Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

We had a very successful meeting with our MHA (Member of our provincial parliament and also a minister) on Thursday. We addressed all topics that were of concern, the poverty class of seniors, particularly women, the lack of adequate medical care, free transit, etc. He was very receptive and will present all our concerns to cabinet on November 4th. He is highly personable and not a puppet speaker and seemed to have researched many of our issues prior to the meeting. Onward the battle. Here is shot from our meeting:

I've had a really marvellous health day today, they are so rare I write about them when they happen. I had to do a lot of walking (sans cane) and truly as I sit down to write this just before midnight on Saturday, my body feels so good I want to take it out and party somewhere, but I can't. I had a successful day in so many ways and found I was enraptured with the fog outside the window first thing, look at the blaze of fall colour breaking through the grey!

I had one of those days where I read for a while, I knitted for a while, a friend dropped in for a while, and I chatted with an old activist in the laundry room. She is old enough to be my mother. Seriously. She is 94 and wields a large stick and her political analysis is right on the money. She was at our meeting with the minister. She said her life was marvelous as she had no children to clutter up her brain. I had to laugh. I had an aunt so very like her.

I decided to go to my doctor and get a certificate to enable me to get an emotional support animal. I have missed my furry companion, Ansa, so much - I know it's been three years but some losses do not fade. That is horsewallop. As there are no pets allowed in this building apparently an ESA supersedes these regulations and I can toddle everywhere with him/her. So wish me luck on this. We would be good for each other. Test case coming up.

I'm kinda thinking (s)he would look like this (My niece's treasure)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Words for Wednesday

The prompts are hosted by Elepant's Child this week. Go visit her blog and see what others are doing with these prompts and maybe have at it yourselves.

This week's prompts, use one or all.
You can't judge a book by its cover;


The squeaky wheel gets the grease

For Sale.
Wedding Dress.
Never worn.

She repeated the ad she placed on Kijiji to herself and snapped a quick picture. A bargain, but she needed the money now.

If she'd heard them once, she'd heard them a thousand times, all those tired old cliches.

Book and cover, more recently used by granny who was bolstered by Isabel's mother, granny's daughter.

But it made her all the more adamant in pursuing Stan, the glamourous and handsome new sales guy at the car dealership where she worked. He charmed the pants off her, literally and figuratively, and she totally understood how he needed to bolster his sales to be kept on so she gladly assisted him, turning over some of her nearly finalized deals to him. Especially that truck deal she had worked so hard on with that new trucking company, a fleet of six trucks.

But she and Stan were getting married after all and it was all one pot anyway, he'd said. A huge commission cheque but he'd said he's use it for the down payment on that little cottage on the water she'd had her eye on. And then there was the discounted sports car he'd wheedled out of her. For his "image" he said. He'd pay her back. He made her head spin did Stan with the promises and the honeymoon he'd planned in Italy. She'd never had this kind of attention from any man. Granny and mum didn't like him and it was so evident it made her heart hurt when Stan came over the one time for dinner to meet them and then said he felt so unwelcome he didn't want to come back.

At the table, he wouldn't stop bragging about his sales even though basically they were hers. Saying to them stuff like "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" "all's fair in love and war" "it ain't over till it's over" as if he won a battle every day. She saw it all so clearly now and her cheeks flushed red as she looked at the ad, remembering she'd invited the whole dealership to the wedding, she'd paid deposits on the hotel and the catering and spent so much on the dress, it was so lovely.

It was her boss, the owner, who told her Stan had scarpered two days before the wedding. Left his apartment with 3 months rent overdue, no forwarding address, and apparently a couple of wives were suing him for child support.

Her boss looked so sad as he shook his head at her, offering up another cliche that made her scream internally:

"There's a fool born every minute."

Monday, October 14, 2019


It is also the season of Samhain in Irish Culture when the walls between the living and the dead are at their thinnest. I have been to some fine Samhain celebrations in my time. Some quite extraordinary and difficult to write about.

I am thankful for so much:

My family, both blood and chosen.
My wee apartment and its magnificent views.
My brain.
My mobility, limited though it can be.
My sight, unchanged in over 8 years.
My writing.
My photography.
My knitting.
My sobriety and all that it gives me in love and and support.
My activism.
My beach and my ocean.
My car.
My book club.
My beautiful city.
My blog mates.
My music.

The above is not in any particular order.

So next time I whine, be sure to remind me of this list.

So a splendid Samhain to all and a happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Downside of Travelling

So yes, there was so much lovely in my experimental trip. I say experimental because it really was. A testing of the waters for a semi-planned far longer trip involving around 12 hours of travelling each way.

I hesitate to post the negative as many of us bloggers do, but I feel we do a disservice to the aging community by doing so. Life is not a constant bed of roses and we take the chaff with the wheat. And sometimes the chaff can last for days.

I find my tolerance for discomfort has faded with the ages. I would gladly sofa hop and hard floor sleep in the carefree full-body bounce back days. But no more.

Travel is stressful enough.

I can't praise West Jet, my airline, enough, their assistance was timely and helpful and courteous. Wheelchair from the check=in counter to the ramp, priority seating and assistance to leave the aircraft spot on. I felt very safe and cared for.

The challenges of sharing quarters with an elderly other, though, were many.

We stayed in her place for 3 days, moved to the Gaelic College for 3 days and then came back to her place for 3 days.

It put me in mind of George Carlin's great piece on "stuff" - you travel with bags of stuff for a stay someplace and then once you're settled in there you have to move out for a weekend condensing your condensed travel stuff to a micro-level bag of stuff.

(1)Try as I might we couldn't co-ordinate our meal times. She's on 2 spontaneous meals a day supplemented by beers and gins.
I'm on 3 regular meals (diabetic)and no alcohol and was forced to endure enormous meal-gaps (trapped in a car)and I felt woozy and ill at ease with massive discomfort.I realized my assertion of these requirements was irritating and distancing.

(2)My room was the size of a closet (murphy bed) with every surface cluttered, no closet space, not even a hanger, so I lived out of my suitcase of wrinkled, un-aired clothes with nowhere to put medications, accessories, toothpaste, etc., and no bedside light to read, no wee table for my laptop which languished in my luggage, neglected. Added to that was a rug upon a rug which heaved itself into high ridges, tripping me often in the middle of the night and unadjustable blinds which hung at half mast throwing unwanted light into the tiny room.

(3)I couldn't use bathtubs or showers in both places as there were no safety bars. I tried the deep tub in her place but gave up as I knew it would take every blasted bit of ingenuity to climb out of it as it was so high and my foot slipped alarmingly on the non-slip bottom as I gripped the glass door to climb high and test it. Sponge baths were de rigeur. I hate prolonged sponge baths.

(4)She was very forgetful of conversations and maybe that is the downside of two elders sharing quarters, who's the one with the memory loss? Maybe it was me? Who knows?

(5)I hated not having my own transportation so I could get supplies. I hated not having my own quiet time. I hated hopping along after her with my walking stick and scoping the enormous distances on the college campus for benches to rest on between buildings.

And maybe all of this is about adaptation. I did this well when younger. But now? I find it stressful and miserable and if I could have flown back earlier, I would have.

I admire elders who go with the flow, roll with the punches.

I am not one of them. More like a grumpy geezer. I embrace it.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Back Amongst My Blogpeeps - Part 1

It seems like I was gone forever. One of those vacations where one can't say:"Well, time really flew!"

So many positives:

The Writers Festival which was amazing. Being around this type of environment inspires me a lot. To write no matter what. To carve out writing time without apology.

The fall colours were amazing to behold, I keep forgetting how glorious fall can be even though it's my favourite season.

My friend-host is very generous and treated me royally to the wonderful sea-cuisine of Cape Breton - this is lunch, overloaded porridge bread lobster roll. I salivate remembering it.

We had dinner at Glenora Distillery on my last night, an exquisite place, carved out of the hillside and entered via by a long driveway.

Here is the sticky toffee dessert we were served:

On another night we heard The Blue Engine String Quartet and I was blown away. They focused on Haydn (I am a huge fan of all things Haydn!)and had that wonderful skill and warmth and generosity that only a long surviving group can achieve.

At another concert (3 amplified guitars, no percussion: not a huge fan of such noise) I was totally and surreptiously amused by this artist in a corner of the performance space, oblivious to the sounds around him.

More soon - now I go to feed on your blogs........

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Taking a break

I'll be gone for about 10 days. Full report when I get back. I'm looking forward to this escape to another island.

I'm mad for a choir. Did a lot of choir work in my time and would love to do more if my singing voice hadn't disappeared on me after an infection a few years back.

Enjoy this Bob Dylan favourite of mine. I love his songs but damn, I don't care for his voice very much. This choir does a fine job.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Smatterings

These "5 Birds on a Wire" right outside my bedroom window cheered me up no end this morning. I hope you can see them. You might need to enbiggen. And yes, fall is in the air.

I updated my 2019 books read and rated list. Only 49 so far but most have been terrific reads. 2019 Books Read is on the sidebar. Links to all books read and blog listed is here.

And finally, I do love a dance video that is multi-cultural AND age-friendly like this one from the Jiggy group out of Ireland. Swing any kind of move to it.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Tropes of Old Age

I have no time for all the tired old sayings, some offered by those far, far younger with cheerful grins plastered on unlined faces, as if they know a thing about it:

"You're 75 years young today!"

No I'm not. I'm 75 and my body knows every inch of it. And I love the word "old". Yes, I do. I french kiss it to the ground most days. Because I've made it to "old". I claim and embrace my status. Old. That's me. Old.

"You're only as young as you feel!"

Well, my body feels punk some days, my "feelings" have nothing to do with it. I consider it a major achievement to climb out of my bed after a night of severe leg cramps and an unremitting bladder. I truly "feel" that applause would be mighty encouraging to help me to continue with my slow day.

"She died after losing her battle with cancer."

That's the heartbreaking one. The obits love the word battle. As if she just wasn't strong/courageous/armed enough to battle properly like a good wee soldier. And win. We all lose. Death claims us all eventually. Why not succumb when things get too rough? Die with dignity at a party of your own making, saying farewell, posting one last blog entry like some blogmates have done? This battling thing (while severely ill) has got to go. A terrible image.

"Old age ain't no place for sissies."

Well, it is. Old age is for everybody if we are lucky enough to live that long. Sissy or not. Wimp or not. Old age is not a monolith. Some are sissies at sixty. Some are brave wee mountain climbers at 90. I can't emulate you, you can't emulate me. Our journeys and personalities are completely different. I can climb on stage and bring the house down while you would run hobble for the hills at the terrorizing thought of it.

There is no handbook. We do the best we can. I embrace it, others Botox their way through, giggling they don't look/feel/behave their age. Whatever rings your chimes, whatever floats your boat.

I can be a sissy now and again. Like most of us. Throw a midnight blocked toilet at me and watch me mewl like a baby. A flat tire? Where's my minder? An unusual lump? Ring the undertaker. Stat.

We are complex in our old age. And that's the fun of it. Fears, laughter, groaning sessions with our contemporaries, bright smiles in place for the young 'uns, saying yes to new opportunities, that's the one piece of advice I'd pass on.

Say yes. If you can. And you're not having a sissy day.

And please don't trope yourself.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lean on Me

I am so grateful for the women in my life both related by blood and chosen family. I do have some male friends but I dunno, the females? Understandably, they understand me and I understand them. My male relatives? Disappointing should cover that.

Daughter offered marvelous advice on Saturday over dinner about SOS. I asked her what I should do considering the burnout and the lack of volunteers (she's a volunteer, I should hasten to add, as is Grandgirl who designed our logo). She advised that I should ramp it down many notches due to the lack of skill-sets in volunteers (not web or technology or marketing literate unfortunately) and outlined a simple plan going forward which will not bleed our senses and our bodies out. I felt renewed after being with her.

Meanwhile, my partner in anarchy had burned out over the weekend with a particularly insulting response to a request for help she had posted. It tipped her over the edge. So I am meeting with her today to revive her spirits as Daughter has revived mine and plan a completely different (and simpler) course of action involving just the two of us. If you review one of my posts on SOS you will see an example of the kind of unhelpful and completely dispiriting comments we have been receiving. I've left one undeleted. Many of these, as you can guess, are anonymous. As key board warriors tend to be.

But I so appreciate the support of the rest of you, my dear blogmates, who understand how this whole venture exploded under the gnarly feet of two disabled elderly women with limited resources and energy. Thank you for your words of encouragement and support.

Meanwhile I leave you on a giggle:

I was folding laundry yesterday and was putting away this T-shirt when I realized this was the T-shirt I was wearing when two election campaigners came to the door and started to back away from me just about immediately. I thought it was my succinct pronouncements on senior poverty but no. On second thoughts? It was what I unconsciously wore. Excellent attire for voting season, ya think?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Two of Me

I awoke in the midst of a frequent dream of mine. In these dreams I am always running, joyfully, arms wide open, sometimes leaping over a low wall, jumping over mossy hillocks and wooden fences. When I awake, sometimes there are tears on my cheeks, sometimes a smile on my face. I never had those dreams when I was actually running every day.

In my morning quiet time I wrote about this.

The Two of Me

In dreams I run and there's no effort to it.
In daylight I forget how it was to not think
About my body as I raced through my old life.

There are two of me now.
The remembered me.
And the one who owns her.
But can do nothing with her.

I know many of you can relate.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Brick Wall

I've run into one. I was cranky, exhausted, angry, over-reacting, my legs were like concrete and I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to make it out of Sobey's yesterday with my wee bits of groceries. That grinding halt thing.

Someone beat up, old and tired, and with a bellyful of complaints and waving a metaphorical stick at anyone who spoke to her, had taken up residence in this pathetic, ancient body. My doc has doubled up my blood pressure medication and these might be reactions - fuzz brain, concrete legs, exhaustion.

And then today I read the post in As Time Goes By and I just about wept in relief. I am not alone with these feelings and failings. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak - what an old but true trope.

Not alone. When I was. Because these issues can't be understood by anyone under the age of 60, right? Not on any gut level.

I do schedule my old age as Ronni suggests, but this whole activism thing is taking a toll I can't even begin to describe. The armchair critics are numerous. Friends I thought would support it haven't in any way, shape or form. On an email, one guy attacked my SOS partner out of the blue today. My partner and I had looked at our to-do list yesterday and our notoriety brought strangers to our table in the cafe, all verbally back-patting us. No offers of help even though we asked for it. Trouble is most seniors offering assistance are web and spreadsheet and marketing illiterate. Exactly the skill sets we need. At the end we decided to take today off and re-assess and regroup.

So I was squeezing my social life in around the edges. My writing, my knitting, my enjoyment and even my paid work which I desperately need were shoved into any chinks left.

How many years do I have left?

Not enough.

I can't do it all. I can't do everything.

What do I choose?

What would you do?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

And so on

I was away on a knitting retreat. It was just what I needed - to get away from it all to another island on a ferry, away being the operative word. And stay at the Grand Wabana Inn.

17 other knitters and me. A wonderful inn. The best food in the world. But you know, the "best food" just involves me not cooking and me not cleaning up and me not serving.

I ate a lot of fish.

Here is what the chef produced for dinner (fresh caught cod) one night:

And here are
many of us knitting before the fire in anticipation of breakfast.

And these wonderful cookies on our breakfast plates on the first morning.

And I am back into the fray of SOS again. We (SOS) were invited to the NL Seniors Resource AGM yesterday. Loads of pols there (NLSR is funded by the provincial government plus many private donors both corporate and individual). We sat conspicuously in the front row as the reports, self congratulations, flowers and plaudits flowed all around us for those helping seniors by referring them to other agencies to call when they called in to NLSR. A referral service basically.

Interestingly, and heartbreakingly, the word povertywas not used ONCE throughout the 2 hours we were there. Not once. The tea and coffee and sammies and pastries were lovely though. I wish some starving seniors could have been there to partake.

We have a load of work to get done, obviously.

But meanwhile, I cheer myself up with these inspirations. I'm knitting myself a cowl. And the other beauties are for socks. and I've got an editing job in to pay the rent and another tiny bit of legacy coming in from a beloved aunt.

Monday, September 09, 2019

A Whinge and a Whine

Us elders don't write enough about the exhaustion we feel. We put on brave and stoic faces. Well some of us do. Tasks seem to stretch out into infinity. Decisions are made about dishes vs bed-making. How many stops can I make today, library, bank, pharmacy, shop, coffee meet-up. Mentally I know I can only manage 2. Where's my wife, shouldn't she be doing the rest of the stops? Oh, I forget. It's only me. Note I didn't say husband. He'd be busy getting the oil changed (I have to do that too) but he might make dinner and shop the insurance rates. Oh yeah, I do all that too. I know there are exceptions to these hide bound female/male categories, not that I see any around me. Solo maintenance takes a hell of a lot of energy.

In case you're thinking this is all a whinge and whine, well, you'd be right.

Overwhelm is a weird condition. I don't want it. It seems to be a choice. Either ignore the list (and watch your world fold in on itself) or succumb and start ticking those boxes.

We did an hour this morning on the CBC call-in show. Talking, talking, listening, engaging, being nice. Mein Gott, it is exhausting. We were geared up then about the next communique going out to media across Canada but when we left the studio, didn't we sort of collapse in exhaustion. Unexpected then but truly no surprise when you think about it. Having headphones and engaging with listeners is tiring. Very tiring.

Though we looked right perky as we did it. Afterwards, I fell on my bed fully clothed and slept like a drunk after a bender.

When I awoke, I quickly got enraged at someone's assumption I was pushing close to 80 (it is 4 years away STILL) and that basically (she said) it was a huge stretch for me to even be web literate and then commented "God love her" as if I was some pitiable basket case drooling over my keyboard trying to find the enter button.

Easily irritated by assumptions, that's me. Old habits die hard. I don't suffer fools gladly and never have. But she did me a favour. Rage imbues me with unhealthy energy.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Dorian in its last gasps.

I thought you might like these pics on Sunday Smatterings today. They were both taken by Cliff Doran who is a lightkeeper around these parts and I'm telling you, his pics are something to behold. Wild life, sunsets, his lighthouse, you name it. Stunning.

The first one is in St. Shott's, you get the sense of the power of the Atlantic, whipped up by Dorian. I do wonder about all those shipwrecks underneath those churning combers not allowed to rest yet again.

The second one is where Daughter lives. She's high on a hill overlooking the sea there and we had spoken today about the fierceness of the ocean at her feet and those huge waves. This spot is where all the humpbacks come in - they left only a few weeks ago and she spotted a minke only a couple of days ago.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Catch up.

Having a wonderful time with friends from Ontario who are staying in St. John's for a few days.

We were out at Cape Spear yesterday - the furthest easterly point in North America - and they took the shot below among many others. They are entranced on this, their first trip to the Edge of the Atlantic, and are already planning another one!

A whale bounced up to greet them. And they were in awe.

The weather is magnificent but the big but is Dorian heading our way with some high winds. Nothing like the Bahamas and - ahem - Alabama, but still slightly worrisome.

In other news:

I see the people of Ireland held a magnificent parade for Mike Pence's visit to his great-grandmother's home.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Waaaay Bigger

We never predicted anything like this. Seriously. The whole movement has taken on a life of its own and we are planning for a type of town hall meeting in a few weeks where politicians will be invited to answer questions from seniors.

We have a federal election coming up so this is all very timely.

I have been exhausted from the interviews and talks and planning and responding and dealing with those who want instant answers and telling me how to run the group in no uncertain terms and quite aggressively.

I am learning so much and was let down quite badly by one interviewer (radio) who distorted my words. He wanted me back to the studio with a few more seniors to interview but I am x-naying that due to lack of trust. Lesson learned: Tape my own audio along with theirs.

I've booked beach time with family tomorrow, it would be good to see little ones with buckets and spades and sand-castles and I will knit, as I always do, on the beach. And we will picnic.

I ordered a pink cardigan on line, on sale. Do you ever do spontaneous shopping like that? It's effortless and immediate. i thought the cardie looked lonely and realized before I pushed buttons that I didn't have a pinkish scarf (I'm a mad one for the scarves, alright) out of this enormous collection of scarves I have, so ordered another sale item: a black floaty scarf with large pink flowers. Then those charcoal grey socks looked comfy and then there was a grey bra, I'v never owned a grey bra and it matched those socks - I know irrelevant so there you have it. The basket. On its way.

I've never been a pink girlie person, never, so this should be interesting. I loved the lines of the cardie and every other colour had sold out. (Ha!). But I remember, of all things, my sister=in-law's mother wearing a lovely pink cardie over a grey turtleneck with matching grey linen pants and I thought she looked stunning.

This is inside the mind of a person completely bowled over by all that is happening around her who wants to run for the hills. But grips her computer and credit card tightly and clicks on silly things.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Notoriety and Backlash of Unwashed Dishes

So the media coverage on this has been phenomenal and we will be featured in a TV programme airing tonight.

We are prepping for the official launch tomorrow and more elders in poverty are coming forward with their stories.

So I'm keeping you all in the loop, my dear blog buds.

I completely forgot to take pics of the camera crew and set up of the 2 hour interview yesterday. Swept up in all the attention and trying to remember how to speak my words. This has been bigger than we ever hoped to achieve.

Today we rehearse and gather our props (more on that later) and gear and handouts and organize the presentation in both a humourous and heart plucking way. Difficult. More on that when it is behind us.

But meanwhile, here are the two piles of dishes that were bathed in my loving suds this morning.

So very grounding.

So very real.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Oh Me Nerves!

We launch our Support our Seniors activist group this Thursday. The preparation has been exhausting and exhilarating all at once. I curse my mobility issues at times. I want to be bouncing around as in the olden days, plastering up posters and engaging citizens on this crisis of seniors (mainly women) living below the poverty line.

I launched the Facebook page. I prepared posters both large and small. My partner in crime secured all the links for our data, oh the statistical data. Binders and binders of it. She did the running around to community centres and grocery stores slapping them up. A younger media savvy friend gave me every single media contact she had in her precious index.

Grandgirl designed the logo. Isn't it smashing? Sinking below the wave of poverty with a lifebelt hovering above out of reach.

Do you think T-shirts are called for?

Some of the seniors in my building are energized with this, like they've come to life outside of the cliquey, gossipy circles in the gardens and community rooms. This can only be a good thing. We've deliberately held some of our meetings, including a rehearsal, in the building and I can see them lurking and listening from the balcony. (We truly have a gorgeous building and gardens, I must take photos)

So fingers crossed, I won't be webbing much in the next few days apart from wrangling new members for our FB group, but I'll get around to reading y'all soon.

I found this meme on the web and it speaks to my heart.

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.