Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last night, from the deck

Even though we only catch a glimpse of your warmth
As you slip below the headland of the bay
We see you, sun, and entreat you to come forward
Into the days of our longing,
And the dawns of our imaginings.
This once a month thing, dear sun,
Is just not good enough
For your yearning admirers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sometimes, you just have to laugh (and laugh)

My daughter arrived yesterday. She was on standby, so was bumped to a later flight and arrived in St. John's 5 hours later than originally scheduled. This does not faze on her at all, being well equipped with books at Toronto airport, and then having the good sense to be seated next to a travelling companion who became an instant friend. The journey flew, she told me, a 3 hour flight seeming like 30 minutes.

She was tired but exhilarated when she got here. We were overjoyed to see each other as it has been just over a year, the longest separation ever since she arrived in my world forty-mumble years ago. You can't shut us up when we get together. So we pile into my car. Ansa had been on tiptoe in the back seat, mention my daughter's name and she is alert, head to toe. She kept looking for Daughter's dog who has shared her space on more than a few occasions. Alas, not to be. Shamrock stayed behind in Toronto under the care of Grandgirl, who is now, OMG, old enough to handle the animals and, OMG cubed, old enough to stay by herself.

So we pull across the parking lot and whump-whump. Flat tire. Middle of the night. I call the CAA and we sat and waited for the roadside assistance, exhausted but laughing insanely. It just seemed kinda perfect, you know?

And PS, where else in the world would one leave an airport parking lot and the attendant extends a huge dog biscuit to the canine passenger? Newfoundland: we loves ya!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The U.S. is in what century again - the 18th?

I was shocked to read in the Guardian today of the sentencing of mothers to prisons in the U.S. Mothers who have lost their babies either pre- or post-birth on suspicion of drug use or in one case attempted suicide by ingesting rat poison.

An example of the increasing insanity of not granting women full autonomy with their uteri under the sole ownership and direction of the government:

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

And there are many more mind boggling charges in this disturbing article. Read it here.

More and more as the US descends into a madness barely touched upon by Dante, my heart breaks for my many USian friends who are so sickened by all of this.

We may have thought Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" outrageous when first published but another read now makes it eerily prophetic.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Seomra Beag*

* The little room

I don't exaggerate. This is the smallest of the bedrooms in my house. I started out with 5. Yeah 5! But they are teensy tiny dooshy little rooms. This seomra is 6' x 6'. And an odd thing. It sits at the end of its own little hall separated by a door leading to another hall and the other bedrooms. A Coventry situation for any guest, bad or good.

I put a single bed in there, a tiny handpainted round table and a little chair. I hung a cute toiletry holder on the back of the door and put some gorgeous bedlinens and quilts on the bed. In bright yellow. And hung flouncy sheers on the windows.

And no one has ever opted to sleep there. Or if they did, they crawled back into the exclusive owner apartments beyond The Door within a few hours. Some insist it is haunted. I've never slept there, even to test drive the mattress.

So I was left with this brand new bed. And an unused room.

Oh and this room. Ocean view. Grey ceilings, grey walls and grey floor. Imagine the thought that went into that. The previous owner must have been in a depressive state, d'ya think?

Leo wanted the brand new bed. Coveted it. His own is falling apart, he says. He takes it apart today and carts it outside and comes back in. It's no good to him: no headboard, you see. I try and convince him to use another headboard. Can't. Once Leo has his mind made up you can engage in a lifetime argument or just shrug, or just agree. I've learned to agree, it takes the least amount of energy.

I'm thinking yellow for the whole of this room, including the floor, which will become my sewing/knitting room. A place, finally for the sewing machine, in front of the window, overlooking the bay. Floor to ceiling shelves for the supplies. A place for some treasured crafty books - like this: "How to Make Paris Frocks at Home" published in 1948.

It's about time I got at those frocks, right?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blog Jam

For your pleasure, an old photo from 2005.

Well, I am shocked, I tell you, shocked, that it could be some Big Pharma drug I was on that caused my recent depression and other side effects. I mean, this is unheard of, right? Big Pharma run all sorts of clinical trials before releasing any kind of new drug to the general public, right? And then we have the added layer of government protection, our tax dollars working in stringent oversight provisions to save our lives if Big Pharma pulls the wool over our eyes and just pretends it did some testing and monitored negative effects. Right? It's never about the 5 billion dollars and climbing they make from this particular drug. I mean lives come before grubby dollar always, right? Right?
Elsewhere I notice something I had dismissed before in how family talk to their elders. There is a gentle, almost hidden patronization in the tone. Pay attention next time.

"Oh is that so, Daddy, well, well, you could be right."

"Oh Mummy, you little weasel you, you forgot to zip up your coat. Naughty, naughty!"

What I find even worse is the complicitness of the elders in this behaviour. I imagine they find it easier than asserting themselves. As if by this passiveness they don't make any waves. They maintain the status quo by buying into this second toddlerdom bestowed on them by their children or other relatives. It is what's expected from them after all.

And then, when I'm alone with these elders, we have a normal intelligent conversation about multiple topics.

Should this be filed under "I've seen the future, baby, and it is murder" department?
And in the "oh me nerves" division, the play looms ever closer and I find most of my waking thoughts are with the coming debut, swinging between euphoria and rockbottom "ohmygawd what have you done now?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Unspeakable Part 3

I wonder how us humans bear the pain of life sometimes.

I've written about this before.

The death of one's child.

And it happens again. In my community. To a lovely man who chats with me every morning as he takes his daily constitutional. Always dressed beautifully in soft khakis and a walking stick (to ward off unwarranted attention from the odd stray dog, he tells me).
Dan lost his wife a couple of year ago to cancer, a lingering death which broke his heart. This couple gave a lot to the community. She so much that I will write about it sometime.

Yesterday he gets the unbearable news that his youngest child, 44 years old, died from chronic alcoholism. All attempts to help him failed. I can't even describe the pain Dan is going through.

I saw the effects of the death of a child up close and personal with my grandmother who lost a whole chunk of herself that never came back after her daughter, my mother, died far too young.

And more recently, a beloved aunt lost her youngest of 49 to the ravages of cigarette cancer. Yes, I always insist on calling it that. And she lost most of herself and had to be put into care. A woman who was a golfer and bridge player only a month before.

And then, at my high school reunion a month or so ago, one of my classmates, herself in the after-affects of radiation and chemotherapy and barely able to walk, shared that four months before her 38 year old daughter, 3 months after giving birth to her last child, had died suddenly of an aneurism.

Heroes? I don't have to look very far.

They should all get a medal just for suiting up and showing up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Sometimes I just despair of the human race. I really do. Please bear in mind I don't own a TV set so am not subjected to a lot of what the rest of you have to undergo here in North America on yer big screaming screens.

But Weiner's weiner? Seriously? Seriously?

It seems like I can't open even so-called serious news sites without being inundated with blurbs, images, blurbs, yabber.

This in a world that is tanking sideways with commodities in short supply, floods, starvation, climate change, peak oil, etc. Not to mention economic catastrophe.

And apart from anything else, has it crossed any of the media's shyte-for-brains that this is all feeding into Weiner's exhibitionist fetish?

Big time.

H'm? H'm??????

Monday, June 13, 2011

Noticing the Wee, Tiny, Dooshy Things.

It's too soon to say if He is gone but I began to notice the wee things today. How lovely were two phonecalls, one completely out of the blue as she had a 'vibe': my fellow sufferer of these occasional devastating depressions. I had wanted to call her too, as I knew she'd understand but I figured my 10.30 a.m. and her 9.00 a.m. might not mesh for alertness only to have her call me at 11.30. Synchronicity as always. The other call was first thing this morning from a dear friend who had been with me yesterday through cast rehearsals and planning for the play opening (shortly, shortly!) but there was no time for a private conversational check-up. She also suffers from periodic depression. It is so wonderful to have understanding and non-judgement and tolerance of this and I am so grateful to blogfriends as well who take the time to leave a little note of support.

I also have the loan of a good piano keyboard (gawd, I miss my piano!) and played a few old Irish melodies on it today. All symptoms of the black fog clearing. I would think. How lovely to create music even for the self.

I am not taking anything for granted. I really, really want my normal joie de vivre back and be rid of the Hound from Hell who never speaks with kindness but only to berate, condemn and isolate.

I walked around the meadow and noted the mint I thought had not overwintered is pushing its way up in the old sink it nestles in and my basil is smiling and the multiple pots of flowers I scattered under a tree are nodding gracefully.

I thought to remove the little gate I have on my front deck to keep the dog in. She is so well trained now that she won't go down any steps without my explicit permission, thought I. I hadn't realized she merely thought her goodly behaviour performance art.

As I watch Ansa from my office, she stays on the deck for quite a while and then paces by all the windows looking up intently. She doesn't see me with the sun reflecting off the window. With one final sly glance she scoots down the steps. "Excuse me, Madame" I run to the front door and catch her heading off down the driveway, she skulks back up the steps, silently, avoiding my eyes and heads for her bed. Foiled. By Old Two Legs. Damn.

She did made me laugh, though. And that is a very good thing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I am a great fan of Anthony De Mello, leaving the religion out of it. I've read most of his books and admire his wisdom and humour and his great gift of insight into the human condition.

He was a Jesuit priest who was much influenced by Buddhism and incurred the wrath of the present pope, Benny, which adds an additional level to my admiration for him for daring to think so far outside of the Vatican box.

One of his many stated profundities was the fact that we hook our children early in life, as infants in fact, on a drug. That drug being "approval". And it distorts and diverts our journeys as we seek it throughout our lives whether in financial rewards or other material and personal benefits. We get lost in the diversion of it.

I was thinking about this today and remembering a time, not so long ago, when I stayed in Ireland in this rambling old farmhouse with a mish-mash of family and friends and we were commenting on how ridiculous the custom of applauding the pilot for a safe landing of a plane was. It was his/her job! Then we discussed how lovely it would be if we applauded others for a job well done.

So from then on in for the whole month anytime someone swept the floor or washed the dishes or hung out some laundry, they received lavish applause with supportive remarks.
"Beautiful job on those dishes there, sis," *clap* *clap*, "I don't think I've ever seen a floor so well swept there, bro, take a bow," *clap* *clap*. And so on, to much laughter and gracious curtseys from the recipients.

It is a great drug, approval. A terrific motivator. And it's free. And when one is in a depression, a goodly dose is needed.

Especially for the nearly insurmountable task of being vertical.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chatty Cathy

I made a long road trip today. Very long. 500km there and back. We had two cars in the caravan. We were all accompanying a friend who was being honoured with a prestigious environmental award.

In my car was a woman I had met a couple of times before, I am far more vivid in her mind than she is in mine as I am the CFA* and she is an attractive prominent local. She was shocked I hadn't remembered her until I gently reminded her I have met about 1,000 people since I moved here a few years back and how many new people had she met in say the last 5 years. She thought maybe 10. I said tell me their names. She couldn't, apart from mine. I said case closed.

She was five hours in total in my car and I don't think she drew breath once. Keep in mind I am going through a period of depression at the moment which is nearly invisible to my friends (I have a very convincing front but am super-sensitive to slights both real and more often perceived, amongst other depression-fails)so my condition would not register with a virtual stranger.

A silence of any kind was an affront to her vivaciousness. She had an attractive voice, one of those voices that is fringed with cigarette smoke (I was right, she's a smoker)and charmingly anecdotal. A story for everything. A passing 5th wheeler, a truck, her marriage, her house, her garden, her accidents. I turned off the background music and let her at it.

When I got home after the long drive I had to lie down. I haven't been that exhausted in a long time. But it crossed my mind I had completed the journey without a depressive thought. There wasn't room in my head. Seriously.

But now the black dog is here again. Maybe I should suggest a new career for Chatty Kathy as a paid therapist?

*Come From Away

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Running Away

No I haven't. But it sounds appealing. One of my acquaintances is off to northern Greenland. Now normally I wouldn't be envious. Not one bit. But today I am.

But I am ever mindful no matter where I go, there I am. Everything is an effort. Dressing, showering, cooking, working. Being civil is a huge stretch. I normally don't tolerate fools well but at the moment I am just about hissing when confronted with one. Odd that, how many hapless eejits can walk into your life when you have the message out there: Don't. Come. Near. Me.

My little Teachín - or Tigeen,which is easier to say - has had her fair share of trouble. Gordon-The-Gift is just back from Labrador and we discovered the lovely wood floor had heaved in the month and half he was away even though well insulated. He figures he didn't allow room for "breathing" and also used some fancy long staples when nails would have been better. I feel more badly for him than myself as he has to go back to Labrador tomorrow ("Big Money") and won't be back to fix the floor ("No problem - I'll take it all up and reinstall and not charge you")for another six weeks. He tells me he is poisoned at himself. Meanwhile the solar panel (imagine! no electricity bill!) works well and the rain barrel is installed.

The wee washroom is looking good apart from the fact I can't find a micro corner sink anywhere (6"-8") even in marine/nautical/RV suppliers. I saw a perfect one in my friends' washroom in Dublin but I lacked the tools to secretly pry it off their wall and into my luggage.

This too shall pass. One foot in front of the other. I am comforted to know that I am not alone. Your emails and comments are as a balm to my spirit and I thank you all. I find routine is a salvation. Doing the do things, suiting up and showing up. Sometimes mindlessly. But a far better choice than hiding, disengaged, under the covers hoping for the world to blow away.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Act As If

Well, that's what 'they' say. Until 'it' goes away. And it hasn't. In spite of. Acting as if.

Acting as if life is wonderful and I am so lucky and my gawd you are living your dream.

But right now it is overwhelm. Every single phonecall I get needs something from me. Not that I lay the blame on anyone else. Sometimes, I need a phonecall that just says "How are you?" and means it. Not as a prelude to do this and do that and can you and will you.

But all that aside. This thing always comes out of nowhere, sometimes to stay, at the top of the stairs, at the door. I try not to feed it but I do. A poem came into my head last night and I sat and cried. A harsh poem about words and boots and fists that came out of nowhere when I was five-six-seven. Old ghosts gather as the black dog paces, see? And nothing I can do can stop them. Well medication did for a while but the payback demanded was flatlining. As in dead. The unme.

At this age I know it will get bored if I don't feed it and move on. I will show it no fear. I will do the things I have been taught. Take care of me. Walk in the sunshine. Breathe in the deep sea air. Take some pictures. Write more secret poems. Read other blogs that get the same visits from the same black dog.

For I am not alone in this fragility and how comforting that is.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mars and Venus Redux.

~~~Click to get the full effect~~~

He: Gee that picture you posted on line could have used a bit of flash.
Me: I took that picture without flash, deliberately.
He: For gawd's sake, why?
Me: I wanted to leave some of the details in darkness and have the lights on board highlight the floats.
He: But anyone would get frustrated looking at it.
Me: Why?
He: Because. You. Can't. See. Stuff.
Me: What stuff?
He: That's the point.
Me: What point?
He: You need flash. So you can see everything.
Me: What about mystery? The unseen. A ghost ship. Hidden memories of oceans sailed and other cargoes.
He: Next time use flash, OK? Then I might be able to enjoy it.
Me: Unprintable.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Oh Granny, I hardly knew ye.

Statue of the Blue Puttees, the Newfoundland regiment, in Ottawa.

She went away to the mainland just the once. His granny. She'd lost her only child, a toddler, blonde little Catherine May, to diphtheria. And she went sideways afterwards. Took to her bed with her face to the wall, her heart so wrung out with grief that there wasn't a tear left in her whole body. When her bones stuck out all over, they wrote to Agnes, the sister in Boston, and asked her to do something as no one around could help her sister at all with her husband out at the fish all the time. Weeds sprung up everywhere and nothing got planted and her own mother had to come in and do the washing and cook and bake on top of raising her own younger ones for Elsie and Agnes were the eldest of seventeen.

Her sister in Boston sent her the train fare on top of the boat fare and it took her three days to get there from here. Here being a small outport in Newfoundland.

I felt loosened up for the only time in my life, she told Vincent, her grandson. Like I was set free. Like there was no rules. Like I didn't have to go to Mass and confession and my skirts could be shorter and my hair all bobbed up and flashy earrings on my ears, and the shoes, my god the shoes. Agnes and I would share our shoes, we had the same lovely small feet even though I say so myself. And stockings, the variety of stockings! Agnes worked for a young doctor, did his cooking and cleaning. He paid her well for this. My, he was so handsome and kind.

Ah, says Vincent, it sounds like you might have had a bit of feeling there for The Doctor.

Oh go on! said Granny, but she blushed and flustered up and dropped her knitting.

How long did you stay in Boston?

About six months that would have been.

And you came back, when?

Oh that would have been just before the War, before your grandfather signed up with the Blue Puttees and went off never to be seen again.

When exactly before the war?

Well that would have been, let me see, the December of 1912.

And how was everything when you got back?

Oh much better. Much better. I got expecting your father right away and that took my mind off Catherine May, and here she paused and her intake of breath shook along the entire length of her body.

And Vincent fell silent.

His father had been born, the biggest baby ever in their village, weighed at the shop at eleven pounds three ounces, on June 15th, 1913.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Seanachaí*

* Irish for storyteller.

Funny this. I write stories. I love writing stories. I embroider or expand or elucidate or embellish. Take your pick. That is what storytellers such as myself do. Give us a sliver of a theme and we will give you a buffet. No headlines for us. It is all in the details of the dishes on the dresser or the fire crackling in the hearth and the sound of the rain tap dancing on the roof late at night.

I write them well, I think. As to actually reading them to an audience, I don't think I do that well, though I would love to. I would love to climb outside myself and pretend I too am in the audience enthralled with the spin of the words coming from the stage. I aspire to that. The loss of self in the telling. Eamon Kelly had such a gift, if you ever want to see one of the greatest Seanachaís of all time in action, have a look at this:

And because I am known a wee bit around these parts as a storyteller, I get sent to old people's houses so I can sit and listen to their tales.

What I don't tell anyone is that while giving all appearances of being raptly attentive to their stories, spruced up and laundered for me, The Seanachaí, I am listening fiercely to what is left unsaid.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

June Month

My meadow, today.

June month. It is. So it is. June month.

I lit the fire last night when I got in. I was that cold. Today? Started out with a belt of sun but she changed her mind now that all the clothes are flapping nicely in the sea breeze. The front loading washer just about dries them anyway which is a bonus, both to the environment, the water and detergent use.

We had lots of jokes at cards about getting out the skis and everyone enjoying the winter. Still.

How can it be this cold? My mint didn't come up this year, first year in four. The strawberries sorta did. Too soon to tell. We put in the potatoes. I bought some basil which I daren't shove outdoors yet.

Frost still to come, they tell me. And they always know.

Three shrimp boats coming in today so the plant will be busy, but try and buy shrimp here and you'll see the packs marked 'Product of Thailand'. Figure that one out.

The capelin stock has diminished to crisis levels. About 5% of last year so I wonder about the whales as capelin are whale food. Will the whales be here this year? No one has the answers.

I'm thinking of some fruit trees and bushes. The meadow is a carpet of dandelions and forget-me-nots, something about the blue and the yellow does not make me crave a green perfect carpet of Kentucky bluegrass which is what they like to plant here in big rolls once they become citified or suburbanized, take your pick. And then spray it with unmentionables to keep it that way.

A bit of extra money does awful things to the environment, doesn't it?