Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dear Diary

I find myself some mornings, early, lying in bed thinking of death. I mean, that's natural at my age, right? I checked with others of similar elderhood. Yeah, normal they tell me. But, warning, no prolonged inhabiting of that space.

I find it hard to slice the time correctly as it can get into morose territory. The "why bothers", the Black Dog scenario.

I was in a terrible state of sadness for the past week. Overwhelmed so much I had to call and cancel an appearance to give an after dinner talk on How Wonderful My life Is in Spite of Challenges.

I couldn't catch a glimpse of any wonderfuls anywhere and the challenges were resonating non-stop tied up with unrelenting awful memories.

A medication I'm on impacts my movements terribly which adds to my misery. And my doctors are dismissive. And out here on the Edge? Shopping doctors is not a possibility. I'm on this med as a result of my accident and additional family stressors. Walking and race preparation could alleviate this physical handicap to a huge degree but this is insurmountable at the moment. My podiatrist recommended a holistic doctor he knows who may be able to get me off this pharma-treadmill. I've been warned I can have a stroke if I wean myself.

Lately, returning phone calls and emails was the equivalent of climbing a tough mountain. But today? I started and the sadness still shrouds me but I am sharing it with loved ones.

In the midst of writing this, a dear friend dropped by as he was concerned about my invisibility, he had a "feeling." I love that. When a friend senses you are not up to snuff.

I filled him in.

What was clear, suddenly, is that when I am down and sad and don't want to inflict myself on anyone is that those are the exact times I should.

I must write that on my wall.

Friday, May 29, 2015


I'm 25 years off television. I wrote about this on and off over the years. I haven't missed it once. I was pleased today to see a friend announcing on FB that he's unplugged himself from the news. Like New Rule. Not off sports though, he's one of those avid sports fans. I don't see the point of it unless it's to temper male aggression. My father was an angry man but when he'd return from his beloved hurling matches it was like all the starch was kicked out of him for the rest of the evening. I think sports watching serves a purpose for former hunters and gatherers. It cools the heat, flattens the fists, redirects complaints to the hulking teamsters on the flat screen plus, bonus, it gives them something to autopsy afterwards.

I'm thinking of terminating the daily newspaper again. It doesn't start my day well. I enjoy the columnists but the incessant drug/murder/mayhem/abuse stories are taking their toll on me. I prefer my bubble of birds outside, bouncing around the bird feeders (and what an incredible variety this year including the delightful purple finches and northern flickers).

I have choice I remind myself, so I recently unplugged from an End of Days listserv. I mean there's nothing I can do about our planet's tailspin. I'd rather not know if it's going to be today or next year.

Ignorant bliss is a good state for this elder. Pass me my knitting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I'm frugal. Well, I have to be. Old age is not kind to women living alone existing/subsisting on a "fixed" income. Some months are better than others when projects result in a cheque. Like recently. But I don't go crazy with the windfall.

First thing: I phone my hair stylist, Bernice, and my podiatrist, Aaron.

One thing I won't stint on are my extremities. I've had enough experience with really bad haircuts to know that if I pay peanuts I will get a monkey-head. So I go to this lovely old house in St. John's and let Bernice work her magic on my multi-coloured hair (since you ask, grey, brown, streaks of blonde and a titch of red). She has never, ever pushed colouring or products on me and is a perfectionist when it comes to cutting.

And yes, Aaron takes care of my feet. He's from the Channel Islands and does a fine job on my tootsies.

'Tis a fine thing indeed to stroll around the city under a perfect 'do, knowing your feet can take you anywhere without complaining.

Monday, May 25, 2015


You remember I talked about these lunar/menstrual what-have-you cycles?

Laird, but ain't it happening right now, I'm on warp speed.

First of all: I glue things. The cappuccino part of my coffee machine needed fixing, that flat plastic piece that sits under the wee espresso jug. It languished for months riven in two and unusable. Now patience, plastic gloves, a small tube of glue, and it's cappuccino time again. Next on the list was a very old spatula with a carved wooden handle. The spatula part had loosened itself off but I was very attached to the piece as it had a tiny rim around 3 sides to hold the egg tight once it came off the pan. And it was ornate. So bingo. Functioning again.

I tackled a long gorgeous scarf that Daughter brought me from New York. I wanted to make it into an infinity scarf so that I would wear more of it without ends dipping into the sweet and sour sauce. So I hand-stitched two long ends together and now it's stunning and I will wear it all the time. Like today.

And the afghan/sofa blanket for a loved one is racing along too.

Then news came of a puppay. Yes. Seriously. A pair of sisters. One for Daughter, one for me. This weekend. Brace yourselves. I'll become a woofy bore but I promise to put a time limit on it.

Ansa's having up and down days. I've put her on two low-dose aspirins a day now rather then the one. She has a bad limp, arthritis getting worse I think, she limped up the meadow last night as if on her last legs and then turned around and raced back down to the house. Grinning.

Not for the first time do I think: If only animals could talk.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Equal Rights

Of course I'm thrilled that the LGBTs have won in Ireland. Apart from having many gay friends, there are also gay family members. So yes, it's personal.

But like I said to a gay friend in the midst of all the euphoria, when will women be considered equal in Ireland? When will the rosaries stop rattling and Irish women given full bodily autonomy?

Will it happen in my lifetime?

Yeah, big question.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


It's a magical place alright, our Blogland. You meet extraordinary people through their writings. One such is Sojourner who writes of her day to day life in Labrador, way north of here, dealing with the addiction issues that are so prevalent amongst the native peoples there.

One of the most awful legacies of colonialism was the introduction of diseases, dependancies, addictions and multi-generational abuses and resettlements.

She writes beautifully of landscape and peoples.

Another is the blog of my granddaughter and her cohorts in India where a select few have gone with their professor to learn about the culture of the not so privileged and teach English.

Their awareness of their white privilege and the desperate poverty they are encountering makes for an indelible experience.

And words can't convey how button-bursting proud I am of my amazing Grandgirl.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I noticed this cyclical thing quite a while back in my post menopausal years. My menstruation years numbered 44. I know. Unimaginable. The only reward being a symptom free menopause. Even though I was braced for night-sweats, drenching hot flashes and losing my mind. Crickets. A good thing.

BUT. These hormonal/lunar cycles continue. Consisting of days of high energy followed by days of sluggish ennui. Only the slug days now involve a dead weariness in the bones. Like today. I worked this morning and then took off after my lunch and lay comatose in my bed for a couple of hours. I honestly felt I couldn't move a muscle.

I've tracked these episodes and wonder if they are specifically female but Daughter tells me her father went into a rigid sleep at the dinner table when she was staying with him a week or so ago. Mid-sentence kind of coma with a clatter of cutlery on the plate and his eyes closed and out of it for a while. She was very alarmed and mentioned to him that he should take care of his tiredness like I do and just go to bed.

So I wonder. I don't expect this to happen to me again for another month and it sure puts me in mind of the exhaustion around my periods but of course a younger body can counter-balance that by burning through it, like I used to do.

Not anymore. I obey the signals from my body.

It's the only one I have and the longer I live the more I love it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

30 Days - Day 30


Maxed Out

Well yeah, I missed a few days. Daughter came to stay. Friends arrived for 4 months in a house I found for them. There was a town/beach/roads clean-up, there was TIRED happening and a requestioning of what am I doing on this planet which is an increased improvement over the "What is the Meaning of Life?" dilemmas of my younger self.

My atheist isolation in a town of full-on worshippers is rarely commented on. But that also means I don't get to read church bulletins which broadcasts everything local. Separation of church and state doesn't happen much out here. Down to the Christmas Crib on municipal property. Along with all that I attend 12 step-fellowships when my tolerance metre is on "high". I'm not known for my subservience. Never have been. But now and again, yeah, all the doings of the very selective cruel ICH* who cures, say, certain children of disease whilst making others suffer prolonged pain and horror as victims of rape and torture and trafficking, being justified as "God's Will" makes the last surviving brain lobe explode. Well. Who can blame me and my logical brain?

Once upon a time, I explained it all here and there and everywhere.

And I do take comfort from sharing and writing here.

It sure gets lonely hiking the road less travelled when you never, ever meet any other travellers

*Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper.

Friday, May 15, 2015

30 Days - Day 29

I could do my head some serious injury as I read the daily newspaper and bang it off the nearest hard surface.

Yeah, I renewed my subscription about 3 months ago. Call me a sentimental old fool, but there's something about the 7.30 a.m. delivery to my wee red box on the pillar in the driveway, the breakfast, the paper propped up before me. I know The Telegram, our Newfoundland daily newspaper, is on its last legs. It's shrunk to the size of a postage stamp and could be read from slender cover to back page car ads in 10 minutes flat.


Where would you ever get to chuckle over the ad up above? I would want a washer not telling but actually doing: like offloading the wash into the dryer automatically, then the dryer decanting and folding the contents when dry and putting the laundry away in drawers? Now they'd be talking alright.

And then, a shudder of horror as I read about Labrador City who are rebating the 11 cent tax on each cigarette to bring more trade to local businesses. Yes, you read that right.

Imagine, if you will, the sheer madness of a government encouraging people to die more cheaply.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

30 Days - Day 28

The Hats

I wear many hats. And I'm getting old.

And it takes me longer than it used to to switch hats. Today I'm a municipal officer, posting about fire regulations and the annual shore clean-up and recycling instructions. And I need to get into writing mode. Deadline. And edits. Deadline. And a play revamp. Deadlines. And workshop. Deadline. And a corporate tax return I was begged to do. Deadline. And I in turn need to beg someone to type up some old poetry for a publication that they downloaded to me in squinchy JPG format that a four year old couldn't read. Deadline.

And I'm tired. I feel the life is sucked out of me at the moment. I have some health issues, nothing serious, just annoyances so I phoned the doc who'll see me tomorrow morning.

And the only hat I want to wear is my reader hat. Curl up with a book that's waiting for me and tell the whole world to buzz off.

I can't even find the chef hat so's I can make my own dinner.

Monday, May 11, 2015

30 days - Day 27

Daughter and I've been talking puppies, she's definitely going to add to her menagerie of one - Sam the cat - and I? I had the thought that Ansa might train a puppy. To ready me for the big When. No longer an If in my brain.

It's hard being apart from her at night but I am delighted she adapted so quickly to being downstairs all the time. Not so much her human companion in the adaptation department. I moved her main bed and waterbowl downstairs. The bedroom floor looks stark without her bits. And herself. Who would jump on my bed in the morning and wait for me to wake up, not moving a whisker. And put me to sleep at night by stretching out her whole body, back to back on the bed. I called that "Cuddlebunz" as we do with our own special words with our animals.

Her jumping is hit or miss now, but you should see her bound around the meadow in Puppy-Days-Are Here-Again mode. Breathtaking. And a great appetite. So no, she's not sick, she's just old.

Like her mama.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

30 Days - Day 26

The crymobile.

I'm at the age where I don't give a tinker's whether you think I'm weird or pathetic or eccentric.

Crying was banned in the house I grew up in.

So I was left with a great groundswell of tears that couldn't be released until I ran away to Canada.

I've added to the great silo of them since, of course. And I'll try and not cry around you. I cry in bathrooms or in bed, but the greatest release comes when I drive alone like today. I was thinking of my mother, it being Mother's Day here, and I have a huge shuffle of music (oh, 6,000 pieces since you asked) on my Ipod in the car and who should start up but Roger Whittaker singing "Durham Town" which was the very last song my mother and I sang in harmony together a few months before she died.

My mother had a lovely voice. When she was in her forties, she re-ignited her passion for music and toured around with a small choir. I have to admit I wasn't 100% supportive of her endeavours as I had to babysit but I don't recall actually complaining to her as she was such a different person once she reconnected with her music. It was as if her younger self had come back. I'd play the piano for her when I got home from school and she'd practise her scales and teach me the joy of the madrigal style of singing - I later sang madrigals in Canada when I joined a choir.

All this came back to me today in the car - it never has before - and the tears that flowed were a mix of happy and so very sad. I truly felt her presence - I mean out of 6,000+ pieces of music, this was thrown up on a shuffle?

She had one piece of advice for me on my wedding day.

"Never forget your music, love."

And I haven't, though I shelved it for many, many years.

Best. Advice. Ever.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

30 Days - Day 25

I glossed over a day. I never manage to sneak that by you so I'm confessing it up front.

It was Week 9 of the Writers' Workshops series yesterday and we are winding up what we think will be an anthology.

Life was pretty full during the week past, all good stuff, I've removed the word "busy" from my vocabulary, I have lost all rights to use it due to my serious overusage in my past lives.

I had a brainwave about writing an essay on finding this beautiful island and making the magic happen of moving here. And of course why I continue to stay here so I will work on that and maybe interview others like me who've Come From Away and now call Newfoundland home.

Now I'm off for a nap, with a hug and a kiss to the memory of my mother -pictured above with yours truly. Yeah, I had massive hair.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

30 Days - Day 24

So yeah. 'Twas a day alright.

Editing. All 4 levels of editing. Other people's words chewing around in my brain. Only once four times did I bang my head off the keyboard.

Here are the different types of editing:

(1)Developmental, structural or substantive editing i.e the whole picture.

(2)Paragraph-Level Edit
Also called stylistic or line editing

(3)Sentence-Level Edit
Also called copyediting

(4)Word-Level Edit
Also called proofreading.

Nearly the whole day spent on two short stories. Editors earn their keep. Truly. I can't believe the amount of work. I think I edit others' work much better than I do my own. Too close to it. Lesson learned.

I am NOT an editor, but then again I was NOT a director nor a playwright nor a......

We never know until we try, do we?

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

30 Days - Day 23

Start 'em Young.

I was at my local shop yesterday. I try and buy as much as I can there, fruits, meats.

They have a thriving business in the vices: cigarettes, booze, tickets.

Tickets: they're the tax on the poor kind. Instant play. Instant win. Weekly lottery. It seems there is no end to the variety. I don't condemn anyone for playing them, but it can be another addiction like alcohol or drugs.

I'd say in Newfoundland this kind of instant gambling is completely out of control with the full blessing of government who greedily reap their taxes commissions. Poor people hoping for that sudden boost out of poverty or just the adrenalin surge before the ticket gets burst open or the teevee draw for a new millionaire takes place.

This is boosted in no small way by the out of control local "grand in your hand" draws (collect $2,000, give $1,000 to the winner at $10 a ticket) and bingo nights. Most of these fund the impoverished (ahem) RC church. Generations of residents dinged over and over again for church upkeep with excesses syphoned off to Rome.

This addiction has never affected me. I don't say this smugly. I'm addicted enough, thanks! Even casinos, etc. have no appeal to me whatsoever. I calculate the odds and over a lifetime it could be millions of dollars spent if you had invested and reinvested your outlay in the stock market or GICs..

I've seen out of control gambling lead many all the way down to homelessness and/or suicide - the same end results as other addictions.

I said to one woman, on welfare, who spends $200 weekly on these tickets.

"You know if you saved that up you'd have over $10,000 at the end of the year in your pocket?"

She looked at me in surprise.

"But that would be no fun!" she said seriously.

I mean, I have to bite my tongue before I ask her what kind of fun, exactly, is she having throwing her money down the toilet?

And then yesterday I see an 8 year old girl handing in her tickets and winning $10 and her mother, behind her, says:

"Now you're on a roll, lovie, buy more tickets!"
"But I want candies, I want to spend the money on candies!"
"Ah, don't be foolish. You could buy a 1,000 candies when you win big!"

I'll let you work out what happened.

And sweet jaysus, 8 years old!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

30 Days - Day 22

Don't I wish I could afford this!

Ansa fell down the stairs yesterday. All of it. She's done partial slidings before, both forwards and backwards. This time she slipped on the very top step and then slithered all the way down. She limped for a while but was up for a 2k walk later on in the day. Me? Upset? You don't know the half of it.

I thought: yeah, that's it. I blocked off the stairs as she runs up and down it a lot during the day. She has to supervise all my doings in the upper floor because of the secret door. You know, the one hidden behind the bath that allows me an escape to a wonderful dogless existence for all eternity if she's not watching me carefully.

So last night I dreaded going to bed thinking: I can't bear crying, if she cries, I'll try and carry her upstairs or sleep on the couch downstairs. But she didn't cry. She paced. And paced. And paced, her paws clicking on the wood floors. I left all the doors open (thank you Spring!)but didn't call down to her as we would both break down.

This morning I awoke to her pacing and a very lackadaisical greeting, completely unlike her. I get it. She thinks she's being punished. I don't know how long it'll be until she gets used to this new order of business.

I wish she'd understand it's for her own safety, the poor wee darling.

Monday, May 04, 2015

30 Days - Day 21

The resilience of the human spirit is amazing. I was struck by this poem the other day and resolved to practise its principles:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
- Rumi -

It seems to me I've experienced so much pain, loss, sorrow, injury, fire, flood, grief and malice recently. I was talking to the facilitator of an event where I was asked to be the after dinner speaker. I told her I'd been through so much hell in the last four months I had nothing inspirational to offer anyone, so please find someone else.

"Oh," she said,"You have everything to offer. You got through it all. How did you do that?"

I agreed to speak.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

30 Days - Day 20

I put this picture here because I love it.

This daily writing commitment is good discipline.

Some days I can't find the words for here, or feel the words are too depressing.

I was pondering on what holds us together. Us. Meaning us average humans. One of those precious sayings hangs in the hallway inside my head all the time: "Never compare my insides with your outsides" and that is so true. At my age I know what your outsides can hide. As mine do when I'm superficially with you. Barely held together on some days while hanging out the happy shingle for others to see.

I just finished reading "Lila" by Marilynne Robinson. And as good books do it got me thinking: mainly of my major character in my last novel. And I'd never addressed her loneliness, often unidentified in people until its removal. Excellent writing can do that: it can get me reflecting on other times, other circumstances, and on my fictional characters. In this case her vacuum. A vacuum that can exist even when surrounded by those who love us. The vacuum which we all try to fill even when we can't name that vacuum.

Am I making any sense? A good editor has read this novel and couldn't connect with my protagonist and couldn't tell me why, only that there was something missing. And now I know what it is, I think. I'm never finished with my characters, they are as real to me as if they walk beside me.

It's May 3rd and the fire is going and I'm still in my PJs and that feels decadent enough for this old lady right now.

Friday, May 01, 2015

30 Days - Day 19

Before I start my day I lie in bed in the morning and do a mental survey. In spite of myself, my BFF Helen, who passed away in the past few months, springs to mind. I miss her more than words can say. Actually, truth be known, I can't find the words, the pain is so bad. I ask for her advice on challenging familial situations, like I always did. As she did me. But the answers don't come anymore. We were very good at "Remember when that happened and you did ......" or "you were such a star when you represented Ireland at Bridge....". Various validations of each other's worth. Self-validation is never enough, in spite of the gurus. Unless you're delusional.

My soul-friends are thin on the ground now. Many deaths. Others living far away. And here? I'm only known for the past 10 years basically. No historical setting for me. Just that I'm from magical Ireland and thus I'm viewed as if fairy dust was sprinkled all over me. No one wants to hear of the Ireland that betrayed me and mine in so many ways I can't even count them. How could I leave such a Utopia, they cry, baffled.

My lived experience, my truth, my very authenticity to use the fad word, is denied. Over and over again.

And there's something awfully lonely about that.