Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Shambling Underclass.

I did some banking for another entity today. Not at my bank but at another. One of those dismal places. You know. I was struck by how much it resembled a shipping container. Everything looked slapped together, as if every item in it could be moved in 30 minutes flat and not a trace left of what had gone before (good luck future archaeologists!). I has hustled by an employee as I stepped in, caught in mid-groan at the long line up. She had Tim Horton's coffee and donuts at the entrance with a huge sign that proclaimed "OUR CUSTOMERS ARE IMPORTANT!" or some such oxymoronic drivel and she offered me one.

As I viewed the snaking queue of grumpiness around me I bit my lip. Tight. I so wanted to say : "If we're that important would you stop serving coffee and open another teller window for feck's sake?" Well, "teller window" is a huge exaggeration, everything being mobile and plastic, including the tellers who were all dressed up in sparkly dresses and sweaters. Frivolous I thought, being grumpy. Sparkling bankers. And these were the men.(Kidding!)

So I get my coffee served up to me. Now I'm overloaded: I've got my purse, a grocery bag, my book in its own wee bag, my deposit bag and a coffee with a napkin and stir-stick to manoeuver. It shuts me up. I'm busy.

See? I never do physical banks. I'm all on line now so I don't have to fret and muse inside such 20th century aberrations. But some organizations. Don't. Want. To. Change. And at my age I choose my battles very carefully. So I do the shipping container shamble.

As a geezer, I remember banks as being solid. Pillared. Marble. Hushed. Vaulted ceilings. Polished brass. Obsequious dark-suited tellers. Manager cruising around. Keeping an eye. This place? I've seen better Walmarts.

I don't remember waiting back then. Certainly not in a queue of 20 on a snaking carpet with arrows. As if we're all halfwits and could turn in the wrong direction towards the doors if not guided by our betters.

So a half hour of my life goes by that I'll never get back. In a shipping container. Delicately balancing a Tim Horton's coffee. Watching myself on a video above me. As all of us queuers are.

Oh, did I say half-wits?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthing the Dream

Sunset from the Tigeen

If you're a regular reader you'll remember this recent post.

And when you do a start-up, you never know, do you? Well I was beside myself today when I got my first booking for the Tigeen: An American writer-in-residence who wants to spend 2 days in my wee cabin and tour the Avalon before heading off to her summer position about 400K from here.

I am so chuffed at how my friends have gathered around with suggestions, promotions and downright support and accolades about the Tigeen to anyone who will listen to them. For instance, tonight the author sister of a good friend is promoting it in a broadcast to her connections.

Now, I'm holding my horses, this may be the only booking. But hell, isn't it so very lovely when this dream, after such a long incubation, has become so very much ALIVE?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Momma in the Kitchen

Did you ever feel you were going insane? Well maybe not "going" maybe arrived would be a better qualifier. (What, no party?)

Here I was making my weekly yogurt, filling my wee jars and next thing, milk is squirting all over the kitchen, my best tee-shirt (wear an apron, you idiot, an apron), the floor, the counters, the yogurt maker, even a squirt into the sink. You'd never think milk could go this far, a wee jar. But oh yes, down the sides of the cabinet doors and on to my slippers. I just love the way Ansa skulks away when this happens. With an eye-roll: Humans? Mine can't even manage a small jar of milk without a catastrophic tsunami.

Before I wound up gibbering on the floor I spotted it, one of those perfect little holes (in the side of the glass jar towards the bottom, how did that happen? Note to self: check the jars before you pour your weekly yogurt mix into them.

So then I make the weekly gluten free bread. I would think in the old days: what an awful nuisance GF bread must be to make, acres of product, where do you get the ingredients, etc. etc.

And then I adapted my granny's bastable recipe for GF Daughter and was stunned at how simple it is. Today I made a banana-zucchini version of the old bastable, currently baking in the oven. Sugar-free, fat-free. The aroma makes up for all that lashings of milk sprayed all over the place.

And yeah, in case you ask, I did clean up. 5 dishrags later.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Little Tickles

Baltimore, West Cork by Grandgirl.

There have been a few of them lately. You know, the stuff that brings a smile to your face for a few minutes and then something else happens, and you smile again and think: boy this is adding up to a bouquet of a day when I count all the little flowers in it.

A gratitude list as some call it. Lists. I'm addicted to lists. I'd rather leave this particular list unmade and call it a bouquet that sustains me through some challenges at the moment.

I had a call from a dear blog friend today, one I've met in the flesh as well. A lovely catch-up on each other's lives.

I posted a pic-link on FB of Baltimore and their upcoming festival and felt lonely for my West Cork. And Grandgirl responds from Dublin with the exact same picture she had taken a few days ago in Baltimore.

Two more have joined my barely-jogging-walking group for this year's Tely 10..

An article I wrote on the way an elder was treated in reports over two days in our provincial newspaper is being published in the weekend edition of the very same newspaper. I am quite chuffed about this as I'd thought it would be trash-heaped by them but felt angry enough to write it. My respect for the paper has gone up several notches.

I had hoped to have an "in" with an editor at a large publishing empire through a new friend but it has fizzled out as he no longer works for them. The tickle is that this friend feels so badly now that she is moving heaven and hell to promote my novel to others in time for 2016. I have three novels ready - this one takes place over 100 years of Irish history.

Daughter has painstakingly stripped multiple layers of paint from the woodwork in one of my bedrooms, literally many hours of work. But to see the grain of the wood come to life again after many generations is so incredible.

So that's it from the Land of Tickles for the moment.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I test the waters sometimes. With trusted friends. You know, reveal a bit of the inner. One has to be careful because trust is bathed in fragility for some of us.

My world was uncertain as a child. I could never trust my footing. And yes, I can trace the beginning of it to here.. In untangling my life with the aid of a good therapist, years ago, I got to understand the whys of my personal quirks but corrective measures? They ebb and flow, with the moods, with the atmosphere, with the health.

I never quite trust. And I question did I ever? I hold back. Waiting for a chasm of indifference to yawn up in front of me. Nothing is forever. Those good feelings of today can vanish with the crack of dawn tomorrow. Ones I love so desperately and completely can vanish, can shun, can evaporate without a wave of farewell or a wisp of explanation for their frigidity.

And I confess to surprise and shock when people around me show me a measure of love and respect I feel unearned. I want to push them, to test them, to prove to myself I was never worth the fine feelings they exhibited towards me to begin with.

It is said a life unexamined is not worth living. I concur. Even though the answers can be ephemeral. How do we know what goes on inside another's head? Are they uncertain too? Not that they'd ever admit it. Not that I would. Unless clothed in anonymity.

But some days, some days, I would give anything to feel my footsteps ring firm on solid ground.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Are we all barking mad?

I'd say we are. Truly.

My town's annual cleanup day was today. A couple of miles of coast and both sides of the main road and a few side roads.

The turn out was great. About 30 of us from a town of about 150+. Those who were gone away for the weekend cleaned up stretches of the road during the past week. The town is fortunate in that the people who care, really care.

But you guys! The garbage collected! We lost count. Picture above is of about 30% of what we collected. We figured close to 100 bags, 3 truckloads to the dump.

I myself collected 3 full bags.

About 90% of it plastic: Tubs, bags, bottles, floats, fishing net pieces, wrappers.

Surely it's about time we stopped using plastic? And only used recyclable or cloth grocery bags (I do) and drank water from the tap (I do)and filled our own bottles (I do) if we insist on walking around like big babies with a bottle to our lips all the time. (Gee, our ancestors worked hard in the fields or on the water or in mines and didn't suck off bottles all day long, think about it.)

We need serious anti-disposable plastic laws in place. I'm writing an article for next weekend's paper on this.

I live on an island.

We are drowning in plastic. I can't bear thinking about the birds, fish and animals who choke on this stuff every day from the plastic we don't even see.

Stop it already.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

And on the 8th Day...

This is a photo that Daughter took up at the Tigeen the other day, the bay reflected on the French doors. I love it.

This is the 8th day of a cold I suspected was sourced somewhere in Ontario and gifted to me by Daughter who returned from there.

I was doing fine with it, relieved it hadn't turned into a bronchial nightmare like times past. I had poor lungs as a child, double pneumonia and pleurisy by the age of 10 and heat treatments in the hospital for about a year afterwards. I can still smell that machine, odd that, and I can't find any information on it on a Google search. It was a night out for my mother and me. Every Wednesday night. And we would walk from the hospital to a distant bus-stop afterwards as the fare was cheaper. Today, I can't imagine my father coping alone with the children at home, the youngest about a year old.

It's funny how one can think of something far off in the past and it opens up a floodgate of memories. My mother would always buy me a chocolate bar afterwards - I would take forever to choose it in the newsagent's across from the hospital - for being a "good girl" and lying so still on my stomach under the lamps. I imagine my lungs were being dried. I must have been a wheezy child but I have no recollection of that.

And here I am today, 8 days into this nasty bug and feeling worse than the last 7 days. I slept most of the day, coughed and hacked so much I got a rare headache and yes, I'm cranky. I have too much to do to be this sidetracked by my body.

What was that again? Oh yeah, it's telling me to slow down.

Aye, aye, ma'am.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A touch of the excitement.

View from the deck of the Tigeen* today.

I don't know how many businesses I've been involved in/owned-operated/partnered in but I could offer you a partial list:

Catering company
Accounting Tax Service/Bookkeeping company
Answering Service
Boarding House

And today, with the phenomenal help of Daughter who cracks that whip (quite lovingly), I launched another. Yes, The Tigeen is finally ready for rent. Well, just about ready.

We cleaned up there. We lit the wood stove. We ran the vacuum cleaner off the solar panel electricity and also the wee fridge and the lights. And she held fast. And the power didn't run out. We hung out the quilts and pillows in the sun. She is gorgeous. She has no environmental footprint. Whatsoever. Rain water from the barrel. Composting toilet.

Loft bed with skylight - you should see the stars at night as you lie on this bed!

It will be of particular interest to writers and artists who crave solitude and beauty as it overlooks the entire bay and is nestled high above the trees. You can look down on eagles and grackles and blue jays flying around.

I absolutely adore this wee place, so compact and peaceful and just extraordinary.

It was a long held dream, this beautiful Tigeen, and I so loved designing every small component of it. It's like she lived in me for a very long time and finally was born.

Now I'll see if others appreciate it the way I do.

Woodstove in the Tigeen.

*little house in Irish.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Etiquette - Blog and Otherwise.

I stopped responding to comments. Is this good blog etiquette? I don't know. Some of the blogs I love don't ever respond to their commenters. Some respond directly via personal emails while others are meticulous about responding to each and every comment. I was. But I find that mentally I've moved on from those past posts lately. I don't want to put my head back there, you know? Do you think that's rude?

A former fiancé died. I think I mentioned him before. A question about that too. I found his daughter had posted pics of him in the few months before his death. (I don't know her). Memory-shaking photos in showing his deterioration. And in my decluttering here I found some nice photos of him. His daughter, I would imagine, has no inkling of who I am. Would it be alright, d'you think, to send her on pics of her dad in the peak of his youth, his joie, his handsomeness from a former "friend". I don't know how else to classify myself.

My mother was a stickler for etiquette. She said it was all about respect. Everybody was more at ease when they knew the proper social rules. That way there would be no nasty surprises or ugly sounds or smells. One of her rules was you never arrived as a guest in a place with your arms the same length, even if it was just an apple or a facecloth or a bun to honour the host. I've passed this on to my daughters. I think of her this weekend as it is Canadian Mother's Day. I think of her every day of course but more so on anniversaries and days of significance.

Picture above is of me at 11 months, dying to launch myself off her lap and on to bigger things. She encouraged me in that and was so supportive of all my endeavours.

Thank you dearest Mum, your voice often echoes in my head.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Out With the Old

A few of us bloggers are comparing notes on tossing out, cleaning up, zenning our spaces. Must be something to do with the configuration of the stars at the moment you'd think.

I've downsized quite a few times now so apart from books and movies I try not to clutter up too much.

I'm going through boxes of photos and documents and postcards and love notes and thank you letters and am becoming quite ruthless.

It's not an easy job. And quite sad too looking at now-dead faces or the once convivial lineups of family members now shunning me. Where once there was love, etc. And the portraits I took of them - should I toss in the recycling bin? I can barely stand to look at them as it is, for it's like a dagger piercing my heart. Why torture myself? Toss. Move on. They have.

I'm a tough old elder. I can do this.

Now that feels better...or does it?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Sustaining Friendships.

I left quite a few friends behind me in Ontario when I moved here. And yesterday was some sort of record day in my life because three of them called and thanks to my Bluetooth, I can wander around and talk for hours.

These particular friends never demand anything of me so it is simply warmth and love and connection in our conversations.

I am often surprised at the friends I do have who always seem to want something and only call when this agenda is on their minds. I find my barriers go up, I keep waiting for the axe to fall in the conversation. They need a reason to call perhaps and can't seem to make a call of care, concern or compassion without lurking behind a request for me to do something for them.

Apart from business calls, I don't think I've ever requested anything of a friend apart from the pleasure of their company and the art of their conversation. I may be wrong in this but I do hope not.

And the reaching out of these three yesterday? I hadn't realized how very much they mean to me.

It was lovely knitting our stories together yet again, and completing another piece of the tapestry together. And not losing the rhythm of each others' years. As that can happen. And it is so sad.

And making plans of meeting in the realz before too long.

And yes, I do tell them I love them.

Thank you my darlings - Pad, Linda, Dianne (and not forgetting Claire from last weekend).

Friday, May 02, 2014


I'm amazed I'm not more effed up than I am. Or maybe I am and nobody's telling me.

I'll tell you one reason why. Someone used the word "suitable" the other day about a wood floor and its suitability for a large space.

And as such light word droppings can sometimes do to me to me, it set me to drifting off. On such occasions, I'm sure my vacant look can be bothersome. My mind takes off and I vanish for a while. The lights are on and nobody's home in today's parlance.

For the word "suitable" took me right back. It was one of my father's favourite words. But not in a good way. Oh no.

It was his way of terminating my friendships, desires or intentions.

"Oh, she's not suitable," he would say to me irritably, upon meeting a friend of mine,"You're forbidden to see her again".

I should mention here that my family were barely middle class with no great aspirations of grandeur at all.

"But why dad?" I was always in terror of making him mad. His rages were legendary and the man hated to be challenged.

"Just not suitable, that's all."

One could never be saucy and ask suitable for what. The backdoor to my mother, his translator, was inevitably used when Dad was not around.

It would usually be a flimsy reason for the unsuitability. Like the following:

1. The father drank
2. She/he ran with a rough crowd.
3. The family were "blackguards" - one of his favourite words.
4. They voted Fine Gael
5. They were protestant.
6. They were Jewish and didn't care about the One True God. Or Jesus and his Mother.
7. They didn't believe in education.
8. The father committed suicide.
8. An aunt was an actress.

Doesn't it all sound so 18th century-ish?

I am still best friends with an unsuitable since First Class (aged 6) in the national school I attended.

Why was she not suitable?

Her father owned and raced greyhounds and would take his daughter and myself to the pub on a Sunday afternoon and feed us Tanoras and Taytos.

We had to sneak around behind Dad's back for years and years and was he pissed off - she was a bridesmaid at my wedding!

Oh, the stories I could tell you about my Irish Cacklick childhood!

Thursday, May 01, 2014


Much talk about death lately in the stuff I read and on the airwaves.

On the radio coming home last night, there was a most interesting chat about Death Cafes. I wouldn't mind hosting one. Seriously. So very many people are squeamish about the grim reaper. But out here on the Edge? It would be a further notation on my "she's nuts, isn't she?" file.

What carries most people through the idea of their own death is the thought of the wonderful afterlife awaiting them surrounded by those beloveds (what about the behateds?) gone before them, clearing a space on the sofa so to speak.

What would you do all day, I ask them.

Praise God, or some such form of an answer comes back at me.

Privately, I think: what an incredibly boring existence that would be.

I mean, I imagine meeting my mother in the afterlife. What on earth would we talk about? She'd know everything wouldn't she, having observed all and sundry, the bad and the good and the pitiful, in the 45 years since she left us.

"Mum, will I tell you about my play?"

"Oh my Pet I saw it all, it was great and your thought processes to get there were very interesting too."

Long Pause.

"You'd have liked your great-granddaughter, Mum."

"Oh, darling, I watch her all the time, look, come sit down by me and we'll watch her together."

Long Pause.

I mean seriously now, wouldn't you rather watch paint dry? Except I'm damn sure there's no paint in heaven.

And the praise God bit?

Wouldn't you think She'd have enough of that nonsense? You know hymns 'n psalms 'n stuff echoing unendingly 24/7 at Her from down here below already.

I mean I can see Her now. clutching Her eardrums, closing Her eyes, shouting at the billions of dead, now risen, at Her feet:

"For feck's sake, would you all get a bloody life?"