Sunday, March 30, 2014

I have this girl......

Well, a girl she will always be to me. She's a middle-aged woman now. How did that happen? I'm supposed to be middle-aged. Well, late middle aged. OK then, a "senior". Senior what? Senior middle-aged. OK. OK. I'm an elder. This is what an elder looks like, feels like, behaves like, dresses like, walks like, sings like, talks like.

We invent our own elderhood. And a fine place it is. Most of the time. Compared to the alternative.

So this girl? This girl is Daughter #1. We've had our trials and tribulations. Oh, yes. Anyone who tells you they haven't had trials and tribulations and troubles and temper tantrums with their children are liars. Or disconnected. Or on drugs. Or in la-la land and don't know their children from the neighbour's dog. Or don't give a shyte. Trust me. Raising children or watching them raise themselves? It ain't easy. Best book I ever read on parenting was "How to Raise Children at Home in your Spare Time." I just Googled it and it's still kicking around. I know. Use me as target practice all you helicopter parents out there.

Anyways, as I was saying. Daughter has moved here. To accompany me into extreme elderhood. I never expected this. And I certainly don't feel I earned this wonderful proximity. We're not living in each other's pockets - she lives about 50k from where I live. Right where the whales come in - nearly on her doorstep. When she announced her moving here we all thought she'd last a month tops and be off on her travels again, to Peru, to California, to France. But she is loving it here. In spite of the weather, the winds tossing her house around all the time, the washed out roads, the snow, the cold. She is in love with the people, the community she's in, the slower pace of life, the clean air and it shows in every fibre of her being. She glows. She is happy. What more can one want for their child?

Today she brings over lunch, a gorgeous soup and a bread she'd made, gluten-free and with cinnamon and chili peppers and bokchoy built into it. Scrumptious. I cooked a pot roast with all the root vegetables on hand for our dinner. On the fire. We had a long walk as the day was glorious and the sea sparkled and we picked up our eggs from the chicken lady and talked to her for a while tossing stories around.

It had been a while since I felt so carefree. I wasn't going out much in this dismal weather. And it showed. I know it contributed to my recent depression. Walking and connecting with others and the outdoors is essential for balance.

Yeah, I have this girl.....

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Peculiars

I'm reading a book at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, I'm always reading a book. Not the same book all the time, I hasten to add. I turn them over every few days. Some I love, some I toss, others I wade through if I'm committed like to my Book Club or to the loan from a friend or rellie who tell me I really, really, really will love the book and I'm puzzled by Page 102, enraged by Page 240, resigned at Page 425, relieved at page 450 that the agony is over, and then drum my fingers for a week wondering what to say to the passionate lender.

All challenges should be so small.

All this in the way of telling you about this book I'm reading. My favourite genre of thriller-crime: a soupcon of savagery flavoured with a heavy undercurrent of character exploration topped off with the police having their own psychological issues. Multi-layered in other words.

Well, there's a scene in this book, post the crime/murder, where all these sightseers pack their rucksacks and go off to view the bloody crime scene, middle-aged trekkers, young parents with children, elders on sticks. Making a day of it. The police are challenged to control them, there are so many of them and so few of the police. Ordinary people, like you and me, all anxious to get their thrills from the bludgeoning death of another human being. Much like the rubber-neckers at a car accident. But these people are taking a journey to get there. Sometimes a whole day trip from 100 miles away. (These crimes only take place in the English countryside - don't they all?!)

And I was reminded of this engineer I worked with. A mild wee man, married forever to a rather pretty French woman. Childless. He blamed her and she blamed him for this infertile state. I don't think they knew that about each other. Anyways.....

There was a terrible car accident about 30 miles from where we worked in which five teenagers were killed rounding a corner on a narrow country road, speeding and crashing into a huge tree with the car bursting into flames. They had all recently graduated from high school.

I asked Phil, during our Monday morning coffee break what he and Claudine had done on the weekend.

"Oh," he said, "We took a picnic and went out to Caledon to have a look at that accident site. That big one."
My curiosity overrode my revulsion. I mean....what?

"Do you do this much?"

"Oh, yes," he said pleasantly, chewing on a muffin, "All the time. But only for the more serious accidents, where there's at least one fatality."

"And what do you do when you get there?"

"Oh, we set up the picnic nearby and spend the afternoon looking at the scene and any remains or burn-marks or bits of wrecks. And then we watch people bring flowers and teddy bears, you know how that is if young people or children die..."

"All afternoon?"

"Oh yes. We meet the same people usually, others like ourselves who like to see the aftermaths, we rate them you see. Compare them to other scenes we've been at. Take pictures sometimes if they're particularly interesting."


They walk among us.

Passing for normal.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Giggle

You'd think to yourself there's nothing funny about the confession box. That now nearly obsolete emblem of the Roman Catholic Empire's control on its underlings.

Especially when you read that the confessional was often used for grooming little kids for paedophiliac priests.

In my time, from the age of six onwards, confession was a weekly Saturday afternoon ritual. I, along with reams of other children, had to confess all our ill-doings, our sins, our pratfalls, our disobediences, our impure thoughts, to the Holy Fellah behind the screen of Da Box.

Queues of us there'd be. All watching each other carefully as we emerged, often red-faced and sweaty, sometimes crying rivers of snot, after the "interrogation". Remember- we were all of six years old.

It would go like this:

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned."

"What did you do, my child? Leave nothing out. For your Father in heaven can see everything you do. And if you leave anything out, anything at all, He will know and you will not be forgiven and you know what happens then? You will burn in hell for all eternity."

"Well...I back-answered my mammy." (I'm now shaking and trembling)


"I stole a penny out of the dish on the sideboard."


"I hit my brother."

"How many times?"

"I dunno. He's very bold."

"Remember now about hell. How many times?"

"Every day since last Saturday." (gulp)"And I lied to my daddy when he asked me if I made my brother cry."

"Did you have impure thoughts or actions?"

"What's that?" (I'm puzzled).

"What's that, Father." He uses an intimidating, deep voice.

"What's that, Father?"

"Touching yourself."


"What, Father." He's irritated.

"What's touching, Father?"

You get the picture. In light of today it was downright nasty child intimidation, both corrupting and suggestive. And yes, this all happened.

On finally emerging from the confessional there was a slew of prayers to be said. Often many Our Fathers and Hail Marys to atone for these hanging offences. It was a twisted badge of honour when we were this tiny, to be on your knees for a long time in the pew afterwards. Your friends were awestruck at your confessed naughtiness and begged to be told what you actually did to incur such a punishment by the Holy Father. Invention was huge. I remember telling the boys I had stolen a tricycle when I hadn't and had to say a whole rosary - this at an age where I could barely manage the answer to the first question in the catechism ("Who made the world? - God made the world!"). I was a hero for the week. A dangerous lying criminal to be both feared and admired.

So Grannymar herself suggested that I write a play about the whole experience of growing up while a mini Irish Catholic and I'm taking it on.

I've already written the outline and am actually giggling all the way through this.

A comedy.

Yes, it's a comedy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Upside of the Downside.

Many positives can be extracted from the negatives, right? That being a scientific fact 'n all.

Thanks for all the supportive comments that I received. Depression is normal. Especially for those of the creative and/or addictive bent. I choose to remain unmedicated. Caveat: I respect those who choose otherwise. Many years ago, medicated, I lost myself. I flat-lined. I chose (for me) not to live that way. So the 5% rough and tough facets of me co-exist with the 95% smooth - this ratio was a lot, lot worse, believe me. Sometimes it's a bumpy ride. I lose the run of myself for a while and I retreat. And breathe. And get sad. And morose. And prickly. And overly sensitive. And choose, very carefully, who I spend time with (Yeah, I know: with whom I spend time. How distancing is that CORRECT sentence structure? Just sayin'.)

I had to appear, yet again, on public media yesterday. And because I'm in the sub-human (all too human, really) condition I'm in, I didn't give a rat's you know what which serves me extraordinarily well as I'm not in the least bit nervous in front of the cameras and I can look grim and forbidding and no-nonsense (downright saucy my granny would've called it) which was just what was needed. You should see the emails on my "magnificent" performance.

Little do they know the prerequisite is the Black Dog.

I fooled 'em all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Things go along really well but then, like a bolt out of the blue, that Old Black Dog thunders into my psyche. I'd been in denial for a while. Noticed some subtle changes in my behaviour and the absence of any kind of joy. Desiring just to be Left Alone. Not reading too many blogs, not doing much of anything apart from socks. I couldn't stop knitting socks. Ripping socks. Re-knitting socks.

Avoiding the phone. Lurking. Pretending I'm alright Jack at unavoidable social events. Fooling myself. And nobody else. Mentioned depression once to others, tossed it out there into the conversation pit, nobody bit, drew it back in again.

Just dying to get back home. And hide. And avoid.

"Aren't we all a bit bats?" said an old friend from Ontario on the phone today: by a fluke I picked it up when she rang, my 200lb telephone, "I think there's comfort in that, don't you?"

Well, sort of. My oldest friend is away, sunning herself on some beach in Portugal, unplugged. I miss her. This is completely illogical as she lives in Dublin but we track each other every day by email and the odd mailing and phone-call. And the Black Dog is our familiar, we bat him back and forth.

My perception of the world, in this condition, is that everyone is having a great time and I'm stuck somewhere, poised between frowning and lemon-faced, miserable, desperately lonely and wanting to stay that way. Forever. Being completely unfit for company as I am.

Did I mention the awful dreams?

They truly are.

Bear with me. This will pass.

I throw it out there as I know I'm not alone.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Amn't I right?

My good blogfriend Stan over at Sentence First waxes eloquent on the topic of "amn't".

Dear readers, you wouldn't believe the shellacking I took for brazenly using "amn't" when I moved to Canada. Laughter, disbelief and mockery ensued.

"Where didja learn da English, eh?" they'd mock - (and I won't start on the use of the Canadian "eh" sprinkled like salt on every sentence that was uttered to me. My ear told me "A" and I was constantly wondering where "B" was.) But this language outcast holds most of these stories for another time. I do not forget. You will get them.

One of Stan's points is we say: "I'm next, --- I?" and we say: "aren't I?" - which is an anomaly of grammar. "Amn't I?" always sounds more correct (and bloody hell - logical) to me.

Anyway, go read Stan's excellent take on this vexation. I'm sure my Irish readers will breathe a sigh of satisfaction.

Amn't I right?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Busy Bee and the Sofa Years

I am looking forward to some downtime. I've been one of those hives of activities, everything crashing into the one time frame of two lots of theatre tickets, one women-in-theatre workshop, two (yes, two)presentations of my elder abuse workshops at far flung venues, one municipal meeting added to a full day of preparation for that. This all happening over a period of 6 days.

Each night after dinner I crashed on the sofa for an hour. Daughter calls these my "Sofa Years". I never would succumb to couch-naps in the past. But now? Hey, I look forward to it when I feel the sags during the day. And I am so very grateful that when I picked out a sofa to replace the threadbare, spring-sprung sadling that came with the house, I chose a delicious, soft, wide obscenely comfy looong one that holds both me and Wonderdog stretched out together snoring in harmony (in the key of C minor I trust).

Throw in a few goodly hikes with Daughter when the days nudged around the zero (Celsius) and you get the picture of a dense calendar. This week cheers me. Only two or three items in the boxes.

I may now get around to some interior painting. I have hoarded the tips from Grannymar that she so kindly sent me a couple of years ago for Da Day when I might be inclined. I am thinking I'm so inclined now.

Meanwhile Daughter presented me with a luscious hank of gorgeous painted wool. Socks, Mum? she says appealingly.

The thing is, but don't tell her: she may have to wrench those socks off my cold dead feet.

Sunday, March 02, 2014


Cod drying on a clothesline

I spent a lot of time as a parent with adult children travelling with my father who was in the same, well, boat.

I love this 'destined to repeat' aspect of my life. For now I spend time, frivolous, playful time, with Daughter who is herself the mother of an adult child.

We were walking the roads today with Ansa and she linked me and stopped me dead in our tracks. And we looked down over the sunny sparkling bay with all the boats in a row nestled in the harbour, the two offshore islands with a red hulk of a barge lurking on the horizon, and she said: "My God Mum, we live in paradise."

And on the way back, we stopped in at friends who have been incredibly kind to me (and now to her) over the years. I had this small bag of boxed gourmet chocolates. Not too big a token, not too small. I felt it was just right. The couple were leaving to go visit her 90 year old mother but immediately threw their coats off and invited us in to their roaring fire where we cuddled with Jeff and Buddy, their large cat and small dog for a while.

So we get up and I was feeling that surge of joy one gets when you feel loved. For nothing really. Just for being yourself. This couple have always made me feel this way. I just look in their eyes and I feel loved. And I don't have to do anything for it. It is so very rare that feeling. And so treasured.

And here's where the humbling comes in. Daughter and I are leaving, hugging them goodbye, and we are each handed a bag of freshly caught halibut and a huge salted cod.

And we look at each other, tears in our eyes, as we drive off.

"I've never known people like this," says Daughter emotionally.

Me neither. Me neither. But I'm too full of gratitude to verbalize it properly. But this says it for me: