Thursday, August 22, 2019

Most Popular Post of All Time


I think I've been blogging for about 15 years, I should check.

And I've written about a mish-mash of topics, some serious, some not.

But by far my most popular post of all time is this.

I know.

Shocking, right?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Words for Wednesday


This week's words are hosted by River. Go visit her and see what others are up to.

Here are the words:

This week's prompts are:

1. peril*
2. coral*
3. sure*
4. rocky*
5. lampshades*
6. furious immobility*

Along with a photo of a trail which River herself has walked.

George, I'm getting fed up with Mother. You know how that is. She keeps reliving the glory days of the one time she completed the 100 metre dash in the Olympics for France. She didn't even place, but it made her an expert on all things running, hiking, walking and marathoning.

Let's face it, George, I was a disappointment to her. I was the type of athlete that fell over her own shoelaces. I tried, of course, in my teenage years, but I'm more the intellectual type as you know. The fact that I'm a physicist Mother finds so amusing. She's always apologizing for the way I've turned out.

Now that she's in the wheelchair, I guess you could say she's sure in a permanent state of furious immobility. She always dresses in her favourite coral tracksuits and I have to wheel her out every day onto the rocky trail near the home. But not before she demands her "perils". Mother has never mastered the English language even though she moved to the UK long before I was born. So I fetch her pearls for her and place them around her neck. Incongruous really with the track suit. Then I have to make sure she wears that ridiculous lampshade of a hat, that huge purple beast, so that the sun won't damage her perfect skin. You could at least take your turn doing all this, George. Stop avoiding her. And me.

Honestly, George, it's a miracle I don't upend that wheelchair and let it slide down the cliff.

No one would be any the wiser.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Smatterings


Of cabbages and kings....

I put all names in the hat to receive my cards and bonus, added another card so extracted 6 names rather than 5.

So here they are:
Cup on the Bus
River
Gigi from Hawaii
Twilight
Tom (Sightings)
DKZ

I am also sending one to Elephant's Child in thanks for her mailing a beautiful Monet bookmark and card to me ( I have your address EC).

So please, send me your snail mail addies ASAP to wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom. You know what to do with those ats and dots.

In other news the show was a roaring success, sold out both shows. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to be back on stage again but more so it was around the special type of energy that only a theatre crew can produce, it is highly intimate and gratifying.

My birthday was wonderful in every way. I do wish I had more energy, I know this seems like a constant bleat from me but hell, aging, winding down, you know. One of my siblings sent me the most wonderful email and I will treasure it. As some of my family of origin need some massive healing this meant more than I can say. It's never too late to "do the work" as a wonderful shaman once told me. And it is good and rewarding work to throw out the old patterns and embrace the joy.

A dear friend treated me to the most wonderful gift, a writers' festival weekend in Cape Breton. The brochure above has a painting done of her thirty years ago. This painting will be auctioned off at the end of the festival. The painter has dementia now, a beautiful talented woman with that wonderful long flowing white hair many of us desire in elderhood but are rarely gifted with.

I decided to fly. I've been adverse to flying for a few years now. I don't truly know why. Grandgirl convinced me as did my generous friend. One of those elder "notions". I can get assistance, and it's not about that, truly. It's the airport and cramped seats and overall discomfort and herding cattle atmosphere. Anyone else feel like that or is it just moi? I mean I'd fly at the drop of a hat before but now it's with a feeling of dread.

So onward as I embrace the new year for me ahead. We just never know, do we, what lies ahead and that's a very good thing, I would think.



Thursday, August 15, 2019

Words for Wednesday


This week's words are hosted by River. Go visit her and see what others are up to.

Here are the words:

1. "then I was going to bed, where I planned to stay until Christmas"
2. "I'm always careful," I said calmly, stepping straight into a puddle.

And here is the picture:

I'd suspected he hadn't been paying attention to me for quite a while. When we travelled to Lucezia, his idea, backpacks, keeping it simple, hostel staying, his ignoring of me got worse. He was preoccupied. But not in an attractive, intellectual way. More like his face wore a permanent 'I'm not with her' grimace walking way ahead or way behind me. I thought he might be going deaf. I began to test the waters, so to speak.

Like walking along Gallery Lane, I started talking away to him.

"I think I might be six months pregnant," I announced.

"If you insist," he responded, in this dead flat voice, and stopped in front of the ice-cream booth, not looking at me as usual.

"I'm always careful" I said calmly, stepping straight into a puddle, deliberately splashing mud and petrol all over his fine khaki pants. He didn't even notice.

He bought himself a gelati and started licking it absently as he walked away from me. Like I wasn't there. Like I never had been there.

"Stop!" I screamed after his retreating back, his muddy pants. He ignored me. As always.

I ran to catch up, it wasn't hard, slightly uphill.

I wasn't through with him yet. Not by a long shot. For now, I would try once more to connect with him, then I was going to bed, where I planned to stay until Christmas.

I miss him so. My grave is a very lonely place.






Monday, August 12, 2019

Back on the Boards


My attention here will be sporadic as I have two performances coming up. Yay! - we sold out the first show but the toll on this old body will be what it is.

Along with that there is a Lughnasadh party on Friday which will be attended by my local coven including Daughter. Co-incidentally it's on my birthday, which will mark 76 turns around the sun completed.

On top of that we have the ongoing preparation for our Seniors' Activism Group and then the grand media announcement/press release, with a number of demands on government to ease the plight of so very many senior women living well below the poverty line. That is all geared towards August 29th. It was supposed to be at City Hall but hey, no parking, no access for disabilities and unbelievable liability insurance for a 2 hour gathering, no assistance with put up and tear down of tables, chairs and mikes. Our tax dollars at work. We were furious but will expose all that at a later date. For the moment we concentrate on rallying senior anarchists. We are now looking towards hosting this at a kindly nearby church.

Plans are afoot for September, a trip out here by a couple of dear friends, we should be able to spend 4 days together before they tour the rest of the province, a weekend away on a knitting retreat on Bell Island with my niece - another avid knitter - and then a week away in Cape Breton Island with another friend whom I stayed with last year. I'm beginning to haunt her, I'll have to watch that.

So all in all some lovely plans. I am learning to pace myself. I turned down a studio TV interview tomorrow morning as I knew I would be zapped for the rest of the day and my performance would suffer.

I'm senioring quite responsibly these days.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

I have my new card in at the printers.

(My name has been removed from both for anonymous blog purposes).


This is the picture.


This is the story poem that goes with it on the back of the card:


Faded Blue

Memories escaping
From tired windows,
The brooding chimney
And silent doors.

Music, feasting,
Laughing, storytelling
Now tumbling across
The sunny meadow

Seeking a new home.


(An abandoned house in Pouch Cove, NL, Canada.)

Please note the inside of the card is blank.


I hold the odd giveaway here in gratitude to so many of you.

If you would like me to snail mail you one of these cards, please let me know in comments or email me at wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom.

I will draw 5 names next week.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Words for Wednesday

This month's W4W are being hosted by River. Thank you River! You can find her here. Please visit and see what others are doing with the words and maybe join in yourself. It's a lot of fun cranking up the writerly wheels.

Here are the words:

1. derision*
2. mendacious*
3. plethora*
4. manuscripts*
5. unfamiliar*
6. gently*

and/or:

1. vaguely*
2. expression*
3. ornamental*
4. peppermint*
5. spinning*
6. narrowed*

And this is a picture to go with them:

He left the building and discovered his legs couldn't quite hold him up. The day had been so full of promise and expectation and now this crushing disappointment. So he sat down abruptly on the bench outside, throwing his portfolio underneath and fishing a used drink-cup out of the garbage can next to him so he would look like he was busy and not seething and shaking internally. He glanced upwards again at the fourth floor of the publishing house and found the peppermint coloured ornamental blind he had sat next to as the two editors sliced and diced his work.

Maybe the publisher was unfamiliar with his type of manuscript? Surely Gothic-Crime-Romance-Anime was a recognized style? But to be met by derision and a plethora of vaguely hostile narrow-eyed expressions? What was all that about?

His head was spinning. He was grateful to his uncle for setting up the interview with his college friend the publisher. But he hadn't anticipated such mendacious behaviour.

He sighed deeply and collected his portfolio from under the bench.

"Grant? Your name's Grant?" Her voice was low and gentle. Ah, the pretty receptionist from the lobby. He nodded.

She looked around her carefully and then sat down next to him.

"I was the first reader of your work cos I'm training to be an editor," she whispered in a rush, "And I believe you have terrific talent. These guys you met today? They steal a lot of ideas from young writers like you and pass them on to TV studios for production and compensation. But," and here she stopped and handed him a business card, "Here's the contact info for my sister, who's a literary agent. You call her and tell her I sent you. You need to be published and stop this thievery!"



Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

Two words I don't see anymore and I am sure the two generations in my life don't know their meanings.

I remember a counterpane on my grandparents' bed.

What a wonderful word.

coun·ter·pane
/ˈkoun(t)ərˌpān/
Learn to pronounce
nounDATED
a bedspread.
synonyms: bedspread, cover, coverlet, throw-over, blanket, afghan, quilt; More
++++++++

There was crockery in their simple homemade cupboard beside the open range.

crock·er·y
/ˈkräk(ə)rē/
Learn to pronounce
noun
plates, dishes, cups, and other similar items, especially ones made of earthenware or china.
synonyms: dishes, pots, crocks, plates, bowls, cups, saucers; More
+++++++++
My daughter's cat Mango. He has a full time job catching mice and shrews for his bosses, the local crows, who scream and yell at him if they are not happy with his overnight haul. He crashes out during the day, exhausted. The odd time, he talks back at them in a strange chirpy language they seem to understand and they shut up. We like to imagine what he says.

+++++++++
The last time I was in Paris I took this picture from the wee balcony of our tiny hotel. Some pictures bring back a flood of memories. This one does it for me.






Friday, August 02, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

I've never fit the mold, always chafed against the grain, railed against the "rules" of male and female behaviour, the so-called gender wars, that artificial societal construct which keeps us all firmly in pink and blue, dresses and lumberjack outfits, pearls and guns, advanced mathematics or home economics. (whatever do they call that now?). And effing well knowing our places in a civilized society. I am still looking for mine. Maybe it's because I'm not civilized in the traditional sense. No time for small talk, even less for braggadocios of whom many exist in my family of origin. Mainly of the male persuasion.

It was such a relief to be with one of my Sheilas last week as we share a lot of giggles over the behaviours of our family when we get together. The men never cease bragging loudly and long. If an emotion escapes in the room it is quickly stamped out. The men can swiftly round on us, the single spinstery women, with pitying glances. We can't afford the multiple cruises, or the wealthy clubs, or the endless travel hither and yon, hotels compared knowingly for the quality of spas and steaks. We live in poverty. But, and here's the codicil, it's all our own fault. We should have been nicer to the fellahs who would have taken proper care of us. We're not nice, you see. We don't tumble into that gender slot where the demure wee elderly attached "girls" peep out now and again to approve of the above mentioned luxurious life styles and vote as their fellahs do. "Sure he does all the thinking for us, it's grand." We are expected to admire the expensive dresses, the costly tans, the talking fridges, the marble floors.

I may sound bitter, I am far from it. Sheila and I laughed until we were sick. How we put in what we called "purgatory time" under the harsh glare of our families, she more than me as they live closer and drop in and judge her or broadcast of German river runs, Greek islands and Amazon tours. We exchanged tips on how to respond to the bragging when addressed directly. "Nice", "Interesting," were the favourites.

We also make excellent targets if we bring up the Family Dysfunction. We are immediately shouted down, told never to open those particularly doors even though most in the room could use massive therapy and unwittingly display it with endless loud hostilities towards the One Who Dared mention it.

It's such a comfort when you know you're not alone in a baffling universe not of your own making. Where everything is so superficial and Trump's not a bad fellah and climate change is for stupid arseholes who believe anything. If you believed in God you'd know that He wouldn't let anything bad happen to his creation. QED.

A "normal" male cousin, who's had the therapy and whose heart is open, sent me a long email during the week and enclosed a picture taken when I was around 7. Our two mothers (sisters) are at the back. And our families side by side in age as we were then. I had forgotten I wore corrective lenses for a few years.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Words For Wednesday

I am hosting for the month of July 2019.

This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Computer issues led her to bow out for a while. The meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, what have you. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog - please provide the link to your blog in the comments. I would really like it if as many people as possible joined in this fun meme, which includes cheering on the other participants. If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.

Huge thanks to everyone who joins in the fun and/or comments.

First of all, a clip from one of the greatest Irish fiddlers.



And then two lists of 4 words each.

Subway*
Question*
Library*
Bench*

Voice*
Organize*
Fishmonger*
Horizon*
-----------------------------------------------------
Before I read anyone's story I post my own:
-----------------------------------------------------
THE DUET

Her head was down, already full of the pressures of the day as she stepped off the subway train. He stopped her in her tracks, what time was it, seven in the morning. And there he was, no question, playing the fiddle on the platform, sitting on the fancy wooden bench with the dedication plaque to some long dead commuter, his worn leather hat turned upside down to catch the coins.

She rooted in her purse, stirred by the melody, the voices of her grandparents coming back in such a rush that tears sprang to her eyes. On a sunny day, when business died down in mid afternoon at the fishmonger’s in Ballydehob, Granda would sit outside on his chair tuning up his old violin, his eyes fixed on the distant horizon in the harbour in front of the shop. Playing for all the emigrants in Americay, he’s say, all the ones that were starved out of here in The Great Hunger.

The fiddler stopped and smiled and thanked her for the couple of toonies she threw in the hat. Can I ask you a question, she said. He nodded. I’m organizing my ancient music portfolio for publication, she said, I have quite a library of these old Irish melodies, can you tell me the name of what you just played, I don’t think I have it in the collection.

Lord Mayo’s Lament, he said, it’s been in my family for generations. Do you play?

Oh yes, she said, I’m in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, we’ve got five hours of rehearsals starting early this morning. She hesitated. But..... and she stopped again and gulped and looked at him as he started to play. Carbery’s Reel

Without thinking, she laid her violin case on the bench beside him and withdrew her beautiful violin.

Carbery’s Reel tingled in her fingers. And she tuned up and played alongside him as her grandfather had taught her, the wild music of West Cork coming alive in her very bones.




Monday, July 29, 2019

The Call


I listen for it.

It happens unexpectedly.

Come try me!

The tiny voice, enticing, pulling me towards the source, a source of what? I need to find out.

I ignore the old voices telling me all the downsides clicking like rosary beads, so many beads. Sorrowful mysteries. Click click. Lie down, be quiet. Not for you. Never for you.

I answer with why not, so many times I lose track.

It's the why nots that set me on fire, answering the call willingly when it comes.

Then I say yes, like Molly in Ulysses. Many yeses, cancelling all those nos, all those fears, all those hesitations. Yes, Yes and then Yes some more.

In spite of. Because of. YOLO coming late to me.

They say you're funny and amazing and one of a kind.

And I finally believe them.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

This pen and ink drawing hangs in my bedroom where I see it every morning.

In between stuff like a corporate tax return and rehearsals and the book launch of a friend and social gatherings and working on SOS, the Support Our Seniors mandate we are putting together (fact checking is a job unto itself), I am trying to find time to work on my new card. And design a new afghan (sofa blanket) for a niece who's getting married.

It's all quite wonderful, I feel confident in the stage work and we are having our first cast party tonight so we get to know each other a little better. I try and pay attention to the spoon theory which I wrote about before. When I do, I find my life balances out a lot better. Exceeding my spoons makes me cranky and exhausted and well, useless to myself and others.

I wish I'd arrived at the stage sooner where I didn't give a rat's what anyone thought of me. What causes these insecurities do you think?

I remember being enormously self conscious starting at about 13. I was way taller than my parents and the comments of extended family would crush me. "Where did you get her?" "What are you feeding her?" "She'll be patting your heads soon!" And on. Then the breasts. Men would leer at me, a child, on the streets, so much so I would bind my breasts as these men frightened me in ways I couldn't articulate. I remember being singled out at rehearsal for a school play when I was 14 (I had a great voice and good articulation) when the director shouted at me in front of everyone "Stop walking around as if you're ashamed of your very existence!" My father said to me when I was about 16, with a heartbroken look on his face: "Your brains have been wasted on a girl."

Those words stick and damage and hurt and shame forever. I felt terribly lost, ugly, too intelligent, too introverted, too out of place, too everything.

I hit the age of 19 and suddenly I found the solution to all these insecurities. Alcohol. With a few drinks I could charm the pants off anyone, sing at the drop of a hat, pack up the guitar and throw down the self-consciousness, hang with intellectual friends, not be ashamed of all my reading, my questioning, my stage-work and not feel out of place anywhere.

Alcohol saved my life for about 10 years.

Then it slowly began to turn on me and for the next ten years it owned me, body and soul.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Words for Wednesday

I am hosting for the month of July 2019.

This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Computer issues led her to bow out for a while. The meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, what have you. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog - please provide the link to your blog in the comments. I would really like it if as many people as possible joined in this fun meme, which includes cheering on the other participants. If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.

Huge thanks to everyone who joins in the fun and/or comments.

I've stuck to the picture and eight words prompt format. I used a word generator for the second list and I think the results are pretty challenging, but have at it. It should be fun!!

(1)
Mountain
Scrabble
Traffic Lights
Insane

(2)
Arrival
Lasso
Wonder
Gadget
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted Later - my story.
------------------------
It was good to leave the traffic and lights and noise of the city behind. How long had it been since he had seen the clear night sky? Light pollution was everywhere.

He had his life packed into one over-sized duffel-bag. It had taken him a week of brooding. Stella had been insane with rage, her eyes blazing, her mouth spewing language he hadn’t heard since his stint in the marines. She demanded he leave. She shouted his PTSD was his problem and not hers and he needed help, why wasn’t he getting help? She couldn’t live with him anymore. She had packed his bags and tossed them onto the driveway.

He knew if he opened his mouth she would be in danger as he could feel the burning in his fists. He loved her. He would not hurt her. He turned and left, picking up his belongings from the driveway, throwing them in the jeep, screeching off, pounding his angry fists off the wheel.

He checked into a Super 8 after 100 miles of savage driving and phoned his employer and said he needed time off as he wasn’t well and he hung up before Jim could respond. He lay on the bed for a prepaid week, getting up to use the bathroom and eating rubbish purchased in two bags from the 7-11 next door following his arrival.

On day seven, he remembered Scott, his buddy from Afghanistan. Scott and his cabin up in the mountain. They would play Scrabble every chance they got in the safety of their tent in the desert. He smiled for the first time in what seemed liked years. He needed to lasso the remnants of his former life. Scott had extended an open invitation last month when he called from a payphone in his local village up in the Appalachians.

“The wonder of my mountain,” he said, “Is all yours, buddy. Come and be still. But leave the gadgets and devices. You need to spend time with my pet fox, Maggie.”


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Downalong - Part 3 of 3

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here

Downalong

All were invited back to the house where Lorca had arranged for caterers to provide a light lunch and a river of booze. George stayed very much in the background, surprisingly unmoved by his new status of widower, wandering around the grounds with his two orphaned teenagers and his own stray, now a sullen young man riddled with facial hardware and tattoos.

The rest of us partied long and hard, the tide-pool of her friends sharing more deeply as the night descended and the garden lights came on. The talk always circling back to the monks. Speculation and conjecture running rampant across our conversation, dipping and swooping and catching and holding. She never. I wouldn't put it past her. Remember how, well, sexual, her solos were? Those old hymns given a new husky spin? The monks were lapping it up. Yes, they were. And to bury her. Brazen. In their very own cemetery. What kind of statement was that? I mean another fifty years and more monks would be interred. Poppy surrounded by over a hundred monks.

And that was when we all fell apart. George and Liam, together, coming in to Poppy's vast living room, stopping, thunderstruck, finding all of us heaped in various positions on the furniture and floor, loosened by countless glasses, howling in helpless laughter.

Poppy's final outrageous finger to the universe.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Downalong - Part 2 of 3

Downalong

See Part 1 here

She was comparatively young when diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually take her. Her smoking had always lent her voice a Nina Simone type flavour. Her vibratos alone were felt in one's very marrow. But of course the smoking got her and she was only sixty.

She lingered, as only Poppy could, for about six months from diagnosis to expiration and entertained from the temporary death bed she had set up in the conservatory overlooking the water. It was a fairly nerve wracking visit for her guests, as she continued to smoke with her oxygen tank and its paraphernalia surrounding her. One wondered, at such times, if she intended taking a goodly percentage of her friends with her in her final exit, similar to her first husband Seamus, dead from his massive cardiac infarction, crashing his car into a brand new Ford, killing the elderly couple out on their Sunday drive.

There had been other rumours of course. The resident nine monks in the little Franciscan Abbey up the Lisheen Road from her house had always been frequent visitors to Downalong. Never to the parties or barbecues or soirees, understandably. But always to private sessions, sometimes late at night. She would always joke when asked about this, assuring all in her smoky sinful voice that her brothers in Christ knew all about her misdeeds. She confessed long and frequently to them, she said, for they were sedated with good food and wine into forgiving all her transgressions. She would throw her head back and toss her black hair and laugh and laugh, winding it all up with one of those coughing fits that were just, well, exotic on Poppy but would appear consumptive on anyone else.

So when the death notice appeared in the Irish Examiner all of Cork was agog to see that Mrs. George Wentworth, Poppy Dowling, was to be requiemed, eulogized and buried at the Lisheen Franciscan Abbey. Neither saint nor sinner outside of the monks themselves had ever had a funeral inside the abbey before. The little church could only hold a hundred of her friends but the crowds numbered four times that along with the media. The Lisheen Road, thankfully not a thoroughfare, was crammed with cars and the church doors were left open for those who couldn't get into the church. The monks didn't speak at all, except as celebrants of the mass itself. She was eulogized by Liam O'Dowda, her erstwhile lover, another surprise, and by her eldest child Lorca O'Dowda, now a striking actress of forty, who both wept as they spoke of her.

The service was brief, the internment even briefer. It was noted that she was buried beside Brother Marcus who had died the previous year and was rumoured to be her primary confessor.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Downalong (Being a 3 part true story)

Daughter was in for most of the weekend and we jam-packed a lot of activity into it. We took a workshop together on Women's Work which was fantastic as we all told yarns of crafting and creating and then dyed fabrics and laundered over washtubs as we told stories. Loved it.

Then we underwear shopped. Then we had lamb curry. Then we took in a musical at a local theatre.

Over brunch today. we talked of old friends' lives, how they morph and change over the years from grade school to marriages, to careers and the rare few who break off out of convention, dancing to the beat of their own drums. I had caught up with an old friend both from school and from my theatre days way back at my 50th High School Reunion in 2011. And told Daughter about her outrageousness.

Poppy was an amazing ground breaking woman who spat at convention. We were all in awe, and admittedly quite envious of her forging her own path despite the condemnation of the society in which we all lived then.

I dug out the story today as I had written it immediately after the reunion. Names are changed, of course, to protect her.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Downalong

She named the house for her grandfather. He had left her the worst quarter of his land which he contemptuously called 'downalong' on the edge of the Blackrock woods right where the Lisheen stream pours into Cork harbour. She wasn't insulted, given that his other three grandchildren were treated much more favourably in the inheritance department and given the choicest three of the four acres. It was a useless piece of land, seeing that it was rocky and a traditional garden was an impossibility, even with the many truckloads of topsoil she had thrown on top of it over the years. It had all subsequently washed away.

So she made a rockery out of it. Smuggled in some alpine plants over the years. Managed to grow some heather and some controlled furze. All that yellow and purple would take your breath away on summer days. And then you would discover all the non-native species crouching among the stones. With the insurance policy from Seamus, her first husband who died at thirty nine of a heart attack while driving on the Glanmire Road, she put in a large slate patio and a fountain fed by the stream and a number of huge terra cotta pots that lent the property a carefree Italian air.

She was a total scandal both within her family of origin and its wider circles for no one could ever sort out all her children. It seems there was one out of a relationship she had with Liam O'Dowda the RTE actor who happened to be married to another at the time and stayed that way. Then there was the little dark one who came back with her from Africa in 1969 and after that there were the three by Seamus, though one had the looks of neither of them being red haired and green eyed, and then there were the couple by George Wentworth, the architect who was with her for the last fifteen years of her life.

There was a rumour that the eldest of her children, Lorca, gave birth also, but that was difficult to confirm as the baby was the same age as the youngest of her own and she reared them as twins. A right hodgepodge of a household they all sniffed. And George brought in a stray of his too, a sullen young boy by the name of Farquhar, known as Q.

When you met Poppy Dowling you felt you had made an instant friend. Everyone knew her by her birth name even though she traded as Penelope Wentworth when out and about in the more prestigious genteel social circles George ran in. But she acted and sang under Poppy Dowling and her old loud self was more in evidence at cast parties and when she solo'd in church. That was the big surprise to everyone. How Poppy, in spite of her bohemian life style still went to church every Sunday and used her great voice to belt out the old hymns.

It might seem like her friendships were light and easy but they were the most complicated part of Poppy. If you were sensitive it would just about kill you to be her friend. It would always go something like this: you'd fall in love with Poppy after meeting her. You'd be welcomed into her chaotic household that always ran with children and associates of George and scattered artists and free spirits. After a while you'd feel compelled to introduce an interesting friend of your own to Poppy and a few months later you'd find out that there were certain dinner parties where you were excluded and your friend included. From hurt to pissed off didn't quite cover the gamut of emotions. Until you discovered that other friends had been treated the exact same way.

Even her old pals, the ones who ran with her in childhood were treated in this cavalier and disloyal fashion. Then a year or two later, there'd be her voice on the phone inviting you to a barbecue and of course you'd cast the hurt aside and show up. For even to see and be seen at one of Poppy's events lent one an enviable cachet to be included at all, even when she would link arms with a friend she had met through you and parade him or her around, where once she had paraded you. Your turn might come again in a few years. Or she might get bored by you. You were always on such uneasy tenterhooks and you hated to admit but that they added to the excitement of running in her crowd.

See Part 2 here

See Part 3 here


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Words for Wednesday

I am hosting for the month of July 2019.

This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Computer issues led her to bow out for a while. The meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, what have you. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog - please provide the link to your blog in the comments. I would really like it if as many people as possible joined in this fun meme, which includes cheering on the other participants. If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.

Huge thanks to everyone who joins in the fun and/or comments.

This week's prompts are a photo followed by 2 lists of 4 words each:


(1)
School
Highway
Redhead
Crow

(2)
Yarn
Spider
Knife
Beer

Have fun!

Posted later - my story using the picture and all the words.
__________________________________________________________________________
Mrs. Martin, widow woman, had run the private school there. A faded redhead, she would have been in her late fifties then, Caroline reflected. The curriculum had been excellent with the emphasis on the arts. The tower had been a well stocked library, another room was an art studio, yet another was for needle crafts, the colourful yarns seemed to dance on the walls in the morning sun. All so long ago, now Caroline was the same age as Mrs. Martin was way back then. Nearly fifty years ago.

Mrs. Martin would have been horrified at the new bypass from the highway that ran across the house grounds, obliterating all that had been there, the trees where the morning crows would gather, the lavender bushes and the spring bulbs and those intricate pathways. And the fountain!

On impulse, Caroline stopped the car and pulled over. She knew she shouldn't but she grabbed a can of light beer from the six pack on the floor beside her and cracked it open and made a toast to long gone Mrs. Martin and her encouragement of her students. She let the warm liquid slide down her throat and feeling fortified, exited the car and went up to the house. Gosh, sadly, it looked fated for demolition.

She took a pocket knife from her purse and brushing a spider and its web off the door, twisted the blade into the old lock and popped the door open.

This is where it all began, her successful life as a sculptor. Perhaps there was some way of saving this building and making it an art gallery?

Mrs. Martin would be pleased.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

Thanks to a post from Elephant's Child on her Sunday Selections, I thought to post some of my knitting art on here. All items have left me as gifts to Ireland or Canada.

This shawl was sent to a dear artist friend in Ontario, it features her art work and her love of stars and 9 wee hearts for her grandchildren, etc. She wears it all the time. She says it always feels like a hug from me.

Close up of the above piece:

A dear friend in Ireland received this:

I covered this bench in Daughter's house.

And this is a blanket I designed and knitted for Grandgirl showing my house and our ferry rides and the lighthouses we love and coffee, we love our dark roast. And books and music. Of course.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

A darling neighbour from my old life, 92, is currently in hospice. She became world renowned when she disclosed her love of receiving Christmas cards several years ago and was featured in some newspapers and local television shows as a meme surged its way around the world as such things do. Thousands of cards would pour in to her from every corner of the world. To our tiny village in Newfoundland.

She lived in her own home until she was moved into hospice having stayed with her son for a week.

Her son put out word last week she was in hospice so the cards started pouring in to her, including mine. I always sent her one. Today, the load was over 500 and in a message from her son to me, he told me he had read them all to her including mine. And her smile was big and wide.

She was a life long smoker. Seriously. The big joke at hospice was that she finally quit at the age of 92 and was on the patch which made her laugh until she cried. That was the kind of woman she was.

I had her cut the ribbon when we had the grand opening of our community library a few years back. And she was my partner at cards in the community hall many, many times. She was extraordinarily sprightly and if I ever drove her anywhere she would leap out of my car and wait for me, laughing as I unfolded myself.

She lost a daughter to cancer about 3 years ago and it was the only time I saw her cry and cry. And I cried too as I held her.

She told me Ansa was the happiest dog she had ever seen in her life as she always had a smile on her face when she was with me. As if she knew I'd saved her. I told her it was a two way street as Ansa had saved me too. And she nodded. She knew.

She'd look for my light at night and I would look for hers and send a kiss across the meadows to her as she did to me even though we couldn't see each other due to the distance. A nightly ritual for years. Makes me teary now thinking of it.

Here is a picture of her collecting donations on the day we opened the community library. She always had a big smile and a great heart that included everyone. And who could resist donating to her? Look at that face!


Go to the stars, dear Theresa, you were adored by all who knew you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Words for Wednesday

I am hosting for the month of July 2019.

This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Computer issues led her to bow out for a while. The meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, what have you. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog - please provide the link to your blog in the comments. I would really like it if as many people as possible joined in this fun meme, which includes cheering on the other participants. If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.

Huge thanks to everyone who joins in the fun and/or comments.

This week's prompts are a photo followed by 2 lists of 4 words each:


(1)
Iceberg
Gas Pump
Cellar
Painting

(2)
Blackboard
Carrot
Doorbell
Cheese

Good luck!

Posted later - my story. All words used and the picture.

They managed to get a fire lit from the driftwood on the beach. A complicated process involving shaving some of the wood off the larger bits. Boy, but it was cold. Through the broken door, the small town outside looked forlorn and deserted.

But they were lucky in their survival, the iceberg had been small but the boat had taken a beating alright with a small hole in her side and water gushing in. It wasn’t time to make Titanic jokes, thought Cindy as she warmed her hands on the measly flames. They had barely tacked into the small harbour, an old settlement off the northern coast and all five of them jumping on to the shore. She looked out the broken window and saw their boat now crashing to pieces off the rocks.

It’s an old schoolhouse! said Kevin, there’s the remains of an old blackboard of the wall! And he brushed off the cobwebs from the flaking black painting.

Peter just then emerged from the cellar holding a few dusty jars of food and an old school bell, displaying his cheesy, fearless smile. They all rolled their eyes at him.

There are some really ancient carrots down there too, he grinned, if we get desperate. But the good news guys?

They all looked at him, in a mixture of shivering despair and overwhelming gratitude, yes they were alive.

He pumped his fist: There’s gas in our sat phone! Search and rescue is on the way!

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Sunday Smatterings


Remember those stories you heard about old women stashing money in odd places?

I've arrived there.

I don't know why I do it.

But view this as a tale from the trenches of old age.

It happens. Eventually.

I received cash for multiple reasons in the last few months and I don't know what to do with it so I hide it. There's quite a bit there (I think - I don't stroke and count it). It just lies there quietly. Waiting for death or dismemberment or fire and flood.

There's an odd comfort to it. I remember Granny digging deep in her underwear drawer and handing me a few notes back in the day with strict instructions to "spend it on myself mind you, not on the childer and not on the husband." I know, she fed me a lot of crazy notions about independence and not having too many children to tie me down. At 32 she faked breast cancer (it was a large painful cyst) to stop the nonsense of adding another twenty babies to her existing six children as her doctor said it would kill her to have more. She lied. But I digress.

Here she is with me on her lap as a baby ( I was her first grandchild and her favourite), my mother on the left of her and my darling Granda at the back. A proud O'Sullivan, his clan originally was from The Beara.


She was originally a Sliney, but word had it very much later on that her mother was the kept woman of the local lord of the manor and her children (or some of them) were in actual fact Abernethys. This bomb was dropped by an aunt at one of the family gatherings.

I need to get my DNA done.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Free Floating Fridays

It's great to write this when I have so much else screaming for my attention but here goes. A breath of relief in the midst of so many demands on my time today.

The rehearsals for the play are being scheduled, first one on Sunday night and I can't tell you how thrilling it all is to be looking forward to being back on the boards again. Grandgirl put a comment on my page on FB: "coolest grandma ever." High praise indeed but I think she's felt that way for a while, judging by her bragging to her friends when they compare grandparents. I think being open-minded and non-geezerish is the route to a successful grandparent-grandchild relationship. Plus seizing the opportunity to be a child again with a sense of wonder and joy. And avoiding phrases like "in my time" unless asked.

We are getting ready for press release event for the media for launching our Seniors Advocacy Group. Advocacy is a nice word. We are actually demanding rectification to the injustices and forcing accountability from these wealthy out of touch politicians. Such events are all about the "stories" and that's the part we are working on.

Obituaries: I've seen so many "sweet" ones here when it comes to women. How giving and uncomplaining and loving everyone they ever met and devoting themselves to family and baking. I'd rather die outrageous, unconventional and opinionated, thanks. I often think it's a matter of exposure to more choices as children, more opportunities to explore all aspects of ourselves rather than being confined to a narrow box of service to families. But if they're happy (are they, truly?) so be it. I know I chafe against "normal."

Now that I have physical challenges I find one of the hidden mental "jobs" I perform is accessing every place new for accessibility from the parking to the walking once I get there. I am astonished at how many places are off limits due to distance. Something one never notices when galloping around in optimum health.

I bought a lovely handmade cane when I was away recently, I think it adds a bit of class to the meandering me. I don't use it all the time but there are occasions when I've used up all my spoons in the previous 2 days and need it.






Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Words for Wednesday


I am hosting for the month of July 2019.

This meme was started by Delores a long time ago. Computer issues led her to bow out for a while. The meme was too much fun to let go, and now Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast.

Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating them with ignore... We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. I would really like it if as many people as possible joined into this fun meme, which includes cheering on the other participants. If you are posting on your own blog - let me know so that I, and other participants, can come along and applaud.

The prompts are here this month. Huge thanks to everyone who joins in the fun and/or comments.

This week's prompts are 2 lists of 4 words each:

Paddock
Bridge
Cane
Moss

and/or

Lilac
Espresso
Fountain Pen
Peroxide

You can use some or all of them.

Thanks and good luck and above all have fun!

Added later~

This is mine.


She hated it but Mother still demanded she dress in the old lady colour of lilac and purple and mauve. Fighting with Mother was distressing as she invariably cried. So she put up with wearing these awful colours. The doctor (and how lovely was he?) had said not to challenge her, just to roll with her desires, the dementia would soon take a further toll.

Twice a week she'd leave the horses after their morning gallop in the paddock, drain the full espresso pot of coffee in the kitchen to fortify herself for the long journey to Mossville where mother resided in her lilac room at the expensive Sunset Lodge. The home for those with dementia was luxurious. Mother was fixated on the colour and had been for some years. In the early days she sometimes forgot to wear it in her rush to make the long trek from the country and then Mother would refuse to see her or cry incessantly. With her Mont Blanc fountain pen she left a note for Paddy the horse trainer as she normally did when she left on errands and then took her cane from the hallstand as the dampness in the air was boring into her arthritic knee and climbed into her car, her mauve silk dress cool on her body.

She drove over the rustic bridge by the road, glancing at herself in the rear view mirror. H'm, not a great shade of blonde there, girlie, she told herself, the peroxide treatment was a little too harsh yesterday. She'd have to speak firmly to Maxine at the salon at her next weekly root touch-up. She sincerely hoped Doctor Cameron thought her hair was naturally blonde and wouldn't look too closely at it today.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sunday Smatterings #3

Much on the go. we are finalizing our Support our Seniors press release, it took an inordinate amount of time. Nothing is easy truly and I find that as I age things just take a long time. Elder word searching, yanno? "Disparity" eluded me for days. Economic disparity. Simple but just that ephemerally out of reach thing. dis, diswhat, dismay-no, disregard-no, disrespect-no. And there it pops today.

And then I was invited to perform in the Abortion Monologues. I'll be closing the show as the old woman. It is a powerful script, moving and unapologetic. I am so looking forward to this in August. 3 days before my 76th birthday. A truly fabulous way to celebrate. I love stage work so much and this seems so fitting.

I am inspired by this friend of mine who talks of old women and aging and freedom so succinctly. I really believe I've never been braver and more me than ever before in my life. And as a result I find I genuinely like myself. (Apart from loving myself, an entirely different thing.)

Here she is - the wonderful Mary Walsh.



We have a Canada Day BBQ in our building tomorrow. Some music and socialization. But quiet and mannerly as we Canadians are. None of this impassioned nonsense for us. We're kind of secretive about our pride.

I wish you all, wherever you are, a Happy Canada Day. We made #1 again. (Sorry-not sorry).

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Slivers

Slivers of the Past. Blue Horizon Prints.

I stalk my estranged daughter on line. I can no longer call her missing. I found her about a year ago on Instagram and I have learned from a past idiocy of mine about 7 years ago when I followed her on Twitter. Big mistake. She blocked me and went underground again. And I had this underlying sick feeling of anxiety about her for 5 years.

I am overjoyed. Knowing she's alive as she was a suicide risk.

I know these life slivers about her:

She still lives in the same city in the UK.

She has a cat, and, I think, a partner.

She owns at least 2 pairs of shoes as she likes to take pictures of her shoes in odd areas.

Her beloved dog died.

She loves graffiti.

She eats Indian food.

Some of her more careful studies of scenes are quite wonderful. I see the world through her eyes and marvel at our similarities.

She highlights signs like "Bollox to Brexit. Bollox to Trump." That's my girl.

She's still a strong feminist and catches misogyny in plain sight for her camera.

Life can be about slivers whether joy or sadness.

Today I celebrate those slivers. They can pierce. But they are precious.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Words for Wednesday 6/26/19

This meme was started a while back and this month it is hosted by Elephant's Child. Join in the fun if you wish and check out her blog to see what others are doing with the prompts.

This week's prompts are, first two phrases:

Bitten off more than he can chew (taken on a task which is too much for him)*
Diamond in the rough (a person who is generally of good character but lacks manners, education, or style)*

And/or

Welcome*
Trigger*
Moving*
Taller*
Essential*
Expecting*


Some people should come with a trigger warning. Seriously.

She'd been hired by the HR department to assist me in my increased responsibility due to the expansion of the corporation.

An essential component for the job would be the expectation of expertise in software management and public relations.

She was taller than normal, a whopping six feet, so she towered over me. It is challenging to instruct someone when you are looking up at them all the time. Add to that an unwelcoming demeanour in her slouched shoulders and nail chewing.

When I outlined more of the details of the job demands, she kept moving from foot to foot adding to my annoyance.

"You are familiar with power point and spread sheets?" I finally asked her.

Oh boy, I think she'd bitten off more than she could chew judging by the blank stare I received from above.

"Well, no, um, what are they?" she said, bored, disinterested.

"I think I might have to call HR," I replied, frosty, frustrated. She was a diamond in the rough, for sure, and not one I wished to polish.

"Oh, I wouldn't do that," and she yawned right in my face, "Mom is the vice-president of marketing, Cheryl Manning, recently married to the president?"




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.
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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:
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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.
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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.
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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.