Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

I don't know where this wee vase vanished to but I always loved arranging flowers in it.

This old vase has gone too but I always had some beach flowers in it from the beach in front of my old house.

I love this wee arrangement from my old bathroom of flowers I grew in the community garden.

I picked up Daughter at the airport a few hours ago. I've missed her as she was in Toronto for nearly 2 weeks. We talked non-stop over a Singapore noodle dinner. She had a wonderful trip and caught up with family and friends including her father. But she's glad to be back here "to my wonderful life" she calls it. I agree. There's something about this place that feels so "home" to both of us. Hard to explain to anyone else, truly, it's so visceral.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Free-Floating Fridays

I believe we become closer to the core of our beings as we grow older. If we haven't done something about our bad habits, unhelpful behaviours and upsetting peculiarities they intensify. I am an impatient person by nature and I find I have to reign this in more, this mental drumming of the fingers, the intolerance of others' lack of grasp of fundamental principles.

I don't have time to waste in other words, stop holding me up with your stupidz. Awful I know, but there it is. I also find I need more alone time than I used to. I relish my own company and am terribly fussy about my social engagements. And perversely I can be so wrong in my quick assessment of whether I will engage further or not.

I was hesitant about one such meet-up yesterday evening. It was a pretty packed social encounters day and the last coffee meetup was going to be quick. Instead it turned out to be one of the most fulfilling and interesting long chats of all with a young person who is going to work behind the scenes in so many capacities in our Senior Women Activist Group. She is media savvy and has done this type of work for quite a while. Gobsmacked doesn't quite cover my reaction and it shows me not to make rash and speedy judgement on the abilities and personalities of others. Most carry their lanterns unlit until another holds a match and I need to remember that.
I was struck by this wee appliance of mine this morning. It started out as a gift from a friend close on fifty years ago now. One of the first domestic coffee grinders I would think. Made in France. And it has been grinding my beans every morning for half century now and continues to do so. Incredible in this disposable-built-in-obsolescence world of ours, right?
Does everyone have a kind of lunar cycle? Women? I find I can plot out my moods by this cycle. Just like when I menstruated (I had 40 years of that). I find it fascinating. I can tell when my energy falls below what is normal for me, when I get more irritable and when is the best time to complete tasks I've been putting off and when I can accomplish onerous tasks. You?
I did finish this beauty of a wrap {"Iceberg Season") and she slumbers along the back of my long couch waiting for some chilly evenings outdoors on the patio. She is very long and very warm and I am absolutely thrilled with her.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Words for Wednesday.

This week we have images from Elephant's Child who is hosting W4W for the month of June. Please visit her to see what others are up to and perhaps be tempted to participate yourself.

She insisted she had seen it flying overhead, an odd shape, the size of one of those motorcycle sidecars but with an energy pack at the back of it and a person sitting inside with a huge helmet, just zip, zip, zipping around, calm as you please. She'd been eating her lunch by the side of the fishpond and reading her book, and had looked up when she heard a kind of a buzz and there it was. A small, well, aircraft thing with no wings. A personal jet of some kind. Like the ones you'd see in those comic books of the fifties. A future world type of contraption. Individual flying machines like in sci-fi films.

"Then it skimmed the water, it had a kind of ski underneath it, and then it hit that fish fence and sank like a stone," she repeated slowly for the young cop and the paramedic who emerged from the ambulance. She was getting tired of this recounting.

"That's when I pushed 911 on my phone," her voice trailed away as she saw the disbelieving looks the cop and the paramedics were exchanging.

"No bubbles? No wreckage to the surface? Are you sure you weren't day dreaming?" asked the cop who was looking across the water at the freshly emerged diver who was shaking his head.

She looked behind him at the sky and pointed.

"I just saw it now - look! it's shoving those clouds aside as it streaks through the air. It must have resurfaced elsewhere and taken off again!"

"OK lady," said the paramedic, "I think you'd better come with me. We're going to take you to your friend Mister Jetski."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Smatterings (2)

I am grateful for the pieces of work that come my way and supplement my meager pension.I am also grateful for my newly subsidized rent, geared to my total under-the-poverty-line income, but shocked on the application that one of the questions demands of applicants to state the "amount donated as gifts by family members and friends in subsidy." Seriously. I read it three times. Surely this is private?

My very favourite aunt (I had 8 blood aunts and 2 aunts by marriage) in her heyday. This picture is circa 1940. Her name was Daisy and she was beautiful, vibrant, talented and artistic and married well. I wrote about her descent into alcoholism in two parts here.

Here's another photo, taken around the same time:

The fog is rolling in again, it's been three days now. Can't tell you how much I love it and the sound of the foghorn warning the ships. This is a picture I took at my old house to give you an idea of how softly it drapes everything.

Random. I love this photo I took one November sunset with the tracery of the trees and the sleeping boat and the lackadaisical water of winter. This was well before the madness and destruction took place next door and hundreds of trees were felled.

Feel free to join me in Sunday Smatterings. No rules, just whatever takes your fancy in photos, song, memories, surroundings and link to your blog in comments.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Free-Floating Fridays

Grandgirl received her Master of Economics degree yesterday. Can't tell you how proud I am.

I transplanted the African Violets that I call The Three Sisters and they are thriving. I haven't been able to grow violets since my Toronto days (and a fine hand I was at it too) so am thrilled they like this eastern lookout.

I'm surrounded by sudden onset dementia lately. I don't even know if there's such a thing, don't want to know. Two women in the laundry room yesterday were completely baffled by the machine knobs. Women who were completely competent before. I had to go back to help them with the dryer knobs. A man I had a kinda "coffee date" with not too long ago was reported missing by his sister and the police found him wandering around the nearby lake looking for his car. 5 kilometers from his home, the car was parked at his apartment building. He is now in a home. I saw him about a month ago at the local coffee shop. Without even greeting me, he asked me for a ride downtown. I was on my way in the opposite direction and declined. He was odd, never looked at me, stumbled off outside as I watched him, puzzled, not realizing he was in a bad way even though he smelled to high heaven as if he hadn't washed in weeks. I feel weird about this. Is my compassion quota all used up?

I'm still not coming to grips with my seriously reduced energy levels. I take on too much and then have to bow off. The spoons theory needs to be honoured more by me. It's like I'm greedy for life in such an enormous way and then run into my elderly self, defeated and disgruntled and dismayed and disappointed. Not a good feeling.

PS Please feel free to join in on Free-Floating Fridays and link to your post on comments here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Away in Pictures

Daughter, Grandgirl and I went off to a cabin way up in Ochre Pit Cove.

I feel so lucky we can hang out together. This was the trip planned in lieu of our road trip to Toronto which I knew I couldn't handle and they were totally understanding of it.

A few photos.

The beach at Salmon Cove~~~

Iceberg Season here - this is one in Grates Cove nearby where we stayed~~~

Daughter sitting at one of those adorable small libraries~~~

View from our front deck, iceberg in the distance~~~

Gumbo served by a Louisiana chef at a local restaurant~~~

This house was directly across from us~~~

Friday, June 07, 2019

Free-floating Fridays

A spark of light
In the grey of the day
Seeking tiny delights
Often hidden away.


"Inglenook" used by Michael Harris in his book "The End of Absence."


"Vehemently" used by Grandgirl in a conversation - I know, impressive, yeah?


We agreed to 'master the art of doing nothing' beautifully at the beach together. Grandgirl is sauntering away in the distance while I break briefly from nothing and snap the picture.


In the mail: A tiny care package from my sister in Ireland: handmade soap, Irish chocolate and a book festival brochure.


A request from a young woman to meet her for coffee and chat as she really admires how contented (!!) I am. We did. And she sent me a text afterwards:
Just feeling overjoyed ever since our meeting I’m so grateful to you for making my night!
She made my night too. Some young uns really want to hear our life-stories and how we surmounted challenges and tragedy and know that contentment often comes at a huge price.


My doctor thanks ME for everything. Yesterday it was for the copy of my daily BP readings which, he said, are far more relevant than the readings in his clinic due to white coat syndrome. He also thanked me for being on time always. And asks me stuff about our Senior Women Activist Group. I look forward to our interactions and I am delighted I lucked out in getting him when my old doctor moved to another province.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Words For Wednesday - June 5th, 2019

For the month of June, Elephant's child is hosting Words for Wednesday. You may visit her here and join in the fun or read what others are writing.

Following along with my story of Erla, warrior girl, here is Part 3. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.

Here are this week's prompts. I asterisk them as I use them in the story.




Erla took several deep breaths, and found her warrior resolve hardening inside her. Trilby and Merlin swathed between her feet immediately, no longer casting dubious glances in her direction as they never had seen her cry before. It was like a lever had been thrown and poison had entered the parlour. As one, they moved off to the fireplace and sat on their feather cushion together and stared at Daddy who was looking down at his hands, quiet and reflective.

"No. I need to say a few things, Daddy," she said, "And please don't interrupt me, OK?"

He nodded.

"Mama has done her best, really Daddy. I know she's not like other mamas as she always feels so, well, so rotten. I want her to be well, to be like she used to be, playing with me in the sunshine, baking cookies in the oven. But you left us Daddy, you left me and her. And all I had really, were my friends here Merlin and Trilby."

Erla stopped and gulped.

"But weekends?" interrupted Daddy, looking very upset, "I saw you weekends?"

"I could have spent weekends here with my friends, I don't like your condo or your friend who wants to become my Mama."

Daddy put his head in his hands.

"But you have to move in with me!" he said.

"And school Daddy? Where am I going to school now? I like my school."

"I thought you would go to the school near the condo, it's a good city school....."

"I don't like the city! What about Merlin and Trilby? I don't want a new Mama!"

Erla felt close to tears, she didn't want to sound whiny, she needed Daddy to pay attention to her, to stop arranging her life into this frightening picture. And what about Mama?

"Matilda doesn't like cats." Daddy said firmly, standing up and picking up her knapsack from the floor,"We will arrange for the humane society to take them, alright?"

And he took her hand and tugged her towards the door.

Erla struggled with her rage. It came roaring to the surface but she knew to keep it hidden from Daddy. She followed him out to the hall and as they reached the door she told him she'd forgotten her book.

She turned to go back to the parlour and when Daddy stepped on to the porch she rushed forward and slammed the front door closed and with effort turned the deadbolt.

Trilby and Merlin stood in awe, mouths open, and she fell to the floor and embraced them, ignoring the hammering on the door, the yelling of her father and the pounding of her own heart.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

Grandgirl is here with me. Loving that. She cooked us supper tonight. A delicious pasta with zucchini and chicken and cremini mushrooms and garlic and asiago in a creamy rose sauce. To die. Though admittedly it's an odd feeling her taking care of me. I entertained her while she cooked with stories of my checkered career as a corporate controller in a man's world. The stories have me shaking my head and she is flabbergasted. Sexism and harassment ran rampant then. She now has her masters in economics and is poised, I would think, on the brink of a brilliant career.

This is a picture of me on the right, my friend Rosaleen on the left and my tiny daughter (who is now 52!) on the verge of our descent
to go UNDER Niagara Falls, back in the day. With gear supplied by the tour company. Spring 1969. I think that adventure has long been abandoned. It was scary I remember - the noise alone!

February 2009 I was driving by this church and stopped to take a picture. Somewhere near Portugal Cove South, I believe.

Grandgirl and Ansa Summer 2010, they loved running on the beach together.

And view from my front deck at the old house, also in 2010, I took so many pictures of sunsets there.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

When Life Gets Busy....

As life is wont to do now and again.

I go to my local beach.

Today I brought lunch and knitting.

Morning was busy and so was afternoon.

Nice busy vs stressful urgent busy I should add.

I met many dogs there today.

I had a long chat with one who looked like Ansa and paddled and obeyed commands just like her too.

Her name was Fermie. And she took a moment to rest herself on my feet for a while which took her human companion and myself by surprise. Ansa would do that. Fermie was a rescue from Labrador. I sensed that she knew of my loss.

I took this rather lovely photo of the view in front of me and my knitting. I call this #40shadesofblue.

I find the ocean marvellously healing. The surf was high and the herring were in. And for once I didn't cry over Ansa which is a gift. Thank you Fermie.

I hear on the grapevine that the board of this building are reconsidering the no pet policy all thanks to the submission I and my fellow advocates made. If so, I'll be first out the door to the humane society.

PS for those who care, I updated my 2019 book list but need to update Goodreads too when I get a minute.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Words for Wednesday 5/29/19

Elephant's Child is hosting May's Words for Wednesday. Please drop in on her and see what's on offer from the participants and maybe join in yourself if you are so inclined. It's a lot of fun.

My story is a continuation of Erla and her feline buddies Merlin and Trilby.

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here

Here are this week's prompts.

Pin cushion*

And / or


Once Erla had finished reading the chapter and Merlin and Trilby and herself debated who the murderer could possibly be, they were all startled to hear a knocking on the front door. They looked at each other in consternation. No one ever came by here in the years Erla had been coming. Trilby had been grappling with his needlepoint - a lion, rampant, in heraldic form - and now he pushed the fabric and the perfumed pin cushion - another affectation - aside.

Erla rose on her tippy toes and tried to peer sideways through the parlour window at the porch, the human form she could barely see was large, male and impatient. The cats rubbed against her legs in solicitude. Oh dear, the knocking was getting louder and now, oh no, the person was shouting through the letterbox.

She ran to the door and opened it wide.

"Daddy!" she said, reeling slightly in surprise. Daddy walked in, looking around suspiciously.

"You had me scared half to death," he said, putting his arms around her,"Your mother hadn't a clue where you were, and then I remembered you staring out the car window at this house as we drove by every weekend."

"But this is not the weekend, why are you here?" asked Erla, confused.

"Well, generally I'm not here during the week," and her father absentmindedly started petting the cats,"but I had to go to court today, Erla".

"Were you in trouble?" Erla's voice trembled.

"Oh no, no,"Daddy said slowly, "I was in the courtroom to get custody of you."

Erla's mouth dropped open and tears filled her eyes.

"Temporarily," said Daddy quickly, "Mama is very sick, Erla. She needs to get well."

"But I don't want to leave Mama and Trilby and Merlin," Erla wailed, "They all need me Daddy! The cats are my little power squad, my friends!"

"As I drove over here, panicking a little I must say, my little pet," and here Daddy hugged her tightly yet again, "I had the most brilliant idea!"

Sunday, May 26, 2019


I am embarrassed. Truly.

Approximately each month I clean out my fridge. And I truly hate what I am throwing away. I can't seem to get a grip on what I will use. I had an inn, I had a boarding house, a rental unit in my house (a single mother does everything to keep poverty from the doorstep) and I still shop too largely. I can never get through a head of lettuce of a head of cabbage or for that matter tasteless, bargain tomatoes. Onions I buy too large and use 1/4 and next thing, remains are spoiled and thrown.

I caught myself lecturing myself quite brutally as I did this appalling chore today. It was on my to-do list for about 4 days, in caps, to shame me further.

For gawd's sake
What an effin waste
You should be ashamed of yourself
African children
And that poor woman.

The poor woman was one who had popped up on a knitting site today and she kinda haunts me a little. Circa 1900. Ireland. Turf on the back, bare filthy feet, knitting in the hand, looks like a sock for the fellah, could be a sleeve for a coat.

Point of this post is how do you shop and stick to it and plan it and behave yourself so waste does not feature? Do you budget? Do you cook lots of meals ahead of time? Do you buy junk (i.e. processed)? What happens when you get invited out for a meal throwing all careful planning to the dust?

I am heading out shortly to meet Daughter after her Outdoor Women weekend. She goes twice a year and learns so much about foraging and hunting and fishing and living in the wild. I don't know where I got her as that stuff would have me crying in my cabin for 3 days, sulking over my knitting.

We're going to have Singapore Noodles at a restaurant we love (cheap and cheerful eats) where I will hear all about the thrills of bows and arrows and identifying flora and fauna and being amongst 99 other women as enchanted as herself with the whole outdoor thingy.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Gains and Losses

I was pondering on this yesterday. I consciously move my thinking and reflecting and musing on to gains while sometimes casting a nostalgic eye in the rear-view mirror and view the losses, but not for too long, I can get sad and maudlin and wet-eyed, not that there's anything wrong with that, either, it's just not good for me to linger there.

So the losses - and I am 75 so there are many in my lucky, long life.


(1) Dear friends, so very many, missed forever, life emptier without them in many ways, too many to count. Parents and relatives I had anticipated but never my contemporaries somehow.

(2) Ability to run, hike and walk without thought. I loved running, the freedom of roads and trails, the weekend long runs with companions, the racing, the medals, the camaraderie.

(3) Travelling. Anywhere. Any time. As long as there was some money. Dreaming of outlandish trips off the beaten track, now never to be. El Camino in Spain, Outer Hebrides, Iceland interior, Orient Express, Siberian Express.

(4) Not thinking much about energy, my own. Being ready for 18 hour days, fast recuperation, coffee at 2. Writing at 3 in the morning, not a bother on me.

(5) Any name, any city, any year, any noun, any verb, coming to mind quickly and easily.

(6) Missing estranged younger daughter, always and forever.

(7) The many adored animals I was privileged to have in my life. All missed, all loved deeply. None more so than Ansa my last.

(8) Taking good health and a perfectly working body for granted.

Grandmother Moon outside my bedroom window the other night.


(1) Having time - the greatest gift of all.

(1) Listening to music of my choice any time of the day or night.

(2) Reading voraciously. All the time.

(3) Being more "me" than I ever have before. My opinions are clearer as is my critical thinking. And I'm very keen to listen to the young. I am so very lucky to have teenagers in my life.

(4) Being thrilled to be invited anywhere, especially when there are young people there.

(5) Living in my lovely apartment. I never thought I'd say that, but I absolutely love living here. And recently I applied for reduced rent due to my financial circumstances and received notification today that I was successful.

(6) Having close relationships with my daughter and my niece (who is a daughter to me) and being treated so well by them in ways I can't even list. They are supportive and proud of my endeavours and so very, very thoughtful in their caring and concern for and of me.

(7) Having time to pursue advocacy.

(8) Being asked to perform, to hold writing workshops, to speak at different events, to help others less fortunate.

(9) Being present in the moment. Staying where my hands are.

(10) Not taking anything for granted. Ever. Seeing beauty everywhere**.

(11) Writing anywhere, any time, all the time.

(12) Knitting whenever, wherever.

A wrap, "Iceberg Season" that I started a few days ago. For me.

** In my front hall, a wee corner, everything here is a gift. The owl is my totem, given to me by an aboriginal shaman many moons ago.

What about you? What have you gained and lost as you age?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Words for Wednesday 5/ 22/2019

This month Elephant's Child is hosting Words for Wednesday with words used from contributors assisting. Please go visit her and participate or just enjoy the stories. It's a lot of fun.

Here are this weeks prompts.

Dressing gown*

And / or


A continuaton of last week's as everyone seemed to really like Erla and her odd family (as do I!). And I asterisk the words as I use them so the flow of the story remains.

Once they were fed from the pantry and it was restocked, Erla stayed for her usual visit. She sat down with Merlin and Trilby in the parlour (they hated the term "living room" they were anglophone snobs). They liked being read to and had a particular interest in English best sellers of which there was a trove at home from her father's time there.

Her knapsack was stretched to the limit always between the cat-food, her lunch and the books. She had fetched their dressing gowns of course, Merlin's buttercup yellow, though, ironically it didn't suit him, and Trilby's plaid complete with their 8 matching slippers. Merlin had chronic affectations and insisted on using a long cigarette holder when she lit one of her mother's purloined cigarettes for him. He stretched and chuckled appreciatively on the damask sofa while Trilby rolled his eyes at him as he reclined on the footstool by Erla's feet.

They all agreed she had had left off at the beginning of Chapter 9 of P.D. James' latest. Trilby had a crush on Adam Dalgliesh, her poet detective, much to the amusement of Merlin, who held steadfast to the long practice of his hidden worship of Erla who seemed to him perfection itself, though technically, of course, there was never a chance of reciprocation, or was there? She seemed to split her devotion evenly between himself and Trilby but he secretly gloated over the gift of the cigarette she brought him and imagined this marked something extra in her feelings for him. And with this, in true British fashion, reflecting thoughtfully on the cigarette, he was content.

"The coast was battered by the remains of the shipwreck, planks and masts, deckchairs, shattered lifeboats," she began "And, could that be a body sprawled bloody and bleeding on the rocks?"

She looked at them both, her eyes round and frightened, her hand on her chest. They purred in absolute contentment. Another body. Wonderful.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Blog Jam

In the "believe me you haven't lived until" department:

Walking along my apartment hallway I hear this tremendous crash coming from behind my closed door. I fish in my cart for my cellphone read to press 911. A break-in? A dementia person thinking it was her/his apartment? A bird crashing through a window screen? I open my door gingerly and was greeted with a sea of shattered mirror. When I say shattered I understate the condition of the floor. The large mirror was hung over my sink in the kitchen. I don't know how it fell off the wall as the hook it hung on is still intact as is the heavy twine fitted to last through an earthquake at the back of it. The whole kitchen floor, the vestibule, all the corners, under stuff, on top of shelves, you get the picture (ha!), is an attractive shimmering art installation.

I am about 1/2 way through cleaning it up, I had kept newspapers in a reading bin in the bathroom (you know what I mean, stuff that looks important but never gets read, ever)so wrapping all these effing slivers and slices and multiple shapes of mirror was a huge chore and I had to take a break and write about this to relax myself before I tackle it again. Before I burst into tears....and 7 years bad luck now, according to folklore? Shyte.

Which leads me to the whale today. After Book Club I went off to see the whale at Holyrood Beach, she came in after the herring followed by the coterie of a million birds feeding off her leftovers. This is remarkably early for here as we are still in Iceberg Season.

Photo is courtesy of Bruce McTavish who took a far better picture than I did. We all sat in our cars and watched this from the road. Incredible. I got out of my car and hit the boardwalk which runs parallel and guess what? The last time I walked there was with Ansa, we used to walk there all the time as she just loved it (and so did I) and I've just avoided it. And grief overwhelmed me. Here's her memorial picture. Boy I loved that furry girl so much. The grief is still alive in me. Does grief ever die?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Friday 5/15/19

This weeks WFW are hosted by Elephant's Child and they have a different twist in that participants are provided with two photographs and encouraged to weave an imaginary spell on them and see what comes through the pen. Go visit her blog to see what else is magicked and or participate.

An air of foreboding and neglect and disregard surrounded it like a cloud. There was no car to lend it any humanity. The grounds were overgrown and the nearby hills were encroaching stealthily with fingers of heather and gorse and marsh grasses. But the house was solid, made of beautiful stone with rich tiles and solid chimneys on the roof.

Erla watched it from her father's car, craning her neck around until it fell out of sight, drawn to it, fascinated, when he picked her up for his visitation rights on weekends and took her to his condo in town.

She recited an incantation on the first day of summer school holidays and then quickly packed a balanced lunch in her witch's knapsack. Mother let her feed herself - having the delivery man stock up the fridge when Erla left a long list on it, covering all the basic food groups which she had learned from the internet. Mother lived on cigarettes and bourbon, Erla did not like ingesting either although in commiseration she had tried.

Finally Erla, 9 year old warrior, was ready and dutifully left a note for Mother, who probably wouldn't get up until twilight, and hiked the five miles rapidly, approaching the building from across the heather, fearless as always.

As she neared the house, she observed the two tenants of the place on guard. One inside the house, the other vigilant to any approaches on the outside, with that odd dish of magic green stones at his feet.

"Merlin!" she called, "Trilby!"

They looked at her, then at each other. Trilby disappeared inside and then emerged from the cellar steps outside while Merlin approached her.

"Erla!" miaowed Trilby, who was far more talkative than the haughty Merlin, "We were waiting for you! We are running low on the kibble and the canned food is but a distant dream - that lack of opposing thumbs business! Not to mention those unopenable packets of fishy treats!"

"My dear!" purred Merlin, sliding his luscious fur around her bare legs,"We are fading away to skeletons, absolute skeletons!"

And Erla had to laugh, as around her she could see carcasses of field mice and some unfortunate birds. While the two tenants could stand to lose a pound or two each.

"Okay, my friends," she said, chuckling, picking up Trilby who put his paws around her neck,"Let's take stock of the situation in your pantry and I'll manage it from there. But no more bird murders, OK?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cabin John

I was out with a bunch of women today. Having lunch. Tossing around ideas about seniors and poverty and challenges of women raising children not thinking about their future finances. Etcetera.

And then the talk turned unexpectedly - as it can - to "stalking" by men.

And unsurprisingly all of us had been stalked.

(And coincidentally, I am reading a book about stalking in Northern Ireland called "Milkman". Recommend.....anyway.)

So we shared stalking stories.

And no, they're not funny. They are alarming. And ugly. And terrifying. And can be fatal as we all know.

So one of the younger women shared an experience she had with Cabin John, this guy who had lived in the city and then moved out to live permanently in his cabin. Cabins here are not what you would think they are. They are often better than the houses in the city and quite lavish.

On some pretext he had gotten her cell number and then proceeded to text her suggestive messages. Telling her of dreaming about her, sending her heart emoticons, he couldn't stop thinking about her. This was all around 5 years ago.

So she checked him out on Facebook and lo and behold she found him. And his wife. Happily grinning at each other. So she told him never to contact her again or she'd call the police.

A few of the other women nodded, word had gotten around about Cabin John, pervy, older, short, fat, unattractive, they said.

Why don't I know him? I asked - I used to live in that town!

I saw you having coffee with him a few weeks ago, one said.

What? I asked, you can't be serious!

And then the penny dropped.

My dear friend John. He and his wife are friends of many, many years.

And I felt sick to my stomach. I had seen him only a few days before.

And I was still numb with shock hours later.

I have no interest in ever seeing him again. Ever.

We just never know the dark secrets of others' souls, do we? I feel enormous loss, and anger, and absolute disgust. And fooled. We have shared much over the years and now I question all of that too, his basic dishonesty. One thing about him had alerted me though. He had always protested when men were called out on bad behaviour and bleat "not all men" and I've known deep down that that is a sure sign of predation. All decent men call out predators too and support women. And some of his FB posts were sorta anti-women, kinda sexual. And then one time he had threatened his wife in front of me. ("I will kill you if you ever fool around on me!") and I put it down to unfunny, jokey "teasing". Amazing what we can overlook, I feel guilty about that. Crazy woman-guilt based on nothing.

But I know him now for who he is and it is ugly. And part of me is brokenhearted at my own gullibility and previous bemused tolerance, and the loss of what I thought would be a long term friendship.

Names are changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, May 13, 2019


Yeah, I was in one. A pileup. You know what I'm talking about.

A feeling of being overwhelmed.

A planned road trip for Daughter and Grandgirl and self to see her graduate from U of T grad school, a huge achievement, wearing me down, even the very thought of it.

Too many medications switches (JFC this blood pressure thing is a nightmare, effecting my kidneys, my outlook, my sanity) to even count. And I won't go on with that, medi-bores are just that and I bore myself.


Others' expectations.

I dreaded the talk with D & G.

But I bit the bullet, appropriately, on Mother's Day. I kept thinking I was making too much of my physical challenges, but boy, believe me, some days are absolute shyte and they are utterly unpredictable. And being away from my bubble, this perfect little apartment with doctors on call and friends around, intimidated me with the what-ifs. Plus moving attention away from my darling girl with sick old granny lurking somewhere in her apartment surrounded by pills and drenched in fear. I know, I exaggerate, but you get the drift of the way I was feeling. When I have bad days I practise massive avoidance of people and things and events. It's easy. But not on the road or Somewhere Else.

So I threw on the Big Girl Knickers and at the end of our lovely brunch yesterday told D I could not make the trip and talked of my fears and pain and medical crap. And all I got back was love and concern and D saying when G gets here we will do a small trip around the island and just hang out for a lovely two days, stress free. And that made me cry.

And then I told G on the phone late that night and she was absolutely fine too, more concerned about me than herself and her Big Achievement and Grandma being there.

And I felt loved and valued. And behold, arose out of my slump today and was reborn again.

Safe and secure and looking ahead again rather than behind me, mourning legs and abilities and well behaved blood and driving forever and barreling around Toronto like I used to.

Deslumped, we might say.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

All Mothers' Day

All Mothers' Day

Mothers who never were.

Mothers who lost.

Mothers estranged.

Mothers avoided.

Dead Mothers.

Mothers in Dementia.

Mothers in other countries.

Mothers who died in youth.

Mothers abused and battered.

Mothers in addiction.

Mothers in war zones.

Mothers in prison.

Mothers who are pimped.

Mothers who adopt and foster.

Mothers who were adopted.

Mothers in brutal institutions never to see their babies.

Mothers who are brokenhearted.

We reflect and hold them tight.

For it's not all flowers and chocolate.


(Drawing by Ana Juan in the New Yorker)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Friday 5/8/19

This month's Words for Wednesday are brought to us by Elephant's Child who always has something unusual to offer. Please go visit her and read the entries and participate yourself (with a link to your blog post).

This week's prompts are familiar phrases:

Sun over the yardarm

And/ or

Going commando

The old navy captain was a crashing bore, ninety if he was a day. He had joined Sunshine Resthaven Retirement home on the coast six weeks ago after his wife died and it had got to the point where the other forty nine residents would disappear quietly if they saw him in the halls or in the gardens but the mornings were different. They felt stuck like butterflies in a display case as their beds were being made and their rooms tidied up by the maids.

They'd all lie around the pool, somnolent, comfy in their morning naps, waiting for the lunch bell, and he'd bluster into this sacrosanct of areas, complete in his navy whites, his cap at a rakish angle.

"Wot, wot," he'd shout, in his faux British accent, "Sun over the yardarm yet me navvies?" and he'd salute them all smartly, clicking his heels,"Do I have to tell you what the yardarm is yet again?" And then he'd rub his hands and explain its origin. How the expression originated in the north Atlantic (of which he knew every wave, every squall) where the sun would rise above the upper mast spars - yards to those in the know - of the square sailed ships around 11 a.m. 'Aforenoon', he'd clarify, coinciding with the 'stand easy'command he'd issue to his officers who would then go below and enjoy their first rum tot of the day.

This would all be said in his loud clipped accent, much like a grade school teacher enforcing some difficult lesson on truculent ten year olds. And they were sick and tired of it all.

Bernice particularly. Today she decided to do something about this brazen daily intrusion on to their morning quiet time.

"So tell me, Captain," she looked up from her chaise, her hand sheltering her eyes from the sun,"I hear tell you all went commando on those ships of yours? Is that true?"

"Harumph!" and he reddened visibly, "Wot, wot?"

"Surely you know what commando is? I thought sailors practised it all the time? Tell us about it!"

"Of course, of course!" He coughed once more,"They did exactly what I told them! I was always in what you call commando! You have to be when you are running a tight ship like mine. The navvies have to be responsive, if I say jump, they jump, bend over, they......."

And at this, Bernice and the rest of them fell about laughing so hard, they began to weep leaving the Captain puzzled, then embarrassed and then in high dudgeon, marching off back into the main building to the continued accompaniment of uncontrollable hoots, hollers and thigh slapping.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Aging Women Seniors - Thoughts Assemblage.

I'm sorting out my thoughts here for a few reasons.

We are putting together an advisory board and seeking (a) funding and (b) forming a charitable entity if successful and (c) then lobbying the governments, both federally and provincially to supplement the meager financial support afforded this marginalized segment of the population.

Our mission - and by "our" I mean another senior woman and myself - is to remove the stigma from senior women and to restore them to a dignity of living and self-respect. Far too many senior women live in poverty and we have many seniors in Newfoundland, a number which increases every year. In 2017 it numbered 108,182 in a population of 500,000. Well over 25%. Of these approximately 65% are women: 70,300. It is difficult to get an estimate of how many of these are living below the poverty level (Category 2) and how many are retired (Category 1) from government, teaching and nursing which affords them a reasonable pension.

Total number of food bank users number 28,063 and of these 23.4% are seniors-6566 and applying the same percentage of women that would be 4,268 elderly women resorting to food banks.

And an aside: To give you an idea of how normalized a foodbank is here in Newfoundland our premier, Dwight Ball, presented the keys to a new one to the head of the foodbank when the old one burned down, grinning like a fool when he should have been covered in shame. The disconnect of the privileged wealthy politicians from abysmal poverty is rampant everywhere.

We live in a country of universal health care, thank heavens, but I'll tell you what's not covered for us Category 2 seniors (but usually covered by decent private supplemental healthcare policies for Category 1).

Dental Services of any kind
Eye examinations
Expensive batteries of health devices like meters
Podiatry for diabetics
Hearing aids

And of course it takes no rocket scientist to calculate that the lack of funds for such standard items contributes to injuries (poor sight, falls) feet infections (diabetic amputations) absence of teeth (nutritional deficiencies) costing the health care system far more with hospitalizations. And of course addiction to drugs and alcohol as a mechanism of coping with these stresses is fairly rampant as well if my own observations bear me out.

The elderly have been further stigmatized by society and treated as charity cases when they complain about their impoverished and deprived existence. Living on approximately $19,200 annually, rent in many cases is 30-40% (at 35% $6,720) of this and often higher leaving very little for power and heat, insurance, clothing and self-care, essential communication and entertainment services which are exorbitant here, food, eating out once a week, little gifts for family, etc. Having transportation of any kind (car payment, insurance, maintenance, gas)squeezes 50% out of the remaining $1000 per month which leaves $500 for EVERYTHING else including food. And if I hear one more time "give up the car!" in a province with no public transit system outside of the city I will scream loud and long. Every penny is counted and many of us are forced to work in our seventies, often in ill-health ourselves. Just to barely make ends meet. I know greeters at Walmart and baristas at Tim Horton's and home care workers well into their seventies, being cheerful and pretending it's not about poverty.

Measuring senior poverty by standard poverty levels is not using the proper criteria in that many are disabled and can no longer self-care and have no desire to be warehoused in nightmare institutions and need additional income to support the barest modicum of dignified living.

And of course, many of us are too exhausted and disillusioned and and dispirited to even think of engaging in any kind of activism to change the status quo.

And I am grateful, so grateful, I met a kindred spirit who joins me in this protest. And it's not about us two, but for all senior women penalized for raising children with no monetary value placed on this in their earning years, and if they did work, it was often at 66% of what men earned thus accruing far less in the pension funds, if there was such a benefit in those days - most of my positions had no pension. And every cent of my pay cheque was spoken for as a single mother with two kids. So please, don't talk about "savings."

I am very interested in your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Words for Wednesday - May 1st, 2019

Happy May Day everyone. This month's Words for Wednesday are hosted by Elephant's Child. Thank you EC! Please go visit her and either participate or enjoy the many different offerings and creative writing afforded by those who join in.

The week's words are:

And/ or


Everything was fun and laughter until Button threw that weird rapper "Flowery Machine" on the I-Pod and then the sounds of police cars and rhyming curses and expletives reverberated through the Bose speakers and rippled off the walls and scuttled any semblance of camaraderie and their informal 5 year college reunion.

"Oh shit! Drop kick Button! Cut the noise!" screamed Maddie, bouncing to her feet and marching over to the stereo system and unplugging it.

"I'll have you know," said Button and not nicely,"Flowery Machine is a very good friend of mine and his music is gaining traction on radio stations, do I make myself clear?" He glared at Maddie and plugged in the system once more.

The friendly energy of friendships renewed in Button's large living room was destroyed, the seven of them mouthing the word "music?" incredulously at each other, regretting they had agreed to let him host this event knowing his weirdness and proclivity for annoying bands in the past.

Over the sound of Flowery Machine, Brent heard the doorbell ring and used the opportunity to turn down the volume as he passed by the sound system.

"Pizza!" he yelled at the others, gathering the cash back Domino coupons they had assembled, collecting their contributions. Maddie jumped up to help in carrying the four pizza boxes from the door.

"You didn't forget tipping I hope?" she said.

"No," said Brent, "Ten bucks for the driver. But seriously, speaking of tipping, if anyone deserves tipping over a....."

And here he stopped as he became aware of the sudden silence. The other five had surrounded Button, waving the plug of the infernal machine in his face.

"Your critique of my good friend, Flowery Machine, is unsubstantiated," Button protested,"You have no taste obviously."

"Listen buddy," said Brent,"I think we can put it to a vote here and now. This is the very last reunion you will host. And the very last time we listen to what you call music."

As Brent passed pizza slices around, Button sat off to the side red-faced and offended.

"We need to get you drunk," said Maddie who had always been the peacemaker,"Drunk and passed out quietly in a corner so we can have a decent catch-up with each other."

And they all laughed and whooped, breaking the tension.

And finally Button joined in, pouring himself another beer.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Thursday 4/25/19

Mimi is hosting this month's Words for Wednesday. You can visit her here and join in the fun. Or just read what others are doing.

This week's words are:



ad hoc*

Note trigger warning to those that are sensitive to darkness in a story.

The Committee met on the first Saturday of every month in the Great Hall of the Judiciary. It had started as an ad hoc committee but gradually, over the years, it had evolved into an annual election of Committee members selected from the survivors in the town.

Five of them sat on the bench, facing the petitioners. This month there were four, a male laborer of about 40, an outgoing male hippy type of 60,and a bawdy, brassy, blonde stereotype of a middle aged woman, long past her prime, and a timid, polite, young woman in her twenties.

It never failed to amaze her, the deciding vote as Chief Justice, as she sat on the uncomfortable bench overlooking the petitioners - that it took all kinds presenting themselves here every month in good conscience, seeking help, sharing their personal yarns all seeking the same result. To be chosen.

And one only could be chosen. The questioning was intense, for no word of this process could ever emerge out to the world at large. Yes, no doubt it was insidious, but all signs of what they did had to be invisible and the manner in which they did it. A vote would be taken once all stories were presented and the winner decided.

"So," she said clearly to the first petitioner,"Introduce yourself and tell us your life story, omitting nothing, swearing all present to secrecy, outlining at the end why you wish to die and what method you would wish us to utilize?"

Friday, April 19, 2019

Change Part 2

See Part 1 here.

I have a kitchen and it's not so much that it's tiny but that it's poorly designed. I have had smaller kitchens that have worked so efficiently - well laid out, everything reasonably within reach, all my appliances comfortably at hand. This one drove me bonkers from Day 1. No room for a dishwasher - seriously. I've had one for most of my adult life and this was a downer of a flaw. I investigated a multitude of possibilities, under sink, drawer, above sink, one tenant has one she would slide out from her pantry and wheel it over to the sink to do the job and gave up as her strength was failing with the heavy pushing. So I bit the bullet and hand wash nightly and make it a meditative process, reviewing my day, planning for tomorrow.

I'm good at re-invisioning space. I wanted to eat more at home as I was relying far too much on unhealthy takeout and restaurants. My processor, old and heavy was too heavy to lift up out of the bottom cupboards and there was no counter space, ditto my Kitchen Aid. I redesigned the space on paper and went shopping for a wee island with shelves underneath. Solid, heavy, wood, on wheels. For over a year I've been looking. The cost of any quality was beyond my budget. The FB local and buy and sell had many flimsies.

Then, to my heart stopping delight, this one popped up in the local FB market place. Solid as a rock, beautiful wood, heavy and wait for it, $60. I called immediately. Rhonda was in the middle of a kitchen design and this island no longer fitted into her plans. I told her I was a senior and wouldn't mind paying for delivery. Now don't you bother, she said, I will bring it over this minute to you, you will love it.

And she did and refused to take delivery money. And gave me another set of wheels that were bigger, brand new, if I wanted to change the wheels out. It was unused looking, polished and gleaming. I'm in love with this thing. (To give you an idea of the pantry size, it runs the entire length behind it. And is inadequately shelved to add to design fail.)

And this island? It has made a huge difference to my life. My heavy small appliances sit on it with their parts on one of the shelves. I have a long extension cord in the drawer for plugging them in. And guys, I ate all my meals at home this week. Healthy, sensible meals. Things like Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, chicken curry salad, Asian noodles with shrimp. I shifted away from gluten completely,and sugar and crispy things and gravy, all the leaden stuff. I'm on 1200 calories a day as my mobility challenges affect my physicality. I am hoping that will improve.

I put my processor to work with shredding, my Kitchen Aid on mixing and I'm on a roll. I don't feel deprived, in fact I feel reborn.

Amazing what a tiny re-design can do.

I will post recipes if anyone wants. I haven't eaten this healthy since marathon training and it feels good.

And more on this later.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Words for Wednesday 4/17/19

Mimi is hosting this month's Words for Wednesday. You can visit her here and join in the fun. Or just read what others are doing.

Words for this week are:




The quince crop was excellent this year. He'd have to dig out Granny's old recipe book, come to think of it: wasn't there an abundance of 20 recipes outlining "what to do with quince in your spare time" in her collection?

His debonair self, always perfectly groomed, belied his small farmer aspirations. His partner Joe, on the other hand, was sloppy and bouncy and out of all the gentler musical instruments he could have aspired to, he played the horn: loudly and early in the morning, saying it helped their chickens in egg-laying decisions. Nonsensical of course, but Joe had this spiritual bent also and was blind to criticisms. He'd flash that toothpaste commercial smile and say that and a cent will buy me a coffee.

He was easy to love, was Joe. Now to get him to help with the quince jams, jellies, relishes and pies. All set then for the farmers' market on Saturday. And Joe would blow his horn and attract the customers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Isn't life all about change though?

Then why do we never anticipate it, never allow for it, resist it, complain about it, why me dear lord it, and battle it?

My life has been full of changes. I won't pollyanna it by saying they were all good.

Everything I had to let go of had claw marks all over it.

Marriage, for ever and ever amen partnerships, addictions, moving, moving again and again. Daughter estranging herself. Love gone sour. Friendships tanking. Jobs not working out. Children. Babies starting school. Grandchildren growing up and adulting right before my eyes.

I could make lists and lists upon lists.

What brought this on?

Good question: as those professional lying speakers and politicians say (along with "we're taking this very seriously" when you know they're not at all)

Changing my diet, my life plan, my comfort eating, my foodie status. Growing up yet again.

Three days into it.

Radical change. Huge claw marks awaiting peaceful and accepting transition.

More on this later.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Processor

I'm talking my brain. I've always read quickly but I think I need to slow down. I grab words with the eyes, think about them for a while, realize they don't make sense and go back and re-read again and think: whoa Nelly!

The other day my eyes grabbed: "Decorating Engineers" off a page.

And there was a wonderful few seconds when I thought: What a great idea, they're usually so dull and drab looking, we could up the ante here and throw on some sparkly bits, hang some loud earrings, dye their hair purple, hang a tambourine off an arm, maybe some lovely tap-dancing shoes.

Then I evacuated the reverie and re-read the bit: "Designating engineers". Ah, sad. But hey! my brain going off in unexpected directions can be delightful.

Ear worms now take longer to leave me. I had two days solid of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". This will be my funeral dirge. A kind of vengeance on those in attendance. Give them all an ear worm for a couple of days. Remember me!

Caution: Ear worm alert: Play this at your peril.

Friday, April 12, 2019

On Crows

Outside my mini-office window a pair of crows are nesting. I'll have to buy peanuts for them. They are birds I've long admired for their intelligence and myriad ways of communicating. If you enbiggen you can see the crow awaiting her tour of duty on the eggs on the wire on the left.

It is said they have the intelligence of a 7 year old human.

In the past I've watched them negotiate traffic lights and, imitating seagulls, drop crustaceans from a great height in order to smash them.

And I had an extraordinary experience once where about 5 km from my home I killed a crow in my car. I felt awful, pulled over to the side of the road, looked at the lovely rainbow-on-black wings and was glad it was dead because if it was in pain I don't know what I would have done.

The following morning I woke up to this terrible cawing and screeching and looked out my bedroom window to see all these crows congregated on the trees in my garden. I went outside in my pajamas and I was close to tears. I told them I was sorry. And begged forgiveness. And as sure as I'm typing this, they settled down but continued to glare at me. They knew my car, they knew where I lived. It truly freaked me out. I remember Ansa looking up at them and literally skulking back into the house. The shame of her companion murdering a crow and now having a murder of crows circling our house. I have no doubt she knew what they were saying as she had been a witness in my car to the dastardly act.

In honour of their cleverness, I love this National Geographic snippet of crows trained to pick up and dispose of garbage.

And I'll leave you with this witty cartoon: