Saturday, October 30, 2010

Across A Crowded Room

See Part 1 HERE
See Part 2 HERE

Ah, isn't the journey always more interesting than the destination?

I knew in my heart this intermission was going to be one of those fragile floral tealights, the ones that float in a tub and last but an hour or so. There was going to be no wide ranging, long distance affair with him. And I surprised myself by being fine with that.

So remembering the words of my rebellious old Granny: we only regret the things we don't do, I made the snap decision to just enjoy the company of this gorgeous man for whatever kind of time he could offer me and throw all caution to the wind.

And what a time we had over the next few days! He was heading for New York early Tuesday so we set about just enjoying some touristy things and each other over the two days that were ours: Sunday and Monday.

He never talked about his fame – all the movies he'd been in, the plays he had done - I had not been aware of the extent of his roles until after he had gone. Instead, he shared his writing with me, his love of art, his desire to break free of familial restraints (aye, there's the rub for any woman seriously involved with him, I thought) and his desire to live globally. Scotland was just too insular a place to contain him.

We succeeded in creating a psychic haven for two in those incredible two days. The outside world did not encroach. I don't know what cell phones, blackberries and Ipads would have done to us if it were today.

I've watched some of his movies over the years and, yeah, okay, did a bit of bragging: Guess what? No, you didn't! Yes I did!

With the re-awakening of my memories I recently google-tracked him and found he is alive and extremely well and still performing and has added pages and pages to his life's work, including a fresh young wife, art exhibitions, additional movies, TV series and many books of both poems and memoirs. He is still marvellously handsome, still causes me a slight stoppage of the heart just looking at his gorgeously aged face and I would drop everything just to spend a wee bit of time with him.

And as to the rest of it?

He was a man who lived and breathed poetry and extolled and revelled in the beauty of the female form. Add that component to anything else you're imagining and you've got it.

Je ne regrette rien.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You May See a Stranger

See Part 1: Some Enchanted Evening here

There were many ovations for him that night. Once I tried to stand up and join in but didn't trust my knees so I remained seated as he bowed, slowly, graciously in his gorgeous jabotty shirt with its lace bottomed sleeves and his well turned ankles in their kneesocks with little tassles that matched his clan dress tartan kilt and shiney patenty silver-buckled shoes...l'd better stop already with the adjectives, it's all a bit too much for my aging heart.

Anyway, he eventually marched down off the stage and walked over to the table yet again and taking my right hand in both of his proceeded to escort me backstage from the theatre.

I'm very well brought up so I managed to stammer: “I must dance with those who brung me!”
So he gallantly went back, me in tow and bowed to my couple friends and invited them to join us – “for a wee dhram!”

They, of course, were over the moon at this turn of events, being in the Great Man's dressing room sipping on some priceless ancient Scottish malt. I kept looking at them with a cocked eyebrow and at one point, as he changed in the small adjoining bathroom I said:

“Gawd, guys, when you take a girl out, you attend to her every, and I mean every, need!” Loosened by the second wee dhram, we dissolved into gales of laughter.

After about a half hour of interesting chit-chat (the female of the couple was a Mackintosh devotee out of the Glasgow School of Art), he politely said to my friends:

“Ach ye'll ken this, but I need to be alone with mae wee lassie nae.”

His wee lassie.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Enchanted Evening

I hadn't forgotten about it. Of course not. It was just slightly submerged in the tide of other memories until I went over to Marcia's place yesterday and it bobbed to the surface.

It was like this. Thirty years ago. I was freshly separated. A little bruised and raw. Couple friends invited me to one of those dinner theatre "Evening With....." events. A Scottish night, focussing on Scottish literature. So I kilted myself and off I went with them. And the strangest thing happened. The well known star of the show kept looking at me during the first half of the performance. I admonished myself that I was surely just imagining this. How on earth? He was handsome, tall, kilted and his accent and intonation would buckle your knees out from under you.

To my utmost astonishment, he headed right to our table at intermission and asked to sit down, politely fending off the autograph seekers.

He leaned over to me. "Ach nay you, ma wee lassie, and me," he growls into my right ear, "We'll escape after this wee show and spend some time."

Did I pay attention at the second act? Could I hear the rich Scottish burr of his incredible voice over the pounding of my heart?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well, I knew that but now the rest of you know too!

Photo taken a few minutes ago from my front garden.

National Geographic Magazine has declared the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland, where I live, the top coastal travel destination IN THE WORLD!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gone: One Red Brick Wall

Sometimes you have to take a good long run at the thing and kick it to the ground. I did. I gathered some thoughts I'd had on aging and what a total crock our perceptions of aging are, it being a 7 billion dollar a year industry to convince us to buy everything from anti-aging creams to sexual dysfunction products as we are falling apart at the seams doncha know and ewww so disgusting with our incontinence and bad teeth and saggy boobs and varicosey everything elses.

Re-pul-sive us olders are I tell ya.


So I exploded a few myths, read some of 98 year old "Dad's Tomato Garden", and put the thing to bed. On time.

And FACT. Did you know that MOST(80%)seniors go directly from independent living to the grave?

See what bullshit crocks of brainwashing we've had?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Red Brick Wall

I'm one of those people. I never run out of stuff to talk about or to write about or to read about. The inside of my skull has been a very busy place since I was toddling around. I can never remember a time I've been bored. I would look forward to being banished to my room when I was growing up. Delighted in fact. Books, writing, drawing, gazing out the window at the neighbours, watching the birds or the neighbourhood kids or what the missus next door was doing to her clothesline or her roses. Without interruption or correction.

And here I am stuck for a column for the newspaper that is due in a day. I'm at the point where I'm refusing to think about it; as the brick wall, which began building itself a day or so ago, is rising brick by brick the more I ponder this dilemma. I can even visualize this wall. Red bricks, white mortar. Very plain. I'd prefer if it was a dry stone wall of the Irish countryside, but I gather one can't be choosy in such matters. So it's very Canadian - red clay bricks and pristine white mortar and I'd love a bit of ivy planted at the base to give it a bit of interest but that's not allowed either. Even some nice cast iron railings at the top. But no. Just this symmetrical red brick monstrosity getting bigger and bigger and more boring each time my brain jumps to the column.

So, I share it. In the hope the muse strikes soon. It always does.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Modern US President.

Being an uber-fan of Gilbert & Sullivan and their incisive operettas about the political shenanigans of their time, I was thrilled to see the Pirates of Penzance lyrics updated for President Barrack Obama.

H/T Time Goes By

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skid Row is Everywhere

The news was already there when I got up this morning.

Harry* set out to drink himself to death when he was only thirty after the wife and daughter left him and the only one who could put up with him was his mother.

And then she died five years ago. And the family home started to fold in around him. A light fell off the ceiling, a toilet leaked. Furniture collapsed. Newfoundland Power cut off his electricity and the wainscotting hung off the walls. Floorboards went missing - used for firewood, more than likely. From the outside of the house you'd never guess of the devastation within.

It got so bad that someone lent him a camper and he moved into this, parked on his own driveway, with his dog and a kerosene heater. Things worsened and Health Services were called and they moved him into a unit in a senior residence which he proceeded to destroy. His dog was taken by kind neighbours and is a playmate of Ansa's.

Health Services tried to get him admitted to a detox and rehab programme but he would get belligerent. They called the wife and daughter to try and force the issue to no avail, they had washed their hands of him.

He weighed 300lbs and was completely yellow in appearance when he had a stroke 5 weeks ago. They managed to dry him out in the hospital during his month's stay and his residence was fumigated and cleaned out while he was gone. He was told if he wanted to go home to his government housing unit it would be under the condition that he have a full time personal home care assistant provided by health services .

The assistant started yesterday and brought healthy groceries into the unit. When he left at the end of the day Harry was seen getting into his van and went missing for 4 hours.

He finally showed up around 9 last night, looking the happiest he'd ever been seen, they tell me.

It was the assistant who found him. On the second day of his job. Harry was sprawled on the floor in his living room with his arms open wide, looking like some kind of angel, my friend said. It wasn't long before the police came with forensics and yellow tape and cameras and abrupt words to tell the specators to leave the scene.

Speculation has it it might have been murder.

My take is suicide.

He was 49 years old and had been trying to do just that for the past twenty years.

*not his real name, but all other details are actual.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I woke up this morning to brilliant sunshine and fluffy white puffs of cloud in the azure sky.

I've often said the weather predictors don't know their elbows from an overcast and here my theory is proven one more time.

I know there are far more serious issues in the world than my little weather tantrum. But there are so many I'm afraid my head would explode if I got started.

Meanwhile the chicken-innard examiners at the Met. Office still predict an endless deluge of rain for these parts.

They should take a walk outside.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


It doesn't often get to me. I love the variety, the occasional wet day, even snow to the boot tops and the sunstroke warning stuff. But this is today's weather - destined to continue forever.

Depressing? Yeah.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I've always hated the phrase (and usually from girls and women) "I just hate math!" or " Math is so not a female thing!"

When on earth did that perception start? Women have always being doing math. Try making a cake and measuring out the ingredients, or even eye-balling them or calculating how many to feed with the recipe. Math.

Try embroidery, measuring out the floss, counting the stitches, calculating the design, the hem. Math.

Try knitting. I started some gift scarves for Solstice today using an old pattern of my paternal grandmother whose portrait shows her wearing this pattern in a jumper. If that's not counting and calculating what is? The quantity of wool, the repeats of the pattern, the border of the design, divided, multiplied, don't forget seam allowance, both sides, mind you. Measure and repeat. Size of needle to get the required swatch in inches and stitches. And I'm not even mentioning the complex arithmetic of old Irish aran patterns. Math.

Dressmaking. I would design clothes, even made my husband's suits at one point. All measuring and calculating. Fabric is expensive. Measurements save money. I made my own wedding dress. And all my daughter's bridesmaids' dresses. Math.

I could go on.

Amazing what thoughts go through one's head as one sits in front of the fire, the only sound that of the crackling logs, the dog's even breathing and the whisper of the needles.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breaking into Bliss

What a lovely sentence I heard on the radio driving home tonight.

"Breaking into Bliss". Freeman Patterson was being interviewed at length on CBC and this is what he said when he described moments of acute observation and feeling joyful with one's world. He has survived many challenges and pain.

And it got me to thinking of when we reach that other side of pain, we earn those stripes of bliss. I truly believe we can only break into bliss if we know what deep dark pain is.

Tonight, I was at Easy Down Easy, a play by Gordon Pinsent when I broke into bliss myself.

Thinking: by gum, I'll be joining Gordon soon in this playwriting thing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Laundry Observations

What is it with me and laundry anyway? And here too.

I have two very fancy machines here for taking care of the dirties. Frontloading beauties.

With portholes for observation if you are so inclined.

When they were new I was so inclined. I spent a good month or two singing the praises of a deceased beloved aunt for leaving me a small but rather tidy inheritance in her will a couple of years ago. So I beamed beatifically and gratefully at the machines in their efficiency. Prior to then I had gone all primitive with a pair of manual elbow-grease intensive little guys.

This windfall has eased my life considerably by providing the funds to buy such swish and environmentally green machines and the services of an electrician (several actually, long story) to wire them up. Along with some other necessary but formerly unaffordable life enhancing items.

I like to hang my clothes outdoors in the stiff sea breezes but wonder why in Maude's green earth we still haven't invented a proper clothes pin. My spring loaded ones break and drop off the line at an alarming rate, so I use the old fashioned wood kind which can be hard to wield and a challenge to buy in our disposable society.

Whatever happened to washing soda? It would do a powerful job on cleaning clothes but I can't find it anywhere.

Like wise bluing – anyone remember bluing?

I remember my grandmother's ceiling clothes-drying rack that could be lowered or lifted in front of her big open fire by means of a complicated pulley on the wall. She would fit a huge amount of clothes on the long wooden dowels and then raise it up so you wouldn't run into it.

Whatever happened to airing cupboards? We had one in our house when I was growing up and each shelf had a label thumb tacked to the shelves identifying what was in there (it was very deep). I would love taking out my warm clothes in the morning.

Waxing a little nostalgic for the way things were today. In spite of all the labour - not to mention the downside of the soot and steam from the fires.

On second thoughts, we've never had it better. I just remembered my mother boiling my father's handkerchiefs. Ew.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thanks for the Enlightenment, Joey!

With the appalling upsurge in the suicides of TGBLT youth in the states, it is comforting to know that the Catholic Church is opening the arms of understanding, compassion and sympathy as per the doctrine of its Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper channeled through Joey's writing on the topic long before he was a made man.

"To choose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent".

"As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one's own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood."

To be totally simplistic here:

I love the part about the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper's Sexual Design. Logic says: If (S)he made TGBLT
naughty bits, surely (S)he would want one to use them?

AND as to "disordered sexual inclination" - personally I would be more inclined to apply that to the paedophiliac proclivities of the RC clergy themselves, wouldn't you?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Crystal Clear

Picture taken today from my deck, moments before a speedboat broke the sound barrier.

And these things I swear to be true:
We have to be open.
We have to be available.
We have to put it out there.
We have to suit up and show up.
We do not have 200 years to live.
We must make every moment count (see above).

I've talked about my dream book, here and here for those interested.

Well, another dream began today. At noon.

I am writing, directing and producing a play which will open in the spring and tour for the summer, with rehearsals all winter.

I will hold auditions over the next weeks and start rehearsals November 1.



Sunday, October 03, 2010

Blog Jam

I try and avoid rigidity, I've observed older people who fall into the trap of sticking to an agenda of their own choosing and not veering off that path come hell or high water.

This was reinforced by The Da.

A life of discipline and ritual, he would intone, makes for a happy life.

He would have had a lot of problems with my day today.

I had plans. Nothing engraved on the proverbial stone. I was going to head her on out, it being a gorgous day 'n all around 2-ish AFTER I had prepared my evening meal in the crock pot (slow cooker). This involved chopping and peeling and browning and spicing and firing in a can of tomato paste as per the recipes of my dear dead mother-in-law. She passed this major secret of her marvellous dinners on to me when I gave her her first grandchild.

She would stock up in the only place that carried tomato paste in those long departed days - Woodford Bourne in Cork City. Anyone else out there remember them, around for centuries with the exotic smells of the spices and teas and coffees that absolutely no one that I hung out with could afford?

Anyways, where was I? I had just about started on the slow dinner, next was jump in the shower and next was load dog and camera into the car and go to the beach for a brisk walk along by the powerful waves over at St. Vincent's and maybe drop in to friends along the way to scrounge a cuppa and then head on back here for dinner, all cooked and waiting like I had a personal chef or my mother working quietly behind the scenes of my life.

And my daughter calls. And we talk. And we talk. And we talk. For something like 5 hours. And the plans of the day get shelved.

And we sort out the world. And we discuss the books we share reading. And the grandgirl's being 16 today. And recipes. And life. And love. And travel.

And made plans for her to fly here early December and then drive back with me to Toronto where I will stay for a month to 6 weeks. This should be interesting as fate has thwarted our plans more than once. See here and here.

You know how it is. Day suddenly becomes a breathtaking sunset, and I took a picture of it facing east. Still unwashed in my PJs and surfacing outside, for the first time today, on my front deck. And my dinner will now be at midnight.

And who cares? A five hour conversation with a beloved child is worth more than gold.

You were wrong, Da. Again.

Friday, October 01, 2010


I was thinking. I do a lot of that. I'm over-analytical by nature. Not necessarily a good thing. Well a good thing when it comes to work and earning capacity I suppose. But a poor thing indeed when it comes to relationships.

I get argumentative, I get self righteous. I clamber on to the podium and while not going to the extent of pounding a finger into your chest I mouth off. A bit too much. I could excuse it and tell you I came from an autocratic household of origin where opinions outside of those of the patriarch were not tolerated and often were punished.

But that is a very fragile little hook on which to hang my request for your tolerance. Surely, you'd mutter, with the years of therapy you've had you'd be a little more tolerant of the opinions of others?

I find that as I age I hit a form of crabbiness I used to condemn in others who were older. A thin layer of disrespect for the beliefs and opinions of those who would dare to have the unmitigated gall to disagree with me.

I found this undesirable trait in myself last night while in a conversation with others about the Catholic Church and its disposal of properties for the settlement of lawsuits brought by the victims of paedophilia.

Yeah, we're all sick and tired of that particular issue. But I couldn't leave it alone, I climbed up on the box and proceeded to vent my opinion on the pope preaching poverty and servility while he swans about in custom made red leather shoes and glittery dresses and lives in a palace.

To a bunch of practising Catholics.

Who politely listened while exchanging tiny glances with each other.

Who were tolerant enough of me not to rebut.

And I had the horrifying thought, later, that now I've reached the age where I'm becoming that batty old eccentric with a purple streak of crazy running down her middle.

Just ignore her.

She's loopy but lovable.