I lost the woodstove too. Leo sorted out the chimney for me so I have heat again. But the water? No idea what's going on. I turned off the pump. I do have a container to make coffee or soup.

I'd like someone to come and take care of me. The downside of living alone is when things go wrong. As they will. Or two or three things go wrong. And there's no one to worry-share.

It begs the question: How many of us are brave and stoic on the outside and crying in fear on the inside? How come the chin-up and chest-out manifesto is our fall back scenario?

Is life just a performance for most of us? Be brave, we're told since childhood, don't cry, this won't hurt a bit - the first Big Lie apart from Santa Claus.

In an odd way I found out how really brave and uncrying I have been.

"You've had this disease for at least 10 years," says my vascular surgeon, "And you've completed how many distant road races?"

"Seven, eight, nine?" I say.

"You must have been in terrible pain at the end of them all?"

"Yes, I was," I admit,"I felt like fainting."

"The vascular system in your legs from the knees down has deteriorated by 60%. The thing is I could surgically intervene, and the odds are not good, or you could work on creating an alternative vascular system in your legs. It' going to hurt like hell and there will be many tears but it can be done."

I'm too old for this shyte, I think. I'm tired. I'm not brave anymore.

And then so many are worse off than I. And I feel small and selfish.

"I'll see you in six months" he says, "But if you sustain an injury or notice blackness or bruising in your legs, you are to call me right away."

"Remember," he adds, "Forty-five minutes a day of brisk walking through the pain and tears. It can be done!"

They're not your effing legs and pain, I think meanly, as I smile at him, his father born in Mayo, his pin-striped 3 piece suit right out of Central Casting: Mr. Surgeon.

Can I do more pain?

And continue writing this shyte on a blog, when so many like me are giving up blogging?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 6

In these unbelievable times I'm cheered by, as Mr. Rogers so aptly called them many years ago, The Helpers.

The Uprisings everywhere. The humour in the face of unbelievable stupidity and racism. Lawyers coming together to defend the most vulnerable. (Does 45 even get the fact that these refugees are fleeing from a carnage his country created? Don't bother answering)

The Helpers are everywhere.

Our own Prime Minister tweeted this:

Yeah, the man can tweet.

And this, this, made me lol/sob:


And got me thinking of how it really must be in 45's Orange House.

The Masters of the Universe have never been more visible.

I watched Noam Chomsky's doc again last night. Wow, prescient. I highly recommend.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 5


The worst of it is that thoughts don't leave me rest. Unbidden, often of the past. I occupied myself sorting out the android and its feeds. It wasn't doing what I told it to. Dropping favourites, reinventing newbies which were of no interest. That kept me in bad temper, but busy, for a while. It turned out there were two similar feeds clashing with each other. Order is now restored and so are favourites.

I Doctor Googled myself and found that my two underlying health issues were not helping this overlying issue: Da Bug. I may have to go to doc on Monday if I don't feel better. I see the specialist on Wednesday at the hospital which I feel quite hopeless about. I know. But it's the way I feel in this shallow-breathing painful world I live in at the moment.

Over the years I've gotten to know fellow bloggers in many ways. Often face to face or through emails and snail mails and gift exchanges. Many are of similar bent or political leanings. One, who has been a blog friend since I started blogging way back, and blogged frequently and eloquently, made the announcement today that she has terminal lung cancer. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't stop crying.

There have been a few such losses over the years. It surprises me how very close we can feel in the ether to each other. And the huge void that is created by absence.

I send her sustaining light and love through the challenges ahead. And yes, it puts my own tribulations at the moment into some sort of perspective.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 4


Oh the misery.

Oh the hacking.

Oh the sleepless nights.

And sleep filled days.

The isolation.

The pity pot.

Grandgirl arrived to great excitement on Sunday.

She and Daughter hung out in my house until Tuesday.

She'd arrived with the remnants of some kind of bug.

Non-infectious, we believed.

Poor fools.

Mine started on Tuesday. Grew to an unmistakeable fever by Wednesday, was full-fledged by Thursday and today, Friday, has developed fresh symptoms like stomach let down.

All the bodily functions we take for granted now become questionable in execution.

I'm the type who hates being catered to even though many offers have been flung through the phone and on media.

I am completely uncivil and unfriendly and unsocial in my illness and the slightest effort thrown in these directions sends me spinning downwards.

So I Coventry myself and wander around the house quite aimlessly, unable to read or knit or concentrate on anything stimulating on Netflix.

I collapse regularly in a heap on my bed exhausted from the effort it took to get there.

So yeah. A bit of a whine.

Because I know you're all far away and can't knock on my door with a cheerful countenance and chicken soup.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Remiss


re·miss

/rəˈmis/


adjective

adjective: remiss

lacking care or attention to duty; negligent.
"it would be very remiss of me not to pass on that information"


synonyms: negligent, neglectful, irresponsible, careless, thoughtless, heedless, lax, slack, slipshod, lackadaisical, derelict......

Not to say I haven't been writing.

I have.

And designing and knitting too. And reading. And conversing. And playing Lexulous on line.

And storm watching. We were all worked about that, my town and I. But those forecasters and Environment Canada got it so very, very wrong. As they often do. There's something about meteorologists' brains and the sea and radar patterns that doen't mix well. Grandgirl cancelled her flight tonight as a result, so now she arrives tomorrow.

The bay is frozen, it is quite startling in its beauty. It's cold. But the fire is cosy. Some people lose their minds in weather such as this. I'm delighted with it. More me-time, no outside pressures apart from irritating phone-calls with demands which I'm ignoring for today.

I do miss my old girl, Ansa, though. Not the old and tired Ansa, the lively, funny one.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Perfectionism


I would never have described myself as such. Ever. But late in life I'm up against this defect of mine. And it is a defect. Perfectionist. It's a prison.

per·fec·tion·ism


/pərˈfekSHəˌnizəm/

noun

noun: perfectionism

refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

It is paralyzing when it comes to my writing, to my completion of major projects. For example, I've written 3 novels. Understand that apart from an inquiry letter to publishers/agents here and there I've never pursued with any kind of energy or dedication actual publication of any of them as there is still so much to fix/rewrite/edit, you name it. Incomplete. Imperfect.

The recent anthology was agony. I will never look at it again, even though I've worked it and worked it. Because I will still see flaws and construction/grammatical problems et al infinitum. And this is depressing. Utterly.

My short stories, articles are never the issue as I can rework/edit these to my heart's content. Which I do. And then fire off. It's the larger works that are my personal sticky wicket.

The thing is, I let Novel #2 go for about 4 years. It had been work-shopped to much acclaim, a concept not written about before to everyone's knowledge. I hadn't read it since. But I needed the work I had done on it for a creative non-fiction short piece I'm writing.

So I took all day yesterday and read it as a stranger might and I was overwhelmed with how good and moving (I cried, lots) it was and today I'm going to work on expanding some chapters and then having Daughter and Grandgirl read it and take or not take their valued considerations and then fire it off, maybe a 100 times like a machine gun to different publishers without looking at it again.

And then get on the backs of the other 2 and do the same.

Time is running out.

On all of us.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

WWW - Unlimited.

My mind has always been my freedom. Ever since I was quite tiny.

When troubled I would lie on my small bed face down and imagine myself soaring over hills and mountains and then off into the sky, cruising over waves and boats and trees and houses.

"Oh" said my friend D to me last year, a couple of days before she died, "I can't bear the thought of my mind being gobbled up by this disease." Me too, D. Me too.

My mobility is impacted by some serious health issues. I am waiting for specialist evaluation to see if there's a solution.

But meanwhile I pace myself and prop myself on some hiking poles, counters, whatever is handy. I'm goodly for about 25 paces and then, suddenly, the power is gone, like pulling a plug out of a socket.

Dr. Google alarms me greatly so I avoid.

I also avoid talking about it with friends. There's nothing worse than a medi-bore.

Except for here.

The once.

My point? I am surprised at how unlimited I feel inside me. I celebrate all that is good and wonderful about my life.

I've discovered I'm far kinder to myself than I would have anticipated. I talk myself through fearsome challenges. And congratulate myself on a job well done if I've made it to the garage and into my car.

I've eliminated some previously terribly important and unletgoable items from my diet with ease. My goal is perhaps being under my normal weight to ease pressure on my vascular system. But I haven't overanalyzed this, it just seemed like time. I don't feel deprived. At all.

I find I'm in a really good head space. I anticipated much whining and berating of my misfortune and button-holing of willing ears. But no, that hasn't happened.

It's not a misfortune. And I don't compare to others' setbacks or worse-off scenarios - always terribly unhelpful, IMO.

It just is.

Inside, every dream is still realizable.