Thursday, February 20, 2020

Time Out

At times I am so overcome with sorrow and compassion for another that the only relief I feel is in a poem.

We can be unaware of our privilege at times. I am lonely very rarely. Many are lonely all the time. A huge hole inside them with the cold wind blowing through and hope a word they read about but have long abandoned as being applicable to their own lives.

I was quite devastated after this visit from someone who broke down in her despair as her last friend ("in the whole world") was moved to palliative care that day.

Her Grief

She wept on me today
With her broken heart
Leaking from her eyes.

Her grief led a procession
Of other losses, other hurts,
Other days, other cruelties

Pouring like a river
Over the bumps and
Potholes of her life

I do not know her
Well enough to
Hold her tightly

But I listened to
Her lament of loneliness
With my heart and hands

And stuffed my own avalanche
Of sorrow deep down
In my own graveyard.

I am posting this not as a "downer" but as a reminder for all of us to recognize our own privilege in the face of such appalling grief.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Beautiful Obituary

In these troubling times it's good to be reminded there's an amazing and enthusiastic bird watching community in this province. They monitor the bird life zealously and record the "blow-ins" - those birds sent off course in storms and all things avian. The photos are stunning.

One of the more diligent and observant amateurs is Shawn Fitzpatrick. And he posted this on his FB page yesterday and I thought to post it here.Quidi Vidi Lake is right where I live.

Gary is Gone
Copyright(C) Shawn Fitzpatrick
Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John's NL 20200215
The familiar and resounding call from Gary.... his calling card... Hooooonk...Hoooonk _______ Hoooonk Hoooonk!!! It will sound no more 😞
I took this photo three days ago at the lake in blustery and at times white-out conditions.
I have taken many photos of Gary since he graced our beautiful central city lake with his presence.
During his tenure as self-appointed leader of the waterfowl there, he kept an orderly operation. Sometimes he'd scold the Double-crested cormorants for taking up too much real estate for too long.
He was always polite with human patrons of the lake and particularly gentle with children there with their parents feeding him and the ducky's!
I always talked to him and called him in when I went down to feed the crew at the west end of QVL. Gary would always only take a little, never seeming to want to hog everything. It was as if he sensed that the food had to be shared around as best as it could stretch out. So, he would gently eat right from my hand and then move on back out to the water, keeping an orderly eye on the assembly of his waterfowl family.
Gary was a Graylag Goose. He showed up at the lake after being coaxed along by a couple of bird lovers after being first observed along the roadside of Logy Bay Road a few years ago. He was lured to the Virginia river and onward downstream to where it opened up near the Legion into the lake. The rest is legacy 🙂
I started calling him Gary the Graylag and happily enough, it stuck. I think his name suited him well.
From there, he established himself as a much loved fixture. At times keeping the rowers on the water practicing for the regatta on their game, by policing them.
He was known by many, and photographed plenty.
We are going to miss you Gary, you beautiful, handsome goose! I hope that your end was natural, and painless.

PS When Shawn was asked if he had seen the body, he said he had and it was a natural death.
When asked if he buried it so Garyfans could bring flowers and mementos, he said no. He left it there for the bald headed eagles to feast on in the cycle of wildfowl life.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Sunday Smatterings

Thank you France!

It was a shock finding this package of Brioches Au Lait. Actually baked in France. Probably shipped (literally) to our island frozen and then tossed on the bakery shelf. Delicious. I make cheese and tomato rolls with them. I remember trying this particular delicacy on the Channels Islands way back in the mist of time when "Hey Mister Tambourine Man" was a big hit and what happened in Jersey stayed in Jersey.

Web hunting looking for an attractive device to hold my hair (none found anywhere here) I found this. Made in France yet again. And in true La Belle France elegance it came in its own organza bag with a wee satin ribbon. And my dears everyone likes it on my head with my hair piled happily beneath it. I look organized and librarian like. My look. Deceptive.
I've had two excellent days in a row. Where walking has been less painful and I got all my mountain of laundry done. That sense of overwhelm was absent. I treasure these days more than I can say.
As the Lodge Lurches
In the "what we don't know about people" department.
Grace's son, all 70 years of him, supervised his "muscles" (his word) - his two grandsons - today as they removed the big furniture from her apartment. A huge amount of it. Eight bookcases. Full of classics and great women writers like Margaret Atwood. This made me sad. If only I had known I would have enjoyed a cuppa with her and a good discussion on our reading habits. She was never one for newsbagging (marvellous Newfoundland word) around the halls. Like myself.

And how has your week been?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Out with the Old

I don't know about you but I am always reluctant to throw out objects that can still be "useful" even if I have a brand new replacement object sitting in the wings, waiting for an opportunity to serve me. I struggled with this old keyboard, even to the point with all the letters gone I meticulously glued little cut out letters to the blank keys.

These pasted letters were wearing out too and I was contemplating making new ones when my head exploded.

For two years I've stored a brand new keyboard, just in case. I do this with mice mouses too. They are not expensive here, maybe $10. But you know, throwing something out which is still fixable, even badly fixable, is alien to my nature. Why not suffer on with a terrible keyboard. struggling with taxes, writing, etc.

So I did it - I threw it in the rubbish bin. Far less typos and repeated efforts to peck at wayward keys now on this spanking new keyboard.

So I'm making this grand announcement of what I have done here. As I struggle with tossing cranky old wastebaskets and holy-hell-lady laundry baskets while brand new replacements sit ready and waiting patiently in closets.

As the Lodge Lurches 2

Grace's 5 elderly daughters were in the hallway yesterday carrying out boxes and bags of her belongings. So I stopped and spoke with them. Commiseration. Sympathy. She died in her sleep. Silently, peacefully. They were happy with her lovely ending. The five are all grandmothers themselves. Grace was a different era, a different generation. Never wore slacks, always skirts and blouses and cardies with her silver hair permed regularly. Classy slippers. Panty hose. I thought of the line from a book I'd read recnetly: "Things are so useless when they no longer belong to someone" as I briefly surveyed what they were carting out. I didn't share it with them. Just told them how lovely and quiet she was and that she will be missed. How lucky these almost 70 year-olds are to have had their mother for so long. Grace grew orchids outside her front door.
Books Read and Rated Update - see sidebar for 2020.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday Smatterings

A typical lodge of the 18th century in Ireland. Many of these still existed when I was growing up over 70 years ago.

I live in a place which has the title "Lodge" in it. This is either a glamorous or depressing word depending on your history with it. If at all. I was raised in Ireland where there were many lodges, most notably those small houses holding a gatekeeper at the end of a long curving driveway leading to a mansion of the landed gentry. The lodge keeper would come out, tip the forelock if you were recognised, or run you off if you weren't. Then there were hunting lodges for the mad fox persecutors with their baying hounds and horns. But I digress.

Daughter lives in a Cove and keeps a journal of "As the Cove Turns" which provides weekly entertainment for us both, so I started my own particular journal.

I decided to do occasional little updates on where I live, in my lodge with 48 other apartments. Yes, I am "lodged" here but am not a "lodger" which implies dismal cabbage-smelling boarding houses in Bournemouth. Amazing how one word opens up so many other interpretations and riffs.

As The Lodge Lurches

My next door neighbour, Grace, 91, just died. I didn't know her well, just to chat with in passing. The Lodge is a small village. Like high school, little cliques, chronic complainers, recluses (me, selective), drunks, flirts, it is a microcosm of the human race. Little battles break out about usage of the two fine and beautiful common rooms, bingo and cards and darts versus piano practice, workshops, scrabble games. I hear about them in passing and don't participate except to ask the most wounded and hurt "And why do you listen to gossip about yourself?" Because they do. Gossip is the currency. I had warned a friend who moved in here to be truly selective as to who she hangs with and she made the mistake of befriending every lost soul and their troubles and now they bang on her door at 9 at night and because she's nosy she opens the door to them and is going mental so comes up here the odd time and pours out her distress at being the target of so many strays and being unable to stop. So now she gets drunk with a few of them every Saturday night. Old age is complex and almost child-like at times. I keep my distance and am happy that way. My boundaries are clear and I am not afraid to enforce them.

I sign off with this:

Wednesday, February 05, 2020


So it turns out my lung didn't heal so that explains the massive exhaustion and feeling like death on a platter. It's a relief to know this. Seriously. I can never shake off the feeling of being a boring old crank given to organ recitals and a long list of her medical staff and appointments. So back on diuretics and doc spots a suspicion bump on my face so will burn that off in a couple of weeks once I'n feeling better. Blood readings improved slightly and his gut feeling is I am not bleeding internally but will have me see the internist to confirm that. And oh yes PVD in legs has not worsened so no stents in my future.

But the best part of this? And a big item on the gratitude list, was that a friend texted me and said meet me for coffee after the doc visit and when I arrived at our local cafe there was a little gang of friends waiting for me to share the latest on the medical front. I was incredibly moved. It meant more than I can say.

Niece was over today to share lunch and writing. Butter chicken, rice, Greek salad, cheese and fruit platter, sweet potato crackers. It was a marvelous 4 hours as we had ourselves a bit of a knit too. And made suggestions to each other on our writing.

My doc had never heard the Irish phrase "I lost the run of meself" which I really had in the last few weeks with the awful breathing and palpitations. He absolutely loved it for its accuracy in describing a down slide in health. In Newfoundland, many Irish phrases have crossed the Atlantic but not that particular one. I sure had lost the run of meself. And how frightening that is. Wilderness indeed.

I am very well taken care of by doc. And I told him this as we parted and he responded that my words and the words of patients like me, sustain him through the mountains of paperwork he has to complete late at night.

I only plan one item (social, activity) a day at the moment to save my energy and try and get well again. I am paying attention.

And here's a song by The Once - their voices are haunting and I think of my grandparents and their kitchen when I hear it.

Sunday, February 02, 2020


Thank you all for the comforting words on my last post. They meant more than I can say.

A mixed bag of items here.

To start with the weather outside as I hit the keyboard:

It is hard to believe that this continual assault of terrible weather has not lessened as we brace ourselves for more. That is our building manager outside, struggling with the snow blower. The snow goes upward and horizontally in the driving wind, a blizzard.

Gratitude # 1
I live in this building, protected from the elements, knowing the snow is going to be taken care of.

My niece let me know about this Geist competition - a postcard story, and asked me to look at her two entries which blew me out of the water they were so fantastic. It fired up my own story brain and I hauled down this card sent by an Ontario friend last year which reminded me of a crow story I wrote about in my blog and I didn't check the blog entry out as I thought I would delve into memory and see what I recollected and maybe enhance it or dramatize it. So that's what I did.

Gratitude #2
My creativity hasn't abandoned me.

Daughter can't seem to do enough for me. It truly overwhelms me at times. A lot of small stuff but it is the small stuff that is always the most important. I had briefly mentioned that my Amazon order was delayed as ferries weren't running and it had my annual load of TP on it. I laughed as I was going to borrow a roll from a friend to - ahem - tide me over. And Daughter shows up yesterday with a cartload of TP and stocked me up along with 2 lbs of my favourite dark roast coffee beans and took me out for a fabulous brunch (Croque Monsieur, fresh fruit, home made hashbrowns) at Baystar. We forgot to take pics as we fell on the food so fast.

Gratitude #3

The tiny gifts in life are by far the most important of all. And nothing is as precious as the care and attention of a loved one.

I could write loads more (I have had two trips to the hospital for more tests with the support of a friend) but this is enough for today.

I am in a place of gratitude and I want to savour it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Wilderness of Old Age

Good days - rare
Bad days - many
Isolation - sometimes deliberate
Body a temple to pain much of the time
Serious consideration of sedation/tranquilization to ensure a hazy nirvana within.
Avoiding questions like "how are you?" feeling no one wants to know the truth.
Feeling a bore in the doctor's office, reading the list of all that ails me off my phone.
Feeling inadequate and whiny when other elders seem to surmount all that challenges them and put on the cheery face and the lipper/shave meticulously and go out and greet the world sprinkling stardust in spite of/because of. I wish they would package that up and sell it to me.
Feeling death stalking some days and being brave. Alone but biofeedbacking myself.
Crying easily.
Living in the past at times, not consciously, but uneasily when aware of it.
Having difficulty planning something to look forward to (my father's way of negotiating old age) as my good days/bad days are so unpredictable.
Thinking of my granny turning her face to the wall and thinking "now I get it."
It is a very confusing time for many of us. There is no pattern but reaction. I can mantra my brains out but I'm still left in the wilderness.

On the upside:

I do make my bed every day.

I dress some days, others are pajama days - my favourite. When I dress I venture more outside my perfect little nest and I know that's good for me.

I read every day.

I knit every day.

I try and write every day (herewith)

I immerse myself at night in series like "Doc Martin" which helps.

I am really careful who I share with as being left hanging, blowing in a cold wind with no response, makes me feel worse. And that happens more than one would think.

I am very, very aware that others I care about, including some bloggers, are in far worse shape than I am. If we compare our health deficiencies. We can't really though.

Our ill-health bubbles are ours alone, and sometimes there is no map or compass to find the way out.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sunday Smatterings



What is your concept of an afterlife if you believe in such a thing?

I find out here on the Edge, for the most part, the concept is of a life just like ours here on planet earth, bingo is still played, pubs still attended, birthdays (the earthly variety) still celebrated and Facebook is used as a message centre for the Great Beyond. As in "Happy birthday Dad in heaven, I know they have your favourite beer up there!". "Happy anniversary Mom, are you now baking your pies for God/Jesus?" I have yet to see a response, but it would be lovely just to see the reaction.

As for me, I believe we live on after we die in our very original form, as in stardust, I can't ever imagine us rising from the dead on Judgement Day and the concept actually gives me the willies.

This one wild and wonderful precious life is all we have I think. But I am always interested in others' beliefs.

But I also believe there are billions of other planets, like ours, many far more evolved where time travel exists and I like playing around with that concept in my head. As in our planet keeps going back to square one and a massive culling takes place every couple of hundred thousand years and yes, time travellers from the past walk amongst us watching in disbelief as we continue to eff everything up yet again.

I look out my window tonight at a sunset of rose, the wise crows perch on the wires and the gulls soar overhead, with a pink blush drowning the white of their wings and I am gobsmacked at the beauty. And I wonder if the Trumps and the Johnsons and the Putins et al were forced to watch such magnificence would it change their view of this world. But somewhere deep inside, I know it wouldn't. We are accelerating towards climate collapse at an ever faster rate and the kings will stay in their counting houses. And yes, they would shoot those goddamned birds for sport.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Words for Wednesday

I decided to participate again in this Wednesday stimulant. My creativity got fired up with these words so generously provided by Elephant's Child

This week's prompts are:

1. Deviled/which might also be spelt devilled*
2. Interdependence*
3. Watery*
4. Figs*
5. Zoom*
6. Headphones*

1. Gargled*
2. Presence*
3. Yelling*
4. Andalusia*
5. Snowdrifts*
6. Exfoliate*

It was the worst party ever. She cursed her own presence and put it down to her interdependence on her boss, Almighty Violet, who just about ordered her staff here. She needed the pay cheque and Almighty Violet needed her organizational skills.

Internally, she yelled a silent scream of frustration, cursing the position of looking after Almighty Violet. Because that’s what it amounted to, one almighty cursed existence, out in the wilds of Andalusia trying desperately to improve on her Spanish. Yeah, so she lied on her CV.

She selected a devilled egg from the platter on the buffet and winced at its watery texture, faux mayonnaise. She moved her hand over the figs. They were just as she suspected, dry and shrivelled. What happened to paella and those lovely local dishes??

Bloody hell! was that Bart, her assistant, wearing tiny headphones, bopping his head and grinning at her? Tuned out. Clever boy. Hard to blame him.

Ah, her eyes zoomed in on the washroom across the hall. She disappeared quietly inside, closing the door. And rinsed out her glass of cheap white wine, gargling with water from the tap.

For this she had taken a razor and exfoliated herself? Even her legs which grew hairy in the winter and were excellent insulation against the snow drifts surrounding her cabin.

And six months more to go on her contract. She’d better find those Speaking Spanish Like a Pro podcasts. Ah Bart would know! Of course!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What did you do in Snowmageddon, Mummy?

Well, our State of Emergency still exists, limiting purchases and trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. But the peaceful silence of no traffic continues. Military helicopters overhead sort out areas to still be shovelled. And so much snow. So very much.

I admired my plant which bloomed in spite of the snow, taking my breath away. considering it was one of those plants I wanted to throw out as being gawky and, well, ugly, it must have sensed it so threw out masses of blooms. 9 at last count.

This is the side doorway going into our building. Bear in mind this is a sheltered doorway.

So I designed and started knitting a "Storm Shawl" after 2 frustrated rip-outs I was pleased with this one. It is a variegated yarn and goes by the name of Violet. It will be more in the nature of a scarf-shawl, drapey and matchey to the winter goose-down long jacket which daughter gifted me with. It's a lovet green and I've always loved those greens with any shade of purple.

I also am nearly finished my annual read of A Moveable Feast. Don't ask me of my fascination with this book, I find it hard to justify. It just captures so well a Paris of Joyce and Fitgerald and Stein et al. And no, I'm not a fan of Hemingway - though I did call one of my characters by that name in one of my novels. I guess his youth, innocence and kindness shines through before he gets snared by fame and booze and depression.

And then there was the car moving. Car was dug out and moved to a clean spot and then after waiting for the plow to dig out the spot it was taken from and moving it back in again. Musical Cars in other words. My kingdom for indoor parking which I had at my house.

This picture was taken through a screen but I rather like the effect. You can see the height of the snowbanks around the visitor parking lot.

I had 3 coffee occasions here at the apartment. I was glad it was clean. Catching me when all tidy and presentable is rare. So I felt a huge achievement and even offered bon-bons on a small wee serving thingie. Along with my marvelous coffee. Always freshly ground dark roast beans - in case you're ever in the area and love good coffee drop in. Take me as you find me.

A friend dropped by with an unexpected dinner last night. Moose stew with carrots, brussels and gravy and divine potatoes. Enough for 2 meals so I'll be well fed tonight too.

So that's it for now.

Waiting for the SOE to be lifted.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hurricanes and Blizzards

It's been dubbed #snowmageddon2020 and fact is I have never experienced a worse winter storm.

This was announced yesterday at 11.00 am.:
As of 11am, the Mayor has declared a state of emergency. All businesses are ordered to close and all vehicles are ordered off the road except emergency vehicles. Please return home until the order is lifted. #nlwx #nltraffic

The city has never been closed down before. We are tough out here on the Edge.

A state of emergency was enforced in St. John's. All vehicles and humans off the roads. The winds roared, the snow flew horizontally, the biggest fear was the power blowing out. It didn't. thankfully.

here is a sample from downtown where many reporters holed up in a hotel. No one could get to their homes outside of the city.

Our local CBC radio station died with no power and the batteries and/or generators weren't working either. The staff were trapped inside of the building overnight sleeping on the floors and wonder of wonders, hooking into CBC Halifax, Nova Scotia, to keep us company for the entire time. It was extremely comforting hearing stories from call-ins. Farmers and stable owners, sleeping in their barns keeping the animals calm. Many opening their doors briefly to catch the awful sound of the peak 167km/hour winds. Windows completely snowed over. Just now the sun came out after over 24 hours of non-stop intensity and partially melted two of my panes:

the plows were taken off the roads due to the danger of being unable to see the road edges or heaven forbid, near the open ocean.

The historic Battery area was evacuated as there was an avalanche which fell into the backs of the houses shown here. No human injuries thank goodness.

And this final story:

Not the baby - but this woman should be premier of this province. She gets things done!

PS, we're still on emergency status here but there is snowboarding on the streets (we're very hilly, a la San Francisco) but we have bright sun.

How innocent the world looks after a storm!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday Tendrils

An old piece of my writing in a journal:
"My life is but one wild brief dance in the ballroom of time."

I was wondering a couple of days ago (not sadly) when was the last time someone called me "darling" and came to the conclusion it was when an aunt, who lived to a great age up to a few years ago, used it as we had tea in front of her fire and she gave me gentle words of wisdom always interspersed with the word "darling". I use it myself, of course, to family members, to cherished friends. It is an important assuring word and we need to use it more to those who are dear to us. " My dear" or"Dearie" doesn't quite cut it, or "honey and "love"for that matter, I find those words quite dismissive and meaningless.

I am not having a good day health-wise, seems to be some bodily reactions going on but nevertheless I persist as best I can and showered and washed my hair and moaned to myself. And then Joanna (my cleaning lady) arrived as I was cancelling my plans for the morning with friends.

And the loveliest thing. I was sitting in my office chair letting my hair dry. I have a lot of hair and it is now long (no hair cutting/styling money pit anymore) and she began to stroke it and run her fingers through it and hum a bit and said:

"You know the last time I did this was when my daughter was about 12 and she let me, and it is one of the most beautiful things to do, isn't it? Run your fingers through long hair, your hair is so beautiful."
She made my sad, sick and sorry day.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Inside of Me

Inside of me there's mixed feelings.

This constant tiredness I have, so limiting, so crushing. Raising the old voices: You're lazy, you're good for nothing. Why are you pretending? You can't be this tired. Nobody can be this exhausted.

Inside of me I think, as I park beneath an ice-covered sign, and get George, my trusty companion cane from his back seat, why am I here again, at my nephrologist's, going over the readings: the stalled (I hope) kidney deterioration, the never really controlled blood pressure. He will be dismissive and win the latest award for complete lack of bedside manner.

Inside of me perks up when his nurse talks about my media appearances how all of them are quite impressed at what I have accomplished even if it's only awareness of the crisis of senior poverty.

Inside of me cringes, I've gained five pounds. Not surprised. I am far too good to myself as my people have it.

Inside of me, I'm pleased he meets my eyes many times and apologizes for having to take a cellphone emergency call from the dialysis unit.

He goes over my latest results on his screen and stabs at my blood readings.

You are severely anaemic! he says, did you know about this? Are you exhausted all the time?

Inside of me I flutter with mixed emotions: well that explains it, oh that's a relief. I'm not a lazy arse after all.

This is serious, he continues, and may involve some kind of bleeding. I'm sending you for some tests.

Inside of me I think: Add this to the Test Pile. I'm on this medical testing treadmill now. An old woman who talks incessantly about the stream of specialists and tests cluttering her daytimer and grimly condemning the wallpaper in God's waiting rooms.

Inside of me I yell at my inside classroom: Which one of you is misbehaving? Is it you liver? I haven't heard from you in a while. Not you bowels, you've always behaved yourself. Sort of, as you can be quite secretive and rebellious. You've let down many of my friends. Skin? No cuts or bruises. Good job there, skin. Heart, you keep booming late at night and missing those beats, and that congestive nonsense has got to stop - that's another test coming up. A Holter test to catch you in the act, so to speak.

Inside of me I think: Is all this necessary? Should I just cruise on, oblivious, reading and knitting and tired and wonky on the pins. Does health stress, tests, consults, exams and all the rest of it contribute to a far earlier demise?

And oh yeah:
This is our current weather status here. Worst winter ever. I offer it to my Australian readers, it might just cool you down, if only for a minute, looking at this.

Monday, January 06, 2020

A Letter from my Grandmother

I was reminded of a letter I received from my grandmother when I wrote the previous post. I went through my treasure box of my mother's and father's and aunts' letters (I wish they were all there, my mother wrote to me weekly, long newsy letters before she died just over 4 years after I emigrated to Canada). I am missing hundreds of them. But around 50 are saved.

Anyway I found this lovely letter from my grandmother, sent in the early part of 1970, she left it undated. she refers to my father visiting my mother every day when she had extended hospital stays. My mother was to die just over a year after this letter was written. Granny was never the same after her death. It was a terrible time for all of us.

Granny didn't like letter writing, she always felt embarrassed by her lack of education, she was very young (around 10-11) when she left school to work in service to help support her family. I have corrected her spelling where necessary but I have left her punctuation (or lack of) and grammar stand due to the charm of it and the way I can hear her voice in her words. My mother had that gift too.
I adored my Granny and had the great good fortune to live with her and my grandda for a while in 1946.

My dear Mary

Thank you ever so much for your lovely letter and present you never forget me Mary and thank God to hear you are over your trouble and that God sent you a lovely little baby girl a sister for O*** please God time won't be long slipping Mumma told me that she is very tiny but don't you mind that Mary they run up better than the big babies

Mumma (my mother) was the same too I could only bath her evening second day she was very hardy and Mary Mumma is getting stronger every day thank God for that I suppose you heard she was down to see us and she is coming down on Sunday so I will have this letter ready for her

I was thinking Mary that you will have the summer before you now and you will never miss her getting big what a lovely name you gave her Mary you are great I suppose T** had a say in that I don't think I hope the little darling will enjoy her name what do O**** think I suppose she is great looking at her and her little smile

O must be getting very big please God we will be seeing ye all in the summer and dad and all the boys are very good tis great that G***** (brother) got the bank and that he is very happy. J*** (brother) was down after Christmas he is getting to be a lovely boy he is after getting fine and fat thank God for that

I often felt very sorry for your daddy and the way he used looked after Mumma he never missed going up and down to her he was great to cheer her up thank God for that they are both very good and we have her to go to here for our little chats she is one of the best in the whole world

I am here at 51 Main street and am very happy which is a great thing Mary the flu was very bad thank God I did not get it so far all the families are going on great.

J--- (my cousin) is doing a line with a very nice boy he gives her a very nice time and she likes him

Mary dear I will ring off now and will give this to Mumma when she will be down on Sunday

I hope you make this out.

Good bye and love to Mary, T** O*** and J******* from Grannie xxxx

(PS) Tell T** I was asking for him it won't be long slipping when I will see all the family love Grannie

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A Letter to My Granddaughter

Darling Girl Woman,

You continue to astonish me both in your academic career (Master of Economics, how brilliant you are!) and in your conduct of your life.

I feel so fortunate in having watched you grow and to spend so much time with you, whole weekends, whole weeks, having you in my office every afternoon after school for many years, having you and your mother living in my home in Toronto (albeit a separate apartment) for years.

I have so many treasured memories.

I remember one time picking you up from kindergarten and you clutching my sleeve and said "Grandma, are you warm enough?" Such concern from a 4 year old was indicative of the wonderful, kind person you would become. I remember when you got your first skateboard and I found an empty underground car parking lot and took you there and we spent 2 whole hours (and many times subsequently)while you skated and skated and whooped and jumped.

I remember riding the subway rails with you in Toronto with no destination in mind, just sitting behind the driver and watching the tunnel ahead of us. Getting off, so we would chat with the driver and sometimes getting back on again or sometimes riding the odd escalator and going down once more to ride with no destination.

I remember reading to you and singing to you ad infinitum. And writing stories with you.

We always pool our music and make playlists together and I love that you sometimes find new versions of my "old" music (Elvis!) and adore Ella Fitzgerald and my weird folk music tastes as I love your Pink and Lord Huron and you my Radical Face.

I remember our annual vacations together and the fun we had, it was hard to tell who had the most fun, me or you. I remember us two riding ferries and trains and hiking and playing pitch and putt and me watching you for hours as you rode carousels and switchbacks. And you playing all afternoon on the beach with your imaginary friends.

Oh hiking, lots of hiking. You would always spontaneously offer me your hand when we forded streams and came down cliffs. You would always point out the "safe" rocks for climbing. You were fearless and courageous. And still are.

Which brings me to now, and the time we spend together, you 25, me 76. You are endlessly kind and caring. I never have to ask you for anything. You hold my hand when negotiating icy sidewalks, you ask me for shopping lists so you can lug heavy or awkward items up to my apartment (and you include some desired items without being asked), you wash the dishes without my noticing, you display endless patience with the physical challenges I now face.

You are so wise. I can ask you for advice and you reflect deeply before responding. You are joyful and intelligent and highly sociable. Many comment on your beauty and you truly are very lovely. But it is your inner that shines, how much you care for your mother, your partner, your friends and your colleagues.

You truly are one of a kind. And I am so incredibly blessed that you call me Grandma.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Books of 2019

Not as many books read as I had hoped. My knitting interferes with my reading and vice-versa.

(1)Asymmetry - Lisa Halliday**
(2)How to Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan***
(3)Great House - Nicole Krauss - I'm stuck
(4)A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles*****
(5)Latitudes of Melt - Joan Clark*****
(6)A Ladder in the Sky - John Boyne*****
(7)A House in the Sky - Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett*****
(8)The Great Believers - Rebecca Makkai****
(9)The House of Allsorts - Emily Carr*****
(9)The Magnificent Spinster - May Sarton****
(10)We all expected to die - Anne Budgell*****
(11)Our Homesick Songs - Emma Hooper 0
(12)Rules of Civility - Amor Towles ***
(13)Feeding My Mother - Jane Arden*****
(14)Small Fry - Lisa Brenner*
(15)Gaff Topsails - Patrick Kavanaugh 0 {DNF} {BC}
(16)The Beginners Goodbye - Anne Tyler****
(17)Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing - May Sarton****
(18)A Slipping Down Life - Anne Tyler***
(19)Digging in America - Anne Tyler****
(20)If Morning Ever Comes - Anne Tyler***
(21)The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris**
(22)Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler*****
(23)The Boat People - Sharon Bala*****
(24)Milkman - Anna Byrne*****
(25)August Gale - Barbara Walsh {BC}****
(26)We Were the Lucky Ones - Georgia Hunter {DNF}
(27)Providence - Anita Brookner****
(28)The Crow Trap - Ann Cleeves***
(29)Beneath The Earth - John Boyne ****
(30)A Mother's Reckoning - Sue Klebold{BC}****
(31)Growing Up Next to the Mental - Brian Callahan 0
(32)The End of Absence - Michael Harris*****
(33)The Power - Naomi Alderman*****
(34)Left Neglected - Lisa Genova***
(35)A Misalliance - Anita Brookner****
(36)Normal People - Sally Rooney*****
(37)This Glorious Country - Florence Clothier {BC}*****
(38)Sum - David Eagleman****
(39)Boy Swallows Universe - Trent Dalton*****
(40)The Dreamers - Karen Thompson Walker**
(41)Send More Tourists the Last Ones were Delicious - Tracey Waddleton****
(42)A Private View - Anita Brookner*****
(43)Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner*****
(44)City of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert*****
(45)Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner**
(46)Invisible Women - Caroline Priado Perez*****
(47)Stay Where you are and then Leave - John Boyne ****
(48)Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Grace Honeyman ****1/2
(49)The Innocents - Michael Crummey ****
(50)No Time to Spare - Ursula K LeGuin*****
(51)Dear Evelyn - Kathy Page*****
(52)We are all simply Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler*****
(53)Emancipation Day - Wayne Grady{BC}**
(54)Pond - Claier Louise Bennett*****
(55)Salt Path - Raynor Wynn*****
(56)Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng*****
(57)The Best of Adam Sharpe - Graeme Simsion {BC} 0 DNF
(58)Everyone Brace is forgiven - Chris Cleave*****
(59)Three Women - Lisa Taddeo***
(60)The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead*****
(61)The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliott - Carolyn Parsons**

The very best were 4, 13, 23, 24, 32, 36, 39, 43, 44, 46, 51, 54, 55, 56, 58, 60.

Some were book club choices, some I couldn't finish due to a preference for watching my fingernails grow. But on the whole, some truly great and immensely readable and enjoyable books.

All the books read over the years of blogging can be found here.

I am also on GoodReads if you'd like to find me there.GOODREADS WWW REVIEWS

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

For your pleasure - one of my favourite Christmas Albums - the Bells of Dublin.

Enjoy yourselves wherever you are, whatever the weather, and peace. Most of all peace.

And thanks for the comments, the wee gifties, your presence in my life.

Monday, December 23, 2019


I'm into the sunset pictures I've taken over the years lately. Please don't Freud me, for I Freud myself. Smile

*English spelling.

I was thinking this morning about how much is someone's life made up of pretence? Acting as if we're happy. Acting as if stuff doesn't bother us. Being brave when we feel like crying quietly on our beds. Is it a disservice to ourselves and/or others. Do we do some things out of a sense of duty even though we don't want to, or is this pure selfishness on our parts. What is selfishness? Is it firm boundaries?

I then read my previous post's comments and a commenter had affirmed my using my blog has an honest recounting of feelings and emotions while others hold back. Why? Fear of exposure? Exposure to what exactly? Derision, contempt, disrespect?

A pile on of questions here.

I think many of us are afraid of shunning by those close to us. I have been shunned by family for speaking my mind, for not toeing the line, for not behaving myself, for not reaching whatever standard bar they had set for me. For not being myself in other words. And you know what? The worst happened. They shunned me anyway. And I survived. And life was a little easier as I didn't have to walk on the eggshells I used to walk: Not being overly feminist, not mentioning male privilege, not being critical of male violence, not speaking up to defend the defenceless, not talking about the wreckage of childhood and the influence of the RC church and its vicious control on so-called "family values" resulting in my decision to emigrate from all who would support me in a kinder world in my worst moment which should have been my best.

So yeah, I speak up. And try to set my boundaries, and do what brings me joy and not suffer under the halter of duty or obligation. But it's taken me 76 years to get here. 76 effing years. My 25 year old Grandgirl is galaxies ahead of me when I was that age. For one, she is extremely well educated, her tolerance of crap is zero, her boundaries are clear, her opinions are well thought out and she can argue them intelligently and quietly and reasonably, her self esteem being always intact.

Old age is not easy, acceptance is not easy, but some days, like today, give me room for reflection and careful consideration.

And I can nod quietly to myself and think: It's a good day, there has been joy.

Thursday, December 19, 2019


I must have written about this before. Acceptance.

One thing I know for sure. It is not a constant. It waffles and wavers and falls down and gets up in a different form. It can leave the room slowly or gallop off like a horse.

I'm still not 100% of where I was even a few weeks ago. I have Grandgirl staying with me and it really puts my health into a floodlit situation being around her. The energy my dears, the energy is just not there. And I have had many a private cry and an appalling one in front of her this morning after a miserable night of it.

Don't get me wrong. She is amazing and kind and lovely. Just this pity pot seems very handy for me to stick my head in now and again when I am alone.

I feel the Black Dog lurking patiently, panting in eagerness. And I know I am struggling one more time with the acceptance of my failing body.

I had to get another chest X-ray this week and I hauled myself off but I couldn't get parking and so I circled the hospital for about an hour, just about whimpering. Acceptance I kept saying to myself. Ask for help. Stop feeling like such a burden. One friend could use any money I offer her to assist me as she is impoverished at the moment. Rise up. Count the blessings. Accept where you are and carry on.

As I type Grandgirl is making supper. Kale and tortellini and goat cheese, etc. There is an odd shifting of balance between us. Inevitable. I am so grateful I live long enough to see her grow into this lovely, brilliant young woman who has a wonderful future ahead of her. She's a happy person. Content with her life and her partner and her large circle of friends.

I am reminded of my own beloved granny who didn't do so well in her latter years. One of her daughters insisted on her leaving her home and moving in with her and her rambunctious household that also included her mother-in-law and that was not a good move. Granny missed her village and her friends and her chickens and dog. Independence is truly all important in our senior years as long we it is even remotely manageable. Closing our own doors on the world when we need to. I imagine as I fall into some decrepitude Granny is haunting me a little. But she also had the huge burden of a dead daughter (my mother) which was devastating for her.

I need to accept life as it is today and move away from the "not any mores" and the "neverness" of things I won't be able for again.

Just writing all this turbulence down has really helped me today.


I need to work on it some more.