Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Words for Wednesday


Photo from: http://birdingforpleasure.blogspot.com
Writing prompt from: https://myjustsostory.blogspot.com/2018/10/words-for-wednesday_17.

The Bench

He'd wanted desperately to put his hands over his ears and yell and shout. To stop the torrent of words pouring out of her mouth, overflowing on to every tissue in his body. But he didn't. He was too conscious of how childish this would look, how demeaning and pathetic.

Instead, he left her standing in the kitchen in mid-flow. His wife of fifty one years now.

He tried to sort out the words she'd used, to put them in some kind of order and perspective.

She used the word narcissist, she called him a narcissist. He'd have to look that up, it sounded like he was a flower of some kind. No ponce he. No sirree.

Then she yelled "hopeless sociopath". Him. A retired detective. As if.

But the clincher was when she said it was time for them to go their separate ways. It was time for some happiness for herself after all those years of fearful living with a monster. Meaning him. Again, as if. He knew monsters, he'd put them behind bars.

She wanting to sell the house and share the proceeds. Give her freedom. Freedom from what?

When he was the best husband and father a woman could even dream of.

Now he'd go home, his home, and talk some sense into her.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Nugget

Reflecting on so much this morning.

Many, many blogmates have such challenges at the moment. One wrote her last blog post. Heart-breaking. We had exchanged much over the years, she would send me Tennessee handmade soap Another, a pillar of elder-blogging, is facing a very finite life now after many treatments. Another's wife has been diagnosed with a serious cancer. I won't link to any of them for if you've been following them at all you'll know. And I respect their privacy at this time. I know that many of my long term blog-mates follow the same blogs as I.

All of this to say, I've lost a few dear blog mates over the years. One develops quite a history when you read each other's words. Often daily. And it focuses my mind very sharply as I head in that same direction myself. I am under no illusion of eternal life. Unless you count stardust which may not be as inanimate as we think. To dust we shall return has massive truth.

So the nugget?

Take absolutely nothing for granted.

Maybe that's the secret of life?

I look around within my own radius and even the tiniest things bring me joy. I don't take any of them for granted. In spite of whatever ails me - you know what I mean.
An African Violet that won't stop blooming
A chair seat cover that I just knitted - it needs to be blocked and finished but I totally love its Mexican flavour, it cheers my heart.
A turquoise wall panel that I managed to hang (it's in an awkward spot behind my immovable bed) and attach some meaningful cards to. I love how I can change the art around as the mood takes me.
And last but not least a shawlette I knitted for a friend in New York, a friend of nearly 52 years, we met on the last emigration liner leaving Ireland back in the distant days.

It really does fill the heart to look around - what do you see from where you're sitting, standing, lying? And do you take it/them for granted?

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Copper

I would be most grateful for feedback on this very short story that I have struggled with on and off for about two months. I think it finished now but am totally open to suggestions. I am hoping the point of it is clear or that some reflection on elder life is teased out of readers. It's a true story.



COPPER

His middle-aged son brought the dogs for a visit every Wednesday afternoon, Scotch Terriers who looked just like the picture on the old Black and White Scotch whisky bottles. I’d be drawn to my second floor window by their ecstatic yips.

The old man would be at his open window on the ground floor, leaning out, waiting, calling them by name, Maud, Billy, over and over, his quavering voice filled with longing, his magnificent head of white hair streaked with traces of a youthful auburn. His son would hold each dog up in turn for him to pet with his crippled arthritic hands.

Someone told me they were like children to him after his wife died. He held on to the marital home until he was no longer able and his son then moved him into our no pets allowed independent senior living building five years ago. Word had it he signed over his house to his son with the understanding that he took care of the dogs and brought them to visit.

Last month he graduated from our building into one with a higher level of care. A couple of small trucks and a station wagon showed up with the whining dogs peering out the open window. Ten minutes later his son emerged from the building carrying a large suitcase. Next came the old man, tottering along on his walker, his extraordinary hair like an orange-streaked cloud at sunset. He was stooped over, reluctance in each uncertain footfall, losing more and more ground as he fell further behind his son.

But catching sight of the dogs he straightened with some effort and his eyes lit up, Maud, Billy! and they bounced out of the open car door to greet him, trying desperately to climb the walker to get at his face. His son folded the walker into the trunk as his father clung to the car door, looking up at my window. I saw tears lodging in all the folds of his face and I nodded, absorbing a little of his pain and fear.

As his son helped him into the back seat the dogs fell onto his lap in spasms of joy, his words were blurred and hoarse under the excitement of their yelping.

The station wagon moved away and was quickly out of sight. No one stands around outside to say goodbye to anyone leaving here. It’s like it’s contagious and no one’s been vaccinated.

The trucks immediately disgorged their drivers and the two men vanished into the building. Shortly afterwards, the windows to the apartment were thrown open and the accouterments of his left-behind-life were tossed onto the lawn.

Where are you taking all his stuff? asked Bertha, who patrols the grounds of our building like a border guard, all ninety years and ninety pounds of her. The men looked at each other then at her.

To the dump, lady, to the dump, one of them said impatiently. They loaded the two trucks with boxes of dishes, cheap shelving, metal tray tables, a saggy couch, an over-used easy chair, pantry items, an old mattress, a melamine headboard, sad linens, a wonky kitchen table with rusty kitchen chairs, photos in frames of weddings and children and soldiers, many albums, scrapbooks, magazines, an old console television and a stereo turntable, rickety bookcases, books, a giant bag of dog biscuits.

It took a week to air the place out for I heard the old fellow smoked like a chimney.

Professionals then came to dismantle and eject all the cabinetry and fixtures and cart it all away, some of it falling apart, missing knobs and drawer fronts.

A few days after that a pair of plumbers came. I could hear the hammering and the sound of things being torn apart, next I heard a clinking and clanging an hour or two later and looked down below and caught a glimpse of copper and for a few seconds thought it was the old man’s head protruding from the window.

But no,various lengths of copper piping were being passed slowly and carefully through the apartment window from one worker to the other.

They were then wrapped like treasure in flannel sheets before being reverently placed inside a van, to be auctioned off, no doubt, to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

So - A Strange Story

The Magical Beach

At my age we have to be careful of the men in white coats brandishing strait jackets.

Especially when it comes to the unexplainables.

I verbalized an extraordinary occurrence to only three people.

The first dismissed me out of hand and changed the topic of conversation immediately and never got back to what I had experienced.

The second asked me quite seriously and with concern: Did you hear voices in your head?

The third nodded carefully and said: Oh, I totally get that.

So here goes:
I was on this spectacular beach on a gorgeous day sitting in my beach chair. A young man passed with his dog and we exchanged pleasantries. This youngish black dog looked me right in the eyes as he walked past, he was on a leash. Dogs do this with me sometimes as if desperate to communicate their thoughts.

The young man went a distance away on the sand, the tide was out. He began to train his dog. I am familiar with that having trained a few. All the commands obeyed were rewarded with tiny treats. He was good, the commands were simple, one word, clear. Memories flooded me. There is nothing like a quivering dog, rooted in a stay, waiting for a release. The joy shared by trainer and trainee is immeasurable.

I just couldn't stop the tears. I was alone so there was no one to see, feeling utterly sad, missing my Ansa so much, how she loved the beach, how we frolicked, she was a great paddler but hated swimming. And paddle she did once she saw water with this wonderful grin on her face. Sometimes tears can hurt right down to the toes. They did for me that day.

A large perfect feather wafted down onto my lap and I held it to my cheek and stopped crying. And clearly I immediately sensed I could walk the beach, an impossible challenge.

So holding the feather I got up off the beach chair and walked and walked without pain and then turned around and walked back to the chair. An unimaginable feat. I held the feather for a while and then carefully inserted it into my camera bag for safe keeping and walked a little more, I came back to the camera bag and the feather had vanished. I searched high and low everywhere within quite a radius, no feather.

I had the strongest message again that the feather was merely a temporary sign of greater things to come, to stop hunting. To be still.

Which I did.

Three days later, I was having breakfast with my guest-friend in my local diner when I looked up and standing there in front of me was a person I love dearly but who has been long absent from my life for many, many years. We both burst into tears. This reunion has been exploding with joy ever since. In ways I could never have imagined. This remarkable event is now all connected to the dog, Ansa, the tears and the feather in my mind.

Coincidence? Well yes, says my reality check.

But something else? Well, perhaps yes. Though I am far from being a woo-woo person.

But this whole experience?

Inexplicable.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Blog Jam

May Sarton:
"Solitude is a way of waiting for the inaudible and the invisible to make itself felt. Solitude is never static and never hopeless."

Me:
Embers of Time.
_________________
These last fragile moments,
These burned out coals
Hold no flame now.
But I blow upon their
Dusty pink ashes
And a tiny flicker wavers
Long enough to spark
A memory of fire
To warm me briefly
In the uncertain light.
______________________
WWW 09/30/18

Questions:
Does the inner life grow richer, more fearless as we age?
We have more time for reflection and creativity even if it resides only in our inner.
Do we keep these strange thoughts, these rich inner happenings to ourselves?
Do these griefs and joys and inexplicables remain forever under lock and key?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Slump

We all get them, n'est pas?

I was feeling "off" yesterday and a few health issue challenges threw themselves at me. A good reminder of the fallibility of the aging body. I find this was succeeded by floating anxieties which pop over the parapet and remind me of poverty, forgetfulness, who do I think I ams, and a kind of general malaise of why botherism.

Cheer deserts me, every perceived slight is taken to a deeply personal level and scrutinized carefully for even more hidden pinpricks of disdain or contempt.

Are you still with me? Can anyone relate?

I try and counter all this with my daily dose of Tao.

Today it was to scrutinize all the tiny physical things around me and reflect on their origins, transitions and possible 100 year decay far into the future and way beyond my lifetime.

Then I focus on what I see: the glorious sunshine, startling greens, transcendent blues outside my window, my blackboard of writing projects.
What I hear:: silence, the flapping of the flag against the pole outside, the odd birdcall
What I touch: the keyboard now, lastly the knitting of a shawlette that I had to rip out as my pattern didn't work. A gift.
What I smell: some wonderful incense, a healing scent, to lift the spirit.
What I learn: Trying so desperately not to let my new phone (the old one was whimpering and finally died) frustrate and defeat me in a challenging learning curve of swiping, shaking, touching what I shouldn't touch, installing endless apps, promptly forgetting the new system protocols, digging for accounts and passwords and finding I am an inpatient whiny mess after about 15 minutes of this. Not helped at all by losing all historical texts (essential in the case of my friend with dementia challenges) and having wires crossed in my contact list - now sorted.

Living in Tao I am not. Though I try.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Amadea


I spotted this ship Amadea curled up to St.John's Harbour yesterday and just had to look her up.

Here she is in Wikipedia.

I wouldn't mind one of the two Royal Suites. You could have the other one.

She has a crew of nearly 300. More crew than the passengers and she cost $150,000,000 when first built.

I wouldn't mind sailing to Greenland on her. That would be my type of cruise. And I like to believe she's small enough not to do much damage to the environment.

Here's her schedule. Expensive.

From my rusty Latin, Amadea would mean love of the goddess or goddess love.

Ships and trains fascinate me. Always have. I see one like this and I want to board her and see where she takes me.

I apparently can at Harbour Symphony Time where one year the Amadea was part of the annual symphony, a meticulously planned sound event, conducted digitally and all boats in the harbour participate. Best heard from a distance. But magical nevertheless.



PS Isn't our harbour beautiful even on a mauzy day?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

On the Go

Another shot of Eastport, some day I will write about an extraordinary experience I had there.

I keep planning a no-do day with PJs, books and knitting on the go. But no dice. Not happening. Today was a good one I thought, just a phone call with a distant friend booked for 11.30 and then the rest of the day to moi. Not to be. Joanna, my cleaning genius, called and said she was "doing" me today and her car was banjaxed so I had to pick her up (dressed for that, nothing worse than tempting fate with a bad accident). Joanna is the boss when it comes to cleaning my place. She is at a bargain basement rate and shovels me out and keeps me reasonably civilized. Left to my own devices I can't tell you the condition this place would be in.

So I'll briefly list what's on the go here:

(1)I've created a strange androgynous alter ego (Pat Picco) who's making a series of interview type podcasts with off the wall others. More on that later. I've had to work very hard in talking out of the left side of my mouth and lowering my voice to create this persona and sound tests are tomorrow. Her first interview will be with me and another knitter discussing the mathematics and other elements of knitting. Other interviews lined up will be with a naval architect and another with practitioners of a Philippine martial arts (kali, escrima, arnis) who come from opposite sides of the globe and met accidentally at a brainstorming session I was at. More on that and links when up and running.

(2)The long overdue anthology has been published!! Yay! This is the collection of the short stories, essays and poems that came out of my writing workshops. It will be launched formally next month followed by a book tour.

(3)I'm on the Board of Directors of a feminist theatre which supports women playwrights, directors and actors and is putting together a new season of great plays and a grand gala in November.

(4)I'm working on a collection of my own short stories and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I have enough for a book. I'm enjoying the process of super-editing and culling.

This is all keeping my life full beyond measure but exciting and enriching and stimulating too. I believe I'm the elder (by far) of every space I'm in but hell, I feel so much gratitude and sheer old-fashioned lucky for this privilege.





Thursday, September 13, 2018

Returning Home

Today was one of those days of laundry and catching up with my St. John's Life. And exhaustion.

I've taken on two long road trips this past summer and maybe that wasn't so wise of me. A lot of driving.

However, the other side of me thinks this is a good thing, to still be semi-active, not as much as I'd like, of course, but savouring the sweetness of life. Particularly beautiful Newfoundland. I never tire of the scenery and here are a few samples:
The Architecture of Trinity

I spotted this man painting his extraordinary shed, more delicious architecture, again in Trinity, I was desperately trying to get that can of paint on the ground in the picture:

We stayed in Eastport also, the beach was breathtaking, my friend is a speck in the distance in this picture and she's going to enlarge it and put it on her bedroom wall.

And finally, Salvage. An artist's paradise.

The great news is that I am newly inspired, freshly minted in fact, with many wonderful events and projects about to unfold. More on that later.

Once I catch my breath.




Wednesday, September 05, 2018

We Count Blessings


A dear friend has come to stay, one with her own health challenges.

We are heading off today to points northish.

A Grand Tour.

Of Trinity
Of Twillingate
Of Fogo.
Of Eastport.

Much theatre is scattered in there. And if we can manage wee hikes we will do so. Sticks and stones.

Weather is spectacular today. But we pack books to read. And an excellent coffee.

I have found her visit here so far has been about blessings, good fortune and contentment.

I will post when I return.

Write amongst each other for now.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Septemberember

No, that's not a typo. An acquaintance self-published a book. Without formal editing. Five years ago. About women's lives, which is beside the point for this post. Very few men I have read and indeed have known intimately, know very little about women's lives and heartbreakingly to me, don't want to know. But that's another post entirely.

Unfortunately he wrote about the month of Septemberember frequently as he was a schoolteacher (I know) for many years. He also performed insane things to other words, particularly place names which made the stumbling reading of it a headache but generated guilty laughter amongst us wannabe literatis as the writer is extraordinarily pompous and self-important.

To get back to Septemberember, even now as I type it, spell check alerts me a "WTF is this word, numbskull?"

It has become the family name for this most poignant of months, the end of summer, the colours of fall, beginnings for so many students, evaluation of the sweaters in the closet, maybe gloves and caps and where are my good socks and a precis of the summer on everyone's lips, too sunny, too smoky, need rain for the crops.

Septemberember makes it linger. Stretches it out. Keeps us tasting it a bit longer, rolling it around our hopes and dreams as we stoke up our winter expectations and look behind us at the fresh memories of vacations and the love of family and friends and adventures.

As to our writer who gifted us with this word? I've never seen a man more distraught when he discovered the multiple errata in his book, especially Septemberember which he counted at 25 times. He clutched his head as he told me this, being very much a drama queen, moaning his reputation (?) was now ruined and what was he going to do.

Speaking of books, I updated my 2018 list on my sidebar, I am so pleased that one of the upsides of moving to a simpler life is the time it gives me for indulging my voracious and sometimes unsatisfied reading addiction. 2018 is a stellar year for good books for me.

I now leave you with the September song from one of my favourite all time singers.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Domestic Chaos

Given the absence of guests or cleaning woman, I can descend rapidly into my own kind of chaos. My housekeeping is reactive rather than proactive. For instance, I always figure a geographical cure will fix me for once and for all. Downsizing so extremely into a one-bedroom apartment as I have done would be a superb motivator, I thought. A brand new me, organized and ready for anything.

Well, no. In analyzing my behaviour I come to the conclusion that it is a case of not putting stuff back where it belongs when finished with it. I never seem to be "finished" with anything and am highly visual. I like to "see" items - my knitting, my wools, my books on the unread shelf, my clothes, my shoes, my food.

Now to the clothes. A purge is desperately needed. I made a "rule" for myself many years ago that if not worn in a year it gets donated. Also one item comes in and another gets donated. The latter formula has been neglected so my closet needs to be investigated thoroughly and dealt with. I have (unfortunately) a rather large bathroom and I use a clothes rack there to dry some of my more vulnerable items rather than throwing them in one of the communal dryers. I deal with those only when under threat of a visitor, it is far to easy to walk around them and think, oh yeah, well tonight. Tonight never comes. I have a toolkit in my hall that I can't seem to find a home for. Drives me a little batty as I step around it and shake my head. And unhung pictures are still an issue though shrinking a little in quantity.
I do keep the kitchen relatively tidy as it is small and awkwardly designed. For instance there is an enormous built in pantry which in concept you'd think would be just great for everything foody. But in practice it's another story entirely. Note the sets of shelves on the left (I brought these from the utility room in my house) as is was just a wide open space for what gawd knows. I have taken it apart several times and bought step-shelves to go on the right-side shelves but I've never seen such a poorly designed space. I may have to break down and get someone to install pull out wire drawers so it could hold everything in an organized but visual way. There is a serious lack of counter-space and only one sink. We take our double sinks for granted don't we? I did. So dirty dishes left lying around can impact the tiny space in the kitchen making of me an (almost) instant washer-upper.

Joanna, my cleaning woman, my saviour, was here yesterday and did the needful: dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and counter-shines.

Into every life should fall a reassuring Joanna, garrulous but now under control somewhat, a woman who takes pride in bringing order to domestic upheaval.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fraud

Credit Card Fraud

My visa card is mine alone. Safe in my wallet. I am cautious with on-line shopping. I check vendors carefully. I've only ever had it abused once and that was a clerk at a Self-Storage unit in Toronto who ran up a few thousand dollars on it five minutes after I left her office but the good news was that she was arrested and charged.

Imagine my shock today when my comfort zone was rudely interrupted when all these euro charges from Brussels, Belgium showed up on my statement. How on earth can this happen? Individually the amounts are not enough to be suspicious but overall they add up to a significant number. I imagine a large cartel of unscrupulous wankers selling off hoards of such numbers grabbed from goddess knows where. Abe books? Walmart on line? Itunes?

Credit card fraud cost the US 16 billion dollar in 2016. No numbers exist for Canada though at one point I believe it was nudging close to 2 billion dollars.

Meanwhile all my fraudulent charges are suspended, the Visa fraud unit is on top of it all and I'll be getting a new card in 10-15 days.

A time consuming business for me today, I logged a couple of hours between the bank, being put on hold for multiple personnel at visa, and taking a verbal oath that all I said was true, etc. I spent a fair whack of that time wondering when, where and how the breach occurred.

Anyone else out there with a fraud story?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ruminations 2


See Ruminations 1

But also see this previous post

What kind of world is it when yesterday someone I love was threatened with rape and death countless times (she stopped counting at 500) for posting the simple, scientific and biological fact of "Women don't have penises."

I had written a very long follow-up post to my previous one. But I'm not going to bother posting it.

Suffice to say is I only have one question for those who believe that being a woman is just a feeling:

Can you describe what that feeling is without resorting to stereotypes?

Please. I am serious.

The women with penises brigade and their supporters don't want to engage in any serious and respectful debate. Instead they spew hateful and murderous threats. It is absolutely frightening.

And yes, I know, just like #notallmen #notalltrans. But only 10% of trans have SRS. And are raised with all that masculine privilege affords them. And FYI: there were trans in my inner circle in Toronto.

I offer you this one insanity without comment, there are hundreds of others: an abused woman in a Toronto Women's Shelter.

Women have been colonized and oppressed for far too long. We need our safe spaces. Desperately. Including our girls. In a restaurant recently I was asked by a dad holding his little daughter's hand outside the washroom was it safe for her. Dear Goddess. We have come to this.

As to my beloved, the matter was reported to the police who announced they could do nothing in a world of free speech. Death threats are free speech. This is how women get murdered in Canada when they complain about restraining orders being ignored.

I'm too old for this shyte.

Loud and proud: The emperor wears no clothes.

/30


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Fine Art of Dying


I will come back and write a followup on my post "Ruminations" shortly. And please, can we all be civil? If you knew me you'd know how tolerant and loving I am and I know that my readers are the same. I like to believe that no one is hating on anyone, particularly on the marginalized in our society of which there are far too many.

Meanwhile one of my stories is up at As Time Goes By and for those long term readers: you will recognize the protagonist from previous posts (2014). She is still beloved. And she still makes me smile when I think of her, especially when I walk by a framed needlepoint she gave me many years ago which hangs in my kitchen but it breeches my anonymity so I can't post a pic.

Those are some of my birthday flowers above. My friends and wee family are treasures. Treasures I tell ya! More on that fabulous surprise party later.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Ruminations


“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

― Margaret Atwood

On the love between women: "A certain tenderness, a certain reciprocity, not having to make allowances for the male compulsion and fundamental sense of superiority. What man doesn't have it? Gay men included."

- May Sarton

“Many women, I think, resist feminism because it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships.”

- Andrea Dworkin

For a couple of years Daughter tracked the number of women killed by their partners in Canada. It was difficult, traumatizing work but no one else was doing it. Police records are not helpful. Most of it is classified under "domestic incident", with the victims' names erased. She had to give it up as it was too painful and heartbreaking. Every 6 days in Canada a woman or girl is murdered by those who purportedly love them. These victims are not commemorated in any way. She wanted to start a wall of remembrance in her town rather than the planned wall/monument/hallelujah gizmo honouring another dead male soldier. The soldier won. They always do.

This inherent male violence still has the power to startle me. A male blogger, who projects an image of gentleness and compassion, was accosted recently by a female neighbour, one he dislikes, and his immediate reactive desire (not acted upon, thank heaven) was to punch her in the head "until her eyes popped out."

And yes, I know #notallmen - but that is not the point. Where are the #notallmen condemning their violent misogynistic brothers? ( PS they don't, reference an intense conversation I had on weekend with two good male friends).

Furthermore, I am getting so sick and tired of female statistics now being skewed by "transwomen" who are invading female bathrooms, jails, police cells, locker rooms and women's shelters and along with raping their victims and intimidating little girls insist on being called "women" while us born women are labelled "cis". Not to mention competing in women's athletics and winning trophies. And seriously, if you're trans, live long and prosper, but please keep your penised presence away from our most vulnerable spaces. And realize, please, you have absolutely no idea of what it is to have lived a woman's experience in this world. None. Stilettos and makeup and push up bras and the lipper and slap is all we are? Stereotype much? Seriously?

All I've ever wanted for myself and other women is liberation, to be who we want to be without the inherent underlying threat of male violence and control and now, goddess help us, we've admitted it to our most personal and private spaces.

And don't get me started on how most seem to conflate gender and sex.

That's another post entirely.









Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wildfires


The smoke from the wildfires in BC and California (the Pacific ocean) has spread across Canada to our island of Newfoundland (the Atlantic ocean), affecting our weather.

Here's a map of the BC fires.

Here's a map of Canada

We are over 7,000 km away from these fires (see distance from Vancouver on our west coast to St. John's on the east coast).

That's over 4,350 miles.

We have entered the zone of the 4 Cs = Constant Chaos of Climate Change.





Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Jewel of a Day

Yesterday, Daughter and I and an Ontario friend who spends the summers here hung out for the day.


First of all, we went to the Mad Rock Cafe, a treasure of a place well off the beaten path. They serve the best toutons in Newfoundland. And also the best fishcakes. Believe me you haven't lived until you have eaten these fresh made treasures with lashings of molasses.


The day was glorious and the chat was mighty. We then headed to Cupids where the summer Perchance Theatre was in session. We saw "Our Eliza". And were blown away by both the script and the cast. Daughter and I were sobbing at the end, a truly powerful play about the dynamics between a demanding father, played by Greg Malone and his caretaking daughter, played by Allison Moira Kelly.

In that way of Newfoundland and as I know Greg slightly, I met up with him afterwards to chat. He told me he drew his devastating "father" from his own father. We also chatted about his last book, "Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders" a remarkable recounting of the story of Newfoundland, which I read from cover to cover as it reads like a novel.

And lastly - a picture of the town of Cupids I took a few years back, pre theatre and heritage centre days.


All in all a truly splendid day.








Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Today's Photos

I love the security of books on my headboard. Some are library, some are from Grandgirl and some from Daughter. All unread. Luxury.


Looking out my window right now I see this faithful son bringing goodies to his mama. I love the contrast of tough biker vs the pastries in the bag.


A very dear friend, now since passed at well over 90, painted me this when I was very ill one time. It goes everywhere with me and is right beside my computer corner.


And in today's mail - my new swimsuit. There are many pools around me now and aquafitness sessions so I'm going to give it a bash. Mail ordering is the bomb.

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Factory

I joke that when I am knitting small items on consignment for some tourist type outlets I speak of the factory in session.

Well, it has been.

When I had finished all of these I thought not to offend delicate sensibilities so typed up an explanatory card for those puzzled by such acronyms as follows:

WTF: Where's The Fish?

FFS: For Fish Sake.

OMG: Oh My Goodness.

Here are a few samples of my wares:

As I was packing up both these and my cards (and so many of my cards have been sold I have very few remaining) I thought to myself - I haven't aired out my real camera since Ansa died so I immediately charged it up. It's time for some new cards and poems. I will leave it in my car and use it for some local sights and sounds in my beautiful city and possibly find some new markets.

There is no greater thrill to me than selling works of my own creation.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Sweet and Sour

The world is in a frightful mess I think. When I allow myself to think.

I'm avoiding my newsfeeds. I just don't want to know how Trump is going to get his way again, how he will evade justice, how he will have his slavering mobs adore him as he screams Fake News! It sours up my life and I'm too old for this shyte.

I retweet the odd item. I disengaged from Facebook until the fall. But I really don't miss it.

I meditate daily. Today's was refreshing in that it reminded me that the world is a chaotic place, always has been. We fancy ourselves as bringing order to everything but we just can't. Not even to our bodies where rogue cancer cells may lurk ready to careen around our internal hidden corridors or alternately block our veins and arteries and squeeze our heart until it fails.

So in a Barbara Bushy way I realize that I need to think pretty thoughts. So I started up my little knitting factory again (my stuff really sells well). To start I made a lovely little shawlette for my sister who has her first and long awaited grandgirl of her very own now. So I incorporated herself, her husband, her four adult children and her darling grandgirl into the shawlette. I get hot looking at it (it is scorching out her on The Rock and in Ireland) but in winter it will be welcome when all this heat is behind us.



I will share the other products later before I ship them off to the shop for sale. I believe y'all may enjoy them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Comfort of Lunacy


I've mentioned before I have this kind of face. Total strangers come up to me and confide secrets:sadness, joy and everything in between.

I was at the deli section of my local grocery story today. I love how delis have adapted to aging single people. Love how I can get a 1/2 cooked chicken for $5. Local and kinda organic too. I wonder about their demise as chicken catcher jobs are frequently advertised in the local papers. I envision these lithe young people hoisting butterfly nets and chasing unwilling birds around the green fields of our enormous local chicken farm giving me the illusion of chickens with a sporting chance of escape. But I digress.

This old man stood beside me and asked me how my eyes were. I said grand. He asked me to read him some labels off the 1/2 price deli items. I obliged. It truly astonishes me the number of old people I know who refuse to wear their glasses or have inadequate contact lenses. I read for them a lot. Large store banners, worrisome traffic signs, library book spines, etc. But I digress again.

OM: Oh I could tell you my life story.
Me: Really? (not really interested, want to get home)
OM: I used to be a train driver on the Newfoundland Railways.
Me: Seriously? (I love railways, old abandoned, spanking new, riding the rails has been a joyful part of my life, he's got me)
OM:Yes, I was a train driver for 35 years, could tell you the names of all the little stations on the route. And then I was a worker here in Sobey's, a meat cutter for 25 years. See I know all the people in the butchering department (and he waves at them). I was forced to retire at 65, not too long ago. I loved my job.
Me:Interesting life indeed (having done the math on his life, I realized he was around 5 when he took over the trains of Newfoundland).
OM: You don't know the half of it. I also played banjo with Great Big Sea and I was featured on CBC with these artistic key rings.

And without a pause, he hauls out of his pockets a series of shortened bicycle chains with small key rings attached to their ends.

OM:See, they're works of art. Individual pieces. A lot of work. After the CBC show I sold 10,000 of them.
Me: Oh well done! Now my husband's waiting for his supper so I have to leave you, goodbye!




Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rear View Mirror


An old journal survived in another box. From well over 30 years ago. I don't know does anything good come out of this sorting through old crap thing at all. I started reading it and it was so compulsive I didn't stop until half way through and found myself teetering on the edge of an abyss.

I realized I was reading about an undiagnosed nervous breakdown I had. It was awful stuff. Heartbreaking too. Do all of us suffer, in the past, from such dark nights of the soul/spirit? I frankly don't know how I survived as I wrote about suicide and death so frequently and I was still in my thirties. Briefly: I had unexpectedly got fired from a career position. At the same time my former husband was having an affair and missing from home frequently. One of my kids had quit school and was on drugs. I was flat broke, pennies in the bank, no energy even to lift the phone and hire a labour lawyer as my self esteem was in the toilet. I can tell from the writing how I had rejected friendships, anyone reaching out to me. I must have been a one note samba, full of lament and hopelessness. Everyone stopped calling and that's how I wanted it. Isolation, fear, poverty. I certainly didn't let my family of origin know - in hindsight probably a very good thing - and I was nursing a seriously infected leg without medical attention. And oh yes, drinking heavily. I must have been an alarming sight. Well to anyone showing up on my doorstep and actually seeing me for I didn't answer my door. Or my phone. Or open my mail.

My father arrived in the midst of all this unbelievable mess. He never showed how distressed he was. He asked to see my leg. I cried at him: no doctors, no hospital and he showed me how to treat it with salt and sunshine. He assured me it wasn't cancer (my mother had malignant melanoma and died after multiple amputations, I was sure I was following in the same path). He took me out for walks every night, long walks along rivers and lakes and on one weekend to the art gallery in Kleinburg to look at Group of Seven paintings for hours. I had forgotten all of this. He must have been disturbed and scared at my condition but he never let on. By action and deed he showed me he was on my side.

My leg healed with a big scar. My mind took another couple of years before I was good and ready to deal with my alcoholism.

Last night I couldn't sleep (and I sleep well today and for many, many years) as my thoughts raced over again and again that absolutely awful, terrifying time when I felt death nudging at my door every hour of the day and I would succumb to the cold comfort of that bottomless pit of hopelessness and despair.

Sometimes we need to glance briefly in the rear view mirror but staring in it for too long can be a very dangerous visit to the dark side.

Can anyone relate?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Memento Mori


I thought I had destroyed all mementos of the relationship. Truly. I did that with most of my romantic history. A few photos remain, maybe. But all letters and emails and tokens of a once seemingly profound and everlastin' love were tossed, burned or otherwise disposed of.

I don't know whether I regret this or not. I believe there is something oddly pathetic about clutching dried roses and love-cards to one's bosom in old age. As if that was all that mattered about one's life when there is so much more. Often in solitude but also involving deep and abiding friendships.

Anyway, this fell out of a box of photos, don't know why it survived because the other 27 were destroyed I think, but I'll tell you the story behind it. I was away for a month in Ireland. But before I left, my lover handed me a package of sealed notes, one for every day of the month I would be away.

It was 1997. And yes, he was my last great love.

Well, its Tuesday
I wonder where you'll be
I wish I was there with you seeing you do your party pieces, hearing you sing, enjoying the vitality, the fun, the warmth, the excitement.
I'll be missing you terribly.
But I know you'll soon be coming back and I have all the wonderful memories
of moments shared
magical feelings
incredible passion
but above all the joy and peace of mutual love.
H.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Vox Arboribus (The Voice of Trees)

On the same day I receive an email from a friend:
"Wanted to share this with you. I’m a willow, I spread many roots, have a tangle of branches that dance in the wind, more leaves light and airy than most which suits me fine, in spring my colour is lime like, just in time to fall I silver ever so slightly and occasionally I’m not afraid to say I am a weeping willow! What tree be you my friend? Today I friended a sugar maple, a poplar and a silver birch!"

From a previous post:
"So Lana, upstairs in the cabin, made friends with this enormous tree outside of one of her windows. She'd come down in the mornings and tell me about the movements of the tree, how it was reacting to the sun (light and shadow, ever changing) and how the rustling sound of it soothed her thoughts and kept her present in the moment. The tree was speaking to her every day."

I texted Lana this:
"When we have learned how to listen to trees,” Hermann Hesse wrote in contemplating what our arboreal companions can teach us about belonging and life, “then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.”

This is one of the pines outside my window. She applauds the weather every day, no matter what dance the wind demands. She trails fog tendrils in her branches, peeking through them on misty mornings. We whisper to each other on soft, still nights.

I Would be a Pine.

I wouldn't be an oak
Or a maple or a larch.
Nor beech nor chestnut
Underneath an arch.

The willow or birch
Are just not me
The pine, now the pine
Is a friend to me.

Strong and green
The whole year through.
Hardy and constant
And prickly too.

Her scent wafts upwards
Then down to the ground
Her branches host juncoes
The whole year 'round.

Her cones burn brightly
In fires red and blue
Her loyal stout heart
Is constant and true.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Home from Home

I have a couple of dear friends out here. I met him not long after I moved here permanently and subsequently met his wife. They live up a hill in the town where I was resident for 14 years and their gorgeous homey place became like a second home to me. She is a marvellous cook. Their dog Salty was great friends with my beloved Ansa. Salty was and remains a total gentleman. When Ansa arrived he would immediately cede his bed, his toys and his food to her and just about genuflect when he passed her. She was a very humble dog by nature, totally non-aggressive, and would take his grovelling overtures with a slight sense of entitlement and then turn her back on him as she enjoyed his treats. This courtship gave us a vast amount of amusement.

I spent the night out there last night and we chatted till 3 in the morning, dissecting politics and world news, meandering into provincial and then into local and family politics. They are very well read and have keen analytical minds. I am included in their family gatherings and feel utterly blessed that they are like a brother and sister to me.

I am always at a loss as to how to gift them so I make or create things for they break the outer limits of generosity to me always.


I made this shawlette for C and called it after the spectacular sunsets of my former town. She was over the moon.

Here it is being blocked:


I brought B beautiful potted plants for outside. He loves his garden.


I brought Salty sausages, his favourite kind.


I slept in their tiny luxurious guest room on one of those high beds that you float into and then fall asleep instantly. I don't think I've ever known such an incredible bed.

We had sorted our worlds out both global and local and were much satisfied.

And I was completely spoiled.




Thursday, July 19, 2018

Catch & Release

A lovely shot of Grandgirl as we sat on the Southside Hills of St. John's.

Time dribbles away from me. I couldn't seem to get much of anything done. Living in a fugue of disappointment in myself. I decided to make some changes. Small. How on earth do I manage time more successfully and not feel I had "wasted" it even though I'd have 2,000 words written or a piece of knitting completed or a book read. I couldn't seem to get a handle on it at all, to feel satisfied instead of this miasma of dissatisfaction and a sense of failure and disorganization.

And in the past few days, after a few Tao meditations the answer came.

What I have found successful in the distant past and subsequently abandoned was the timer system.

So what I've been doing is timing my activities, or I should say adding a timer to my days. For instance in the mornings after meditation and reflection and gratitude, I read for 30 minutes. Then I knit for an hour (a great way of thinking also). Then I do an hour of dreaded housework and I find it's not shirked anymore. I can get a lot done in an hour of housework in my apartment, putting away laundry, bagging up the detritus that Grandgirl left behind for her mother, doing the morning dishes, sorting out clothes for this weekend as I'm away overnight for part of it, tidying up the bathroom - I had not only 2 staying here for nearly 2 weeks but 3 staying here last weekend: you can't imagine the havoc this creates in a hermit's life! Then I sorted all the lovely haphazard cards and notes I've received this year and displayed them nicely. You catch the drift.

My free creative time is now so I blog and then am going to design a shawlette for my sister as my next project.

For the first time in ages I feel I'm on top of my time and my enjoyment level of my life has risen dramatically.

I highly recommend it to others who tend to fritter and fooster as I did and have this sense of unease and failure.

I may need reminders of this post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Elder Value


Growing old is not for sissies as Bette Davis said. She said a lot more too, see above.

I was at an event attended by elders last night. One of my hobbies is observing elders in great big bunches, not that they'd notice, I'm pretty good at it. I can be looking at you and listening to something behind me.

The event was a BBQ and we had live music. All the old songs from our teen years, early rock, some country, some Irish, some Newfoundland music.

The conversation at my table (6 around it) focussed on the good old days and how great the parties were then, how perfect the music, how wonderfully we danced, things just weren't the same and the young don't know what they're missing glued to their screens 24/7

I restrain myself. I always do. I want to yell "horseshit" or "bollocks" for I know The Ladies would circulate a petition and have me tossed out of the building.

I was startled a little to see tears in a friend's eyes and I asked her what was wrong and she said the music always brought her back to her dancing days and how sad she was they were gone.

I mentioned that Grandgirl and I share our music every time we meet and that we had played one of her newest finds (Pink's album - fabulous)



and one of mine (Radical Face - equally fabulous)



And of course when our time together is over we have the music to resavour these more recent moments together and also have the opportunity to discuss why we like this music. For instance "Always Gold", a track from Radical Face, reminds me of Missing Daughter and how I long for her return.

The Ladies looked very confused and eyed me as if I had broken out in a foreign language. No response, apart from puzzlement.

My point in this post is that do us elders have values apart from our distant memories? Are we meant to walk around as if we are mere sarcophaguses of our past? Do we not have a capacity to initiate and create present moments?

I have no desire to "fit in" to some proscribed elder formula, sizing up others to see if they are fitting the geezer mould or alternatively breaking out into puzzling and gossip-worthy behaviours which are perceived as strange and alarming.

I'm aware I'm in a minority here.

But I wouldn't change it for anything.






Monday, July 16, 2018

Three Generations and a Pub Crawl

Sunday, July 15th.

The three of us headed off last night to George Street, St. John's which has the most pubs per square inch than any other street in North America. Hang on a minute I'm going to Wiki that, just to make sure.

Well it doesn't mention that but it this will give you an idea of the street.

We had a great time. Two generations drink but the elder does not. Anymore. I figure I drank enough for three lifetimes when I did drink and I just celebrated 32 years of sobriety. So club sodas are the order of the day for moi with lime or cranberry attached. I have to say I do miss the Rock Shandys of Ireland though. Served in a pint glass and utterly delicious for the non-drinker. I see they're putting this mix in cans now. Not here unfortunately.

We loved all the music and general conviviality at the bars and engaged with another older woman who was there with her daughter and daughter-in-law on a pub crawl too. Her first one at the age of 73. Never too late to experience what we have missed along the way.

However, we threw in the towel at around 11.00 pm even though George Street rocks till all hours of the morning. I remember the good old days when I'd be rocking along and looking for a feed as dawn nudged the horizon. I'm sure the young ones might have wanted to stay but felt they needed to take Grandma home and well - ha!- Grandma was the designated driver.

We heard this hairy old favourite many times on our walks by the pubs.

Nothing can ever top the time it was sung to me by an old busker on Patrick Street in Cork.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday Status update

100 pages of current novel read.

250 pages of my own novel read, edited, notated.

700 extra words of novel written.

Shawlette for Lana nearly finished.

Stay begone you demon Facebook.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Social Media

I came to the realization a few days ago that social media takes up a fair amount of my day. All well and good when one is young, I suppose, but the elder years make each hour rather more precious. How many can be frittered away in such a fashion? Facebook alone with groups (recovery groups, feminist, political, writer groups, theatre, photography, nature etc.etc.) and friends who post frequently can consume me, fill me with gratitude/indignation/resignation/cynicism/outrage/take your pick and I'm no shrinking violet - I plunge right in to whatever fray has taken my fancy.

So enough, I thought. What sucks my time the most? It came down to Facebook. So much of it is drivel, unenlightening and unfulfilling. Birthdays, obits, anniversaries, happy families around the campfire/table/birthday cake/wedding - these are all lovely, but by the time I troll and scroll another hour has been swallowed up or 2 or even 3.

It was a big leap but I removed the app from my phone. No more notifications, no more sideways glancing down at the screen as I sit having coffee or dinner.

I still have my online Scrabble games, 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at night. 14 games. I like the brain activity, the searching back for long lost words from my youth.

I still use Messenger for quick contacts with people.

I still have Instagram - which is a quick fix for photo displays.

I still tweet, the odd time, I tend to let it go most days but it is good for newsfeeds. And fast.

I don't bother with Skype or Facetime or Snapchat and never have.

So here I am with about 3 fresh hours in my day to fill and with what you might ask.

Well, this is interesting indeed.

I have hauled out my many unfinished (mainly they need editing, fixing) manuscripts and am working away on one for the past few days. About time. Even with Grandgirl here.

It's a new life of amazing opportunities - to be continued.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Aftermath and Canada Day


Emotional experiences mingled with sadness, memory, fear of change, uncertain future (political, global, environmental) is stressful for many of us, not just elders.

I'll be interested to hear Grandgirl's take on it when she arrives to spend nearly 2 weeks with me tomorrow.

I know many are talking of the 'Good Ol' Days' and going back to them. I call BS on that. I turn a cold hard eye on my own past and would not revisit it for anything. Well maybe a quick revisit to the occasional short sweet times with my mother. But the rest of it? I was a religious refugee from the land of my birth, a victim of the judgement and condemnation of an unplanned pregnancy that would have shamed both my former husband and I along with my family in the eyes of the vicious Catholicism then. I've written about it many times. Escape to a welcoming Canada was our only option, far from the counting fingers of all around us. If we hadn't married, I would have been sentenced to a Magdalene Laundry in Killarney where my cousin was the nun in charge of it and have my child sold out from under me. Friends were caught in this horrific situation. They still bear the scars to this day.

More Good Ol'Days had endless repercussions in my new life in Canada. Isolation from family was a constant gnawing anxiety. Post partum depression after Daughter was born was something unrecognized then. I knew I was depressed. I had made only one friend who was supportive and loving. Father of Child couldn't understand what was going on and busied himself out at night partying and making new friends. I struggled on very much alone with Daughter and thought often of suicide, I was so utterly despondent and frightened by how my life had turned out. As my people say: "I'd lost the run of myself."

I had a supportive doctor for my baby and he recognized what was going on and told me it would pass. It was all hormonal, try and get out in the sunshine, make more of an effort, go swimming (our apartment building had a pool) or walking. I did. But I've never forgotten the awful gloom of that first year in a strange land, how I felt robbed of my family, my homeland, a supportive community, the familial joy that should have surrounded Daughter, a first great grand-child and grandchild to both our families.

So what doesn't kill me makes me stronger. Stronger in the broken places.

I am grateful beyond measure to Canada, who accepted two young emigrants back in the day and helped us establish a life in this great country where I was able to blossom and grow and become my authentic self. This would not have happened in Ireland in that era where women were subservient to the church, surrounded by rattling rosary beads and the gossip of neighbours and who lost their careers upon marriage or unplanned pregnancies. Memories of any "transgressions" lived long and hard in the minds of neighbours and co-congregants ("Ah, she had to get married back in 1957, no wonder he runs around on her, who's to blame him?"). There was no moving on then. If your father was a communist, you were unemployable and judged so harshly one of my classmates joined an order of cloistered nuns to escape community condemnation, her brothers emigrated. I could write more. A very dark place it was then, finally coming into more sunlight now with abortion rights and gay marriage but still a long way to go.

Not that Canada is perfect, but it is a country, still, where health care is excellent and universal, where the social safety network is in place to help the least advantaged of our citizens and women are equal in the constitution and dying with dignity and legalized
marijuana make us the adult in a house where in the basement a screaming orange toddler with a lit match holds us all in terrified thrall to his tantrums.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Variations on the Melody of Love - Part 5 (Final)

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here
See Part 4 here



I offer you the above exchange to reflect the humour that is present in our ongoing texting. I am so grateful that it occurred to me to show her how to text. I have to reign myself in as I want to complicate everything. For instance, I wanted her to get internet on her phone and stopped myself. Why? I asked myself. Keep it simple, stupid. This one step into technology is just fine for her. Perfect in fact and she is delighted with it. She texts me twice or three times a day. Little updates. For that is all there is to life, surely - the small stuff.

Lana is very present in the moments, recounting small incidents such as the Canada Day fireworks in the field behind her house last night. One of her very frightening moments in NB in our stay there was when she couldn't recall a single detail of her house, the front, back, interior. It was a blank slate. She has lived there for over twenty years. I confess to being frightened too. How awful not to recollect even the straightforward things such as one's kitchen or driveway or bedroom.

She is going to check in with her doctor again tomorrow to make sure he's on top of the specialist situation. He had put a priority on it and has been her doctor for a very long time so knows her well and she likes him.

No more can I do apart from offering her love and support from afar. I'm enjoying our wee texts to each other throughout the day and evening.

We have a rainbow ribbon of sisterhood connecting us.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Variations on the Melody of Love - Part 4


Lana at the site of the Reversing Falls.

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here

First of all thank you for the very supportive messages sent to me. This has has been extraordinarily difficult to write. I am also conscious of Lana's privacy (her name has been changed and of course I am anonymous). However, there's a catharsis to this as well, and I am a firm believer in sharing both taboo or difficult topics in an effort to bring more understanding to challenges we may face along the way. One of Lana's favourite expressions is "throw the floodlights into the dark corners of your life" and this she has done in her own life and has also encouraged me to do the same. Only then can we heal.

Lana has been enormously helpful to me over the years. She has a very loving, understanding heart and is brutally honest with others and with me. I know she has read this blog (my invitation) in the past but such technology is beyond her now. My teaching her texting has been a giant leap for her and this is also assisting her in memory jogging and more on that later.

Once The Conversation was out of the way, we settled down to chatting about her condition. It was very emotional, many long hugs, tears and then the jokes. Our senses of humour had not failed us. At the end of Day 4 as we sat there in the living room, she said:

L"I hope I'll remember all of this in the morning."

Me"I should have a tape recorder perhaps."

L"It would get too full and then where would we be?"

M"Maybe just the important points?"

L"What are those?"

Laughter.

Sometimes we have to dig deep in our hearts for understanding and words.

She says: "my brain feels like a long highway and the potholes surprise me. And the stones and pebbles too. I can't predict them."

"Much like life," I respond, "We just never know when our stumbles and falls are going to occur."

There was much in the power of silence.

Love takes many shapes and sizes, I think. The love between two friends can surpass many types of love when total honesty prevails and our fears, our hurts, our uncertainties find an often trembling voice. Only then do we find strength, only then do we gather the courage to carry on.

We hold on to each other physically many times. I touch her more often than I normally would. Assurance. Trust. I kiss her forehead as I would a child. I don't know when, if ever, we'll see each other again. I stay in the moment. I act normally and she notices.

"Before," she says, "I knew there was something wrong in our conversations, a slight reaction on your face, a little shock sometimes, though you tried to cover it. I was aware of you being patient and kind in repeating things for me. But I couldn't verbalize this without pulling down all the walls. I knew I had to probe deeper and find words to break through. But now, there's no barrier at all, now we can talk in the sunshine!"