Saturday, August 30, 2008

Measuring Our Lives

Fishing Stage, Tilting, Newfoundland, August 2008.

I don't knew who said it first but it is a remarkable phrase:

Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

And I had many of these moments in the past few days up in northern Newfoundland in the Fogo area.

The grandgirl and I went on many hikes, climbed many mountains, toured museums, took to the briny and caught dolphins at play and both the humpback and fin whales cavorting. It seems like we spent weeks soaking in these breathtaking sights but in reality it was just five days.

Five remarkable days.

One of many highlights was time spent on top of Brimstone Head which is deemed to be one of the four corners of the earth by the Flat Earth Society. We found this crazy inukshuk on top of it and the views in all directions were spellbinding.

I had the camera at the ready all of the time. Here is another one of two
boathouses and a string of punts in Tilting.

But the best photo albums are in our hearts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Through a Glass Clearly

Photo taken through the Trinity Cooperage window, August 22nd, 2008

We're just back from a road trip to Trinity, a place that the word 'spectacular' doesn't do any justice. The harbour is beautiful, sheltering a town that has been carefully preserved. We explored the functioning forge and cooperage, museums and the churches and marvelled at the age of some of the tombstones. The weather was incredible also.

One of the highlights was a hike, considered one of the world's best, on the Skerwink Trail. It is approximately 5.4 km long, a little challenging in parts due to the climbing. But the views from the over 200' cliffs make it all worth while. Eagles soared, moose dawdled by and we ate wild blueberries along the way.

We stayed here at this great B&B. I'm a total fan of the B&B experience, apart from the friendliness of the owners one gets to meet travellers of all kinds and we actually spent time exploring restaurants and sharing dinners with our fellow B&B-ers in Trinity and of course exchanging life stories. Fascinating life stories. B&B-ers in Newfoundland share a sense of adventure and a thirst for the different and unusual. Being a writer, I so delight in these windows into the lives of others.

I don't know why Ontarians are depicted as dull, plodding, careful and predictable. We had a good laugh on the Skerwink trail. Not too many attempt it as it has an element of risk, but the hikers we encountered on the Skerwink were, without exception, all from Ontario!

PS: I'm heading up to Fogo and Twillingate with my granddaughter for a few days for our annual vacation together so I won't be on line until the end of the week. Happy end of summer all!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fishnet in the Fog

My birthday was yesterday. And it was wonderful. A far, far different day from the plans I had tried to make and the plans that were then substituted. And quite perfect.

One of the lessons of life for me is that it unwinds itself exactly as it should and that I can't control it. And something I keep reminding myself of is that I have to appreciate what's right in front of my face and not look over and yon and bemoan the "lack of" in my life. I think the photo of the fishnet, taken yesterday in St. Bride's in the fog speaks a lot to me: Of not missing the small pile of beautiful colours lost in the surrounding harbour of boats.

I spent the day with the two people I love most in the world, my daughter and granddaughter.

We decided to defer our trip to the St. Pierre & Miquelon islands and spend the day at one of my favourite spots, Cape St. Mary's, which has hundreds of thousands of seabirds to view once you take a hike out on the stunning high cliffs which are covered with wild flowers.

The gannets were a powerful presence, both birds taking care of their chick whilst performing their extraordinarily sensuous "necking" with each other.

The site had an evening performance as an added bonus. with an Irish flavoured old style variety concert which included story telling and the uileann pipes followed by dessert and coffee.

Some days I treasure in my heart forever. This is one of them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No Hope for Arctic Ice Recovery.

"Just last week, a seven-year study led by University of Alberta scientist Christian Haas revealed "drastic" reductions of up to 50 per cent in the thickness of High Arctic ice and predicted the thinning "could soon result in an ice-free North Pole during summer."

Read more here: Unprecedented

This kind of news should create a state of emergency on the planet, wouldn’t you think?

But no, it’s business as usual with the added bonus of more oil to be drilled in the melted newly perma-frosted Arctic, with, of course, (no surprises here!) the battling of Canada, Russia, Denmark, the U.S. and Norway to establish first dibs.

And the wide open spaces of the Northwest Passage will fortuitously facilitate the new shipping lanes freighting the latest in penny tchotkes from China to Walmart.

New bio-hazards in the oceans are predicted with the Atlantic and Pacific melding rogether for the first time in 3 million years with the Pacific sea creatures making the jump to Altantic waters, and vice versa. Yep, 3 million years.

If our descendants survive, will they ever forgive us?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

U.S. $15.6M with interest could be mine!

I have not altered in any way this email that cheered me up no end. I've received many notifications of such inheritances over the years I've had email. But this takes the biscuit in many ways. Note the ATTN with the comma, doesn't even have my name. He was push to contact me, a perfectly nameless stranger. I like how he managed a private search (vs a public one?) He want me to come forward and he can be gratify by me. And he expects my prompt response.

My favourite bit is the decease dying interstate. I wonder how many states the corpse managed to lie on.

The thing is, many, many intelligent people fall for the variants of this scam (commonly called the Nigerian Scam or Hoax) but I note this one is from the Ivory Coast.

On second thoughts, Ivory Coast? Maybe it is genuine? I don't want to miss out on all these millions. I now wish to finalized this issue with my new friend George. Maybe we'll both be gratify.


My name is George Kramo from Cote D I' voire i work as an accountant in our bank i was push to contact you because of my client who died Three years
ago leaving behind Capital amount (US$15.6M with interest) in our bank
here where i work, I am his account manager till date nobody has come
forward or put application for the claim.

During the my private search for the relative recently your name was among the findings that matches the same surname as the deceases name is (withheld for security reason) who died interstate with no Will or next of kin.

To maintain the level of security required I have intentionally left
out the final details. I want you to come forward since I can provide you
with the details needed for you to claim the Funds so that I can be
gratify by you,I will do all the crucial part in the bank to have the claim release to you promptly. To affirm your willingness and cooperation please do so by replying me at my private email Indicate therein if you do wish to finalized this issue with me.

I do expect you prompt response.

Thank you,

George Kramo

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Who says the Incumbent has no sense of humour?

A master of irony, GWB, with a straight face, delivers this humourous speech to the Chinese:

"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights not to antagonize China’s leaders but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

And he has them rolling in the aisles with the following:

"The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings…So America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates, and religious activists.”

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I did a double take when I saw this death notice in The Telegram today. I can't recall ever seeing the word in an obituary before. {Click on image to see more clearly.}

Isn't this redolent of Jane Austen,lavender, lace handkershiefs, knickers put on the clothesline hidden in pillowcases, gloves, hats and sensible shoes, doilies and afternoon tea?

Pocket Oxford has this to say about it:

Whereas Wiki goes several steps further:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Remember no thought to a girl is so dread / As the terrible one—I may die an Old Maid.

"Legally, a spinster (or old maid) is a woman or girl of marriageable age who has been unwilling or unable to marry, therefore has no children. Socially, the term is usually applied only to women who are regarded as beyond the customary age for marriage, and is generally considered an insulting term, more degrading than the term "bachelor" for males. While men can continue to have children into their 70s or 80s, women generally become less and less able to bear children as they get older. So the term "old maid" is only applied to women who are past a child bearing age but have never married."

What struck me rather forceably was that this woman's life was summed up by this still derogatory term. She was a teacher and surely her influence could have been expanded upon rather than filing her under her marital status. I sure hope she had some fun on the way!

What an anachronism for 2008!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Missing: An extra layer of skin.

That’s me.

Maybe I feel things a bit more deeply for I react more sensitively to the situations that others can toss off with a “Next!”

Not me.

I do wish I could move on and leave slights and slings and arrows behind me. Not personalize them so much. Not to feel so hurt.

I’m far too sensitive. "For God's sake," my father would explode, "Why are you always wearing your heart right there on your sleeve?"

I don't know how not to.

With one huge change: this is the stuff I used to drink and overeat over. But not today.

Today I let the feelings wash over me, and allow the flashbacks to old feelings of abandonment, rejection, never good enough, loved enough, respected enough. No stuffing anything down. Feel the feelings. Put them on stones, toss them into the ocean. When I'm ready.

I find out at the last minute my family of origin doesn’t care enough to come and celebrate a significant milestone birthday with me. A party I had planned at the beginning of the year is not going to happen now. I was so looking forward to seeing them here in Newfoundland. Showing them the sights, spending time together under happy circumstances rather than a funeral. I even called it my pre-funeral party.

And to add insult to injury, they leave it to the last minute to tell me they’re not coming. Even relatives that are living really close by to here have made other plans. A multiple whammy of rejection.

I had been sensing this coming when a huge void of silence refused to be ignored anymore. Their original enthusiasm had faded into forwarded jokey-e-mails, never anything personal and my birthday party never addressed.

Is this the emigrant experience, I ask my emigrant friends. Yes, they say, it is finally catching up with you.

I used to go back to my family of origin frequently but in the last few years I felt it was always this one-way scene, they would only come here to Canada when the visit was tied onto the end of a business trip.

I went back for weddings and christenings and just to be with them all. Sometimes several times a year.

And I know it wouldn’t matter as much if I was in a partnership. All my siblings are in partnerships where family rebuffs, real or imagined, are in turn buffered by their significant others.

I wonder about family ties. Do they exist? Is it all ephemeral? Do they just inhabit my imagination?

I’ve changed my plans. I won’t go back to Ireland in September. For the first time in my life I feel this real emotional distance from them all.

I would be staying with strangers.

I hesitated about posting this, but here I am warts 'n all (and , of course, anonymous!).

Sunday, August 03, 2008

BLOG JAM (Literally!)

My Bakeapple Jam, August 2008

One of the advantages of living here is that berries grow in the wild and are yours for the energy of picking them. The first of the season are bakeapples, sometimes known as cloudberries, which grow in the marshes. These berries are used for jams (jellies) and salsas and chutneys. I love the taste - I find them slightly reminiscent of the gooseberries of my childhood but with their own unique flavour and gorgeous colourings of amber/yellow with a touch of crimson, co-incidentally the colours with which I am going to paint my dining-room/kitchen.

Next season up is blueberry (and I have these at the back of my property) with after that the partridgeberry and finally the rosehips from the wild roses that spring from every hedgerow.

Also, subsequent to previous posts, the potatoes are thriving:

Potatoes' Progress ~ August 3rd, 2008

This sure gets my mind off other matters - both personal and political, which tend to chew away at one's equilibrium. If we let them.