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!"



Thursday, June 28, 2018

Variations on the Melody of Love - Part 3


Lana on the deck of our cabin


See Part 1 here, see Part 2 here

I'm always learning. I listen closely to people, even strangers, and they unknowingly teach me what to do, but also what not to do. For instance (small thing): I hate doing dishes by hand. I've always had a dishwasher. There is no way a dishwasher fits into my kitchen now. Even though I've explored all possibilities, the drawer kind, the shelf kind, the box kind and even a portable is out of the question. So a blogmate recently wrote about making dish-washing a kind of meditation at the end of the day and I find this extraordinarily peaceful and think: I am so very fortunate to still be able to stand and do wishes even with my PVD as I can lean on the counter if needed, but yes, taking care of one's self involves washing dishes and leaving a welcoming clean kitchen for the morning. Thank you, Kate.

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 sat outside with her and we watched this particular tree together and looked at the many colours of green and the interweaving gentle branches and how it sheltered us and we speculated how it was watching us as we were watching it. Extraordinary to take that kind of time with someone else. Normally I would read a book or knit or write. But I sat with her and did absolutely nothing.

Now, if you're ever wondering where to eat when you are travelling and if you can, try the local golf club restaurant if there is one. A tourist who stayed with me back in the B&B days passed this tip on from her father who was a world traveller. We tried our local golf club the second day of our stay and were bowled over with the quality of the food and reasonable prices and fantastic service. So we went back on the 4th day.

And it was there that Lana sat staring at me across the table for what seemed like an eternity and then put her slightly shaking hands flat on the table and taking a huge breath said:
"We go back a long way, WWW, and I'm wondering if you could answer this big question I'm going to put to you. If you can't, I'll understand but there is no one else for me to ask."

I couldn't even think of anything she would want to ask me, but I nodded: why of course.

"Have you noticed any major changes in me? I'm thinking physical, mental, emotional or spiritual?"

My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't stop the sudden rush of tears to my eyes. I took my time. Sweet Goddess help me, I thought. Truth? Fudging? Evasion?

"Yes," I whispered, "Yes, yes I have, Lana."

And then our real conversations began.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Variations on the Melody of Love. Part 2

The fireplace at the cabin in New Brunswick which heard much of our shared history.

See Part 1 here.

I quickly become accustomed to repeating information, very gently, very softly. Always current information.

But our past memories are easily accessible and validated.

Odd questions are thrown at me:

"How are the neighbours around here? Have you gotten to know them?"

"Do you like your neighbours?"

I'm a type A personality so appreciate this rather rapid descent into tolerance and patience. Lessons are valuable no matter how I learn them.

I take charge of the driving and mealtimes and quickly realize that entering any new establishment at odd times like 3 o'clock in the afternoon is a signal to her that dinner is soon so I avoid such afternoon introductions of new places.

At night, I begin to read to her a novel I am editing, but realize that her retention of memory from the night before of what transpired has now evaporated.

I am mindful of her mother, laughing like a child, remarkably aware, who descended rapidly into dementia, saying that now she read the first page of a new book over and over as it was always fresh to her.

I abandon this endeavour on the 3rd night and she never remarks on the absence of this activity.

Instead we talk, of her family and mine (mine are re-introduced, she'd forgotten my siblings even though she met them a few times). Her clarity on her own family is superb, including the distance she maintains from a fraudulent and abusive sibling. Our common friendships are relived and savoured. Our past relationships and erstwhile partners are evaluated with hindsight, wisdom and laughter. She even proffers some startling new (to me) information on a former husband that she has previously withheld.

She is very kind to me, even though I have to repeat, gently, my health challenges just about daily to her. I carry my cane to reinforce this with her. And it works.

"Tell me again what's wrong with you?" she says every morning, with such deep concern and compassion and love. I slowly explain about my PVD as if for the first time every time.

A frightening panic-filled moment comes when we leave a historic market place on the fourth day of our holiday.

"Somebody stole my car, where's my car? What are we going to do?" she wanders around the parking lot very upset.

"It's OK,"I say,"You know what? I think I drove today. Look for a sapphire blue car!"

"Oh my God, of course that's it! You drove today!"

I drive every day we're together.

But unbeknownst to me, the miracle is waiting just around the corner.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Variations on the Melody of Love. Part 1

Our beach in New Brunswick

I'm laying down my deepest thoughts here - mainly as a way of processing them as they are all rather new and at times unexpected and often so poignant that they take my breath away.

I've written of the plans for these past 11 days here. I've now returned from this trip. Exhausted in many ways, not least of which is that old woman syndrome that thinks driving 3,500k in 11 days is just the same as when she was 60. Not so. Toll on body and mind is, how shall I put it, excessive. But I made it.

I reached the cabin we had rented on Friday, June 13th. My friend hadn't arrived yet, even though she had texted me (a new skill I had taught her) that morning. A slight panic ensued as this leg of her trip should have taken, longest, 6 hours and I was now looking at 8. A man pulled onto the driveway in a truck just as my panic mounted.

"Your friend has followed me down here," he said, "I found her lost on the highway." He looked serious.

First intimations of trouble. She had three GPS units in her car in case one broke down.

Soon enough, Lana pulled in behind him, laughing.

"This handsome dude went out of his way to guide me here!" she said as she climbed out of her vehicle. We bade farewell to Dude, very handsome and kind.

She looks down at the cabin (gorgeous) below on the water.

"You have a lovely place here!" she says as she hugs me.

"Well, we do," I say, "You and I rented it for the week."

"We did? Oh yes, that's right."

We negotiate the many wooden steps down with our belongings and quickly select our bedrooms. She upstairs, me downstairs. The place is lovely, very large but homey with an unexpected bonus - we have our own beach.

I make coffee in the kitchen and she joins me.

"I must say," she says, giving me another hug, "You sure know how to pick lovely places. How long have you lived here?"

And so the week begins.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Aging In Place

I was reading Joared and threw a long comment on a question she asked about aging in place and wouldn't you know it, it went poof into the ether. I had stopped copying blog comments as backup a while ago but I should start again if they are long. Live and learn.

So instead I thought I'd write my own post about the changes I've made and how I'm living my life in much changed surroundings since this time last year.

I am struck (joyfully) by how whittled down my possessions are now. I have downsized more than a few times in my life. And upsized too. Does anyone ever write about upsizing except in reference to Happy Meals? Life can be writ excessively large in a 4 story century old home which was my marital home for many years and where my children were raised. A lovely old place but also where my marriage finally withered and died. So mixed memories.

So yes, the finally downsizing perhaps if my (mental)health holds out.

This is a great place to age-in-place as long as the marbles don't roll around. The only time anyone exits is when the stove is shut down and the meds are in electronic dispensers in the bathroom and you're doing your laundry one knickers at a time every hour and forgetting where your apartment is. One 90 year old recently made such an exit. A former high profile banker. Her only child, a son, was worn out from visiting every day with meals and checkups. His suggestion of daily home help was met with words he had never heard her utter in his life - a blue laden dictionary of profanity from a high church Anglican which, he, a merchant seaman (ret.), had never encountered anywhere. It was enough to have her removed, knickers and meds, to a full care home.

I haven't looked back since I moved here. I still wake up every morning and listen to the birds outside and am so very grateful I don't have to worry about anything except taking care of myself and my simple needs.

Frankly, I never thought I'd adjust to living in a one bedroom apartment. But it's perfect. I'm on the second floor, overlooking a lake and Signal Hill with a slice of ocean across the way. I am content. Truly content. It seems like a very long time since I could say that. Everything I need is at my fingertips. And I'll have it ready for show and tell once I get back here and wade through the huge boxes and tubs of photos (you wouldn't believe!)with the help of Grandgirl who is arriving next month.

I had lunch yesterday with a friend who followed me in here from her country home (her home has been in her family for generations). And she said to me that she'd be quite happy of she never had to see it again. She has agreed to keep it for the family for now but her heart is in her apartment here.

Anyway, we wound up giggling like schoolgirls at this new lease on life we both feel, like we are teenagers again, ready to explore a new world with "parents" taking care of all the endless maintenance and entertaining (her family - me B&B) and animal care and making up beds and wondering when the snowplow would clear the driveway, and what happens when the pipes freeze again, etc., etc.

So we ran off to the Habitat for Humanity store for a while and poked around and then hit our local library dancing around the shelves, stocking up like mad things because now there's lots more time to read.

And savour.

Savour this glorious stage of life.

How very lucky I am.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Moving On

Rumination:

Do you write with your heart or with your head or a combination of both?

I tend to write from the heart.

Opinion pieces tend to be distancing I find and ring false and judgmental as the personal experience is absent.

And passion. Passion is absent from so many lives, isn't it? Being in this lovely village which is my complex I am puzzled as to why it is lacking in so many lives. Enthusiasm. Delight. Joy. Self-deprecation. We need lots more of these. How to stoke those internal fires?

Home:

My long awaited custom chair was finally delivered today. I had to send the incorrect one back 2 months ago as it rocked. This one is perfect. I test drove it like a child after the delivery men left. Now I'm finally ready to play with my space.

A perfect bathroom mirror I found. I'd been looking forever.

Travel:

5 more sleeps till I leave, but it's a busy 5 days, jammed with meetings and a paying tax project which finances part of my travel expenses.

My Cape Breton friend has planned a trip on our second day together to her local wharf to await the lobster boats coming in and then gorging ourselves silly in the wharf cafe on fresh lobster. I will photo this feast.

Travelling by car enables me to pack quite carelessly which I love.

Crafts:

"Not your Granny's dishcloth"

I made this dishcloth and I couldn't believe the response on FB. I've made quite a few more as so many want to buy them.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Mansplaining


It's hard to surprise this old blogger. But sometimes I can be shocked. Particularly by a male blogger who considers himself a feminist.I won't use names here but suffice to say that I've been following and commenting on his blog for a very long time. And he on mine.

Naturally, over the years, we have accrued readers in common who regularly comment. Some commentators are fairly detailed in comments on my blog and on others. A trait that charms me. Imagine readers taking the time to evaluate carefully and comment and offer well thought out, often opposing opinions. Some take exception to that. I watch a lot of this unfold on others' blogs but rarely on mine. A battle of insults ensues, often ad hominem attacks which I have always deemed unfair unless the writer writes from a lofty privileged platform and not from personal experience - i.e. monolithically condemning great swathes of the population for having the effrontery to be fat or alcoholic or consuming mindlessly, take your pick.

I truly don't write to have an army of sycophants worshipping at the altar of my deathless prose. I write from experience and often receive personal emails from readers looking for help with addiction or grief or loneliness or depression or even knitting. Many I meet in the flesh, many are supportive - for instance when Grandgirl was in India, a long time blogger friend offered to look out for her.

But the email I received the other day took my breath away in its condescending mansplaining. I was told, in no uncertain terms, not to "encourage" a female blogger whose comments were "upsetting" him. To stop "taking her side". And please note I have rarely, if ever, commented on a comment on anyone else's blog. And certainly not on his.

I'll let that sink in for a minute there.

Note that my opinion and regard for this blogger was completely shoved aside in his subjective consideration. He just needed to set me straight as to how he "felt" and how her "accusations" and "put downs" were going on a long time. That was all that was important.

Well, heat and kitchen come to mind. Seriously.

I will also note that the blogger he refers to has never, ever, upset me in any way.

In fact she has been incredibly supportive through grief and depression.

I guess I should take my ladybrain and scurry back to the kitchen and forget this blogging business and leave it to the Big Boyz who know what's best for bloggers like me, you think?




Thursday, May 31, 2018

Plans

My father always maintained that for a happy life one needs something to look forward to. I'm a firm believer in a one day at a time philosophy but it lifts my spirits to plan travelling or a creative project.

A busy summer is lined up and I'm pretty happy about that. Enough breaks in between to take a breather.

Coming back from this I have Grandgirl coming for a week or so and staying with me.

Next on the agenda would be time spent with Daughter in August for my birthday, perhaps in Labrador and Red Bay, we've been tossing ideas around as her time is limited due to work.

Then in September another friend is coming from Ontario (her second visit) and we plan to visit Trinity, Fogo Island and Gros Morne, all of which I've been to before (in some cases more than once!) but she hasn't.

So all in all cruising through this summer sounds pretty exciting and eventful.

And yes, food is still peaceful, nutritious and appetizing. My clothes are looser and my energy has improved. My arm trouble lingers on so I am going to see an osteopath and I hope to get to the bottom of this. My speculation is boundless but pointless.

Two wee things I just knitted as a gift for a friend who adores both gingerbread men and books.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dis and Dat

I updated my book list for those interested - and I am gratified some of you enjoy it.
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As to Canadian Netflix, it seems to have run out of steam. Deliberately, I don's subscribe to any other streaming service in case it would get in the way of my real life. So I decided to embrace my local library yet again and I'm finding all sorts of goodies which only take up temporary space in my abode. For instance, I just received "Brideshead Revisited" which I haven't seen in a dog's age and am looking forward to revisiting (ha). This is the 1981 version which I remember enjoying. I didn't see the remake and have no desire to.
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And yay Ireland on the referendum and all who sailed in to cast votes from everywhere around the planet. I haven't been so emotionally swept up in a vote in a long, long time. Remembering all who suffered and died because of the barbaric nature of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland.


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I had one of those "real" dreams last night. Missing Daughter had returned to the fold. Engineered by First Daughter. All terribly complicated but I was holding her and she was sobbing her heart out and wouldn't let me go. I woke up smiling and not crying which surprised me. But I carried a little oomph of hope. I have a major milestone birthday coming up and maybe this is playing some part in this. But I do know about expectations being folly. So no fatted calf or parades in anticipation.
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In the past week, I banjaxed my left arm from the fingertips to the shoulder. The pain was brutal and I needed a brace. This happens periodically and we can't seem to source the cause. It feels like a repetitive sprain injury but to cover such a vast area? I've checked seating, desk height, etc. But I'm baffled. A few months ago when it happened I went for all sorts of tests and nothing was found.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Brainstorm

I had this idea. My friend with memory problems that she is working on fairly successfully? I thought to make plans with her. How would that plot work out? And, I thought, the sooner the better.

I looked at a good old Google map and picked a point half way between our dwellings which happened to be St. John, New Brunswick. I'm about 1,500km from there and so is she. I have to catch the winter ferry as the seasonal summer ferry won't start in time for the trip. So that entails a road trip across the island of around 900km, give or take.


I love road trips, so does she.

I managed to find a cabin on the river for us to share for a week. Staggeringly reasonable. it includes breakfast.


On my way to St. John I also booked in for 2 days with a friend who has a cottage in Cape Breton not too far from where the ferry decants me in North Sidney.




She's planning a dinner party and gathering her Inverness clan to meet me. They all sound wonderful, writers and artists galore.

Then I head off from her place to St. John to meet my Toronto friend.

So I leave on the 12th of June.

I feel this trip is very important.

And it truly has been a carpe diem thing organizing it all.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Miasma


Gosh people, it is time to face my reality. Some things I don't write about. Some things I don't share.

And why not?

Because of labeling. Because of fear. Because of the old admonition "be careful who you share with."

But change I must. For today in meditation?

It struck me that I am always sad. Have been for a long time now. Maybe 18 months or longer with a brief respite for about six months. Until Ansa died. I observe life at a distance and often through a veil of tears. Pardon the pun but I'm actually in a vale of tears while behind this veil. Constantly it seems.

Overly dramatic? You're not living where I am.

I can pretend for a while, an hour or so. I can even laugh or plumb my innate Irish wit to make others laugh. But then.

I'm stopped, sliding around in one deep muddy spot, avoiding the swamp that will suck me down.

So the meditation?

I wrote first to my friend Ross who is dying, doing the "next right thing" which is my philosophy of life in a nutshell.

I wrote to my friend Pad who has kicked cancer twice and is a mutual friend of Ross's.

And then finally, I reached out for help myself and wrote to Dr. Patrick my grief counselor who was so helpful in the past, two years ago now and for about 6 months of sessions. I need a current assessment of my mental and emotional and spiritual condition.

For I can't go on like this.


Friday, May 18, 2018

The Adoration of Sally

I mentioned in my previous post an 84 year old resident of my building I'll call Sally whose 6 daughters take turns in taking her out each night for dinner.

Our weather has been consistently so glorious that all our windows are open to the front courtyard where Sally gets dropped.

I'd missed some afternoon excursions, obviously, as I'd only heard and then observed the after dinner drop-offs.

It's always hard to miss the laughter when Sally gets decanted by one of her six daughters.

Today at three p.m. she launches out of a red sports car clutching a pair of black pumps in her hand and flaunting her sparkling new bright blue running shoes.

"They're fine, see?" Sally stands on the pavement and flexes one foot at the daughter driving.

"Just as long as they're comfy," replies her daughter, "I can always get you another pair."

"Ah, no need for that," Sally says, "Until I wear them out running around."

"Who's turn is it to take you tonight for supper?"

"I forget," says Sally,"But one always shows up and I'll be ready. I should wear a tracksuit to match the new runners, right?"

I am obviously fascinated by Sally as she is completely oblivious to this charmed life she leads and treats her daughters as mild nuisances for I've seen her bat them away on the stairs (she scorns the elevator) when they follow her up, telling them she's got plans that don't include them and to go home. They look literally crushed with disappointment that they can't spend more time with her.

Of all my neighbours on this floor, she is by far the happiest, the joy exudes from her.

I must sit down with her and hear her life story.



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Blog Jam

My mornings


Water bottle
Tao meditation
Candle
Journal
An Indian Ocean sunset from a blog friend received in the mail yesterday.
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Elder Daughter



She researched a little on how mothers might live longer. Discovered that daughters, spending more positive time with their mothers, extend their lives immeasurably. Every time we get together now, she calls it "my life extension programme." I have a living example in my building. An 84 yo woman - who would put women half her age to shame - bounces out of a different car in the parking lot around 7 each night. Turns out one of her six daughters take it in turns to pick her up for dinner each night of the week. I had wondered why she was always so happy. She should live to be 180.
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Love


I had been looking for a headboard for my bed for a long time. Nothing appealed. Then Daughter arrived on Mother's Day lugging this beauty along with her tool kit to install it. It is so perfect I could weep. My bedroom doubles as my den so I like the distinction of the sleep area. Plus: bonus stuff holder.
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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thin on the ground

Friendships can get thin on the ground as we age. I imagine mine are more precious and important to me in the absence of a significant other. Who do we we bounce ourselves off unless it's a friend, usually long term, usually a cornucopia of memories enriching the shared experience of our lives.

That's why it's such a shock when a long term friend, supportive, kind, carrying each other through a myriad of downers and uppers and inbetweeners comes out of left field with some rather appalling shyte yesterday.

For instance:

(R) M, you'd be far better off if you weren't so passionate about things, if you weren't so keen on feminism and politics and all that other stuff you do like writing. If you'd let all that stuff go and just confine yourself to a smaller world that would take far less energy, and you wouldn't get so worked up about stuff.

(R)I can think of all sorts of people who are mentally ill. We are far too tolerant of mental illness. For instance gays: gays are mentally ill. They are rebelling against the laws of nature.

(M)I don't know why you're talking like this. One of my children......

(R)Oh yeah, I forgot, one of your kids is gay.

When I am completely shocked I go into withdrawal mode. Yeah, I engage for a while but my bafflement and confusion takes a while to kick in. Usually long after the conversation is over. Today I am saddened and disheartened.

He has never spoken like this before in all the years I have known him.

When I am attacked at a core level, when my very spirit is attacked, the wound runs deep: has he always thought this way and didn't verbalize it? Had contempt for my passions and creativity? He knew and engaged with my gay child since she was 15. Is that how he felt about her for all those years?

Wow, I honestly feel as if I don't want him in my life anymore.

Yeah, I'm devastated and so very sad.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The World I Live In

The World I Live In

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what's wrong with maybe?

You wouldn't believe what once or
twice I have seen. I'll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

Mary Oliver

I was raised on having my own personal guardian angel. Someone appointed by God but only if you were raised in the One True Faith. Angels weren't allocated to heathen or infidels or protestants - those breakaway Catholics who were sex obsessed and didn't have REAL communion like us.

If I listened closely I was told the angel would instruct me as to my behaviour and if I disobeyed, I would be reported to the Big Whitebearded Himself in the Sky who would arrange for punishment with the Big Horned Himself in the Everlasting Fires.

I had questions like these for the brainwashers:
(1) Is my angel a boy or a girl?
(2) How tall is my angel
(3) What's his/her name?
(5) Why does God talk to Satan about me?
(6) Where does (s)he fly to when not with me?
(7) Why can't I ever see him/her if I'm supposed to be listening all the time.
(8) How fast do they fly?
(9) Do their huge wings make a huge noise?

I was told to sit down and be quiet and stop questioning God who was sick and tired of me doubting Him. I was 6, just before my First Holy Communion when all such matters would become clear due to my soul being all sparkly and new along with my creepy bridal dress and my pleased, no doubt, nameless Guardian Angel.

In case you think this is all so very quaint and antediluvian, have a gander at the more recent witterings of the pope himself. I gather my angel got an upgrade to "ambassador" now. Like moving to first class, free, on a flight.

Which all brings me to the poem. I am a fan of Mary Oliver.

Angels in my head? Well dreams. I have dreams. Don't we all?

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

I sat with the ladies

(Ongoing healthy eating: A quinoa salad I had today for lunch, one of my favourites, extremely adaptable and delicious)

I love my building. It is full of little corners with plants and chairs and a gorgeous gallery overlooking the community room.

The gallery has tables and sofas and comfy chairs and plants and a large coffee table which holds giveaways/freebies - fresh baking, girl guide cookies, magazines and recently a whole bag full of hair products which I helped myself to. I never give up on trying to thicken my aging hair. Why? I don't know.

Gillian is old school, rigidly Anglican, snobby, talks of WW2 in almost affectionate terms when her veteran husband lived in the building with her (he's deceased 14 years now) and the riff-raff (my term) were not welcome. Exclusively war-brides and veterans and their wives in the good old days.

When I am being viewed down through the nose - as my people say - by anyone, I make it a kind of project to charm them. Gillian, who is pushing 90 I'd say, ramrod straight and tall, works out in one of the gyms in the building every day, was a hard nut to crack.

I'd run into her a few times in the halls, and she was stiff and unfriendly. An Irish Catholic like myself, even tho long since exed, would have been rubble under her expensive black leather shoes. Gillian reads Hello and any magazine featuring the Royals - as many do here. The claws of England and Queen and Empire pierce deeply into the veins of these loyalists.

At 3 o'clock every day, the ladies gather in the gallery and chat softly and genteelly.

I was coming in yesterday afternoon with groceries in my wee trolley and decided now or never and sat down with them. In a sweatshirt and jeans. I'd say these ladies have only been wearing trousers (tailored, knife creased) in the last few years but most wear skirts and cardigans. I wish there was a photo, I must have looked like I was from Planet 9 or a leftover hippy from the sixties.

They had done their homework on me. They knew I'd been mayor in my town and that I'd "run an inn" (who was I to explain the concept of AirBnB to them?). I can clean up my language when I have to so in my most dulcet tones responded to their inquiries as to the guests from around the world I'd met.

Gillian threw a few delicate inquiries at me about schooling (she was expensively educated in England) and I was rewarded with an absolutely blinding beam of a smile when I mentioned I was a passionate fan of Gilbert & Sullivan and had, in fact, been in many productions of their operettas.

As I got to my feet to tow my groceries down to my apartment I could sense the approval of the ladies.

I was in.



Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Dynamics of Long Term Friendship


My friend came to me today, deeply troubled.

Her 65 year friendship with her bestie was on the rocks.

Her friend, B, had made weekly plans with her, dinner on the Friday.

S, my friend, called her to confirm on Thursday.

B said, things had changed, now they would meet Saturday instead, offering no explanation.

S called her on Friday to confirm and B responded something more exciting had come up for Saturday so said they'd have to meet some other time.

S called B today to tell her how hurt she was and was immediately gas-lit. I've written about gas-lighting before as some in my own family of origin are experts. I didn't know anything about it until I read an article a few years back and the light bulbs went off. S had never heard of it either but when she went over how B had treated her on the phone:
(1)You're too sensitive
(2)I have a life, you should get one
(3)You're forgetting all I've done for you
(4)This is so trivial.
(5)You should apologise for harassing me.
(There was no apology offered by B, you will note.)
she kept nodding at me. It was familiar territory to her in this friendship.

I discussed a long term friendship I had lost. It all boils down to the respect given and received, doesn't it? How we value each other. There were underlying issues (passive aggression and continual tardiness) in my former friendship but basically, for me, it was that sense of having no value, evidenced by lack of contact - an inherent laziness - and dismissal of efforts made by me to cement and honour what we had.

We need to be seen and heard we both agreed. I suggested she take timeout as I had done, to re-evaluate. To get to the point, perhaps, where they could sit down and see what each needs from the other and how they could prioritize and respect what they have.

A difficult process but if both participated equally it could re-ignite that intimacy of 65 years and forge a new respect and connection.

Maybe I should have been a therapist?

I've often thought so.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Beauty


It's extraordinary how change, a simple change really, can impact me in so many ways.

A few weeks back I left my specialist's office in a state of such agitation I had to pull my car over several times as alternating fear and despair took over my entire being.

There was literally no one to call, I thought. Daughter was away for an extended sojourn in SE Asia and my closest friends lived in Ontario and birth family and I are not close.

I knew I couldn't be alone with myself so I reached out and called a local friend. She was instrumental in getting me into this marvelous building. And it was the best thing I could have done. She immediately dropped out of a social gathering she was attending and met me in a local coffee shop. what I like about her is she is so non-judgmental and we have the same warped sense of humour, tending into darkness at times. I am lucky Daughter and Grandgirl have inherited this. It can be downright strange to some ears.

I found such ease and comfort in her companionship and we were shocked that when we finally looked at the time we had spent 4 hours there, often hysterical with laughter.

Long story short, at home afterwards I recognised I had to put more effort into healthful living and abandon the poor mes, take my stick with me, increase my daily steps and most importantly of all: change my eating habits. A morning meditation admonished me: See beauty.

Accordingly my lunch plate above reflects how I'm eating and my service stop at the dealer's today with my new eyes: the burnt sienna look and the circular architecture had never caught my eye before.


This card came in from an Ontario friend. It really pleased me. We know each other well.



Monday, April 23, 2018

Fine Friends


I was horrifed and shocked to get an email from a friend of long standing today. He was just diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, esophagus, stomach and liver. He had an overlying condition for a few months, an antibiotic resistant bacteria, and then: wham.

He is a man of integrity and honour, a world lecturer and traveller and I always felt joyful and respected and understood in his company.

Sometimes we don't realise that such feelings are mutual. But I do. His last book had the most wonderful dedication to me. I was humbled by it.

We had many lunches and business interactions and book exchanges that evolved into a deep and abiding friendship. I had written a little poem about his mother way back in the day when he had said he didn't feel he could articulate how important her life was to him. He read it, much to my surprise, at her funeral.

He visited Newfoundland twice and he, a world traveller, fell so in love with the place that he took close to 10,000 pictures the first time he was here.

I am so saddened by this, I find it hard to articulate my grief.

This long death roll does wrap itself around my heart, so many dear ones gone, closer than family.

What I do when this shyte unfolds is to send little cards of remembrance in the mail, something to brighten the days of the beloved dying, to assure that yes, you are so very important to me, you are loved and remembered, you are one of the dear ones.

And I don't shirk from what they are facing.






Sunday, April 22, 2018

Breakfast


I'm basically a bore with breakfast.

But the following is a recipe I've used forever when I don't have time in the morning to make the oatmeal with seeds and nuts and homemade yogurt and berries on top and also cook my egg.

I make it ahead of time and it makes 4 breakfasts. I've eaten it cold or warmed up.

It sticks to the ribs really well.

1 cup uncooked grain - anything but wheat. Quinoa is delicious as is oatmeal.
2 cups berries or chopped mixed fruit of any kind.
1 cup skim milk or soya or yogurt or 1/2 cup ricotta or cottage cheese or almond milk.
6 medium eggs
1 tsp nutmeg and/or ginger to taste
1 long casserole dish greased well.

Beat eggs well with the milk or yogurt or ricotta.

Sprinkle grain on bottom of dish

Spread berries over top

Pour egg mixture over everything.

Bake at 375 for an hour or until firm. Cut into 4.

And yes, my change of habits and planning ahead with meals is going really well.

I realize, for the 100th time, that I am a person who can't be spontaneous with food.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Eating

Over the last couple of weeks, I've made some substantial changes to my food intake. I despise the word diet which has evolved into a word defining restriction with ephemeral weight loss the outcome.

I struggle with eating cold veggies - salads,etc. I don't know why that is. I was brought up in a reasonably healthy house, very healthy for its time and place, my mother had taken classes in nutrition and that was over 60 years ago, but I've always rebelled against salads. The cold mutinous lettuce in a bowl with tomatoes eyes and cucumber faces. Ironically, my children became salad lovers as a result of my repugnance.

I've struggled with weight much of my life and am familiar with every aspect of food addiction, anorexia, weight gains, substantial weight losses, yo-yo dieting, black beauties amphetamines, sketchy doctors with horse urine shots, medically supervised fasts, weight loss programmes with their business model based on failure, etc.

My recent restricted movement and physicality has forced me to go look at my food intake, to reevaluate my ingestion so to speak, as the weight has crept on since my diagnoses of PVD. I am a foodie, an overall addict of much and often, so I put on my big girl knickers, and toured some blogs who have taken the year of 2018 to focus on health and simplicity and planning. Thanks you guys, you are too numerous to mention but you all inspire me.

I bought ready made salads - I worked out the costs and with the disgraceful amount of veggies I throw out regularly, it is actually cheaper for me to buy a large salad, full of variety with free dressing on the side, that creates 4 meals for me for $10. For some reason I don't question, this is palatable. I also picked up some healthy pre-made meals. With an aging population here, these are becoming more readily available and I often find that one (recently a gorgeous turkey meat loaf with tiny potatoes and zucchini) does me for 2 dinners at a cost of $4.00 each. That plus salad is a great meal.

I also got myself back into a support group which helps me immeasurably in taking stock and working on the inner issues of "it's not what I'm eating, it's what's eating me". The "comfort eating" which is but a moment in time and results in enormous physical discomfort for me. My running and training days are over and I'm truly back to basics which can be a very good thing. For anybody. I (mostly) accept my new limits, my new state of having so many losses which linger in spite of stones thrown in water and candles lit and meditative practices.

I'm still easing into the persona of healthy, moderate eater but I'm getting there.

More on this as I forge this new pathway.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Coffee

I love coffee. All kinds of coffee except weak and instant.

I had to leave my enormous machine behind in my house when I sold it. It was far too big for my apartment. I remember celebrating its purchase way back in the day. A machine that could brew coffee anyway you liked it. But after 10 years of daily use it owed me nothing. And it still works like a charm.

I bought a small coffee maker when I moved here and it is quite splendid. But I missed my espresso, my after dinner decaff espresso.

I went on the hunt for something tidy and beautiful and well, Italian.

And thanks to K-pods (a universal paean to bad coffee everywhere, not to mention the environmental impact) I found this fabulous little beauty for a song. Very few, I gather, want to go to the trouble of real brew anymore. The polished wood on the handle and lid is art in itself but the espresso this baby disgorges is absolute bliss.

Me is happy.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

For the Price of.....


For the price of a beer or a fancy latte

Or a bag of cheap cookies or a cafe au lait

Or a magazine rampant with pages of ads,

Or dollar store gizmos: the latest of fads.


The main one I place right by my side,

The second one goes to the hallway outside,

The third one sits in the wee room to stay

And I ponder the wealth of my lovely bouquet.





Thursday, April 12, 2018

Simple Chairy Things.

A chair I'd ordered about 2 months ago, arrived today. I had liked the sales person at the store but the first alarm bell went off when she called me back the day following the order placement and said she had messed up on the price and the material was $200 more. I thought about it and phoned her back, realizing everyone makes mistakes and told her to go ahead with the order, I had liked the fabric and design.

I had asked specifically for no rockers on this reclining chair. I had test driven about 20 recliners at the store and I've always disliked rockers, they make me feel off balance and insecure. I do love recliners though and the last time I had one was in the marital home a long, long time ago. I've dreamed of one since but with specific requirements like I should be able to sit and knit in it and have it comfy enough for a nap with the feet up (and no rocking!). I could never quite afford such a creature and checking out second hand ones (I did look) never quite worked out due to smoking households or terrible colours or aforementioned rockers.

So mein very own chair was delivered first thing this morning and the fellahs set it up and whoa Nelly, this beautiful work of art and comfort had rockers. Shyte cubed sez I, and called the shop and found my saleswoman was off on leave of some kind. "You could keep it," was offered unhelpfully. I insisted the fellahs take it back and they supply me with the chair I wanted. There was no apology offered only another unhelpful remark of "this will take a lot more time."

In the way of things and special orders, you'd think this would be pretty straightforward, wouldn't you?

The fellahs muttered as they staggered back out with my chair: "Dealing with E-------(my original sales woman) is like talking to a wall."

I wish she's worn a sign telling me that.

No follow up from the store yet.

And this was not a cheap chair.

I'm oiling up my Toyota machine gun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Update


Mr. Frank and I got together one more time.

I let him carry the conversation.

Right off the bat: there will be no Mr. WWW or Mrs. Frank.

All the alarm bells went off, and thank heaven I am old enough and have learned enough to hang garlic around my neck and cross my fingers and mutter my internal witchly incantations.

To recite the whys would be extraordinarily boring.

You want to hear?

The women in his life just wanted his money.

Even the love (lust?) of his life, a much younger flight attendant, wanted him to buy her stuff. (What stuff, pray tell? Stuff that doesn't last like flowers and woman-stuff)

He's very bored, plays the stock market every day, tries to fill his nights with something, anything. Wouldn't mind tagging along for something, anything, as long as we shared costs. He's learned his lesson, you see. Be still my trembling heart.

Life was more interesting when there was sex involved but now there's precious little life left in Mr. Little Frank. Which pithily tells us everything we wanted didn't want to know about Lover Frank.

I nearly fell asleep.

He truly harshes my mellow.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Things I Don't Miss


Many talk of aging as something to be feared, the many losses: the loss of vitality. health, the so-called good old days, etc., but seriously, us oldies need to count all the things we don't miss, shall we?

(1)Menstruation, I menstruated for 40 years.

(2)Fear of pregnancy. My last scare? I was 52, thinking I was way beyond it. See 1.

(3)Hangovers.

(4)Getting up early, going to work and pretending I didn't have a hangover. See 3.

(5)Television

(6)Landlines

(7)Stilettos - seriously, what were we thinking?

(8)Make up - nothing like painting your face before throwing yourself out the door. Not.

(9)Hairdo maintenance - the cost alone, knowing presentability for the male gaze meant my employment or not.

(10)Performing femininity see 7,8,9

(11)A household to run plus two jobs to keep it all together. Single mom. 2 kids.

(12)Dating - see 10.

(13)Being always afraid of men when I was out alone running or coming home on a quiet street or late at night. And even of the male cops patrolling - with cause. Now I feel safe for the first time in a secure building with a well-lit parking lot, a resident administrator and emergency buttons.

(14)Being always broke, money never quite stretching to needs, never mind wants.

(15)Stress about all of the above.

I'm sure there are loads more.

I'd love to hear yours.

















Thursday, April 05, 2018

Well, blow me down!

I'm not easily surprised. At my age, 74, I've heard it all and continue to hear it all through young friends and new friends. Variations on the theme of relationships.

I haven't performed femininity in a long while. My hair is naturally an odd mix of brown, silver and grey, nondescript, although there are some that would disagree with you. I've let it grow long over the past twelve months, I didn't want to but before I sold my house I was budgeting carefully and if there's one thing I've learned over the years it is that if you pay peanuts for a haircut, monkeys are exactly what you're going to get. My lovely stylist Bernice was thus off my budget. She is excellent but expensive. I can afford her now, thanks to a small inheritance I finally received but haven't made the appointment yet. I don't wear makeup, I wear flat shoes and jeans mainly and manicures have never been on any priority list in my life.

I'm clean but I'm an unashamedly old woman. I'm a great story-teller and equally great listener (ask Johanna my new cleaning lady who has recounted the excruciating details of all her 11 surgeries to me) and when I'm with you I give you my full on attention and am never looking for somebody better in the room. But yes, I'm, I would think, beyond romance, beyond "dating" or "hooking up." That would be fine for you but me? I would have thought myself disinterested. I still admire engaging, intelligent men, the ones who are not afraid to show their inners. I've never been interested in the outers types. I've found those kinds of friends and relationships have fallen away, much to our mutual relief I would think. The inners have hung in there with me and I with them.

So imagine my surprise when another senior of my age, maybe a bit younger, started to hang out with me. Sitting by me. Talking away to me about Ireland and all his trips there. And then said to me, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My response was vague, I said it would take too long to recount my many interests.

"We should make the time," Frank* responded.

I met with a good friend of mine, Don* who knows Frank and I asked him in absolute disbelief to interpret Frank's conversation, like was Frank actually hitting on me? I'm that out of touch, you see.

Don laughed. "Of course he is!"

Long story short, I met with Frank for a coffee and we chatted, talking with him is very comfortable. In walks Ben, another friend of mine. Ben spots me and rushes over and hugs me and then pulls up a chair and sits down.

I can tell Frank is upset but we pull him into the conversation and he keeps checking his watch, not rudely, but not subtly either, as Ben and I get caught up, still pulling Frank in to the chat. Swedish death cleaning was one of the topics and Frank talked briefly about his time in Sweden which was a bit of a tangent but we adjusted our sails.

And then with a deep sigh he got up from the table, sighed again, looked at his watch and didn't look at us and said "I'll be off!" and off he went.

"My gawd," said Ben, astounded, "Is that guy jealous or wha'?"




*not their real names

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Finding My Beach

Since I moved to the city I've thought "I need a beach". I'm kind of fussy about making a beach mine. It always takes a while.

It has to be open to the wild Atlantic.

It has to have sand.

It has to have rocks.

It has to have perches.

And little recessed areas for a chair for the knitting or a book or a meditation.

And people and dogs and kids to observe.

I found it, 10 minutes from my apartment.

Voila!



Sunday, April 01, 2018

Emerging into Easter

I think we all need this. To be under the weather with all that entails, low energy, hacking, spewing, wondering where the hell so much moisture comes from, swigging cough medicine, Kleenex boxes the main decor in every room and avoiding all human contact. Many books, bits of knitting, Netflix, piles of unwashed dishes, a table so disorganized as to constitute a safety hazard.

And then today. It's like a cocoon has gently split and I emerge and put on some music and take a shower and change the sheets and catch up on a bit of knitting and open my windows and realize after a few hours that hey, I haven't coughed once.

And life looks sunny once more and if I could find some human company, I won't quite seek it mind you, but hey if I ran across it I might actually socialize. But meanwhile it's a walk by the lake and a drool at the dog park.

And my favourite Easter hymn to soothe you. I would sing this back in the day in a choir in my home city.

Friday, March 30, 2018

At the Coffee Shop


Yesterday, I was sitting in a coffee shop people watching. Note taking. My best ideas come in coffee shops.

A couple, fifty-ish, well dressed in khaki, twinnish, empty pockets on their cargo pants,leather hiking boots,serious vests,marching purposefully in.

She held the table while he did the ordering. I was astonished when he brought back 1 XL coffee and 1 large Morning Glory muffin.
He then proceeded to empty half the coffee into a green reusable cup she hauled out from her Roots bag while she halved the muffin with a plastic knife. They then ate the shared repast.

I thought to myself: not in a million years would I do that. Never have I done that. How would you arrive at the stage in life where this would be de rigeur for outings? Does it imply an extraordinary intimacy? When would be the first time this happened? Did they do this for every meal, halving eggs and bacon, the BBQ, the sandwich? Do they have individual taste buds or have they just melded into one? How are they when invited to dinner parties? (Oh two plates, one dinner please!). They were remarkably trim and healthy looking. Didn't speak to each other all through the snack, and showed a complete lack of curiosity for anyone else in the cafe. Then again, am I the only one taking notes?

Another couple in the corner were obviously having an affair. He was feeding her bits of an outrageously pink pastry. Her dress was a matching pink with black slashes in the pattern, short and sparkly. Around 40. Black tights, black leather jacket, dyed black hair cut teenage style. asymmetrically. He was a rumpled mid-thirties, brown curly hair, looked in a hurry but kept reassuring her, between feedings, with his free hand on hers, pressing, begging. The wind had blown his comb-over off his small bald spot, but she was facing him so wouldn't have been privy to what I saw. At one point a tear leaked out of her eye, "I'll tell her, I will," he pleaded,a bit too loudly, "It's just not the right time with the baby coming."

Another couple, women, sat across from me. She was thin as a razor, her heavier friend brought the fixings, passing her a black coffee and setting a pastry and frozen concoction down for herself. She was the more animated, the friend nodding silently as she sipped her coffee. I only caught bits but it involved a husband at sea and a suspicion of an affair he was having with the ship's cook as she kept calling the house when he was on leave to tell him jokes. "Jokes?" said Razor,"Dirty jokes?" "The way he laughs, well, yeah." "I wouldn't like that." "Well, girl, I don't like it at all."

An ongoing joke in my family(Daughter and Grandgirl and I are such people watchers!) is we pretend we have highly personal printed questionnaires to pass out to strangers to avoid all this speculation and surmising. ("Let's get this over with, pass him the questionnaire!")

But that would spoil the fun of the passing parade.