Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I am struck so much by memory lately. Not in a morbid way or anything, strictly reflecting on its power.

I read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" again for my book club. I loved it the first time around (2009) and the re-read was equally delightful.

I had thought in the past that it was such a shame most of us can't plumb the depths of our parents' memories. I spent a huge quantity of time (afternoon upon afternoon) with my mother when she had terminal cancer where she shared so many memories with me. I didn't take notes, much to my regret now, I thought it would embarrass her. But I could have written so much down in privacy later but it didn't occur to me caught up in my own grief and the care of my own two babies. She had fascinating memories. I'm trying to assemble them in a book. For instance, she recalled, in detail, the shock and horror of a barracks explosion in Castlemartyr, County Cork when she was a very small child. And contrary to many others, she remembered the kindness of the Black and Tans throwing her and her sisters English toffees as they rolled by her house in huge, loud trucks on their way to Youghal.

And then this line in the aforementioned book struck me:

"I am betraying you by dying, I am truly causing you to die....must we also put to death those who were still alive only through us."

And I think of living with my grandmother and grandfather for a while in that small village, and watching him, a labourer, set off for work in the morning and coming home at night with sausages in his back pocket (an enormous treat) and me helping him set the traps for the rabbits on the back acre, and tossing grain at my granny's chickens, and being kept up for all hours - don't tell yer mammy sitting on his lap while he and his pals set Ireland to rights and sang impossibly long olachons (laments) in the Sean Nos style. And one time, dancing with my granny while a fiddle and a harmonica and spoons and bones kept time. My granny was old to me then (in her late forties!)and I remember clapping my hands in glee at her agility on the flagstones.

I would be the only one remembering all of that (eldest grandchild)and I suppose, when I go, it'll be a second death for those, now long gone, who continue to live, and so very clearly, in my memory.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Round Pegs, Square Holes

I was cleaning off a kitchen shelf. I like open concept shelving. Things in jars can be akin to works of art: beans, coconut flakes, almonds, apricots, dried cranberries.

When it suddenly struck me that the designs of jars are to be so far wrong as to be ludicrous.

Walls and shelves are at right angles. Fridges are rectangular. Cupboards are square or rectangular. Jars are usually round. This design makes for an appalling waste of space. Everywhere.

I don't know why in all my born days I haven't drawn this conclusion before.

I just blindly accepted the antagonistic relationship of containers and their nemesis, the shelves they sit upon.

Think also of spice jars. And tins.

Shouldn't all containers be square?

Or is this crazy old lady ready for the bat-wing?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Into the Grief Room

Some trepidation in the parking lot.

Some downtalk as I enter the room, you know the drill: "what the hell are you doing here when so many others are so much worse off?"

Some tears. Gulping them back.

Recognition of others and others of me, my gawd, we're all in the same boat of anguish and pain. We're all new to this process wondering what to do next with our lives which have this meaningless, hollow ring to them.

Understanding. Everyone here gets this. Understands the absolutely crazy insane thinking inside of the skull of the bereaved.

Down to the total lack of comprehension of the process from family members. The sheer cruel isolation of it all.

I was totally at ease in that strange, loving, kleenexed room. For two hours.

My blood sugars were normal when I took a reading a few hours later.

For the first time in months and months.


I'm a believer.


There's a point in which life stops giving you things and starts to take them away.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes it's blowing the budget on $6 lavender candles.

Sometimes it's the view from my front deck (above) taken yesterday.

Sometimes it's the loaf of partridgeberry bread left in the front seat of my car (text: don't sit into your car without checking the front seat!)

Sometimes it's an engrossing read like "The Green Road" by Anne Enright with a line such as this which lifts me right out:

P70: "Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Everyone dies. It's the timing that matters. The first and second of it. The order in which we go."

Friday, October 16, 2015

Diversion & Distraction

A view of St. John's, capital city of Newfoundland & Labrador, taken a few days ago by moi.

A friend of over 40 years standing came and visited me for 6 days. Which accounts for my lack of attention to your blogs and to my own.

She couldn't have timed it better as it was her first visit here and I pulled out all the touristy stuff within easy reach. The weather was kind to us and the pace was leisurely. Art galleries, fossil sites (oldest fossils in the world), Signal Hill (see view up above)and Cape Spear - the most eastern point in North America, to name a few. And oh yes Thanksgiving dinner chez moi thrown in there too. We had long conversations into the small hours catching up on all the doings that phone-calling and emailing don't quite cover.

Now that she's gone I am taking the day off to regroup. My new grief counsellor phoned me and we had a lovely chat, he right away went into a recent grief process of his own which resulted also in physical health issues and he won me over. So my first F2F session is next Wednesday.

I can't thank everyone out there enough for all the support, both private and on comments, that has been offered so lovingly and with such compassion.

My sometimes difficult and challenging passages through life are rendered easier because of you, my web gang.

You are truly the family of my heart.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Mind over Matter

I would consider myself fairly in tune with my body, my emotions, my mind, you know?

Imagine my shock when my doctor adamantly, adamantly disagrees with me.

I thought I was cruising along nicely, yeah, it's been a shyte year, so many losses I can't count them at the moment.

And yeah, I feel on the edge a lot of the time. The edge of what I couldn't tell you. Disaster I suppose. Another awful thing maybe looming around the corner ready to grab me by the throat.

And Doctor tells me my health is really, really suffering. My blood pressure is now worse than before, my blood sugars are all over the place, my body is not happy, my outlook is depressing. And to top it off my eyes are red like I've been on a bender.

Surely to gawd, I say to him, grief couldn't cause all this havoc in my body.

And he laughs at me.

List all the griefs for me, he says, pen poised.

And I do. And I was surprised, the list was so very long.

And he says: death of many major friends, loss of family, loss of emotional connections, a dying dog, a long-time missing daughter - you need grief therapy. Stat. Meanwhile I'll up your meds again, but this is it. There's no more up, we ran out of ups today.

I've obviously lost the run of myself.

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Poem and a Picture

The dogberries in my meadow tell me it's going to be a long hard winter.

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here, and I can't turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those

wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:

I am living, I remember you.

~ Marie Howe

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Back in the Saddle.

I am sick and tired of this depraved and senseless world we live in. I look at the statistical map of mass killings in the US and think: no one does anything, those who are elected to serve and protect only protect the gun lobbies, the NRA. 'We the people' is a fallacy, truly. A sop to the masses.

I look at the murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada well over 1,000 and counting just about daily and think: no one gives a shyte. Our man Harper focuses on Niqabs and the wearing of them at citizen oath-taking ceremonies and the troops rally around that particular flag and sends him skyrocketing in the polls,(our election looms shortly)which says a whole pile about our electorate and their hidden prejudices and women hatred. Forgetting, of course, that not too long ago Xtian nuns were so garbed and in some cases hidden behind screens even from their parents, looking at you Carmelites.

I predicted, way back months ago, that Trump and Harper would be the kings of North America. Two first class manipulators, millionaires, man-beasts. Both held in thrall to the worst of capitalism and fundamentalism, slurping at the troughs of oil, the standards of industrial militarism held high, death to the brownies, the blackies, the other than Xtian belief systems. Not forgetting, in Harper's case, overt references to the "Old Stock" Canadians - i.e. the founding-rampaging-death-to-all-aboriginals "fathers". In Harperland your legitimate citizenship can be revoked if you don't behave. Even if you were born here. Stasi-land, Harper style. And I haven't gone into the spying network he has set in place to monitor the "New Stock" citizenry like yours truly and presumably those pesky First Nations people with their protests and marches against clear cutting and unbridled oil-derrick hoistings.

I backed away, consciously, several years ago from political commentary, it was frying up my brain. But it seems that lately the corruption, callousness and trampling of rights is breathtaking in its audacity and horror. I am compelled to vent.

Terrorism as 'out there' no longer exists, if it ever did.

Terrorism, in many forms, is right at our own front doors.