Friday, July 30, 2010

Gone Fishin'

The writing of this and the reading of others' blogs will be sporadic at best and inattentive at worst till I return.

Don't move.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Box

The Box

Once a year
I open it.
And read.

I wish I could
Read through

But try as I might.
Through tears
I can't.

It is all
I have of her

Her letters
To her emigrant

Full of news
Of homeland
Of life

On the lost
Side of the

Advice, concern
And most of all

Through her dying
One small triumph:

Her words caress
On papery
Bits and bobs.

“You write well,”
“You're a good mother.”
“I miss you.”

“Thanks for the clothes”
“Write to Daddy”
“Another operation.”

“Please come home.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Letting Go

Do our personal traits and attributes and defects and assets become more intense as we age? Like in cooking when we make one of those reductions of raspberries or lemons or wine?

I was writing on another topic for publication and this thought struck me out of the blue.

I'd heard from an ex-friend on FaceBook. She is not a FaceBook friend, I should add. A friendly e-mail. As if nothing had happened between us. We were close for over twenty years. She came to Ireland and visited me when I would go back there in the summers. She was one of the first visitors here in Newfoundland when I bought this house. But now and again she would erupt at me. Out of the blue. She had a very damaged childhood, horrific. Therapy was unable to help. As it is in such cases I've been told.

And this was at the root cause of her abusive behaviour when she got too close to someone. She would say horrible things. Often in public. We had weathered these storms before. I saw through to the broken child at her core and made allowances. But three years ago, her behaviour worsened towards me. To the extent that if I was having a gathering of any kind she wanted to preview my guest list before she would commit to coming. Control issues. I know.

The breaking point came when I was giving her training, at her request, in the preparation of personal income tax returns (she wanted to set up a sideline business – in competition with me – I'm an idiot - I know!) and out of the blue she accused me of n*****ing my employees. To say I was gobsmacked would be to put it mildly. I asked her why she would say such a thing and she said that I acted always as if I owned the company. Well, duh, I said back, I actually did!

When friendship ends there may be grief and mourning and regret. In her case, for me, there wasn't, When she would return in the past and apologise, I would let it go, tell her how much I valued her. This time, the line she had crossed was taboo. I moved on. I didn't return a few phone calls she made. I was done.

And I thought about this recent contact of hers and as I politely responded to the email, and got a wordier response from her I thought, no. That's it for me. I am not renewing this friendship.

Experience has taught me that her abuse of me can only get worse.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Careless Club of "They".

~~~~~~~~~~~The potato inukshuk, held by Leo.~~~~~~~~

I've written about him a few times before.

I saw his heart break again this morning. 'They' promised to take him jigging this time. Jigging is catching cod for domestic consumption only as there has been a moratorium here on the commercial fishing of it so as to replenish the catastrophically depleted stocks.

There are many members in this club of 'They'. It's cheap and easy to join. All you have to do is tell Leo you will take him trouting or berry-picking or to a kitchen party or jigging. And then forget about it.

Thing is, he doesn't. And when he came in this morning having swept out my garage from a project's sawdust accumulation he mentioned his most recent disappointment. 'They'd' all left without him again.

Have I ever broken a promise to you, Leo? I asked him, in an effort to show him we - the so-called human race that is - are not all cut of the same careless cloth.

You've made a lot of promises, he said slowly, thinking, and then his face lit up, and you haven't broken any! You even gave me my very own shed for my bike! (A “bike” here is an ATV).

And what did you do last night, Leo? I asked him as he stood there beaming at me.

Oh, he said, you hardly want to know that. My next door neighbour, Dezzie? Well he's in some bad shape and no one will go near him anymore because of the smell.

What? I said. I've never seen Dezzie, Dezzie gets everything delivered and keeps his curtains drawn.

I thought he might be dead from the booze, Leo continued, so I bashed my way in and put my hanky up because of the smell, but someone had to clean it up and clean him up and his furniture too. It took me forever, just about all night. Dezzie's drinking himself to death and he never uses the bathroom now. Imagine!

I was horrified.

Shouldn't we report this,Leo?

Oh I did, he said quietly. I can't manage to take care of him anymore, it's just too much, so I called the health care number and they're coming over.

As he walked away, straight and tall, like a military man, I sat down and wept.

He is the finest man I've ever known.

'They' are just not good enough to breathe the same air as him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reasons for Moving to Newfoundland (1) The Basics

A few of my readers have asked me the reasons I moved here from a large metropolis which holds some of my family, my friends, my interests (opera,symphony, theatre, art galleries, museums, etc.), my clients and writing colleagues.

There came a time when I'd seen all the operas I wanted to see - some five times - different productions of course. I'd been fortunate enough to attend all of Beethoven's symphonies one year for instance. I'd seen extraordinary curated exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum and saw and heard Handel's Water Music on a barge on the Avon River in Stratford, Ontario and the 1812 Overture and the Everly Brothers at Ontario Place.

I didn't plan to come and live here. The place found me. When I first toured the Irish Loop with my granddaughter seven years ago now, I had this visceral feeling of certainty way down deep inside.
"This is where I must be."

I'm analytical by nature so I've attempted to get to the root of this.

There was the landscape of course. Very similar to my beloved West Cork. There was the ocean. There were the houses, all wood as if risen up from the ground beneath, much the way the deserted dwellings find their way back into the soil once again, leaving no trace. There were the bright painted surfaces in all the colours of the rainbow. There were the names of the places: Heart's Content, Heart's Delight, Come By Chance, Heart's Ease, Harbour Grace.

There were the faces of the people.
"I'm among my own," I thought.

Ah, the people. Even in my own beloved native land I've never known such people. It is as if they came here from there four hundred years ago and kept all that was good and strong, kind and caring, the music and the story-telling and community spirit. And threw away the rest.

Some would call it regressive not to care about what you do and what you have.

But out here on the edge of the Atlantic it brings me right back down to basics. The solid basics of my grandparents and their tiny community on the far other edge of the Atlantic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Poor Downtrodden Whites!

"For far too long white Americans have been told that diversity is something beneficial to their existence. Statistics prove that the opposite is true. New Hampshire residents must seek to preserve their racial identity if we want future generations to have to possibility to live in such a great state. Affirmative action, illegal and legal non-white immigration, anti-white public school systems, and an anti-white media have done much damage to the United States of America and especially New Hampshire. It is time for white people in New Hampshire and across the country to take a stand. We are only 8 percent of the world's population and we need our own homeland, just like any other non-white group of people deserve their own homeland."
—Ryan J. Murdough, a Republican candidate for the New Hampshire State House.

Let me get this straight:

So they stole the land they live on from the indigenous peoples. They then enslaved black Africans to work the land and do their bidding. They then allowed brown people to do the work that was beneath them.

And now they're whining for a 'homeland'?

I get it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Is this what pre-Nazi Germany looked like?

Did anyone else feel sickened reading this in The Guardian yesterday?

Thousands upon thousands of Arizonians (landed emigrants or not) are leaving the state because of Bill SB 107 which allows the government and its agents to stop and arrest citizens on the suspicion of being off-white in colour and possibly undocumented. And if you or I help them, we can also be charged.
Politicians have responded to demands for the border to be strengthened and for more deportations, culminating in SB 1070. The legislation, in effect, turns Arizona's undocumented residents into criminals, handing responsibility for enforcement from immigration officers to the police. Anyone without proper papers who comes into contact with the police – be it for something as minor as a broken brake light – can have their documents checked if police suspect them of being illegal immigrants, and find themselves rapidly deported. Anyone who helps an undocumented person, whether by housing them or offering them work or even feeding them or giving them a lift, can also find themselves in trouble.

Many successful businesses in Phoenix are closing their doors due to this repressive, obscene and regressive legislation. Many parents are leaving because of the fear of future harrassment of their children. Many brilliant students can't attend prestigious universities because of laws against raising scholarship funds to do so.

I am chilled to the bone.
PS And I'm sure there will be some that think I am extreme in my opinion, but from the reading I've done over the years, this is exactly what Germany was doing in the thirties. I would love to be corrected.

Car Mechanic of the Century - only in Newfoundland?

So I take my car to my fairly new (to me) mechanic first thing in the morning so he can assess the damage to my rim and tire.

The tire is hopeless - the sides are shredded. But he thinks he can hammer out the rim. Come back later in the afternoon.

Which I do. There were no tires in stock at his supplier so he drove to a Canadian Tire and picked one up, a good one. Cost him $64.95 plus tax and he shows me the bill.

And yes, it took a while but he was able to beat out the rim with a rubber hammer and it was as good as new.

So he installs the new tire and refurbished rim and tells me I'd lost the hubcap in the blowout but he would poke around the shed out back there and find me one, don't go out now and buy one, just drop by the next time you're passing and I'll have one for you. Free.

So he goes to his laptop and fiddles around and produces a bill for $80.00.

That's wrong, I say.

Too much? he asks.

Far too little, I say.

Well I charged you $3.00 for the disposal fee for the old tire and the taxes and the cost of the new tire so that comes to $80 in my reckoning.

No, you forgot the labour - you had to beat out the old rim and install the new tire and run around downtown to find a new tire plus your own mileage on top of that....

Ah no! I'm not charging you for any of that. You had enough stress with that blowout!

Now that's not right! I protest loudly.

Oh it is, it is! I can't take advantage of anyone's trouble. That's not my way of doing things, b'y.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Timpani of Mechanics

Collective nouns. Love them. My favourite of all time being "an exultation of larks". So why not a timpani of mechanics?

The morning's horoscope read, in part:
"Watch out for car trouble".

Silly stuff, who pays attention?

10.p.m at night. Gorgeous golden moon dipping low on the horizon. My friend and I barrelling along in my car at a safe speed. Lots of moose around here at night. A sportscar passes us at a hell of a lick followed by a terrible squeal of brakes and he weaves all over the road and finally straightens out and we see the moose he has just missed taking off into the underbrush. Sports car slows to a stately pace in front of us. We just about hear his heart thumping and can't resist some snide remarks about his double digit IQ status.

Then out of nowhere we hear a bang, like a gunshot and my car starts to weave. I've been here before. And it's a blowout of the exact same tire.

But this time it's completely different. My friend is a retired mechanic who immediately and intuitively KNOWS how to handle everything. Finds the car jack in its special cave under the driver's seat (who knew?)and finds a rock to bang the shredded tire off when it refuses to budge after the ratchets are loosened. There is something about a man knowing all this stuff automatically that never ceases to amaze me. The ingenuity, competence and brute strength rolled into one tight package. At intervals, two trucks stop. Both are mechanics who offer help. My friend doesn't need any.

If I were alone in my car in this deserted strip of roadway with no cell phone coverage what are the odds I'd have been there the following morning still wringing my wrists?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Entertainment from the Vatican Vanities

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announces the revised Catholic laws. Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

So now we have a further episode of women hatred from this sorry bunch of barnacle encrusted old patriarchs aka Roman Catholic Hierarchy.

They have now classified even an attempted ordination of a woman as equivalent to paedophilia and child rape along with the usual heresy charges (what ever that is - perhaps having the gall to break free of the brain-washing cult?) Yes, lump these women in with the thousands upon thousands of predatory paedophiles who destroyed countless children's lives!

But they are certainly clear on the fact that paedophiles are a cut far, far above females, being as they are still ordained and not ex-communicated.

This comes right on the heels of the announcement from the Church of England that they would be consecrating female bishops to bring C of E into full equality.


Perhaps they're hoping to catch the onslaught of exits by the misogynists of C of E?

What a perfectly vile institution it is. How any female can be a supporter of such hatred and contempt is beyond my reasoning capacity.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For your entertainment.

This takes so little time to do that it really doesn't qualify as a timewaster at all.

You clip and paste one of your blogposts into the blank space and it is shaken and not stirred and results in pairing you with a famous author who is closest to your style of writing.

I was only thrilled that I write like Agatha Christie. I spent an entire summer on a beach when I was 12 just reading everything she ever wrote and announcing to anyone and everyone that I was going to be an author just like her when I grew up.

Why do parents die long before you can show them stuff that proves they were wrong?

Monday, July 12, 2010

No receipts please, we're Newfoundlanders.

I found another handyman.

Thing is, out here at the edge of the Atlantic, no handyman ever ever works “above the table”. All is “under.” Apart from the obvious implications on the economy and taxes, there is the non-return of phone calls when things go wrong with the work they've done. “No, I never did work for her, can she prove it?”

In the business I'm in I positively hate this black economy. It is unfair to the rest of us tax paying citizens and apart from anything else it is criminal behaviour.

So I participate. Reluctantly. I have absolutely no choice or my house would fall down around my ears.

I can't even write about it, much as I would like to, apart from here on the blog. I would be run out of Dodge quicker than you could blink. No one writes about it here. You could never get your toilet fixed or your wires uncrossed or your driveway paved. Blackballed you'd be by the Contractors Non-union. You'd have to pack up and leave the province.

So there's a bemused tolerance of it all. Even from the politicians. It is taboo to discuss yer man or yer woman on unemployment insurance (or welfare) making themselves a pack-load of cash money on the side, keeping it well away from banks and spending it under the counter somewhere else. Untraceable. Sort of. There are ways. I should know. Having done some forensic accounting in my time. Not that I ever talk about that particular skill-set here.

So here's this new fellow out back. Fixing the garage door that only worked properly once since it was installed two years ago. Fellow who installed it didn't return my calls or said he'd be here 'next week' or he was 'busy at the fish now'.

I gave this new fellow a long list of poorly performed past handiwork to fix.

And you know how I'll be paying him.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happy Teens

Teens happiest people in Canada

So said the headline and in hanging out with the grandgirl who will be sixteen this year, I've observed her happiness and the happiness of her friends.

It has astonished me. When I recall my teenage angst, and my daughters' for that matter, she presents a far different picture than ours.

Moodiness is rare. She has a load of friends and they all hang together in a large group. Most evident amongst them all is their marvellous sense of humour, how relaxed they are, how accommodating and inclusive they are of older and younger people, how engaged both politically and environmentally. How talented and versatile they are and how spontaneously they will perform a skit, or dance or hug and comfort each other .

I thought this was all limited to her good fortune, her sunny nature and that of her friends whom I should mention are of both genders and all ethnicities.

Until I read this:

In fact, 96 per cent of Canadians aged 12 to 19 reported they were highly satisfied with life in 2009. That's compared to 94 per cent of teens who reported either being satisfied or very satisfied with their lives in 2008. Each year the Canadian Community Health Survey asks Canadians to rank their life satisfaction, and the data shows that teens are getting more satisfied every year.

And this:

According to the experts, teens are happy because their parents (the baby boomers and gen Xers) are really good at being moms and dads. These parents have put a ton of resources into kids, from school and extracurricular programs, to counsellors and sport and recreation opportunities.

Read more about it here.

This more than anything I've read in the last while gives me hope - the real kind. These kids are all aware of the mess we're leaving them and they're still happy!

Gee, it makes me want to start all over again!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Secret Garden

One of my favourite books as a child was "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was in Fourth Class (Grade 4) when it was read to us on Thursday afternoons by our teacher. I could hardly wait for the next episode, rationed out to us in this way. Subsequently, I took it out of the library numerous times. My parents could never see the point of presenting me with my own personal copy of a library book that had been read so many times.

I bought it for my daughters and again, and I was very lucky this time, I managed to acquire a very old edition for the grandgirl. We all shared the same opinion - we absolutely adored it.

The movies that have been made of it have failed to capture the story very well. The book is quite dark which enhances the slowly brightening beauty of the garden the children create out of emotional need and loneliness.

Of the films, the 1949 version, the second movie adaptation with Margaret O'Brien, which was filmed mostly in black-and-white while the sequences set in the restored garden are in Technicolor, is my favourite. My review of it is here.

I was reminded of all of this when exploring with my dog yesterday I found this wild lost garden and its overwhelming rhododendrons. I took a photo of one and paraphrased Existentialism 101 to myself:

"If a rhododendron blooms in a wild forgotten garden, does anyone see it?"

Sunday, July 04, 2010


The whales are in, following the capelin which throw themselves by the hundreds of thousands on the shore in the annual frenzy of breeding.

The whales come within about twenty feet of the shoreline and their surprisingly soft tomcat calls can be heard above the sheesh of the waves on the beach stones.

When the fog descends there isn't a hope in hell of catching a glimpse.

But these tourists hauled down their beach chairs and little tables and a picnic and a huge dose of patience to the very edge of the five foot waves.

And waited.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Real Thing!

No, it's not that toxic sludge of bottled sugared tap water I'm talking.

I just thought to share this photo I took yesterday out in a community called Gaskiers about 30KM from where I live.

Sometimes there is the confluence of three amazing blues in one day - barely a cloud in the sparking blue sky and this rare incredible blue fog rolls in, admiring itself in
the denim blue of the ocean.

The clothesline was such a bonus in this shot. I'm thinking of adding it (with appropriate ditty) to my greeting card line.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Da Nose and Da Clothes

I'm totally amazed at how programmed I can be when it comes to marketing, even though I haven't had a television in over seventeen years.

I was telling someone the other day how my laundry always smells so wonderful, sheets, clothes, towels, and she asked me what detergent I use and I told her. And that was that. I thought.

And today I'm bringing in a clothes line full of tea-towels and towels and napkins and dishcloths and they're all smelling so wonderful that I stick my face into the laundry basket and inhale. And the penny drops, well - duh.

They smell so wonderful because there are blossoming lilacs all around the clothes line and the fresh sea air has been blowing through them all day long.

Just imagine! This kind of scent doesn't come in a bottle!

City Woman strikes again!