Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blog Jam

I take my front yard for granted sometimes. Until I catch other people taking pictures of my house or in one case an artist painting it from the beach.

And I look outside and catch views like this and it never fails to squeeze my heart. I mean, seriously, this is my front yard?

Things are a-hopping in my town, many interesting upcoming events like an art/artifact show. Plans in the works for a harvest fair next year with competition for the biggest potato, prettiest lettuce, etc. and sales of produce.

I am amazed at how much growing happens here. And then all those berries (12 berry seasons!) free for the picking on hill and dale. My freezer is full. Jamming season has begun. Pictures to follow.

More and more residents are truly seeing this beautiful town with new glasses.

We had a competition for the best photograph for a new sign - now installed - and the feedback has been amazing. A sailboat at sunset and two locals planted a matching flowerbed - all red and yellow and orange - underneath it. A stunning work of art on the roadside as you approach the town.

I am taking a simple joy in simple pleasures and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Observation

I attempted to post this a few days ago from my android but blogger was having none of it.

I was mulling. As I am wont to do.

I've noticed something new in people recently - as in what they tell you or what they humble-brag about, are in direct conflict with their actions.

For instance, they will talk of their compassion and charity to the 3rd world in a careless or humble way ("it was the least we could do")and then every behaviour they exhibit shows anything but, as they drive away in their huge jeeps wearing their designer clothes made in child labour sweat shops.

"We're never any trouble, are we dear?" the guests affirm to each other and then proceed to demand a 3rd cup of coffee over a staggeringly late breakfast (giggle - we're till on Alberta hours! - giggle)even though they've already emptied the pot and you now have to make another.

"I always give to the beggars on the street, poor unfortunates, unless they're drunk or drugged or plain filthy, you know?"

And what kind of beggar performance would please you today, ma'am/sir?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Out of Left Field.....

Is when it hits me. What a bloody awful year of loss and pain and grief.

And days go by and I think I'm dealing well with it. And then I'm caught sideways and I just want to cry all day long under the covers.

Any friend I would have shared this maelstrom of feelings with is gone.

I had to force myself out the door today and then pull over several times in the car as grief just overwhelmed me. To say I was shocked and, yes, ashamed, is to understate it. The day was glorious which made it even more poignant. The two words "Never Again" kept reverberating in my head.

Some emotional states you can't think or reason your way out of. It just takes you like a tide of longing and despair. I haven't felt that alone in a long, long time. It's a horrible feeling.

And I go into this cheap dollar shop, I'm sure I was a total mess but I didn't care. I wandered uselessly in the aisles, talking inwardly (I hope) to my dear, lost BFF, when a voice hailed me by name and I cringed as I turned to face her and drew a blank. I had to sort through all the filing cabinets in my head and there are many. You come to a new province and meet well over a 1,000 people and it's difficult to place them. My daughter was on TV and that was her opening gambit. And then she fell into her proper file box - a member of my book club but she hasn't been for 6 months.

I yanked myself forcibly out of my own pit of despair long enough to notice how dreadful she looked and discovered she'd had multiple serious surgeries, been divorced from Husband # 2 and husband #1, father of her kids, had died. Plus her only son, brother to her two daughters is transitioning to female.

Reluctantly, feeling whiny and rather stupid, I filled her in on my year so far and you know what she said?

"You must feel like a cork bobbing on an ocean, all adrift, all by yourself, pretending most of the time you're fine when you're not. Not at all."

And she gave me one of those hugs that lasts and lasts. And I attempted a joke about her taking me home and she said:

"Anytime, honey, anytime. There's always a chair at my table and a spare bed somewhere upstairs."

And slowly I felt much better, her kindness so genuine in the midst of her own anxieties and troubles, a fragile connection with all that's so good in the universe.

Monday, September 21, 2015


It was one of those days today, I had a serious run-on of PGs, needs must as they say, and then no more bookings for about 10 days. I need the time for me, for other stuff that calls. Sometimes I wish I was in my forties again, with the life experience of my own age behind me but the sheer ENERGY of my forties would be lovely.

But elder exhaustion caught up with me and I took two naps. One before a meeting in the morning and then one after my Book Club Meet in the afternoon before a fire department meeting in the evening. I know. But tomorrow is MINE all mine. I get excited about mine days. No one pulling on my sleeves for anything. No meetings, no people.

I took the pic yesterday after a social event. Fog and uncertain sun and calm seas and sand. I trudged across the beach with the dog and the camera.

I said to her: "We'd better make it through the winter old girl, what do you say?"

Her back end is uncertain, lots of helpful mats on the floor, sometimes a small assist from me to get her cranked up in the morning. She's thinner. But gameball. That's all that matters now. Gameball.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


*Paying guests.

An advantage of having PGs is that it forces me to be tidy. And clean. And smiley. And to interact nicely with strangers.

Another is I get to meet people from a specific walk of life. These people are the non-Holiday Inn types who thrive on different types of vacations, take the road less used and are usually far more travelled, globally, than the norm. Interesting in other words. No CBs evah.

The couple with me at the moment are a case in point. They are spending a month in Newfoundland, two nights with me, and are seeing all the sights and soaking up the experience by using AirBnB when they can, getting to meet the locals on a one to one basis. Of course I throw everyone for a loop when I tell them I am Irish hatched, matched and dispatched to Canada. But when they recover they're interested in my journey from there to here.

I truly find life is all about stories. Theirs and mine. I soak them up. Current female PG is a choir master/music teacher. I asked about her unusual name and she tells me a story of her mother escaping from Poland post war. He is more reticent, an IT man, eagerly asking me if I had computers to sort. Where are these guys when you really need them, I think. But, knowing myself so well, I will get to the bottom of his life too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One of these days.

One of these days - yeah verily I say unto you - I will rescue some good photo shots out of the Best Shots folder in some dark dungeon of the interwebz and get prints made for an art show and sell them on Etsy in response to those who have asked me to.

One of these days I'll actually set up an Etsy site.

And verily again, I will truly totally pack up the 200 megatons of unwanted extraneous crap-shyte in my office and store it in the empty plastic bins on shelves purpose built, oh six years ago, for such crap storage in my garage. Crap storage=abandoned client files which may, at some point, be audited by the CRA - Canada Revenue Agency.

One of these days I will actively pursue a literary agent or failing that self-publish.

One of these days I will wake up, yeah verily, and be one of those highly organized efficient people dressed in yoga pants and floaty orangey tops and bits of spandex and will run 5k either outside or on my treadmill in my freshly magnificent clear space with ocean view followed by one hour of yoga stretches before breakfast and then work 6 hours just writing in my spacious Zen office. And be one of these people who has a laptop for just her writing. And NOTHING ELSE.

One of these days I will get a treadmill and a yoga mat and assorted spandex bits and a floaty orangey top.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

CBs Anonymous

I've had more than my fair share of these lately. CBs - my code name for Crashing Bores.

While I start out with a great deal of sympathy for them, as the time elongates and elongates my nerves start to jangle, I have to come up with more and more questions to keep the conversation flowing. And the CB answers run into a full length novel ("I opened the door of the car, but had to go back in the house for my purse and then the phone went and I was late for my doctor who took another patient which upset me as I was meeting Elsie at Tim Horton's which didn't have my morning glory muffin, good for my bowels" know the drill) or conversely a monosyllable. I don't know which is worse.

I've been afflicted with several in the last few weeks. I think what bothers me most is their complete and utter lack of self-awareness. Not even a smidgin. Followed quickly by their astonishing lack of curiosity as to the world around them and specifically to the people who inquire after their health or their opinions or their wellbeing.

I had an unexpected CB last night. An acquaintance from yonks ago. We didn't hang out then but she has chased me over the years on email.

I live in a small village. She remembered the name of the village and inquired in our small store and he was kind enough to lead her to my house. At 8.00pm when it was raining and getting dark.

And she stayed and stayed and regaled me of how she was in the business of helping people as she was like Mother Theresa that way, her role model, always thinking of others and how she could help them and she thought she might set up a kind of monastery in Newfoundland for all those people needing help, I would be amazed at the number of people she has helped with her wisdom, a gift from JC high above, only very few got this gift so she was thankful every day she was so gifted, she knew how rare it was and most people, probably me too, didn't understand or appreciate all she had to offer us unfortunates, she could lay on hands if I wanted her to - no? - I didn't know what I was missing as she had this gift...........

For a few hours I endured this. I had to lie to get rid of her, not a nice lie either, a sleazy kind of lie about my "friend" sleeping over, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

And after she left, I thought: Crashing Bores Anonymous. Where CBs would work there way through a socialization structure, starting with forcing themselves to ask just one question of an acquaintance or family member a week (they could practise with each other) building up to a full conversational interaction after a year or two. Or more.

But then I thought: But these unfortunates never, ever have the self-awareness to recognize their problem. Even when their targets fall asleep in front of them.

It's all rather hopeless really isn't it?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Lament: I don't often hear the word. A fine old word. Comes from the Latin "Lamentum" which means moan or wail. Many sad old Irish tunes are "Laments". We're a great lamenting lot, us Irish. We lament everything: our children's emigration, our history, our language, our land, our people. I think we're born with a lament written on our psyches.

So I was mulling all this over in my car yesterday. I had to go to town and mulling is de rigeur when I drive by myself. I was trying to come up with a brand new short story for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. To keep me sharp,I made a resolution this year to plaster all these short story competitions with entries. I get short listed, usually, which pleases me intensely, as it means the stories are readable and interesting. I don't aim to win or place, though that would be a lovely shock. But to go on a list of 100 out of, oh, 3,000-5,000 submissions is very, very pleasing.

So y'all know what I'm talking about - here's a sample of one lament. You can hear the sorrow threading through it. Words are not necessary in a lament.

This is called Lord Mayo and Joanie Madden, she of "Cherish the Ladies" fame, tackles it.

So I was playing this in my car and as luck would have it (it does happen now and again) a short story fell into my head. About this woman at a dinner party being asked to sing an Irish lament. And I wrote it last night and have been polishing it today amongst other stuff like my washing machine breaking down and blueberries needing to be jammed and a Tigeen needing to be cleaned.


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Crystal Moments

You're up at the crack of dawn and a laundry load is ready (gratitude for "delayed wash cycle") and you start another. And now you're working on the second clothesline, the one for the sheets.

It's a denim day, air you take deep down into the lungs like a heroin addict who can't get enough of a hit. It's so early there's no traffic and you can hear a gathering of loons around the bay, calling to each other. The sun, the enormous sun, blesses all around you with shards of golden light. You think to yourself: that dinner with the former husband went really well, really, really well last night, a good Newfoundland dinner. A lovely gathering around your table. And you peg up the clothes and what the hell throw on a final load of laundry and think of the day ahead: make soup and bread and stock the new batch of fresh yogurt in the fridge and welcome new PGs at 6 when they arrive and maybe feed them some of that homey goodness. Just what you yourself would want after a six hour road trip.

And everything else recedes for that moment, Syria, the death of close friends, bills to be paid, repairs to be made, editing to be done.

And deep down you know life couldn't get better than this.

And you smile.

What the hell is it about clotheslines anyway?

You wish you could just bottle it up and sell it as your granny would say.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


The comic linked below is easily read and understood and captures the whole situation in Syria succinctly.

There are many reasons for the refugee crisis but the major one is climate change. Millions of small farms have been wiped out. I and many more have maintained for years, that the next global catastrophe and massive migrations of starving people will be over water. This is just the beginning.

See it here.

So it takes the death of one small boy to make the world sit up and take notice. And I do wonder why my small province, hungry for immigrants, can't hold out its welcoming hand to these desperate refugees. I'm sure they would contribute, at the highest level, to Canada as a whole and to Newfoundland particularly.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

What kind of a world is this?

We are a sad, sad, species.


I have to question the sanity of us all when a helpless 19 year old girl moves far, far away from her family 50 years ago to give birth to a child "out of wedlock". Her parents and friends don't know about the pregnancy. It would be a cause of enormous shame and embarrassment. Girls who got pregnant without the sanctity of the ring around their fingers were sluts and the parents who gave birth to these sluts were shamed and often shunned. The tentacles and condemnation and judgement of the RC church was everywhere, even in Canada. Especially in Montreal.

So this 19 year old found an obscure town on a map of Ontario and gave birth in the local small town hospital and insisted on keeping the child. She had to fight to keep this baby as the chaplain and the holy sisters of the hospital were adamant in their lectures about the "child's best interests."

She left the hospital with the baby in a blanket and caught a bus to her rooming house and her money was running out so she asked around, in shops and the neighbourhood, about a private care home for the child and found one. She then secured a job in a nearby city. And commuted to her rooming house and paid the care home for the 5 day care of her daughter. She'd pick her up on Friday night and then spend the weekend with her. And this went on for 9 months, her life revolving around her job with its long hours, the minescule paycheques, the payment to the care home and her weekends with the baby.

And then, out of the blue, the temporary care parents took her to court. They said the child was upset at being disrupted every weekend. They didn't think the mother was fit. Their children were grown and gone. They could dedicate themselves to ensuring this child had a better quality of life than what this irresponsible single mother was offering.

And the 19 year old pleaded at the judge's bench she had to work to support the child, she saw her every chance she got, she was studying every night of the week after work so that the two of them could have a better life, maybe a live-in nanny.

Her tears and eventual sobs fell on deaf ears. The judge ruled in the care couple's favour and they could proceed with formally adopting the child. The mother was classified as unfit.

Years later, years and years, she reconnected with the child. The child refused to meet with her. Over and over and over again.

She said she would never, ever forgive her for "giving her up," even when she knew she was dying.

The other side of this story has never been written.

And I wish it was.