Monday, June 29, 2015

Artsy & Antsy

I finished my latest large project. A gift that will outlive me. Most artsy stuff does though. I was pleased to see a nephew post a project of mine from quite a while back - still in excellent condition draping a couch. I love it when men appreciate knitting. I remember sitting in a pub on Sherkin Island, knitting away and it was all the men who came over and petted my work and talked of their grannies and the dying art of needlework. My father taught me when I was knee high. He had five older knitting sisters and as my mother was ankle deep in toddlers he was given the job. He was always embarrassed when I referred to it. Even though knitting is all about mathematics. Seriously. Always counting and calculating, needle size, weight of wool, amount of wool, circular vs straight needles, how much to increase for twisting and cabling the work, how much to decrease for borders.

The painting of house interior is getting there. Johnny my painter is a genius. And lordy so reasonable. I am thoroughly exhausted from moving, trashing, reconfiguring, dragging. My hoarding floodlit. My garage is taking a beating. I aspire to Zen. It will happen. or close to it anyway.

Meanwhile I'm going to vanish to Fogo Island for an R&R. I went there last with Grandgirl and we adored it. It does seem like everywhere I love is only accessible by ferry.

Here is a wee film of it. It is an extraordinary place and houses one of the four corners of the flat earth.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


And yes, that lovely old window you see overlooks the ocean.

It's all very well to cruise around and plot colours and pick out lovely paints, make decisions on matte or semi or gloss but HELL. My painter is wonderful, one of those self-deprecating geniuses. And so far 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1 upper inner hallway are completed. By completed I mean: primer, ceilings, wainscoting and trim have all been meticulously applied, but to do all that he had to move stuff around. And hereby the chaos. He had a personal commitment for the weekend so wrapped up here Friday afternoon. He'll be back again on Monday morning first thing, to correct any small defects I might spot (none that I see) and then he'll tackle the upper outer hall and the lower main hall ceilings, on down to the living room and my office and back hall.

You might think I have a vast mansion of a place with all these halls but you'd be mistaken. The reason for the halls was to conserve heating in the winter in the good old days (and even now the freezing new days). So my little rabbit warren of a house has 4 halls and 5 tiny bedrooms with NO closets.

I sometimes wondered why I invested time and money into this place. And then I see the freshly painted rooms and I think - this is lovely, so badly needed and maybe, just maybe, these freshly decorated walls will extend beyond my lifespan and I won't have to do them again.

Meanwhile, I will trudge upstairs once again and survey the enormous amount of bits and pieces, scattered everywhere and question my own sanity: do I truly need all this stuff? And get ruthless, absolutely ruthless. Hear me, universe?

And this coming from a woman who discarded/recycled/donated 10 items per day for the last 50 odd days?

And felt so effing virtuous.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Experience and Opinions

I have this married couple pair of doctors as my physicians. I have nothing but good things to say about them. All my experiences have been positive. They have always seen me on time, faxed prescriptions to the pharmacy who deliver them to me on an immediate basis. Call me at home to give me health updates as needed. Work with me on my drug requirements, respect my refusal to take certain drugs (statins) and are super encouraging, down to giving me night splints for my arthritis to avoid morning pain.

We've chatted on personal terms too - particularly on emigrant experiences which we share.

So I was at this dinner party a couple of nights ago and words were tossed around about this couple. All negative - by at least six others. How "arrogant" how "defensive" how "shoddy" were their personas as physicians. And the waiting times were appalling and how dare they only see ten patients a day and then, by gum, they were never there on time in the morning and always left early.

I had to double check we were talking the same doctors. And yes, we were. Now I can be Super Critic when asked, especially when it comes to medical people or customer service, etc. You can imagine the startled looks I got when I extolled the virtues of these doctors. I must have seen them maybe 10 times in the past couple months. And now I'm on weekly appointments to discuss my diabetes treatment and readings and also my blood pressure and readings and methodologies for coping with stress, regaining my physical competence and so on.

Mouths around the table fell open. No one else had a positive experience to report even at Health Committee meetings which these doctors attended. They were "abrupt" and "patronizing".

I saw one of the doctors today on my regular weekly appointment (no wait-time) and she was charming and helpful and so very kind and attentive.

I find it extraordinary that I'm just a solitary voice of approval amidst so much antagonism and disappointment. Usually it's the other way round.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I have this new painter. Highly recommended. He's working on the inside of the house. The outside was done last year and I've squeezed out a few dollars for the inside this year. gone are the days when I'd do it all myself but younger and more agile than me have fallen off ladders or slipped a disk, or....but I just may tackle the craft room. There's something awfully satisfying about slapping on paint and fine tuning the trim, you know?

Well this painter, we're filing down the stairs and he says:

"Oh, I'm illiterate, missus."

"Oh," sez I, "How do you manage painting, the colours 'n all?"

"You'll have to put the cans into each room for me."

"How can you tell the different whites, like primer, trim, ceiling?"

"If you put a big letter on each, like P for primer, it'll be proper ting."

He's around 60+. We haven't got into the educational ins and outs of this but I imagine he fell through the cracks many years ago.

What I admired most was the practical way he stated this fact about his illiteracy.

And also when I suggested drop cloths, he said he never saw the need for them, he knew what he was doing and didn't splash around, no drips in his work, ask anybody. Pride, missus.

OK then.

I've had one awful experience with an inside painter.

Let's hope this one restores my faith.

PS - posted later - here was the followup post to my "Bristled" post above - this one is "Banjaxed" - have a larf.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Health Update

Photo taken yesterday - double click for maximum effect

Thanks for all the emails and comments on my The Call post.

Following many months of inactivity due to my accident which left me for far too long partially incapacitated followed by a dismal reaction to blood pressure medication, I am left with a body that is not performing very well at the moment.

Funny how we take our good health for granted until we are stopped in our tracks and left to evaluate, (quietly and silently in my case) as to what is going on.

Results of tests: Type 2 diabetes. Some kidney distress (excessive protein), poor blood results (too much of the 'bad' cholesterol) and the usual age-related challenges.

I haven't ingested refined sugar in over 3 years. Up to December I was capable of a 16k road-race, well a trek, not a "race" as we know a race. Then my body and mind crumbled and stumbled into 2015. I had a massive amount of stress too which didn't help, I still do. I've been meditating and doing some breathing exercises and practicing love and forgiveness. And yes, it's working.

So, bringing the blood sugar down to below 10 is the immediate goal. Followed by building up, slowly, my former physical condition - not superb but efficient.

And compared with many, this is all a walk in the park, right?

And I am so aware of this.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Fresh Eye

For this reader, it is sometimes important to re-read books that I originally read forty years ago. That is the case with my current read: "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, written in 1926.

It basically tells the story of two Catholic priests converting the "natives" and "aboriginals" to Catholicism in New Mexico and Texas in the 1850s. The descriptions of landscape and culture are superb.

But it is the recounting of the white man's ways that take my breath away, particularly in the light of today where we are somewhat more aware of what we do and the evidence of our never-ending destruction of land, sea and water is far more deleterious than it ever was back then.

" was the white man's way to assert himself in any landscape, to change it, make it over a little (at least to leave some mark or memorial of his sojourn), it was the Indian's way to pass through a country without disturbing anything; to pass and leave no trace, like fish through water, or birds through the air."

Also, our sense of "decoration" compare unfavourably to aboriginals wherein they contented themselves with decorating only their bodies:

"....upon their blankets and belts and ceremonial robes they lavished this skill and pains. But their conception of decoration did not extend to the landscape. They seemed to have none of the European's desire to 'master' nature to arrange and re-create. They spent their ingenuity in the other direction; in accommodating themselves to the scene in which they found themselves. This was not so much from indolence, the Bishop thought, as from an inherited caution and respect."

I wish I had taken notes back then on books I read as I've done for the last five-six years. But again, with two small children and a full time job, I'm consistently amazed at how much I did read back then.

A journey of self-education, never regretted.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Better than.....

Sometimes we wait too long. I was at a 90th birthday party yesterday and whispered to my daughter "This is much better than a funeral, yeah?" and we both cracked up. Because it was. Ms E the celebrant - who looks like she has another 90 in her - was enjoying herself. Celebrating the slide show tribute, the multiple generations of her descendants, this fourth generation has produced girls for the first time, prior to then it was boyz and more boyz. She had six of her own who went on to produce countless more.

So I went on to ponder on "better thans".

This new technique to be used when I have stress or negative projections. Today is like, 9C, seriously. So I lit the fire. And thought: "This is better than snow and ice, remember your bad fall? Isn't this cosy?" And it is. I'm not reflecting on climate change and this weird chill and growing temperature challenges and...for also, "this is better than the stifling humid heat of Toronto where I lived for years and years."

As I knitted for an hour in the morning (goddess, how relaxing that is!) I thought to myself: "I'm doing way better with the arthritis - I thought my hands would be crippled with it when my thumbs started to ache so badly in the mornings."

And thanks to blogger That British Woman and the inspiring photos of Ernestine I plan my menus for a week and post them up in the kitchen. Better than sporadic or repetitive meals. And healthier in variety.

Daughter, the former prof, has found immense pleasure and fulfilment in being a part-time crab fisher. I celebrate her joy and happiness - so much better than the life she had before, her connection with the sea is profound and her capacity for hard physical labour, in spite of her health challenges, lightens my spirit. Better than the bubble of underlying anxiety for her I carried in the past.

So there ya go - do you have "better thans" in your day?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Call

So I had all these tests. And then today I get The Call. The doctor on the phone wanting to see me. Why? Oh can't talk about it on the phone. Has to see me F2F. Should I be worried? That remains to be seen. After The Talk.

Next time he's in clinic is Thursday a.m. Me worry? I'm trying not to.

Many of us are at the age. And guess what I'm dreading more than anything else?

Being on a permanent medical treadmill of appointments and tests. Like many. Comparing meds and Cat Scans and MRIs. Sole topic of conversation a long list of all that ails me. Goddess, no!

Zaps the energy, freezes the brain lobes.

Let me go to a corner, open a vein and quietly bleed out while the going is good.

Sorry about the mess.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I was raised with a lot of them as I'm sure many of you out there were too. Here are a few, feel free to add more:

Blood is thicker than water.

Never air your dirty linen in public.

When this life is hard you'll get your reward in the next.

Your friends were too good for this earth so God took them for playmates.

You can always count on your family.

Getting a pensionable job is the most important thing you'll ever do for yourself.

There's no money in being a writer/artist.

To serve is the best aspiration for a woman.

Offer it up and don't talk about it.

Never wear your heart on your sleeve.

Life in Ireland is the best life on earth.

Sparing the rod is spoiling the child.

You can get pregnant off a toilet seat.

Fallacies. All of them.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Just Breathe

I am reminded of how fragile we all are. Regularly it seems.

I'm having some medical workups done at the moment, the usual (I would think). I avoid doctors. But I recognise also that for some it is inevitable. And I need some evaluation as my stress level is far too high right now. So tests. And tests.

I was the one who insisted my BFF Helen demand answers last August when I was in Dublin. She'd been feeling "weird" for a while. You complete a marathon in May and sit under a patio heater in June and feel full of brain sludge the following morning which won't leave and then get prescribed anti-depressants until you can no longer articulate what's wrong with you and your stash of books goes unread and you can't eat. And that story resonates with many. Symptoms missed or misconstrued and women? Anti-depressants! I believe most of the world is on anti-depressants. They are supposed to be a short term solution while therapy sorts one out permanently. Meanwhile, my glorious life-long friend died excruciatingly of a brain tumour in December.

Big Pharma makes of it a racket. And the effects are audible and visible. More brain sludged innocents meandering around. A sedated population is malleable, yeah? I'd say many of my intimates are on such meds. Some tell me, some I perceive as being not quite there at times.

I was suicidal at one low point in my life. And I was prescribed anti-ds while I underwent therapy. A good therapist is essential. Mine sorted me out, I couldn't believe all the repressed stuff that kept pouring out. This was after I sobered up and let go of my 40+ a day smoking habit. The alcohol and nicotine had kept everything nicely tamped down. I was a raging lunatic for a while. Couldn't believe all the repressed emotions. Particularly around this and this

But like they say, the brilliant they, you never quite leave the room(s) you slept in as a child. Profound when you think about it.

So yeah, I remind myself to breathe, especially when those frayed old scenes start haunting me.

And you know? When I wrote those long ago blog-posts about my own childhood, my volume of emails from you guys out there went through the roof. It's good to know I'm not alone.

Monday, June 08, 2015


A long time ago, in a city called Toronto a boyfriend and I would prowl the city on weekends late at night. Walk the boardwalk, sit in all night cafes, speculate on the lives of shift-workers, get to see people and images we wouldn't normally see and write about them. We called ourselves the Nightwalkers.

A part of me is still drawn to that night life. Out here on the Edge I'm up late. Well, that's wrong. I laid down on the couch at around 9pm and awoke after an, ahem, "short" nap. You know those naps. I awoke at 2am in a terrible state as a friend and I had been securing Liam Neeson in a fool proof cell (he kept breaking out)because he had been bombing carousels full of children. As we were locking him up behind three steel doors, his power saw was hacking through the last door. Such are the ways of some of my dreams nightmares. Others involve kittens and rainbows.

Anyway, here I am in the middle of the night, writing away. The world is quiet, the rain has stopped and the sea is like a mirror. No FB friends are out and about in the cyber world.

All is well.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Small Things=Huge Things

On a walkabout yesterday

I spent some time yesterday with clients. We're working on a mystery dinner theatre project. A whodunit in which all the guests take part with pre-written scripts and characters. It's fun. They'd also bought a significant quantity of my cards last summer. I take photos around the bay area, write a piece of poetry for the back of the card and this is all wrapped up with an envelope and cellophane and can be used for any event: birthday, anniversary, thank you, even in some cases sympathy. How thrilled was I when they reordered cards as they'd sold out.

Mein host had been ill, a few surgeries performed a couple of years ago triggered by massive scar tissue buildup from a poorly performed appendectomy when he was a child. It leaves him with pain ridden days interspersed with surprisingly "normal" days. There's nothing that can be done. And he was to watch everything he eats.

He said to me: "I wake up every day and my first thought is: I am grateful I don't have cancer."

After our meeting I did a walkabout with my camera, ruminating on what he'd said.. My first thought was: I am grateful I can walk again.

Being on my previous medication I couldn't. My "eye" was also back. When my brain and body were so deeply affected by that drug I saw beauty nowhere. Now, I see beauty everywhere. I took many pictures yesterday and thought of the bones of a poem for one.

I live in magnificence out here on the Edge. Around every corner there is another breathtaking sight.

I had dreamed of a life like this, many, many years ago. It is far beyond my expectations, as my dream just wasn't big enough.

As I write this, I look outside and see the goldfinches dancing in the pines on the beach.

I am with them.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Yes, the word stund is a real word out here on the Edge. A Newfoundland word. It is exactly as it sounds. Usually applied to a person. Spelt just like that. A half-wit. Stupid. Moronic.

I was out with my good friend last night. A long drive back and forth to St. John's about 100k from here. A trek. But I was driven and that is so lovely. I must have racked up in my lifetime over 1,000,000 miles of my own driving. I do love driving so that's a bonus, but even more so nowadays I love being driven.

We're chatting in the way of good friends, when out of the blue I said to him:

"When is Daylight Savings Time? Shouldn't we have had it by now?"

Long silence.

"You're joking, right kid?"

"No, shouldn't we have had it in May?"

"Are you stund?"


"We had it in March, b'y. Are you thinking of Solstice on the 21st of June?"

"Yeah, yeah, that's right. Of course." And I changed the topic.

But you know? I'd been harbouring that thought for a while, why on earth didn't we have DST in 2015 so far? But naturally not sharing it. Because. Well, I don't know. Stund. But I trust him enough to share my newfound dementia.

So Daughter was over today and I finally blurted it out to her. And we sat there staring at each other.

"Oh, my gawd," sez Daughter, snapping her fingers, "I've got it".

"What, what?"

"That was the time of your concussion!"

"Shyte. Yes!" Relief, oh, the flood of relief.

And then we talked about what an extraordinary organ the brain is. How some files get damaged after a blow to the head or spine and recover or just get deleted. I wonder what else is missing from my internal files.

But something I can't answer is: who adjusted all the clocks in my house to the new time? AND my car.

Something in my head was on autopilot. And that's pretty amazing too, when you think about it.