Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Words for Wednesday

 


    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, and mixing and matching is encouraged. 
     
    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.
     
    This month I have provided the prompts.   Special thanks to Elephant's Child for hosting me for the first two weeks of May prompts.

    This week's prompts  are:

    Battery
    Remain
    Age
    Bite
    Produce
    Workshop
    Forest
    Critic

    Use some or all of the prompts.

    Good luck all!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Meandering through the words

I plan on posting some excerpts of writing here this month, just to peak your curiosity as to what is going on with this memoir of six months of my life. I have workshopped some parts of it and got excellent feedback.

On other news, Daughter is coming in to town today and we will have brunch at our local. I had brunch there yesterday with a friend but I never tire of brunches. It always feel so civilized, as if all the time in the world is available to chat and have fill-ups on coffee and tea. So yesterday was three hours. I anticipate a lengthy one today too, though we may wander up the road and sit by the ocean for a while as it's so gorgeous a day out here.

I don't want to jinx my health status but right now this minute - though not perfect - I am feeling way better. I had to deal with an excess of potassium in my blood in the past couple of months which entailed a harsh treatment and the symptoms were frightening. Internal organs misbehaving. I honestly feel I have dodged many bullets including The Plague which is still raging through here as it is in most parts of the world. Though there is no longer statistical reportage and our Minister for Health tells us to toss the masks. I'm not. So I'm still practicing the utmost caution and only seeing those of like mind. The seniors out here are dying every week which is a caution in itself. The Culling, I call it. It enrages me.

So we were the first province in Canada to welcome Ukrainian refugees and it's so heartening to read of the kindness shown them and so many have been employed already. Their pets were included on the flight from Poland, cats and dogs. I leaked many tears.



Cam and Chuck arrived here to bless their peasants and steal some gifts and flowers. All the kowing and towing and bowing to this pair of welfare recipients frosts my you know what.



So there's your update from this outpost colony of the once "the sun never sets on us" British Empire. 




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Words for Wednesday

 


    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, and mixing and matching is encouraged. 
     
    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.
     
    This month I am going to provide the prompts.   Special thanks to Elephant's Child for hosting me for the first two weeks' of May prompts.

    This week's prompts  are:

    withdrawal

    pollution

    embrace

    prosecution

    year

    represent

    cottage

    overwhelm

    and a picture:

    Use some or all of the prompts and good luck!


Friday, May 13, 2022

Head Above the Parapet

It's been an interesting break from the writing point of view. I was overwhelmed at times with both prepping for the writing workshops I was holding and the one-on- one sessions with the various writers. I set a deadline of May 31st for all submissions to be in my hands for a final edit, with a publication date of sometime in July in the midst of Come Home Year Newfoundland when flocks of our exiles will be returning in great numbers from around the world. The title will be the unimaginative "Write Around the Bay, Volume 2." An anthology of stories old and new with some poetry interspersed with both fiction and non-fiction pieces.

On my own writing front, I have tackled my memoir of one of the most significant six months of my life. Certainly a hugely important time for me and one of deep connection. It is just about finished apart from polishing but I'm not happy with it as my writing failed me more than a few times in recording a transforming relationship. My notes from the era are excellent, but it's in the emotional I run up against blocks - more to do with skill than anything else. I have put it aside for now and will return.

During this process I learned how to format a novel/book/anthology which took a good five hours but well worth it, I think. I am very pleased to learn a new skill at my age (78) and I believe it's good for exercising the brain.

I'm going to visit y'all very soon and get caught up on the various doings of my blogmates.

I leave you for now with a photo of one of my happy places. Middle Cove Beach which soothes my soul and is within five minutes of where I live.




Monday, February 28, 2022

Off line

 Well, for a while at least. My writing life is catching up with me both my own and my workshop's. And there's only so much energy in this elder's life and how I use it is becoming more and more relevant. What do I want to do for the wee remainder of my one wild and precious life?

But rest assured, I'll be back, with my own writing and of course the reading of yours. Not sure when. Stay safe and out of trouble and mind how you go. 


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Climbing out of the Pit


 

I'm sharing suggestions that have helped me in the past week of despair.

Daughter had read a nugget somewhere and shared it with me.

Every morning before contemplating the day, take a look around me and focus on how hard it would be to live without something. Not for long. Just enough to recognize its loss if it happened.

So I've been doing this and am astonished at all I take for granted in my life and don't really see. Gratitude lists are grand but less meaningful when one lumps stuff together.

I mentioned this to a friend I met with during the week as she had been full of angst and depression herself. So we agreed to share our item of acknowledgement in text first thing in the morning before the day got a hold of us.

My first day was independent living, thinking of my dear friend Lana in her assisted living life. I looked around my apartment and felt this rush of appreciation.

My second day was books. I am a voracious reader and would find it just about impossible to live without them. 

My third day was my doctor, who has been an incredible support in the past two years when I needed medical attention and care the most. He goes beyond the call of care and concern. He has a gift of intuition, endless time, and humour. For instance - I have shaky underperforming kidneys and yesterday, without prompting, he assured me yet again that I would not need dialysis in my lifetime as age, for once, was in my favour. So I said to him my obit should read - "it was not her kidneys that killed her?" And we laughed. I don't know what I'd do without him.

So there you have it. A tiny tool that seems to work for navigating these days of worry and stress and helplessness and anxiety. And a looming war as the icing on the cake.

Thank you all for the wonderful words of support and kinship on my last post. I savoured every single comment many times.  

No longer alone.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

The Fine Line


 

I believe there's a fine line between sanity and insanity. I'm writing today as I feel quite massively overwhelmed by the last two years.  See, I'm understating it terrifically. For who wants to read a depressing blog post about the State of The Union? The Union of the body parts, the brain, the physical well being, the social interactions, emotional and mental intelligence.

The last few days I don't feel I'm functioning as I should. Living alone is an enormous challenge in this Time of the Plague. No one to monitor me on a daily basis. No one to see how well I'm coping, no one to share with. 

I feel everything is catching up with me. The isolation, the risk of emerging out of my cocoon into the virus infected world. The deaths of two very close friends, all the health challenges I've had.

I count out and sort all my pills every Sunday. I say all. I mean all. Over 30 every day. Stringing my beating heart and blood pressure and pain into acceptable numbers. I read them out to my doctor, usually once a week and we talk about my blood lab results.

This morning hopelessness set in. On March 14th here, all restrictions are removed. But seniors are dying in unprecedented numbers in this province. Vaccinated, unvaccinated? We haven't a clue. Those stats are deemed private. Expendable senior philosophy, economy comes first.

There are three in my bubble, Daughter, Niece and a close friend who has her own tiny bubble.

This is not a whine. Just throwing it out there. I feel quite anti-social as I feel I have nothing to talk about of any interest and my creativity and my equanimity are in extremely short supply. 

I honestly feel like I am just marking time, waiting to die. My dreams are full of death, dead friends, Ansa, my lost daughter.

My friend Lana, in her assisted living luxury environment said on our phone call this week that she had put up a big sign in her room saying:

"THIS IS NOT ASSISTED LIVING, THIS IS ASSISTED DYING."

It caught the attention of the management in a big way so she's marching the halls again and dictating to the kitchen staff about healthy meals.

I don't share this stuff with family. Because it would distress them. Everybody has issues around this falling apart planet we're on. I can't add to their burdens.

Another "buck up, it could be worse"  would have me screaming in a corner.

So there, I'm just not fit. I've lost the run of myself.

Truth in blogging.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Tragedy of Brenda*

Painting by Picasso, 1902

 She lived downstairs in my apartment building. She dressed like a lady. By that I mean as if she was caught in a time warp of 1956. Pressed slacks with a matching cardigan and a coordinating blouse. She was younger than me by about seven or eight years. Her hair was carefully blonded and feathered. Always low Cuban heels. Never sneakers or teetering stilettoes. She came to some of the senior advocacy meetings I held. Never saying much but totally lady-like in her demeanor amongst all the jeans and t-shirts.

The rumour mill fired up, as they do. She had a drinking problem. She was selling all her "stuff" her jewelry, her crystal, her china and her designer clothes. Her husband, a doctor, had divorced her years before but had left her with an expensive house in a good part of town and alimony until her Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security kicked in.

Within ten years she had sold the house and managed to deplete the investment account by buying herself a new car every year and taking extravagant trips. She moved into my building about five years ago, her savings close to zero, carless. 

One of my close friends in the building had visited her and found her in dire straits in her bedroom surrounded by bottles and no food in the fridge or elsewhere in the kitchen. Just a horrific mess and a bucket beside the bed for her waste. She notified the management who informed her family. They came to visit from great distances. She cleaned up her act and stopped drinking.

As soon as they left, she resumed. She managed to get "loans" from various tenants who took pity on her. ("Enabling" more like it.)

The breaking point came when she tried to wash fecal encrusted cushions in the laundry.

She was evicted about six months ago but she kept returning here, in cabs, buzzing different tenants from the lobby to pay her cab fare so she could wander the halls, banging on doors, looking for loans from her soft touches, the enablers, who were worn down by the begging. I had never given her my telephone number, though she asked many times. She drunk-called all the numbers she had late at night rambling on about her wealth and status and privilege and how she was in a far better class of people than those in her circle.

She died, drunk, yesterday. I didn't know her though I had met her several times. Nobody knew her. 

She took a drink and then the drink took her, removing her humanity, her personality, her very life at the end. Her only pal alcohol, fierce and relentless in its hunger to consume her, inch by inch, emotion by emotion, relationship by relationship.

Her only legacy is a reminder to us lucky few sober ones, of how voracious an appetite alcohol has, if left unchecked. 

It consumes those addicted to it down to a husk. 


*Not her real name

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Making a Puffin with the Gardiner Brothers.

So yeah, this intricate knitting style called intarsia is back in my life again as I desperately wanted to create a puffin for a young man in my life who is absolutely crazy about puffins.


It's engrossing work as every line has to be focused on and counting every stitch is a given but it's enchanting to see the image emerge out of all those bobbins. I have a huge fascination for these wonderful birds myself. They make me laugh out loud every time I see them.



I found these incredible Irish dancers recently. The Gardiner Brothers. They'll dance to anything. Here they are with Abba.


And here they are giving The Nutcracker a bash.


I can't watch these without a huge smile.



Monday, February 07, 2022

Nothing and Everything

 Can one write about nothing at all?

I can write about a poem I wrote this morning, still moved by what my eldest brother said to me on the weekly Sibling Zoom yesterday. Empathy, understanding, comfort.

I can write about a planned coffee-meet up with a friend today after a million years of alert levels.

I can write about end of life discussions, wills, wishes. The complexity of some. The sadness of countries that forbids Death with Dignity. How's yours faring in that regard?

I can write about a graph paper study I did for a knitting pattern which lies there, staring at me, ready to get my act and needles and bodkins together. Bodkins, now there's a word.

I can write about my weekly Monday night call to Lana. She showed a deterioration (paranoia) last week but still knows my voice instantly. I am kinda, sorta dreading tonight's call.

I can write about the ennui (there's another word) that I'm feeling for well over a week now. Caution Exhaustion I'm thinking. Too much time alone. Too much yawning time left to my own devices, and they are wearing a bit thin.

And yes, there's this: my Leo finally succumbed to his vicious cancer early yesterday. Before dawn.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Mad Writer

 I'm in Mad Writer mode lately. Churning out a lot of my own memoir about my first year in Toronto. A year in which so very much happened, much of it kept hidden and secret. For very good reasons. Held in a locked closet in my mind for fifty six years. I'm very glad I have such a memory for detail and notice, through the Sibling Zooms every Sunday that we all share that ability.

Along with that I have the online writing workshops I'm facilitating. We are all missing the live ones, and these real enthusiasts are producing wonderful work. Which I am critiquing. Which takes oodles of time as well.

I've missed writing here which I will try and rectify but sometimes I just want to throw the keyboard against the wall and do something utterly different.

I love the goings on in Ireland at the moment with the Russian navy off the coast of West Cork.

Daughter sent me this earlier on.  I sometimes forget how the country of my birth has such marvelous humour.

Listening to Irish radio this morning they had a CNN reporter who was on location in West Cork. The reporter was a Kerryman who is based in America. At the end of the discussion about the fisherman taking ownership of standing down Russia (ha) the host of the show then said something like.."C'mere to me now. You're among your own here so I'm gonna ask you what everyone in Ireland really wants to know....did you get paid to come home and visit your Mammy?"

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Melange a Trois

 (1) Thought I'd show you my Wall. Note caps. This was a blank wall facing a bookcase in my hall. I send cards, I get cards. Some of them arty or old or meaningful and I like them to hang around for a while. I had a roundy thing with slots which would hold about 20, all cramped together. It teetered. I had a few lovely framed corkboards in my office/bedroom and pinned some up. Then I thought wee pegs and a kind of double clothesline. And this seems to be working. I get to walk by them all, and can change them at whim.

(2)I had tea shipped in from Tipperary at Solstice as a gift for Niece to share over the festivities. With a teapot and inbuilt strainer. To me, tea should never, ever be in teabags. It needs to be loose-leaf and full of aroma and taste. This was a huge hit so I sourced more of this magnificent tea in Canada at half the price and got bags for Niece, Daughter and myself. This is the tea I was reared on. Blended by a Master Blender in Cork by the name of Dennis Daley.

(3) I'm preparing for a CBC radio interview tomorrow on how seniors have been managing themselves in the Time of the Plague. I believe that schoolchildren and seniors are suffering the most throughout this time. And there will be a ripple effect for generations to come once we move beyond (?) it. Let's face it, we are not too far off from death in the normal state of affairs, but it is much, much, harder missing physical contact with family and friends. Along with other challenges, far too many to get into here.

I realize I am luckier than most in that there is never enough hours in my day to satisfy me. I get up early and even if I sleep in for an hour I feel ripped off.

 Daughter visited me yesterday and brought me a grid notebook (genuine antique with leaves of carbon paper at the back!) and 24 brand new colouring pencils. I felt like 6 years old again, can't wait to experiment with these babies.








Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Clothes Line


 

Of all the many pictures (with resulting cards and prints) I have taken over the years this one has been the most popular. I had repeat orders  of hundreds of cards printed. And it was also featured in a calendar. The reason I am writing about this is because of Lana, my dear friend who has dementia/ Alzheimer's.

I sent her one of these cards a few weeks ago. I had sent one to her before when it was first published but of course there is no memory of that. Every day is fresh to her.

She was upset she was in lockdown when I called her on Monday night. She is confused in that she thinks she has Covid and hates her meals being delivered and misses her walks. She's in a luxury building and paces her room. Fifty feet long, she tells me. She counts the steps. Having seen pictures of the interior or her residence, I believe her. Enormous rooms.

"But," she said, "You sent me this card. And I put it under a small lamp beside my bed. And every night I stare at this picture after I've read the poem you had printed on the back and it puts me to sleep with a smile on my face."

Some Day on Clothes

The blues 

Dance through

His shirt

My skirt

Flit Lift

Snap Spin

And I couldn't stop crying when I got off the phone.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Ernestine



One of Ernestine's photos.

A dear old blog friend died the other day. She lived to a good age - 87 - but had many trials and tribulations with her health over the years.

I learned much about aging from her. I also learned much about acceptance and making the best of one's days. And simple recipes and saying hello to mornings. Each one a gift. She loved her truck (she was a tiny woman) and her thrift shopping and worked hard on her beautiful garden and found inner peace.

Her photography was gorgeous, she lived on the edge of a farm with her dog, Callie, and resisted (my how she resisted!) being packed off to an assisted living facility. But her poor body finally gave in. She went quiet for a while but her youngest daughter kept us all abreast of her condition and outlook.

We exchanged wee gifts and books over the years. I particularly loved the handmade soap she sent me.

Thank you Ernestine, as you soar with the stars. 

You left footprints on my heart.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Condolences

It's a very rough day for me when three condolence cards have to be written and mailed. I'm not a believer in platitudes and pre-printed sympathy cards. I like to do a little eulogy of my particular memories of the deceased to the grieving loved ones. I'm in complete isolation apart from the two in my bubble. Not that I could attend funerals or wakes anyway as such gatherings are disallowed in the Time of the Plague.

The first was to a dear friend of  over forty years duration whose mother had died just shy of her hundredth birthday. A difficult one to write as she and her mother were not deeply connected. My friend is very honourable and was incredibly dutiful to her mother in her last residence in a home for retired military. I liked her mum, British to the backbone, sharp-tongued and judgy, careless with money. And quite selfish. As someone else's mum can be to our great amusement, but not our own. Heaven forbid. She never took the time to get to know her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchilden. So I wrote about the great old Irish expression when the last parent dies :"Now the roof is off your life," which has great depth if you ponder on  it.

The second was to a friend of some fifteen years whose daughter died when an ambulance was delayed. She had a problem with her leg (blood clot? - it would be intrusive to ask). She was in her early forties and leaves three children, the youngest is ten. This couple lost their eldest a few years back, he was a non-verbal autistic and died from a seizure. I can't imagine their grief. She was his favourite child, full of vim and vigor and they would run together and raise funds for autism. I've written about the death of one's child a few times. It is unspeakable.

The third was particularly hard as I wrote about this multi-talented man here.  I can't re-read it without bursting into tears. We spent more time with him this past summer and cooked for him and his partner in our rental up in the Great Northern Peninsula. He knew his gig was up for a while and opted for death with dignity. Effing cancer. Effing cancer. So I wrote to his partner citing his wonderful attributes and that magical night we spent when he played for us. 

And it was the last time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Headlines

 I look at the headlines today and heave a huge sigh, of despair, of hopelessness. Is anyone paying attention to (along with everything else) our end of days climate change? Anyone with power? And yes I'm aware there's nothing individuals can do. And I keep thinking about the film "Don't Look Up" and thinking how prescient it is as we roll our way to species extinction.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Thoughts of a Heretic

I've never understood the concept of prayer, even when I was a thoroughly inducted RC back in the days of Holy Cacklick Ireland

I am surrounded by prayerful people here who throw "thoughts and prayers" at any crisis, global, local, familial without a shred of irony.

Well good for them, they must feel better. They have a direct pipeline to the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper (ICH for short).

Thing is, when thoughts and prayers are ignored, it is ICH's will, which for us lesser mortals, is only understood by ICH who seems contrary and brutal. Given that little kids get cancer and suffer and die in spite of the pleas. It's all ICH's plan of gathering billions of child-angels home. For what? Oh we're not privy to that. R-right.

When thoughts and prayers are attended to, say for a really sick friend or relative, it is the glory of ICH that is acknowledged profusely and those who prayed to ICH. Not the medical team, the paramedics, the brilliant surgeon, the radiation technicians. Not science. No sirree bob.

Such mental jigging and juggling. Such pride and smugness in the successful prayers when all becomes well and the storm is over. The inference being for those not so lucky, ICH was displeased with their prayers. There was a right way and a wrong way to pray and some had access to the ear of ICH and others were just doing it wrong.

It does my head in. I need to tune it all out.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Nothing for Granted

 The stuff we take for granted when we are in good health never fails to astound me now. I am so conscious that it can all be taken away in a heartbeat.

I had around two years of debilitating health deterioration, to the point where I had to buy those eggy frozen pre-mades for breakfast as I couldn't stand long enough at the stove to make my favourite porridge and cook my egg. Also because of the chronic anemia, I could only eat tiny amounts or I would go briefly blind as my blood was so bad. Literally. Frightening. I really never thought any kind of health and mobility could be restored. I'm still not too steady on the old pins but I can stand and do stuff now, hang pictures, wash the dishes, haul in groceries. Cook.

But enough of all that, I've written much about it here in the fervent hope that others don't need to carry their health challenges alone as the mental and emotional toll of that can be enormous.

So tonight I baked a spinach quiche. All by my little old self. And it tasted so good. Very simple old recipe - bits of bacon or ham, (4 eggs, 1/4 cup of real cream or less - mix these thoroughly), carmelized onions, mushrooms, chopped if you have them, 1 cup of finely chopped spinach or kale. Pour into a smallish pastry pie shell Top with a good cheese, grated or small lumps. Serves 4. Salad or coleslaw on the side. Omit meat if vegetarian. 





Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Throwing Down A Few Words.

 A storm has been blowing all day, lining the windows with lacy clouds and ridges. 

Picture shown to cool down my Australian readers and others upside down from me in the warmer summer climes.


Snow plows chug around all day, clearing as they go. Noisy but necessary. If there's an ice buildup under the snow or on top of it we become immobilized quickly. The manager wears his blizzardy clothes and sets to the pathways with his power snow blower.

Ah winter. I persisted far too long with the scarf shown, I wanted to surprise my grandboy-in-law, I loved the colour combos and the design. But boy after about 16 hours I realized it was a massive mistake and it needs to be ripped out and gauge checked this time. It could just about stand up on its own and walk out the door.

So even experienced knitters make errors, but the thing is we are stubborn and often persist far too long hoping the piece will fix itself (magical thinking).



Monday, January 03, 2022

On Crows


 Painting by Deborah Stock.

I like that they scream at me if I leave my building on my way to the car when I don't have any food for them that particular day. I have no idea how they sense it's me in my brief hike of ten steps from the door to the handicapped spot as I unlock the car door. But they assemble, waiting. Patient. A little frightening. No wonder their collective noun is a murder of crows. They sound as if they could like to murder me. Above me, they gossip in their language. Chastising, berating. Reminding me to buy the bag of peanuts. When I do distribute their preferred food choice they (I like to think) drop a fir cone near my car. A gift, an encouragement. An odd white feather (a murdered gull?) another day.

I have a few crow stories

And yes, I love them, their intelligence, their fearless behaviour on streets and parking lots, eyeing cars, dodging them, their massive assembly at night before they take off to various rookeries. The way they quickly learned to imitate the gulls in front of my house by catching oysters and mussels and dropping them from great heights onto the rocks to break them open.