Thursday, February 27, 2014


scattered p ppl EDD ~ 1 ~ few; SED iv, 921 Co, ~ few.
1 1986 Nfld Herald 15 Mar, p. 33 Merasheen Farewell [recording] is available in scattered stores around the province and can be purchased by mail order.
2 1981 PADDOCK 25 "Camp Seven": A scattered spruce is fit ta pile;/But only try ta git it!/You'll 'ave ta cut a t'ousand firs--/Each one will make a picket. 1987 POOLE 1 [We left Carbonear] and the meadows where we used to kick football and win a scattered game of rounders.

I love the way that word is thrown around here, it's quite inadequately covered in the above definition from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

I hear it used a fair whack - usually applied to people and their doings and not so much to inanimate objects.

"I was some scattered last Saturday with all those shops I had to go to."

"There was a right scatter of cousins at that funeral."

I'm a bit of a scatter myself. I suffered a major disappointment in that the two actors who had first dibs on my play have turned it down due to the scatter of both the demands of their families and the serious commitments to rehearsals and tours for the play.

I wasn't talking about this major setback at all, or sharing it. I'm a right good bottler of emotions at times. It has gotten me into a fair degree of trouble in the past.

But over dinner last night with a friend I was able to let it all out. And alternative scenarios surfaced in my mind as I shared.

I didn't go the normal route (for me) and take it all on board and tell myself it must be a dreadful play. I was surprisingly heartened by my belief in it: in recognising there is a story to be told and it needs to be heard.

I'm finally my own cheerleader and champion.

Logo for the play:

Would anyone like to take a guess as to what the play's theme is?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blog Jam

It's a fog of snow out there. Flakes so small they blanket the air, gauzing the meadow and the barn. I can't say as I like it. We had to cancel, again, the Book Club monthly meeting and now we're deferring the works till March. First time ever Book Club was cancelled and twice to boot.

As I was dressing this morning I became aware, as if for the first time, how there is no longer a need to rush. It seems like in my old life I was rushing from one thing to another. Like most working mothers, like most cramming every scrap of life into an overflowing day.

I thought:
Thirty minutes to perform all the rituals of the woken up morning.
I thought:
Why am I paying attention to the timing of that?
I had the house record (in a house of males) when still living in my parents' house. Five minutes from start to finish. Including the slap(Irishese for makeup) and clobber (full dress regalia). No showers then, just the bath at night. Now it's thirty minutes of drift, a meditation in there too, a chat with the dog. A leisurely teeth brushing, a selection of which of the two pairs of jeans to wear, or the sweats if going absolutely nowhere.

My old newfound friend phoned me yesterday. I hadn't heard her voice in well over thirty+ years. It hadn't changed. She has led a life as an emergency room nurse, a teacher, a farmer, a saw mill operator and now an artist. It turns out she is an expert in the art of Chinese fine line painting and conducts classes. And yes, she's in her eighties. Below is some of her work on exhibit at a gallery:

We also shared missing children stories. One of her sons estranged himself for twelve years from the entire family. During that time she missed the birth of her grandchildren and their growing up years. Years never regained of course - lost forever and with no foundational love for those grandchildren like she has with her other son's. She is stoic when she tells me this and has made the best of it, even through the apologies of her prodigal son. She said to me: "Apologies are too small, too inadequate. I tell him I do not want to hear them for they are meaningless. Let's make the best of the remaining years."

Wise words. I'd forgotten how very wise she was.

Shared heartbreaks. Shared creative souls.

A long lost friendship retrieved from the mists of time and misunderstandings. Elder bonus.

Friday, February 21, 2014

She's wearin' right thin.

Somewhere along the way, winter, most often embraced, the odd time humorously tolerated, sometimes escaped from, became an abscess on the arse this year.

Normally, the photo above, taken yesterday, would enchant me.

But the grey blurry line beyond the trees? Yeah, that's the snow/ice covered bay. Seriously.

If things would stay that way, like the photo? Well, yeah, it would be lovely, like.

But they don't. And there's the rub.

It all melts into a puddle within a day or two. The puddle ices up. Then yer freezing rain falls on top of that.

And then the snow piles on again.

And then 100k/hour gale force winds howl around tearing the snow and running it into six foot drifts. And the temperature drops to minus double digit Celsius.

And these endless cycles repeated ad nauseum from November on through to now.

Every journey planned has to be plotted out carefully in conjunction with forecasts. One could get dangerously trapped in a blizzard/sleet/wind storm. Or worse yet, black ice.

Worst. Winter. Ever.

/whingey whiny rant.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Thrift"y Me


I don't like shopping, despise malls, fashion houses, fashion shows, salons. But I can't run around naked so I have to compromise.

My reduced financial circumstances combined with a fixed measly pension, shopping-drool adversary, "retail therapy" challenger that I am, environmentalist, reuser, repurposer and recycler (AKA "crazy hippie broad") I go for what needs to cover me to my local thrift shop. There are so many benefits to this. Not least of which are others' castoffs are my treasures. And I get to meet people like myself. And we share our triumphs and disappointments (too big, too small, wrong colour, here's a scarf that goes with the stuff in your cart) and ask each others' advice. No one is pushing me into decisions, or lying to me. Here, honesty prevails.

So last week. I needed another top and pants. A warm top. A cosy top. That looked good. I've been a wee bit in the national news here. (I know, fun eh?) And this has been a very cold winter.

So I ran the outfit shown above by my fleeting and very fair-weather friends at the local thrift and they loved it. I trust their judgement more than friends and sales clerks who would never wish to hurt the old feelings. These caring strangers are always brutally honest.

I'm delighted with the result.

Here's the full cost breakdown:

Pants (deepest grey with a goldy thin french seam stitching on the sides- I like them slender and matchy to my sweaters: $2.99
Sweater (brand new - Jones New York), mohair, silk and wool in shades of deep grey and a light gold: $3.99
Scarf - in goldy-grey mix - $2.99
Bonus: Grey cargo pants for the summer hikes: $3.99

And it was buy 3 clothing items and get 1 free day so for a total of less than $11.00 I get some glammed up. And no tax.

I am only delighted with myself and my new clobber. Hassle free shopping at its best. With very little footprint on the planet.


Sunday, February 16, 2014


Life is like that. Time is like that - always contrary to expectations, if you have some. I don't anymore. Too many surprises. No expectations on others sees me happy most of the time.

Life has taught me these lessons:

The family you might hope to have holding your hands through elder years are a no-show. Estrangement, distance, disregard, shunning and silence is de rigeur, their new modus operandi. Even though you were there for them in their times of greatest need.

The family you thought would vanish like the first snowfall of the season? They are there through thick and thin, checking on you, asking about Daughter's health and missing daughter - any news?, sending you little gifts, texts.

Lifelong, or just about lifelong, friends seeing you through to the bitter end? Gone. Never to return. It truly begs the question: were they ever really there?

Short-term friends? They call you out of the blue, making sure you're OK, cooking you dinner.

What brought all this deep thinking on top of me?

An acquaintance that truly irritated me. A friend of a friend. And one day she called me out of the blue. When I still had call display. And she shared her surname with another (good) friend. And I thought it was the good friend. And thus I was extraordinarily chatty and friendly with her. Asking her how she and her family were. And I could hear the surprise in her voice that I was so effing kind. Which should be the norm for me. And obviously isn't if you breach whatever standards I am holding you to.

And ever since then? We have a totally different relationship. We let each other into our lives. We're even considering doing a joint art project.

Go figure.

Friday, February 14, 2014

On Acting Like a Grown-up.


One of my defects.

I'm not good at confrontation, I do not express anger well (running and hiding), I write better than I speak - though lately some would dispute that. I've been on teevee, and on radio in the past week. People come to me, say: you were so articulate. I am pleased, having been advised years ago never to watch or listen to one's self on media. I am wordy, but only in my head, on paper, on my laptop, in my texts where I reign myself in, who wants to read, on a tiny screen, my endless priceless prose?

You see, I was avoiding something inevitable.

My own demise.

And putting measures in place so my daughter, who has MS, is not over-burdened with my managerial ineptitude and, well, pre-mortem avoidance.

So I see a lawyer, and explain things. My last will was written, oh, well over twenty five years ago. Circumstances change. And I mention the unmentionable too:

"What happens if my daughter predeceases me?"

And he was pleased, I could tell, that he didn't have to inject such an unspeakable into our conversation.

And he advised me on the other major concern I had: my missing child, who may, oh lord, show her face upon my death, and cause even more incredible pain and havoc for the child who has already seen far too much of it herself.

"Write a lengthy and utterly clear codicil," he added,"Outline the reasons she has no say in the distribution of your estate or in your living will. Make it uncontestable."

"The thing is," he added, "We need to make this bullet-proof, and I must say, more people should do this. It eases the pain of what is extraordinarily stressful for the survivors, you are very mature in your thinking."


The first time in my life I've ever heard this word applied to me.

Now, something else ~ has anyone out there planned a green funeral?

What? You're not going to die, ever?

Alrighty then.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Daughter gave me this one the other day. There's a certain acquaintance of ours who fits the bill and we had individually suffered at his hands mouth. Maybe more than once. Maybe far too many times.

Anyway here it is:


blath·er·skite [blath-er-skahyt]



a person given to voluble, empty talk.


nonsense; blather.


1640–50; blather + skite skate



noun: blatherskite; plural noun: blatherskites; noun: bletherskate; plural noun: bletherskates


a person who talks at great length without making much sense.

•foolish talk; nonsense.

And yes, we used the word blather a lot in Cork, as in: "Oh she's full of the blather" or "At the bar, he blathered on and on."

But to actually find a noun, a glorious noun to fit the one who's doing the blather?

Brilliant she is.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Coming to Life

In my experience there is nothing more profound than seeing one's creation come to life. Whatever it is, a painting, a poem, a book, a song, knitting, embroidery, sewing. Yesterday, it happened again for me when our theatre board met in St. John's and we had a first read-through of my newest play, a two-hander (two actors on stage). The feedback was terrific, the suggestions for enhancement thoughtful, even the ideas for promotion and public relations superb. I felt so blessed. They, well, loved it.

Some of the idioms I use are very Irish and after feedback I changed it to the Newfoundland patois. A wonderful 3-1/2 hours of seeing my newest infant take her baby-steps and spring to life. I was very close to tears at the end, happy tears, and, so I noticed, these were shared with 3 others. One even went so far as to tell me that his own father, many years ago, had handled an emotional scene in their lives exactly the same as the scene at the end of my play. Different words of course, but the scenario was the same: ordinary, everyday words carrying a wealth of underlying meaning.

There is no greater feeling in the world than this: watching my baby stagger out into the world and lead me where? Who knows.

Bring it on.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Monsters.

I was an admirer of Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting, his directorial abilities, his engaging intelligence. I was also aware of his addictions, the monsters that can awaken at any time and stretch their muscles and grab you by the throat. Awareness is a vital key to us addicts. With awareness, we can sedate the monster, bore him into a coma by simply not paying attention when he starts to yawn and whimper for attention.

Many of us addicts share the what-ifs of Philip's death. As in: what-if we succumbed to the monster? What-if we ignored the monster for the last 20+years and then just danced with him the once? Could we then disengage and start all over again without him?

When the poll is taken the answer is always no. When 20+ years of monster beating results in firing up that particular romance again one would then question all those 20+ years that brought you to that renewal of the vows of engagement.

That's where Philip was. I totally get it. So do other addicts.

He said some things a year or so before his death from an overdose:

"You may think you're through with the past, but the past isn't through with you."

"How do we get so deformed, why are we always trying to find that flaw and fix it?"

"We are slaves to the lives we create."

He was unhappy. Sobriety wasn't enough anymore. Unbelievable success was not the answer. He said he never knew what happiness was. He thought it was way outside of his capacity and understanding.

And only for other people.

But not him.

At peace now.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Last of the O'Sullivan Sisters. Part 2 of 2.

See Part 1 here.

Strange that. How lives that can be so remarkable in hindsight are so very unremarkable when they are actually happening. My Auntie Kit's life was such. She had six children. She took care of her rather nasty mother-in-law (one of those who would drag you by the ear while screeching in weird laughter). When visiting my aunt I remember hiding in a wardrobe to escape the fun and games of Granny M. as they always involved pain of some kind or "teasing" now reclassified under 'abuse'. How her own grandchildren survived her is beyond me.

Auntie Kit joined her husband in his garage business, school bus runs and taxi service. She was one of the first female commercial drivers (I would say) in County Cork. On her Cork City runs she would always drop in for a cuppa and update my mother on life in their village of birth. Driving taxis and buses she would pick up all the news. Her husband, in the meantime, continued at night with his musical life as a band pianist, accordionist and banjo player. There were always sessions taking place in their parlour and as the children grew, they joined him in public appearances.

Her husband died young, reasonably young. Like his mother before him, he didn't believe in doctors so had undiagnosed diabetes. When he died, she reinvented herself as a golfer, bridge player and held Scrabble matches every Sunday night in her house. My father, himself a widower, would never miss a Sunday night at Kit's and when I was home on holidays, myself and my now older children would join the crowd of Scrabblers and munch on her wonderful baking and endless cups of tea. It was always a teetotal house.

She was featured in the paper quite a few years before her death (see above), having turned 90, still playing golf and bridge and driving herself around.

I will remember her as her own remarkable woman - an inspiration and a driving force. As were all the O'Sullivan sisters.