Saturday, December 31, 2011


And by wealth I mean the kind that does not involve money.

And I would add~
and most of all~
A sense of wonder!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Gift of Wisdom

Age presents wisdom (acceptance, too) if we let it. For instance, happenings that would have devastated me years ago no longer do.

For the first time ever in my life I awoke this past Christmas morning with nothing to open. In past years the pickings were getting slimmer but there was always something. It was a strange feeling, this absence of even a token, but also exhilarating in that our worst fears are often nothing to be afraid of. I don't really celebrate Christmas anymore. I find it so far removed from peace and goodwill as to be oxymoronic. A friend worked on the distress lines in Toronto and told me this is the peak season for violence, mayhem and murders and both attempted and real suicides and alcohol poisonings.

So I batten down the hatches, light a candle or two, remember my loved ones, both past and present and cook myself a turkey with all the trimmings. I also carefully select those I visit. I am partial to the families that still believe in magic. And there are a few. And I visited these and shed some tears in private afterwards. Missing my own. Intensely.

But also appreciative of my life, alone or with others. It is always my choice and how wonderful is that for a gregarious loner?

So no, this is not a pity pot post. Just a reflection on my life and the wee bits of growth and evolution I have had on my journey. A wise shaman said to me one time: Happiness is a direct result of the subtraction of stuff.

So I was alone. But not lonely.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Of Barns 'n Sheds 'n Quonset Huts.

It took me a while to notice it, it blended so well into the snow-blanketed hill opposite my office window. It was the occasional spark off the grey sides of it that drew my attention, a brief reflection of the hide and seek sun on this winter day. A new barn I thought, what an odd place to put a shed, on top of a hill fully exposed to the elements of Newfoundland. Must be a newbie come from away. Doesn't know his or her arse from her elbow when it comes to outbuildings and their placements. Ha! I carried on working snorting to myself.

Odd that. I was gazing off into the distance over the hill, figuring out a plot point, a little character twist, when I could have sworn the shed moved. Maybe the owners realized it wasn't such a hot idea after all placing it way up high. It must be over a half kilometre to their house from there. If that indeed was their house below on the shoreline. There she goes again, she's moving fast now. Faster than a hundred people could move her. Even if they were running. And who'd run with a huge shed on their backs? And come to think of it, it wasn't really a shed was it, maybe one of those old galvanized post war buildings, what did they call them? Quonset huts, though hut this surely wasn't. Too sleek for that. The bit of sun coming out was really lighting the thing up now. Thing, did I just say thing? What the hell was it anyway? Oh my good gawd, would you look at that? She's taking off. Coming my way it looks like. She looks more like a circle now. A thick circle, she's spinning so fast, going right high over my house. Blocking out the peeping sun for a few seconds. Look at the birds scattering and squawking and hiding, and the bay all churned up from the force of the spinning overhead. And my dog cowering under my desk.

It's it amazing how disruptive a weather balloon can be?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tears Spring Unbidden

Some things just warm an old cynic's black heart, like these from yesterday:

In my favourite gorgeous wool shop, A Good Yarn, on Bates Hill, two youngish guys come in (all are young to me these days, notice that, elders out there? - cops are in preschool, doctors are in the playground, teachers are working on their ABCs) and request a $100 gift certificate each for their spouses. It stopped me in the midst of stroking some serious yarn from Cupids. Husbands notice their significant others KNIT? Husbands note that a hefty gift certificate from a yarn shop would be the BEST GIFT EVAH for a knitter? And these buddies were together doing this wondrous thing?

Tears spring unbidden.

Me to cashier (just out of diapers) at Sobey's : You must be so busy, but I bet you appreciate the money!
Cashier: Yeah, it sure helps me out, my last year in high school.
Me: So is my granddaughter, what are you planning?
Cashier: Well, I'm only 17 so planning a general year at MUN and then I'm looking at medical school.
Me: Wow, that's pretty long term and committed.
Cashier: Well my dad's in medical school, he's like a total role model for me.
Me: Your dad is in medical school????
Cashier: Well, he's very young, only 38 and just finished 20 years in the military.
Me: You must be so proud!
Cashier: He's one amazing human being, my dad. I would love to set up a medical practice with him.
Me: You will.

Tears spring unbidden.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Tis The Season

'Tis the season
And good reason
To wish you all ~
Light from darkness
Peace from strife

Thursday, December 22, 2011

For Ansa

Through the back door, Ansa, showing off her 5% husky heritage in the snow.

"She is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are her life, her love, her leader. She will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of her heart. You owe it to her to be worthy of such devotion."

- author unknown

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best Christmas Gift

The news chilled my heart. An old estranged friend was having serious health issues. Hospitalized 3 times in the last 3 months. Worse each time. ICU, drips, test upon test. I dithered and dathered. Took stock of how the friendship ended (my choice). Remembered the good times and there were many. A shared trip to Ireland, weekend visits to her parents when her mother had Alzeimer's, connections with each other's children, followed through advice to each other. Shared broken hearts at one point in time from failed relationships. And on.

My mind was made up today when I heard she had been released from the hospital and was home. I looked at the phone. Answered emails. Looked at the phone. What the hell. Even if she hangs up on me. What have I lost?

I finally picked up the phone and she answered on the first ring. When I told her who it was she burst into tears. We talked for two hours. Yes, it is serious what has happened to her. She has an inoperable clot on the brain and her lungs are just about shot from two bouts of double pneumonia. And her driver's licence has been taken because of her condition. The very worst thing, we agreed, and laughed in unison. And we talked of old times and good times. And she remembered things I wouldn't have thought anyone would remember.

And we said a few times, gawd, it's like yesterday since we talked last. And it's like the rubbish that interfered with it all was just that. Rubbish. To be forgotten.

And we both cried at the end of the conversation with promises of more talks, more remembrances and hopefully future plans.

I can't begin to tell you how mighty and fantastic this Christmas gift has been.

I hold her in light and love. And she will get better.

And most importantly: drive again.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ita's List

The graveyard had a festive look to it. A light layer of snow had smoothed out the hodge podge of headstones, black, grey, white, marble, wood, stone, cast iron. Gave it a pleasing December uniformity. I slowed and stopped, taken by a stooped figure bent over a grave.

Her appearance was edging more towards the grotesque than the eccentric. A long greenish coat, hooded. Footwear that could only be described as old-fashioned with ancient galoshes, unfastened, flapping around her ankles as she trod gingerly around the oversized graveyard plot, leaving huge footprints.

A massive scarf, knitted in the colours of a shabby rainbow, bleeding dropped stitches and a half-hearted incomplete fringe at one end was thrown around her neck. She had stuffed a large pair of snow-mobile mitts into each capacious pocket of the coat.

The hair I could see was scandalous. Her yellowed scalp bore an inch of white roots followed by the lankest blackest straightness of any hair I'd ever seen. I felt an unwelcome revulsion at the filth of it.

A much younger woman stood off to the side, bored, texting furiously on a pink pad. She didn't even raise her eyes to look at me as I approached the older woman.

She was very busy, I could see that. Draping pieces of Christmas tinsel on to some small wooden crosses. Standing back to evaluate her handiwork. Moving forward again to adjust the sparkled thread in some intrinsic pattern only she was privy to.

"A time of remembrance" I said to her, a bit nervously, for how dare I intrude like this. A stranger. A nosy stranger.

"Yes, my darling," she said, as only old women of Newfoundland would speak to someone they didn't know. Something caught in my throat. How long had it been since I'd been someone's darling? I wanted to hear it again.

"A lot of family graves here, then?" I gestured at the many crosses.

"I replaces them every few year, my darling", she stood up painfully. I was surprised at her height. A tall outport woman, far, far older than I had originally guessed.

I told her who I was. I told her I was a writer.

"I'm Ita O'Neill, my darling," she said, "and this here is my family!" and she slowly waved her hand out over the plot as if introducing everyone. I bowed generally in their direction.

"I'm ninety-one," she said then, "and over there is my great-grand-daughter, her nose and hands so busy with no one who is here, the way of things now, right my darling?" I nodded. We are all so busy with no one who is here, I thought. It is easier than dealing with those who are.

"And these," and she spread her hands outwards and over the graves, "are my babies."

"Your babies?"

"My ten babies. Imagine that. All dead within a week of their coming into the world. Some right after their birthing. Some within a few days, no doctoring then. No reasons at all. All born with my black hair. All dying. None to have a birthday or Christmas or schooling." She draped a piece of tinsel over the last white cross.

"Well nigh over sixty years ago now since the last one. Albert. I gave them all names when I put the holy water on their foreheads. I never had the money for a real headstone. With the names all fancy on it. A list, like."

"Maybe this way is better," I offered, "Now they've all got their own markers."

"And I'm the only one now who knows which darling is under each cross."

"Tell me," I said, "I'll remember".

Bernadette. Rosemary. Peter. John. Annie. Bernard. Sheila. William. Agnes. Albert.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grouchy Geezer Gripes

Both Nick and Ramana had recent posts on "Undesirables" and after commenting on both and offering examples, it suddenly hit me that the most appalling undesirable in my life is when I am talking to someone on the phone and they take another call expecting me to hold. Or interrupt me and announce "I have to take this other call" leaving me hanging. I also have call waiting (part of the telephone package I have, unfortunately) but the most important call is the one I'm on and I wouldn't dream of taking another call. Isn't it all about respect? I always hang up on such ignorance.

Another gripe is when I have a meeting with someone and they keep bouncing off to answer the phone and then have the gall to come back and say "Now where were we?" and before I can complete my answer, they bounce off again to take another inconsequential call (I hear their side of the phonecall, they are all trivial). I never answer the phone when I have company of any kind over. I consider it rude and every call can wait until my guest/client has left. I have got into the habit of bringing a book to such houses and reading while inwardly wanting to pack up and leave and maybe I should.

And isn't it an odd thing. I know atheists with absolutely no fear of death. The only ones who fear it are the religious. What happened to the promises of streets paved with gold on the other side and sitting at the right hand and pearly gates? Wouldn't so-called holy ones look forward to that? Embrace death, so to speak. Say: "At long last bliss!". But no. They "battle" it according to the obits. Sometimes a long, hard battle. Why?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who's Yer Daddy?

Like I've said before: if you want the news, turn off the news.

This is never more evident than in the illustration below, which shows our media concentrated in the hands of the very few.

Government and media by the corporations for the corporations.

And morons are still wondering why the Occupy Movement?

Wake up!

{click to enbiggen}


Thanks to my blogger friend Twilight here is a link to George Monbiot and his takedown of distorted and irresponsible journalism.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

“Gawd!” he sez to me last night, “I just hate this season, how 'bout you?”

“I wouldn't say hate,” I responded, “Indifference would be my default position on it.”

“Ah, good one!” he sez, “How 'bout the rest of ye?”


Not one person out of about twenty around us said:


“For Gawd's sake,” I said, “Why don't ye all pay attention to those ads and commercials and follow the instructions, like?”

I got a laugh, I did.


PS My interwebz got unbelievably worse, now offering me days of no connection due to too many users on the system, so forgive me if I'm not visiting you as much as I'd like or responding to comments. I am seriously considering going back to dial-up and twice weekly visits to my favourite WIFI cafe. Desperation-top-of-the-line letters to the premier of this province go unanswered. And right she is - why should the Blackberried One care about her peasants?

Friday, December 09, 2011

December 9th

The voices in my head are particularly loud today. Invited voices, I hasten to add. Voices of the past, a child's voice, her 9 year old body hanging upside down from a tree in the back yard at a heart stopping height. A fearless child. A child never without bandaged knees or split skin somewhere on her face. A child who would insist on wearing different coloured socks. "One matches the sweater, the other matches the pants", she would say to me, rolling her eyes, as if to ask what was wrong with me anyway. A child who wore baseball caps and a leather cowboy jacket until they just about decomposed on her body. A creative child who painted black snow and blue trees and red grass.

I write of her every year on this day, her birthday, my estranged daughter. There is a balm in the writing of it. I know I am not alone. Each time I write someone comes forward and says, yeah, me too. It helps.

I was lucky enough to find her on Twitter. So I follow her quietly, not every day as I did in the beginning but every week. Modern technology: I am so grateful for bringing me my precious child but also a couple of very old friends who were lost to me. Estranged Daughter is a film-maker in England: Avant Garde films. Indie films. And also a social activist much like her sister and me. She is also a creative knitter (!) and writer. This much I glean.

And leave her be.

Happy birthday, dearest daughter!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Snivelling, Snarfling, Sorry Little Mess.

When yon skittery elusive microscopic bug bites, one succumbs. A bug that flies from hand to hand, hug to hug, kiss to kiss, public toilet seat handle to careless hand.

I am so cautious about picking up bugs. As usually they translate into "Brownkitis" as my blog friend Grannymar calls it. Bronchitis to the uninitiated. And me and Brownkitis have had a long and turbulent relationship and he refuses to divorce me. Far too fond of my body he is.

So here I am a bit of a mess, with last year's leftover cold relief in my achey body and my dog wondering why we hop from bed to desk to sofa like some drunken two year old.

The joints ping, the lungs sound like they could use a good turn in the tumble dryer. Ah, but the stomach holds up. Good ol' tums. Cast iron, as my mother would say.

And why am I posting all this?

Well as Friko commented yesterday:

Wouldn't it be sad if we couldn't let off steam here, in the company of the like-minded?

Is anybody listening to us otherwise? No, not likely.

Blame Friko.

Monday, December 05, 2011


{Luna, watching over my house yesterday evening}

Now and again, in an obituary here, everyone predeceasing and post-deceasing (eventually one would assume?) the dead person is listed both by name and relationship. Then the oddest thing: “several great-children” will be added. Or in some cases “several grandchildren'. Why, did no one bother to count them? Or was the seed so profligate it was impossible to track?

St. John's, oldest city in North America, must have the most efficient and speediest snow ploughing of its streets I've ever witnessed, but guess what? Its sidewalks have to be seen to be believed. The snow is piled high against them so you can't cross the street (even at pedestrian crossings) and in winter one has to walk in the midst of traffic as the sidewalks are impassable. There are many bad accidents as a result of cars hitting unfortunate pedestrians who have no choice in getting anywhere but to risk life and limb or stay home-locked for the entire winter. I have never witnessed such utter disregard for ordinary walking citizens whilst the vehicular culture is elevated to the level of a sacrament.

Can anyone figure out why DST (Daylight Savings Time) still exists? Days are getting so short here and by the time we get to Solstice (December 21st,) our sun sets at 3.30 p.m. just when we need the health benefits (Vitamin D amongst others) the most. Kids don't get to play outdoors after school (do they do that anymore?) as it's dark. Anyone?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

My, How She's Grown!

Daughter is in South America at the moment and Grandgirl is on her VERY OWN (At 17+ OMG!) in their house in Toronto.

I've been talking to her every night. Not checking up on her or anything as I've assured her, but availing myself of the opportunity to have these nightly chats. I restrained myself from laughing out loud the other night when she said:

"Oh boy, Grandma it is so HARD to live by yourself!"

"How so, hon?"

"Well there is so much to do, you just never catch up with it all. I'm exhausted!"

"So tell me?"

"Well there's laundry for starters. Then I had to take the garbage out after sorting it. Then I had to change the kitty litter. And oh yeah, walk the dog and give her her meds. Then I had to decide about dinner and what to nuke up. And yeah pack my lunch for school. AND load the dishwasher and unload it. It never ends!"

"Welcome to the real world, darling."

"But you're forgetting something really important here, Grandma."

"And what's that?"

"On top of all of that I have, like, hours and hours of homework!"

Well I hope Daughter reads this when she gets back.

You think maybe she'll feel more appreciated?