Sunday, June 30, 2013

Did You Ever Lose a Day?


Penne with pancetta, pesto, sultanas and cauliflower. Made in a fog.

I just did. I can't find it anywhere. I was out on the roads today, doing a bit of training, avoiding the phone, I knew it was full of demands on my time. You know how that is? It was Gregarious Loner time, emphasis on the loner part. I had upped my mileage and as is my wont I make of these long treks a kind of meditation. I hear the brooks, the soft lap of the ocean, the birds, oh the myriads of sounds from the birds!, I feel the slight fog on my face as I listen to the far off foghorns warning the ships at sea, count the wild flowers which are consuming the roadsides, wafting a heavenly scent which mingles with the pinewood.

I thought to myself: I can do the phone catch-up thing tomorrow, I'll be up to advancing out, being entertained and entertaining for some visiting guests of friends. Sunday is like a vast beautiful blanket in front of me. I'll finish the short story, I'll respond to some emails, hey, I might even go and whale-spot too. "Good times" as Daughter is fond of saying.

But something wasn't right. You know how that is. I'd called my old friend in Dublin this morning as it was her birthday. But surely her birthday was Sunday not Saturday? June 30th. That is Sunday. Today. OMG! I stopped in my tracks. What happened to Saturday? Think.

I'll tell you what happened to Saturday. Saturday I had an 8k race scheduled at just about dawn. But back up to Friday night. Friday night from hell. When I'm sick it's like the end of the world. And Friday night? My stomach was in such spasms that there wasn't a wink of sleep to be had and I searched the entire house for it. Could. Not. Be. Found. Around 4 a.m. I gave up and took an ibuprofen. I rarely take meds of any kind. At 6 a.m. I finally fell asleep. At 10 a.m. I woke up again. Death warmed up doesn't even begin to describe the pitiful face I saw in the bathroom mirror. I crawled back to bed. And missed the race.

Saturday must have happened without my participation. I do remember cooking a lovely Italian dish from memory which involved penne and pesto and sultanas and pancetta and cheese. But I was like a bystander. The pain finally left me sometime in the afternoon but me and the jam-jams never parted company all day.

I'm prone to these occasional debilitating bouts now and again. But I've never lost a day to it before.

And I'll never get it back. And that makes me sad.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Just an old box

I hesitated to throw out this box. These trays were all the rage in the seventies and eighties. Daughter was at a disposal of household contents event last year and was given this, unused, in its original box. I remember giving a few of them away as gifts in my time but lawdy knows what happened to my one, it could have worn out or got lost in one of the moves. I was delighted when she gifted me with this wee treasure.

It speaks to me of simpler times, fondues, stuffed tomatoes and green peppers, basic salads, corning ware. These hot trays would keep everything warm on the sideboard or counter. I was one who used corning ware for everything, stove top, oven, serving, baking, frying, broiling, roasting, coffee making, - even my tea-pot had the traditional cornflower emblem.

Back then, as young twenty-somethings, our crowd would entertain each other every Saturday night. It was cheap and fun and everyone brought something or other. We were all broke, living from paycheque to paycheque and our little ones ran around and guitars came out and we sang and told stories and passed the odd spliff and shared big jugs of cheap wine.

In my move to a zen existence, this box has to go, but I thought to capture it, its essence so to speak, before it winds up as a fire starter in my wood stove.

Nostalgia swirls like a fog sometimes around the most unexpected artifacts.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pearls to Swine?

My latest card.

Kinda harsh, that header isn't it?

I was chatting to a close friend today as it is her birthday. She's an artist and we rambled on, as old friends tend to do, about the reception given some of our creative gifts.

Example 1 for me was a beautiful afghan I had knitted as a gift for some family members. These afghans are designed and executed by me and encompass over 100 hours of my time, effort and love. And I didn't even get a thank you card. I suppose a quickly written cheque would have been more acceptable to them? Probably.

Example 1 for her was a painting she had created over days in her studio especially for a couple who were celebrating their 45 year wedding anniversary last Saturday. The gift was received with a reluctant "oh, that's nice." and left on the floor while the couple went on to ooh and aah over some crystal glasses.

I was reminded of a reaction by another friend last week when I presented her with 6 of my cards of local scenes with my poetry on the back. "Oh, I have no use for these" she said as she handed them all back to me.

There are dozens more examples. And they far outweigh the appreciative comments or even token "thank yous"

It's easy to say not to be hurt or diminished by such behaviour as maybe there are some who feel valued only by the money spent on them and not the painstaking love and effort put into a one of a kind creative offering.

But we're both human. And struggling artists. And it's a lonely old world when you spend most of your days in creative solitude.

And an appreciative word doesn't go amiss once in a while.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And then we die.

I think: why are we all so afraid of letting people in? Telling the truth? Risking our feelings, our fears? Sticking it all out there? Helping each other understand. And care. For that is true intimacy.

Most people are shut down, terrified of someone getting in there. Afraid to express joy or sadness. Fear of what exactly?

I had a long conversation with someone tonight. We are not afraid to express our troubles, our thoughts, our fears to each other. And we did. We talked about the fear of making decisions. The terror we feel when loved ones suffer in self-imposed isolation. The fear of letting go. Looking into the void. Contemplating the unknown. We had each let go of businesses recently and find other issues surrounding those decisions grabbing us by the throat. How to stand firm. In his case, how to say no to the new owners leaning on him and being disrespectful. In my case a few issues around the financial impact of my particular revenue stream vanishing. Fear of the unknown again. Because there's no impact yet. So what use is my worrying and anticipating?

It's good to air the inner laundry, to hang it all out and begin to laugh even. An old adage I heard once was if you walk into a room of trusted friends and everyone agrees to share and exchange their troubles, at the end of the evening you gladly pick up your own again and walk out of the room feeling grateful.

What triggered this odd wee post? I have a strong desire to heal relationships that have gone sideways. No idea why they've gone that way. All I know is that most people don't reveal their inners: their hurts and disappointments or feelings of rejection, their love.

I had the oddest dream last night. Where I was sitting in my childhood home around the dining room table in the gloaming with the family and I lit many candles to 'light the darkness' as I explained to my father. Very calmly, he told me to leave the room, that I was banished from the table. I sat down at the piano in the front room and played some Mozart and felt overwhelmingly happy. And then I woke up.

And I found the dream rather profound on many, many levels.

A sense of urgency is good. A sense of our time here being so finite. And unfinished business is baggage I don't need.

Make some heavy decisions, I sez to myself. Risk, I sez. Action plan, I sez. Now, I sez.

And myself listened.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Small is beautiful

Sometimes I tend to overlook the small stuff. But today, on my daily constitutional I brought the camera along. I love walking by the shore in the evenings, watching the light play on the water, the crows who line the shore learning new tricks (picking up the leftover crabs from the seagulls and dropping them from a great height to crack the shells), an errant seal bobbing up and down in play, rabbits, shrews, and flowers. Oh, the flowers that dance up when the sun has been kind. Like today.

The wild roses (dog roses my Granny called them) were brought over from Ireland back in the day and they proliferate everywhere here. I make rosehip jam from them in the fall - a jam I introduced to here.

Then these little purple flowers emerge:

The irises and lupines are on their way.

The outburst of green has been sudden here. Overnight we go from maybe-winter to full-fledged spring. Summer comes in July. And I hear the whales are in.

I must track them down. Tomorrow.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I love travelling in a car, where everything I just about own is thrown in, nothing is left behind and the open road is my friend, music going, dog in her car-bed, me and The Travelling Wilburys singing away in tune with each other.

Travelling across the Atlantic is quite nuther matter entirely. What to pack, what not. I'm a good packer, I should add. I rarely, if ever, have packed anything I haven't worn when there. Laundry facilities are usually good. For instance: I pack a cotton kind of nightie as a bathrobe for guest/hotel towels are usually too small and not conducive to galloping around hallways looking remotely decent after showering and your standard bathrobe is out of the question for packing. I will be moving around a bit when there, it is particularly challenging as to where I will land for a day or so as there are more friends and rellies to see than there are days to accommodate everyone. That's where the knapsack comes in.

As I get older, luggage weight can be a challenge. My arms have never been my strong suit though as I was bragging to a friend recently back in the day I could bench press close to 400 lbs with my legs. Seriously. Better than most muscular men. My legs have always been super strong. But they're absolutely useless when it comes to luggage carrying. And it's only me, no sturdy Charles Atlas striding beside me manfully managing all the bags as I hold my pinkie up dangling my lil ol' evening purse. I have to carry it all, switching airports with my big girl knickers on.

Light luggage is the best. And with that in mind I found one of those duffle bags on wheelies, soft-sided, multiple handles for manoeuvering on escalators, etc. and one of those dream knapsacks by Adidas, also very light and long with straps on the outside to hold jacket, whathaveyous and enough room inside for netbook, change of socks, ebook, journal, camera, etc. See photo above. Brand new both of them, found at a thrift store, and the price?? Under $8.00 for the two. Yes, you heard that right. I've been scouring thrift stores for a while. For I knew that the days of my hard-sided and more heavy luggage (though glamorous) were over.

I wish to travel way into old age if possible and this upcoming trip to Ireland is a total trial run for travelling alone with manageable light luggage.

So I'm wondering if you out there who love to travel light have good travel tips for elders. I sure would welcome them!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blog Jam

Life is full of wonder, isn't it? My dog is extraordinarily playful. Playful enough to play hide-and-seek which we do now and again. She always finds me. I think it's that smell thing, 10,000 more powerful than a human's. She is ecstatic when she locates me and my catch phrase when she does is: "You found me! You found me!"

But the other day, wow, a first. I let her out through the back door and I was busy tidying up the back hall of winter stuff that needed storage when I felt two paws on my bum and turned around and there was the dog looking absolutely delighted with herself. She had raced around the house to the open front door and tore in and around to surprise me by jumping on me. And she did. I was laughing so hard I had to sit down. None of my previous dogs had this marvellous sense of humour she has. And when she's pleased with herself this huge grin spreads across her face.

In manifestation news. I mentioned to a select few I was doing the Tely 10 at the end of July, come hell or high water. And now others are joining me. And some supporters too. It's another dream come true. I was stubborn enough to do it alone but having other participants AND supporters is the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned. I used to have it in Toronto back in the day of racing so having this comraderie in St. John's is powerful and validating and well, heart-warming.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

On Being Alone

I had an unhealthy section of my day yesterday diverted by my aloneness. My solitaryism. It does strike me now and again how very alone I truly am. Don't get me wrong. 95% of the time I truly enjoy it. But the odd time it hits me in a wave of what, fear? fear of insanity? remorse over relationships gone south? Misplaced old friends who knew me well and can comfort like no one else can? This has nothing and everything to do with coupledoms. Many I see and hear out there do not raise a single thread of envy in me. Most of them are puerile. Many are all about negotiating, I'll do this then you'll do that. The odd one throws itself up as supportive, nurturing and comforting.

This was all started (I'm sooo overanalytical by nature) by an invitation to a lobster dinner and dance last night. I've gone to my fair share of these. And I truly don't play well with others in such an atmosphere. For one, I am surrounded by coupledoms. Those tiny fiefdoms of, well, smugness. Individually, these people are wonderful. Throw them into a party atmosphere and exclusionary fences are built. It's a challenge to sit by oneself while the rest of the room cavorts on the dance floor to the band on stage. Solo, abandoned, one can check one's nails, root in the change purse, play with a scarf or sulk in the bathroom for an unseemly length of time and lie about stomach trouble when a search party is sent (Oh goody, my absence was noted.)

Then again, one can march to and fro from the bar for more ice in one's water. How much ice can one possibly crunch in a crunch so to speak? Lots. And how is it when one is on the dance floor life passes in a hurricane but by oneself, sitting it all out, life has the consistency of molasses?

And then, the great escape. Slinking out when no one is watching as they're all on the dance floor. Saying goodbye makes a scene, a horrible one. Where one is forced to lie about aforesaid healthy stomach, or a cold coming on, or exhaustion. And the phone calls after the skulk the following day are a little heart wrenching: The what happened? The we're not good enough for you? The we were all worried about you! The why didn't you say goodbye?

Hoisted by coupledom petards. The only win is not to go.

And I didn't.

And today is fresh and beautiful even though grey and mauzy. But that lonely feeling is behind me now.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Procrastination - Revisited.


Ansa on the East Coast Trail a couple of days ago. Click twice to enbiggen and you'll see her smiling.

I wrote about procrastination before. Here.
Things do get done. I was pleased to see that, yes, all that had been 'deferred' then has been taken care of. Eventually. But I find the tasks on my current list might well exceed my life span. Imagine how important this list will be to my heiresses when I pop off this mortal coil. Like, not at all. That is, if they could even find it.

So a fresh approach was needed. To make me feel better. And to see if it worked.

First of all I think the list itself was a problem. It overwhelmed me. And it all needed to be done. No escaping that. Some of it was idiotic you'd think. Like change my tires from winter to summer ones. How on earth could that be a 'task'. Well out here on the edge of the Atlantic, it's a task. The guy who changes my tires is 40km from here. And you don't just run in and out. It's a civilized thing. His wife might come out with a pot of tea and you visit. And then Tireman needs some bonding time with me. He's a collector of old gorgeous cars. And he shares his passion with a few of his fans, me included. You'd have to see his latest baby. 1959 Ford. Original upholstery. He's also a pet whisperer, you should see him with Ansa. But I digress.

Then there's a couple of visits along the way on tire day to friends who know my car and I can't just pass their houses. It's rude. So there's the whole day gobbled up to change the tires.

But I found what I have to do is transfer items every day from the long, long to do list on to a shorter list. And the daily shorter list gets done. I always include a task I was avoiding and then some 'fun' stuff which also needed attention. That included sorting the winter and summer clothes out. I have limited space here so if I don't want to be running around in an Aran sweater in a heat wave that must be done before summer kicks in. And there's my plot in the community garden which needs attention. And the Tely 10 training....

You get the picture. My daily shortlist is manageable. But if I look at the long list, I usually wind up doing nothing. Frightened.

Because in some ways, still, I'm 3 years old

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Some Lessons

Favourite and rare blue fog outside my front door, May 2013

My father was a cautious, careful man. A man who didn't take risks. A man whose boundaries were very clear. A man formed by his own childhood, for aren't we all? It took me years to understand him. Another few years to toss out the stuff from him I didn't want or need. Another few again to sort out the chaff from the wheat. One of the most startling things of all was when I asked him (in my own middle age by then) what he would have done with his life if earning a living was not a priority and he said: "I would have bred roses". It was a side of my father he had rarely made visible.

We take from each of our parents character traits that are helpful or not. I don't like the words "bad" and "good". For that is too subjective, truly. What works for some doesn't work for others. It's neither bad nor good in my mind.

This thought process was rolled out by a simply marvellous book I just finished about a mother and a daughter - "Amy and Isabelle." by Julia Glass. There were many great lines in it. One of the most profound (among many), I found, was this one:

"Bewilderiung that you could harm a child without even knowing, thinking all the while you were being careful, conscientious."

As I slip and slide into the more serious elder years I share more of my inner with my loved ones. My ongoing struggles with procrastination. The changes I make in the behaviours that do not serve me well - like procrastination. In my own case I tend to get overwhelmed when there is too much on my plate. And it's not about the "too much on my plate" at all. I finally see this. It is in the way I manage it.

So for now, today, I strike one item off the list. And I feel accomplished.

And most important of all, I do not look at the rest. Until I pick another one from the list tomorrow.

Sunday, June 02, 2013


I find my head hurting when I pay-more-than-is-healthy-for-my-sanity attention to things. Subliminal advertising. Even though I'm not, by choice, subjected to the incessant onslaught of such rubbish from teevee. But I read ingredients on tins and containers and boxes for in our blessed-by-Obama-and-Harper-Monsanto world I need to be.

Case in point is this box of tissues:

I remember, and not too short a few years ago when one got 200 to a box. That was standard. Now the companies who make them, from what we hope are sustainable forests, have shaved the quantity away until the box now contains 132. 132. Nearly 1/2. The box remains, of course, the same size and has increased dramatically in price.

Then I look at the symbol of the Royale company which happens to be kittens. I remember - possibly an urban legend - a few years back a report of how these white fluffy kittens had died under the hot studio lights. Sacrificial kittens. On the altar of nose and toilet tissue. As to the kittens symbolizing the product I know the last thing I'd want would be their claws on my privates or nostrils. And now, if their deaths are true, every box and roll is like a memorial to the merchandising sacrifice of those wee felines. (I did a web search and not a thing on the death of those babies - maybe Kleenex in their wipe rivalry had a hand in that?)

If that were not enough though, the box also tells me that the tissues are hypoallergenic. Shouldn't tissues be? Shouldn't that be a given? I mean if you're busy honking away with your head cold the last thing you'd need would be an allergic reaction to your paper hanky surely? And what of the tissues from way back which were not (I assume) hypoallergenic? Should I be worried about dormant allergens nesting quietly in my lungs waiting to break out and kill me in some weak moment? Note: there is no medical definition for the word hypoallergenic

Bafflespeak. 1984? - We've left you far, far behind.