Saturday, November 28, 2015

What the man said

This is what the Calgary, Alberta, Canada mayor said after a public meeting:

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi:

"I had a meeting this morning where we had a community forum on refugees. And I was a little bit nervous walking in because it was an open invitation, anybody could come, and I thought there might be some angry people or people with a lot of very difficult questions. And who was there were churches and synagogues and temples and mosques and grandmothers and volunteers and people from across the community, who were just asking the same question, which is by the way still by far the most common question I get, how can I help? And at one point a First Nations woman stood up. I only knew that because she said, I am a First Nations woman. I thought she was going to say, why are we having all this focus on these refugees when we have so many problems closer to home? And what she actually said was, I need some help. Because I need to understand how and when they’re coming because I want to make sure, and many of my First Nations colleagues, want to make sure that when these people come, we have an opportunity to have the elders there to drum them in and to do a smudge ceremony so we can welcome them to this land... I might have lost it at that point."

This is served to you as an antidote to all the hate, prejudice and racism out there.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Being Present

Fogo Island at yesternight taken by Paddy Barry, enbiggen to take your breath away

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with people's kindness. Today, and I hope all days, I will notice and be grateful.

In the last few minutes, an acquaintance, a boat captain, dropped off a passel of freshly caught cod.

After lunch at a friend's today, she gifted me with fresh limes, more cod, moose and my dinner for later.

Then my cousin called from Ireland, it was "free calls to Canada" day on her service.

And it looks like my two person play is going to fly with wings now and play here and maybe Ireland in the fall of next year.

I feel like I'm coming out of an awful, stumbling, numbing fog. I haven't shared a lot of it here as, seriously, I thought I was losing my mind along with my health. I can't thank my grief therapist enough. My treatment is ongoing and his assistance in my process is invaluable. It's far from over. It's almost like I have to reinvent myself and focus more, much more, on my existing support network and forcibly interact at a level I'm comfortable with, with those who care for my wellbeing. For a gregarious loner like me that can be a bit of a mountain but I'll put on the climbing boots. I was making streams of excuses about old friends being far better than new friends, why invest time in new friends when they could drop off the face of the earth too, blah-blah. And no joint history doncha know. I'm awfully good at shopping from the excuses wagon.

As the man said, I had lost all trust in myself and now it's filtering through.

Being present. Meditating. Suiting up and showing up. All is beginning to feel well.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Small Things Noticed & Praised.

Petals of Asiago cheese.

Jars of red jewels - partridgeberry jam - on my counter. I can't put them away.

My dog, Ansa, who now sleeps in in the morning and has to be awakened. A reversal if ever there was one.

The smell of wood-smoke and a beautiful meatloaf in the oven at this very moment.

A nearly completed knitted "window worm" for another drafty window.

Playing around with the book cover possibilities for the anthology I put together with the writers in the writers' workshop (see above) - I wish to incorporate the old and the new. And now that I look at it again I think the addition of an oil-lamp alongside the laptop would be a nice touch, what do you think? The intent for the image on the cover will be fairly blurry but catchy.

Blood sugars manageable.

Another session tomorrow with my grief counsellor.

Thanks for all the comments, so heartfelt and helpful, on my last blog post.

I sure am at the stage of life where stuff is not added but rather taken away.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Carol Doesn't Say Goodbye

I wrote about her a while back. Here. Just over 4 years ago. Carol* moved away to the city and we stayed in sporadic touch. She finally met the man of her dreams she told me only a week ago. And sent a picture.

And then, her daughter, who gave birth to Carol's first grandchild a few months ago, messages me today that Carol took her own life yesterday.
I can only conclude that the latest knight in shining armour had clay feet too. Or Carol just gave up on her dream.

After my initial shock and a welter of tears, I am still baffled. Carol was beautiful in an exotic way. Dainty. Petite. Her childhood was one of the worst I'd ever heard of, full of foster homes and abusive men. She lost a brother she was very close to about 5 years ago and told me she could never get over it. He was her pillar of strength.

I met some of the men she was involved with but not the latest. I was not impressed with any of them for a variety of reasons.

Over the years, I got to know Carol at a deep level and understood far too well her motivation in wanting a safe life with her very own fellah and security. Security was important to her as she'd never, ever had it in her entire life.

I don't think she really understood what it meant. Apart from the fairytales depicted on television. I had suggested a few times that the only security she could ever find and hang on to was the security residing within herself.

I weep tonight for all the Carols out there.

And for all the "if-onlys" of life.

*a pseudonym

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Kindness takes many forms, doesn't it? And I can miss it. It gallops by sometimes when I am focussing on past unkindness, the sort that slaps you in the face from loved ones, trusted loved ones.

So awareness. A long time ago, a cousin mailed me a treasured book on awareness. The waking up to spirit, to the world around, to truth, to reality. I open it now and again and reflect on its messages.

Awareness to kindness. Not taking for granted even the smallest act or loving words. To really see and savour.

My washing machine is on the blink. It can manage small loads but not sheets and towels. It gets overwhelmed and won't spin. It galls me that it is only 6 years old, purchased with a legacy from an aunt. And I already spent ill-afforded cash on a repairman who couldn't fix it but had to charge me for his time. So as I save up for another, Daughter takes my sheets and towels. Very kind, you think. But more than that, and this brings me to tears: every single item is folded so neatly and perfectly and put into cardboard boxes so they stay that way. You have to know that Daughter is not a folder. I am and Other Daughter is. I'm talking sheets, pillowcases, towels. Folded perfectly by a non-folder. Kindness.

And Friend. I can't count the number of times she's dropped off tasty soups, stews, muffins and a book along with loving words and cheery predictions about life once I get back into the saddle of it but take all the time I want.

And others who assure me: "I know what you're going through. I've been there."

I posted this on my BFF's FB memory page today. One of her daughters is now the head off her - as we say back home - so much so that my heart skips a beat when I see her photos. That is the legacy for some, the faces of their mothers or fathers on them to light a candle of hope or elicit a cry of anguish for the observer depending on the day that's in it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Me and Da Couch

It's been a while since I had "outside help" - I'd say close on 30 years now. Well actually "outside help" is a misnomer for surely it is "inside help". Stuff for the spirit, soul and psyche. If you believe in that kind of thing. Which I do. It's either that or pills and I am surrounded by sedative/tranquilizer and anti-depressant takers. I'd rather take the therapy route. I don't judge the others who opt for the chemical solution. Ever. It's a very personal choice, some like to keep the daemons buried. I wanted to stop feeling so discombobulated and raging after sobering up so had no hesitation about unlocking all the childhood misery so many decades ago.

I just looked up my therapist from close on 30 years ago and found his obituary. He was 93 when he died last year. An amazing man, he brought me from darkness into a place of peace with my past.

The thing is when I seek this kind of help I'm always hesitant and almost apologetic. So much serious crap in the world and here I am sullying your doorstep with my trivial concerns.

Was I set to rights rather quickly with my case review yesterday. Dr. Patrick (pseudonym)looked at me intently and said:

"I have rarely seen anyone in my long practice with so much devastation in 8 months. Actually, come to think of it, never."

And I bawled my eyes out when he said "you've lost 3 anam caras", using the Irish language. Anam cara means, literally: friend of my soul.

And over an hour and a half I poured my heart out and he said to me then:
"The privilege in my job is that I really, really get to know dead people and the families supporting or abandoning the bereaved."

And he proceeded to gently cast a light on behaviours that have hurt and baffled me and the ongoing pain and loss of creativity that have me plagued and the overwhelming tides of grief that take me unaware.

He told me to try and find one small moment in every day that brings me a sliver of joy until he sees me again.

I feel the beginning of hope and renewal today, a little match struck in the darkness.

Monday, November 09, 2015


I just finished binge-watching Season 5 of Downton Abbey.

It's addictive, like Belgian chocolate. A secret public indulgence.

And like good chocolate, once you savour it all down and lick the lips, the memory is gone.

It's a fleeting "feels", Downton Abbey, for it's basically a more classy form of soap opera: plotlines (plot?!)push the credibility metre all the way to the top of the forehead.

Sure and it's all about the frocks. They're gorgeous. And endless in their variety and detail and fit. I was an excellent dressmaker in my time so I appreciate a good cut and fabric and draping and fine stitching and French seams and pleats. So the frocks please me on many levels.

I had an aunt who worked in such a great house. Life below stairs was a form of slavery. Long days, pitiful wages and one half-day a week off where she would sometimes catch a bus and visit us in the great metropolis of Cork. Nothing like the gadding about and free weekends of the servants in DA. But as she said to me, there was no time to spend those wages so she could save them. She wore uniforms and was fed quite well at the Hall where she worked so she had no overhead. I loved her stories about the guests who stayed and their conversations about travelling and hunting and balls.

There was an old beat-up piano off the kitchen in the bowels and here she taught herself to play. Her bedroom was in the attic dormitory where the rest of the servants slept. You always needed a hot water bottle she told me and there was hardly any privacy. And you had to watch your "things". I'm sure her tale of life below stairs was the reality of so many servant's lives.

But I suspend my disbelief and indulge myself and gaze with admiration on all those delicious frocks.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

In Real Life

You FBers. Have you ever gazed upon the glamourous, clean lives full of magic unicorns and cuddly kittens that your friends live on FB?

I know. Some of you are not on FB. Well done, y'all.

But for those who are on FB, you understand what I'm saying, I'm sure. Always smiling, children so well behaved and clean, mein gott, how do they manage that - not a bib or a spit-up or sagging leak in sight and smiles on those kids reflecting the beaming pride on their parents' faces. In my time, it would have taken me an hour to wrangle my kids, their father and the assorted animals into a tidy pile, not to mention cleaning them up beforehand and begging them to smile. I had one kid who timed her dreadful faces to the moment the money shot was being clicked.

But I digress.

Yesterday I caught two couples in real life. Really glamourous couples on FB. The first couple (restaurateurs) - loads of happy pics on FB - were staggering out of Walmart with bockity trollies loaded down with tat and were grim-faced and putting out that "don't even look at me vibe" so intensely that they didn't spot me as I pulled into the parking lot close by their jangling, screeching carts.

The next couple (both artistes of some renown, she's about 30 years younger than him) were heading into Starbucks as I was stepping out, clutching my bag of decaff. espresso - I think it's the only company in NL that stocks this nectar of the gods for my late-night snarfling - and I did a double take on them. I don't often see them in real life you see, but the shots I do see have them glammed up and laid back and at spiffy events. Here he was cranky and feeble and honestly, she looked like his granddaughter.

I love catching people in real life. It humanizes them. Makes me realize that the FB status that is projected into the ether does not reflect a normal life balance.



Tuesday, November 03, 2015


It's a sin, that coveting business. Neighbour's wife, neighbour's goods. Those ten commandments never did mention neighbour's husband though, did they. I guess it was assumed women weren't capable of coveting. I remember, being the awkward one with awkward questions all the time about everything, asking one of the holy nuns who were married to Holy God Himself, (the world's most prolific polygamist of all time) why couldn't women covet. At times I just got vicious, shrivelling, silent, mean looks when asking awkward questions. That was one of those times.

Anyway. Today. I toddled into Home Hardware desperately in need of a pair of sawhorses. More on that later. No, it's not for what you think. And if you could believe, they had one sawhorse. One. I was outraged. What the eff good is one sawhorse to anyone? I didn't keep this thought to myself. It was a cranky day for me so I collared the store manager and demanded an answer - see above re awkward questions. Why? said I imperiously. What good is one sawhorse to anyone? He scratched his head and mumbled something about one could break, it could be a replacement. I harrumphed and noted I sounded just like my father when foiled by stupid sales managers who should know better than to have one of something that should be presented as a pair.

So in the midst of my high dudgeon march as I left the store in the foyer I spotted this:

And I just about fell to my knees in adoration. And I was enveloped in a cloud of Satan's helpers whispering in my ear "and you thought you were way above coveting anyone and everything? - Ha!"

And I whimpered as I stroked this magnificent beast and imagined the soda bread hot out of its oven, plates warming in the high rack, the cast iron pots and pans on its ready range top. And its heat leaking into all my old drafty rooms.

I must be alive. Sinning feels almighty good.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam

I don't know about you, but I find that the creative energy can be sucked right out of you when life goes sideways. Like there's only room in the head for some flotsam and jetsam - no choice, take it or leave it - and it pushes everything else right out the ear. So you're left with maybe a book that you can climb into or various games of solitaire, the kind that you can get over involved with. I imagine if I had a teevee that I would be glued to it, anything to completely numb out and NOT THINK. Noise, distraction, meaningless repetitiveness.

The bench you see above is at Daughter's Place. I designed and knitted the cover for it back in August as the existing cover that was on it (a marvellous flea market find) was falling apart. The colours match her living room furniture.

I stayed with Daughter over the weekend and I kept staring at it. And then I took a picture of it. And then I thought: I have that old bench in my house, cover falling apart too. Maybe? And I took designing pen to paper and now I've started on another cover and the flotsam and jetsam can hardly breathe, I do believe they're choking.