Saturday, December 31, 2016


Ah no, I won't throw them out. No matter the day that's in it.

We are all individuals. Our journeys are so different and our instruction manuals are self- written. All the platitudes in the world won't fix us. I read the Dalai Lama periodically. And yes, his advice is sound. But my own self=advice is good too: "Yes, you can get out of bed today. Yes, you can ride this storm, remember the worse ones? Find the light in your day."


Our etceteras are larger than our cores. I share my journey in case it ignites a tiny spark in someone else. But advice? Never. Unless you ask for it. And even then I will only impart some hard won lessons of my own.

Through this past week I've run the gamut of many emotions. I wanted to throw myself on Daughter when she left on the 27th. But I didn't. What a burden to one's child even if the child is going to be fifty soon. Fifty. Take that in.

I wrap my own neediness up tidily and bury it somewhere in the pit of my brain when someone I love leaves. The leave-takings are more poignant as I age. It could be the last time. Morose? Morbid? Well, shoot me.

I remember my mother breaking down in bits the last time I saw her. She held on and held on and I stayed that extra minute hugging her. I should have turned away to spare her pride. And her shame, my wonderful, strong mama. I'm reminded of that with Daughter. So I laugh and push her away and as soon as her car has gone. I cry. For what? For losses, for the tangled old year behind me, for my uncertain health. And for her kindness to me. In spite of. She is exceedingly kind as if in compensation for her sister, for the betrayals of my family. So I don't add anything extra in the way of emotional demands on her.

I'm grateful for all the privacies that I don't share in person but do on this silly old blog or in my journal.

For the many of you out there who seem to get my eccentricities and can add some of your own. We find each other and commiserate and laugh and share.


I thank you.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


At a table next to me in Tim Hortons, a woman of my age to three companions:

Imagine - me, 6 children in 8 years and he has the sauce to tell me I was good for 8 more! I said to him, well it was more of a scream, you`d better yank the damn thing out of me or I`ll find a good protestant doctor who will!

From Leo:

Mudder would have to cut up the apples and oranges and divide them among the 8 stockings. And there was only one peppermint hobnob each. Fadder would drink all the Christmas money away.

A good friend to me:

You`ve always admired my French glass bottle of lavender soap, and guess what I found one for you!


Well, it`s all wonderful Jingle Bellish isn`t it, until Harold arrives. No, we never invite him. He just shows up and what can we do, surrounded by little ears waiting to pick up on all the fucks. And it wouldn`t be so bad until he shoves Tom out of the way, as if Tom wasn`t my legal husband now. I mean Harold and I were only married for 7 years of hell, right? And now he expects to sit at the head of the table beaming at his grandchildren. I tell ya, Tom is a saint.


My happiest Christmas? Prepping the food at 4 a.m. and feeding the homeless at 10.00 a.m. in Toronto with my younger daughter. And talking to them, hearing their stories, their memories. Singing together. Joking, even. Feeling so privileged at the end of it all. Humbled.

Whatever you do, whatever you wish, may it all bring peace and joy and a smidgin of hope for the new year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gratitude - Surviving.

I am grateful I have survived this long. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries and certain times of the year are worse than others for most of us.

I was thinking back on pivotal moments. The ones that changed everything.

I've had a few directional shifts in my life. Emigrating to Canada. Semi-retiring to Newfoundland. Recovering from alcoholism. To name but a few. And children. Bearing and rearing of same are enormous pivotal moments.

I have very little regrets, if any. I can't think of one offhand apart from wishing I'd been kinder, less defensive. We use the tools, often faulty, that we're brought up with, and frankly I should have abandoned mine much sooner. But I can't preordain the speed and direction of my own personal and spiritual growth.

I can't understand you if I can't understand myself.

I'm shocked by people who put an end to their learning. One said to me recently: I hate new words, I hate learning things. I've had enough. And she's 8 years younger than I.

And here I am wading through a book about Burma and designing a book cover for a daytimer. How? I ask myself. How can we abandon being curious, being creative, being a scholar?

So as I age I find fewer to discuss ideas with. I find, on the whole, talk is reduced to gossip and medications: yours, mine, ours.

But I have a cherished few. And the Young One. Grateful for that I am.

Grateful for Daughter who sees me right each and every time in ways I can't even count.

Grateful for the one sibling who checks up on me with frequency and concern. One out of 5 ain't bad.

Grateful for dear friends who are there, always, with love and open hearts.

Grateful for this one wild and precious life.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Gratitude Day Wevs

My dear young friend had another catastrophe befall her which took me a fair distance from gratitude.

Her father's best friend assaulted and tried to rape her in the woods.

And her father did nothing. His BFF is back in his house as if nothing happened.

Her mother, as usual, is stoned out of her mind on pharmaceuticals.

We are moving heaven on earth to get her out of there and into assisted housing.

Sometimes life just sucks the bag and it's so hard to find the little diamonds underneath all the coal.

My missing daughter's birthday is tomorrow and this is always a rough time for me.

I spent the morning at the hospital with my vascular evaluation and that's not looking good.

So here you go:

Gratitude are my friends who are solidly there, all the time: supportive and loving in so many different ways I cry when I think of them. I'm not fit, as we say right now, and their arms and hugs reach out and hold me closely and cook me supper and listen as I cry and try and make sense of the world that would hurt my wee friend so deeply. And my missing child who could be? Not hide nor hair of her can be found. I just can't dig deeper. I don't want to know. It would be too much.

And Daughter is having challenges with her new job. Her MS is rearing its ugly head after a long nap and badly affecting her, poor pet.

But yes, if you're reading this, it's still this side of the daisies for all of us. The weather is kind. The bay smooth as a mirror, Grandmother Moon watchful and alert over it all. But puzzling. As I am.

As 2017 looms large on our horizons.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Gratitude Day 6 & 7

My house in the fall

I was slumpish most of yesterday. Could not seem to get motivated and then stopped trying. Went with the flow. And I'm grateful for that, knowing enough now to stop, careful as to who I share with as I don't need the admonitions - you know how they go: stop worrying, get outside, breathe.

(1) One friend in TO told me to have a Board Meeting/meditation with my body parts. Gather them all together for half an hour and reason things out. Ask the legs to improve, ask the heart to drop this alarming vascular shyte, ask the brain to co-operate and not add worry to the turmoil. So I did and felt 20 tons better. Seriously. Candle glowing and the parts all listening.

(2)Another friend texted she had loads of designer clothes for my young friend and if she dropped them off would I give them to her anonymously. Wow, yes, yes and yes.

(3)Today was much better. A fantastic community brunch in our local pub/restaurant. Daughter and I spent some time together after and she had all these goodies for me in her car. I had to suspend my cleaning lady due to unexpected bills for car brakes and then the whammer of a new hot water tank plus labour really threw a huge dent in the budget. Daughter insisted on paying for my Emma's December housecleaning. Some things just make you cry. That made me cry.

(4)My favourite rain jacket had gone AWOL. It's only about 10 years old and owes me nothing, but you know how that is. I love it. Hood, huge back pocket on the bum, 4 side pockets, I can look like a grocery store shelving unit in it when I pack it up.... but I love it. I called my past 4 locations where I'd been to see if they'd seen it. I gave up. And then, today, underneath my cloth grocery bags in the trunk? A flash of navy blue. Oh baby, I said, come to mummy.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Gratitude - Day 5

The barn cats continue to wait for Ansa. She adored them. And they her.

At times, it is difficult to keep focussed on this attitude of gratitude. And in case you think life is a sunny bowl of cherries for me, it isn't, I have other more serious painful health issues which I prefer not to obsess about (hence my last post) but of which I'm consistently mindful. Further tests coming up next week.

(1)In my volunteer position I was extremely stressed about an employee situation I had to manage as some had threatened to quit over an ongoing dispute knock-down-drag-out-hostility between two men. It tested every level of employee conflict resolution I had negotiated in my working career. But a half hour later after I started the meeting, they were apologising to each other. Surprisingly, one of the men was close to tears, the other looked ashamed. There are no sex stereotypes. And I didn't have to pull my old woman card once - i.e. "I'm getting too old for this shyte"- which I've used sparingly in the past to great effect.

(2)"You are just another version of me." I read this recently and was moved by it. It's a shame it's not a national anthem or something.

(3) I had put a little nostalgic statement on FB about the Sunday brunches I would enjoy in Toronto with different groups of friends. Lo and behold, in response, a local restaurant is test-marketing a brunch this coming Sunday.

(4)Midnight last night, as snow had been forecasted, I thought to put my car in the garage which I use for the winter season. And holy disaster, batman. No room for the car. I'm in my PJs. But I got down to shifting and moving and tut-tutting all over the clutter on the floor. There was more dog stuff than anything else - 2 beds, her blankies, her car gear, her dishes, her stool, water fountain, dry food holder, etc. I didn't cry which is good. But there's nothing like cleaning up your own mess at midnight in a floodlit garage for neighbourly entertainment. "You OK?" came sailing up over the meadow from numerous stopped cars. Any truthful answer would have rendered me certifiable so I waved them all away with a nonchalant grin. So yeah, I finally parked the car where it belongs for the winter. And PS the snow was pathetic, about 10 flakes. But I felt so good about this midnight housekeeping so I did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gratitude - Day 4

Sunset on the Bay - 2009

I'm decidedly weird when it comes to my health. When symptoms are serious, I toss it off, when mild I obsess. A rare headache is a brain tumour, problems with my feet are definitely malignant melanoma, maybe gout if I'm lucky, or worst case scenario: amputation of the entire leg due to (take your pick)gangrene, undetected aforementioned melanoma (it happened to my mother)or blood clots everywhere.

(1)I trot off to my podiatrist yesterday, self-diagnosed from all my toes hurting, particularly in bed, unbelievably so in socks. Fully expecting any of the diagnoses featured above, in flashing lights. I had to say pardon? when he shook his head and said "Seriously dry skin," and bumped up the strength of my foot cream.

(2) I was going blind a few weeks ago, thinking white cane, home for the blind, too old for a guide dog?, loss of licence, friends, lonely in a one roomed hovel because of tripping over everything around me, rationed down to audio books and a 2 hour a day helper to wash me and ensure I hadn't set fire to myself or my hovel. I took the bit between my teeth and checked in with my optometrist who told me that my eyes hadn't changed in 8 years, I still had good eyesight. But my gawd my eyes were dry I must be rubbing them all the time and causing blurry vision, how uncomfortable for me and handed me a bottle of drops to use.

Yeah, a heavy duty foot cream and a bottle of eye drops.


And so very grateful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gratitude - Day 3

Copyright - Christine Henehan

(1) A pyjama day, so few of these nowadays, it was brilliant. Got hooked into a Netflix "Shetland", rather lovely with the main character sharing custody of his daughter with her biological father.

(2)Coffee beans. Good coffee beans. Ground to taste. Perfection.

(3)Moose stew, donated by a friend. Delicious for dinner.

(4)Perfect weather, bay as still as a mirror, clouds of summer blue, bright sun, green grass, lilac tree still hasn't shed its leaves.

(5)My clothes dryer vent now fixed. For those wet snowy days.

(6)A picture that enchanted me - see above.

(7) Fresh sheets on my bed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gratitude - Day 2

(1)As I look out my window right now I see a fishing boat heading out to sea. I think: incredible I get to live here, looking out at the bay, watching boats, hearing birds, being in this moment.

(2) A long time friend from Ontario called in distress last night. I believe that the only one who understands another's pain is someone who has lived through similar. Hers involved familial abuse and I've certainly lived through that in many of its forms particularly the shunning and back stabbing coming out of left field. So I could commiserate and share what I had done to rid myself of the ka-kas. Not that the scars leave but they heal over and we move on and then only go to where we are valued and respected. We had over 3 hours of chat and I am grateful she reached out and even more grateful I could revisit my own times of (looking back)painful turmoil and surviving it. It does pass, although never forgotten, but the hurts we endure can help someone else when malice strikes out of nowhere.

(3)Daughter left a message saying she had booked brunch next Sunday. She has been working so hard and I am so happy she plans time with her mother on her precious days off.

(4) My fire. I took joy in the faces around it yesterday when we had that meeting concerning my young friend and her intolerable living conditions. A fire adds to comfort and ease, brings us back to the basics of hewing wood and carrying water. A great meeting. My friend said, through tears: I never imagined I could have a caring family like this. Tears all around. And action plan initiated.

(5) Staying where my hands are. Not getting riled up on the political scene. Anywhere. Backing off.

All is well.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gratitude - Day 1

In these times of turmoil and uncertainty and to lift my face skyward, I thought to list, each day for a while, the uniqueness in my days, the sometimes tiny things that bring me joy, the often unnoticed kind gestures of others, which frequently get squelched underneath this anxiety that haunts each waking minute. I need to be reminded there is so much good in the world, so very much.

A friend and I had a date to go an afternoon tea and concert today which featured a few other friends of ours. At the last minute she cancelled. I felt like cancelling also. Schlepping all the way into town all by myself, blah, blah. But I phoned an acquaintance who doesn't live too far from here and arranged to hook up with her. I'd like to get to know her a little better. This was completely out of the norm for me.

(1)On my way another friend called and said he'd been talking to someone who might be able to help my young (29 yo)friend find a place to live as she needs to leave a toxic family environment. Meeting arranged at my house tomorrow.

(2)When we got to the venue (an old church), an unexpected pleasure was a good friend racing up to me at the door and insisting we join their table. There's nothing like walking into a large performance space and being made feel so very welcome. When I gave my name for the pre-booked ticket the guy in the box office said "Oh, you're the playwright, right?". Talk of warm fuzzies and girlish blushes!

(3)The concert was wonderful and the food so lovely, all served with élan. There's something about afternoon tea and real china accompanied by live music that zings.

(4)My acquaintance, now friend, who has lost a ton of weight, told me she had a bag of brand new clothes in her car which no longer fitted her, some of which I might like. There are Santas everywhere.

All in all a rather lovely day now that I think about it.

And not the other stuff.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Mighty Abyss

The mighty abyss. Waiting for us all. Two this week. One today. Long term friends. One a client, or maybe two, one asking for free tax assistance periodically. I was reviewing emails and had forgotten that. My sent folder was full of such requests along with affectionate exchanges over the years. The other, who died today, was a successful, long-term client. Friend would be a strong word for E, it was one of those connections in between client/acquaintance and not-quite-friend. Friends are those I invite to my home for kindred spirit communion. Not E.

You know how it is when someone close dies. You mull over the times. Revisit. And try not to speak ill of. E was a strange bird indeed. I don't think she allowed herself closeness or intimacy.

Twenty years ago, I remember flying to South Carolina with her for a retreat in the mountains near Asheville. A gorgeous spot. I'd had a huge argument with my man of the time in the morning. He had said he was going to drive me to the airport to meet E before boarding. In the morning he said he was too tired, go get a cab. And I went spare. He sullenly drove and I made the airport just in time for boarding. I remember not sharing what had transpired with E and faking normal. The trouble with people who don't share with me is that I usually feel like a crazy lunatic if I do share: the eyebrows, the long stare, the h'ms, as if such derangements were your peculiar dysfunction and certainly never happened to them.

I had all these gift certificates for a car rental, courtesy of another client. So we rented a car at the airport and E insisted on herself taking the first driving shift through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I didn't argue, though I was feeling slightly miffed as I had paid for the car, certificates notwithstanding. When I feel miffed I feel small, and ask myself why are you making a big deal out of this?

It was a long drive and after a coffee/pee break, she got back behind the wheel in spite of my friendly "my turn to drive now?" The weekend was great, I reconnected with some old friends and the workshops were powerful and memorable.

So we leave the retreat and E, who had not given up the key to the car, gets into the driver's seat. I say (very nicely) "It's my turn to drive."

"No," she says, firmly and clearly, "It's mine," and started the car.

I debated this. Get into a whine of: you drove ALL the way here, my turn, my turn!

But I let it go, I did. Because, surely, how important was it?

But truly, it was symptomatic of everything she did. She had to be in charge, in control, running things. I gave up having dinner with her on Wednesday nights in downtown Toronto, as I realized I'm not built for the kind of superficiality she represented. Her Blackberry, for instance, was constantly under the table sucking her attention. I let her go as a client about 4 years ago, mainly because of the stress she engendered in me by leaving everything to the last minute and not heeding my gentle/and or humorous reminders.

Her death was quick and unexpected. The vicious tentacles of an aggressive cancer which she kept hidden from most who knew her.

E was a good woman. That I know. Nobody is black and white as Hollywood likes to depict. We are all a mighty mix of oddity and occasional profundity with our inner demons bouncing around for attention.

E did her best as we all try to do. She was generous and kind in many areas. As long as she was in charge. But people like E leave us with many unanswered questions about the complexity of human nature.

And now I'm wondering who's next?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On Viaducts and Trestle Bridges

In two books I've read recently railway tracks spanning rivers or gorges feature. I love this in books, when my mind can drift off and I'm back, once more, lost in a memory.

I remember getting my first bike. I was 9 years old. My post office savings account had been stuffed at birth by relatives and grandparents (1st grandchild) and there was enough money there to buy a Raleigh. A rather splendid bike. I was tall for my time so it was a lady's. I don't even know if there were children's bikes and training wheels then.

I learned to ride on my father's ancient bike with my leg stuck under the crossbar. He didn't know, as I'd finish my dinner quickly and take his bike from the side of the house and head off down the road at this odd angle, my bum on one side, the bike on the other. You see, I couldn't reach the pedals from the seat. I'd return it before he finished his post prandial fifth cigarette. He was a mad smoker then. Players and Goldflakes. He was a much calmer man when he smoked but I didn't want to test his serenity by revealing the temporary theft of his precious bike.

I was over the moon with my very own bike. In those days there were no parental restrictions on distance or time. The only injunction was to be home for supper at half five. I went wild on that bike. I rode to Blarney Castle and would lurk underneath where the Blarney Stone was and collect the money falling out of the pockets of the tourists, much of it American.

I had a taxi service. An odd thing about my neighbourhood, it was mainly boys then, very few girls to play with and those few, unfortunately, stuck close to their dollies and little tea parties. The big attraction for us more adventurous 9 year olds was the Chetwynd Viaduct about 2 miles out. The picture above doesn't do it justice. It was magnificent.

I could carry three passengers on my bike and off we'd head to the Viaduct. We'd traverse its length, we'd dare each other to run across it, we'd shove each other around, we'd clamber on the struts and time how long we could hang, we'd flatten pennies on it. There were very few trains but we'd leave the big old pennies on the tracks and collect them later, all flattened out. It fascinated us. Or maybe just me for I'd ridden it a few times on the West Cork Railway.

When I think now of this risky behaviour, I shudder.

"Where did you go today?" my mother would ask when I finally showed up for my supper.

"Nowhere, just around, nowhere really," I'd answer, "But my bike has another flat tire."

"What do you do on that bike? You must be very rough with it. Your daddy is getting fed up with fixing it all the time."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What's Important?

I make idiotic stuff important. Like ranting and raving about the political structures both here and abroad, that seem to hurt us rather than benefit us. From the small to the large. And I engage in pointless battles on FB about ideologies and which reporter/newspaper/magazine doesn't have a slant. Ad finitum. Fascist or non-fascist, you decide. And how can we, we all might ask?

I don't think I've ever read of a kind act Herr Drumpf has performed - that's an aside. Shouldn't our leaders be kind?

And should I care? Is it my business?

Perhaps when he starts registering Muslims/homosexuals/blacks/Mexicans/Irish/aborting women it will become more my business?

Meanwhile, I feel like pulling away from it all. The flurries from the Guardian, the old writings of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and various talking heads weighing in. And why do we praise men writing letters to their daughters? (another aside, he calls his wife a "girl") Shouldn't men speak up for all women and not just their "own"? And pardon me? - model respect for women for their sons? Spare me the daughter drivel.

And the callout from the cast of Hamilton last night to the Veep Elect and the Prez Elect tweeting hysterically about it this morning.

I mean it's all too surreal for this elder-head to handle. My internal logical centre fails me. Completely.

I weep once more for my dog, when we'd play hide and seek around the house. And she'd always find me, no matter how outrageously I'd hide, standing at the top of a step ladder under a blanket in the craft room upstairs with the door nearly shut? - in 2 minutes flat.

But it's not the dog I lament, I know that.

It's everything about this strange new world, blathering its inane way to another teetering Babel of infinite voracious consumption in a tiny finite planet.

As the arctic rolls over and dies.

Despair is my new neighbour.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


It's an awful word. Should. I've struggled with it for many a year.

The internal voice.

As I'm sitting here, all the shoulds are piling up on top of me.

I have a PG** coming for two nights. She's from Switzerland. She's travelling the world. I debated taking her as technically I'm a shut shop until Spring. But then the water tank blew up, needed replacement in breach of the tight budget around here, and I thought (as I always do) don't worry about money so much when money is thrown in your face like this. Bad karma. Take it when it's offered. So I did.

Another friend just died, an expected death but still. She's in Ontario and has lived an extraordinary life. She would never have seen it that way, but the truly great don't. For example she devoted a couple of years of her life to working in a clinic in Africa to help FGM* victims and educate residents as to why this was so barbaric. She will be missed. I heard from her only a week ago.

Another friend has pretty much a terminal form of cancer.

The true cost of aging, as the old man said, your friends drop like flies around you.

The silken thread of memory gets severed, you carry the memories alone.

No, I'm not morose. Philosophical really.

I'm shoulding myself into making up the guest room and tidying the dining room where this long, long table gets so quickly covered in the detritus of my life. Oh yeah, and the bathroom. And the hall where my storm door was fixed and there's more detritus. And the living room and kitchen.....

And a deadline of reading a book for the Book Club (thick, tiny print, 400 pages).

And darkness comes so early, melancholia. A season for dying, truly.

I'm sure I can think of many other shoulds.

It's a bloody useless word.

It should be banned.

*female genital mutilation
**paying guest

Monday, November 14, 2016

Politics and Religion

Well, that was quite a volcano on my last post. I love the debates, the differences, even the justification for Trump voting. I don't have to agree but I certainly can listen. Nothing cranks the handle more than politics and religion.

I remember being told that they were absolutely taboo topics at the dinner table and no polite family would ever broach them if they wanted to keep their guests' stomachs in operating condition.

Civil discourse is the hall mark of a well bred mind. So I was told.

We had debating teams at school. Taking opposing sides to positions. It forced us to study up on topics. I remember being on the Jewish side of a Christianity-Judaism debate - and this in a private Catholic convent school - so I had to research in the City Library and learned so much I wanted to convert on the spot. Then again I was one of those irritating teens who'd read about communism and wanted to strut down the main street with a placard demanding union rights for workers.

Nothing has changed in me anyway. I'm an enthusiast. If something fires me up I want to know all about it.

You'd never know by the sedate tone of this post that my water heater has bust, would you? I'd love to have given a long whine here but know that my handyman is taking care of it all tomorrow. Daughter popped in today unexpectedly, she was out on a drive and wanted to go for an aimless spin with me ("giving mother an airing", she calls it).

We love these aimless spins. Dropping in here and there as the mood takes. I left the millions of wet bath towels all over the kitchen and the utility room, bragged briefly how I'd managed to shut off the water to the tank all by myself, and we headed out.

I'd gone out for a solo airing yesterday and dropped in on a friend and we stuffed ourselves with scones and cream and had 4 kinds of homemade jam and drank tealeaf tea for 3-1/2 solid hours. And talked Trump and local politics and religion and feminism and books, lovely books.

Even with a squelchy house I don't lose the run of meself.

Adulting feels good.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Day After

Michael Moore predicted it in July. And I remember back then, when reading it, my heart freezing in fear. But I quickly shrugged and thought: Never.

We can analyze the thing to death but it gets us nowhere when so many feel angry and abused and misunderstood and fall in love with the jingoism of making a country great again. What was great? The Civil War? Endless wars on foreign soil? Women without the vote? Slavery? And on. Maybe Norman Rockwell's portrayal of an America that never existed. Or Hollywood's old black and whites evoking the fantasies of what refugee Jewish intellectuals and artists envisioned as their perfect apple-pie America?

Who the hell knows? Nobody explains it. Gun sales have soared.

So violence comes into it. And outrageous misogyny. And a lack of critical thinking.

And maybe this simplistic, inarticulate, non-intellectual and inexperienced psychopath reflects back onto those who voted for him their own damaged, wounded selves.

Who knows?

But this is only the beginning.

For vengeance is his now.

Duck and cover.

Sunday, November 06, 2016


(1) My blog - check.
(2) My Reading List - check.
(3) Watched 2016! - NEW for those who care.
(4) My freezer contents - out of control. Seriously. I don't really know when famine and pestilence will occur and the general breakdown of civil society along with food availability will collapse but hell, my larders will outlive me.
(5)My pantry - ditto to freezer.

And yeah, seriously working on these - interesting, haven't bought food in 10 days

(6)Acceptance of DST. Seriously, it was lovely at 6.30 this morning. Dawn!!! But dreading the darkness descending at five-ish tonight. Nobody has every explained why this is necessary apart from, drum roll - schoolchildren! Could they not adapt school hours? And speaking of....why this unearthly summer break?

(7)What does happen if the USA becomes Drumpf Nation? I don't think I've ever seen such a democratic travesty in my lifetime as this current US election process.

That's <30> for now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Outport Life

So today. I go and work my volunteer library shift. We have a volunteer library in the town. A good one. Well used. Business was slow as the rain was pounding down. I sorted out some donations. Posted some info on the library FB site, chatted to some volunteers who were setting up the card game for tonight.

The usual.

I head home eventually after picking up my mail and come in to find our local lawyer, toasting himself by my fire.

"Oh hello," sez he, "Where's Ansa? Are you still my accountant? I've been away for six months on the mainland."

"Right," sez I, "Well......"

I'd been going to break it to him that no, find someone else, I've given up the business, writing now, health, blah, blah. And Ansa.

"See?" sez he, "Here's a $100 cash. All you have to do is sign off these papers for the Law Society that I was gone for six months and transacted no business in Newfoundland."

"Oh," sez I, "Leave the papers with me for review. No problem. I'll call you tomorrow."

Monday, October 31, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole

Happy New Year in the old Irish tradition.

It was like that for a while. Black Dog weather. There are advantages to having the old BD by my side. I brutally edited some of my own work. It's the best place to be for this writer. Of course I isolated and had the misfortune to share with a good friend over lunch who left me far worse off than the condition she found me in.

At the end of this bleak weak I forced myself out the door to get some groceries and on my way back another friend called, intuiting I'd lost the run of myself, and said he's meet me for fish and chips at our local pub. He's one of those great listening guys who never offers solutions, he just listens, dredges up some similarities in his own life and offers comfort. They're a rare breed these friends.

He left me far better off than the condition he found me in.

Isn't that life though.

I find accumulation of challenges and downswings and disappointments and worries press down on me so hard at times that I sink further into the hole with very little encouragement.

The loss of Ansa has been terrible. I've been trying to be a pillar for my friend who lost her daughter. The mess next door and the loss of 100s of more trees weighs heavily. And I'm waiting on some more medical tests to sort out some baffling health issues which have impacted my mobility. I've lost interest in my community, which is understandable, I suppose, as measures were never taken in the past to implement and enforce a town plan and zoning.

The bright side is that I entered two pieces in a competition, I saw a wonderful show (a treat from Daughter)on Saturday which had us both gasping for breath we were laughing so hard. I can't remember when I last laughed like that.

And Grandgirl has suggested, and strongly, that the three of us hoof off some time in the spring together to celebrate the completion of her undergrad and her stellar academic year.

Something to look forward to.

Like the Old Man said.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Basil and Clover

In late October
The indoor Clover
Charms me.


Bought as Basil,
Which flickered and died
Much like my old flame
In another life.

In its place sprang Clover,
Nervous, tentative.
Until assured.
Then draping fetchingly

Greenily, greedily
On window ledge.
Smiling over kitchen sink
Nestling with Herb.

Clover clings tightly to life,
Thirsty, solid, faithful
Stolid companion in this
Far too empty house.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Oh Me Nerves

So the anthology is off to a friend for formatting. A virtual friend in California whom I met through an online writers' group. Da Webz: she is amazing. VF has since become a well established author in the sci-fi genre while raising four daughters under the age of 7. And helps out fellow authors with her expertise.

I like the cover which features my office and an old fashioned lamp and a photo of my parents which seemed to fit. I wanted to show modern technology in conjunction with the old fashioned timbre of some of the stories/memoirs/poems within it. The photo is meant to be blurry with clear text. Not sure whether it works or not even though I am enamoured of it.

I've never taken on such a humungous, soul destroying, exhausting task in my life. It ripped about a year out of my life between rewrites and revisions and formatting, repaginations, four levels of editing and banging my head off my own keyboard. I would never do it again. Sympathy and compassion (except from other writers) was in short supply along with the challenge of the writers' impatience to see the book in print.

I think it will sell well locally as it truly is a type of compendium I'd see in the old days. Bits of everything.

A few of my own and Daughter's pieces are in it. One writer pulled a piece that was her best: afraid of relatives' judgements. A lovely piece, sadly never to see the light of day. Her substitute piece never made the final cut as it was so inferior.

It's done now and I can move on to my languishing 3 novels and the CBC Short Story Contest.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mixed Emotions

Living with others has its trials and tribulations. I get to the conclusion I don't share the sandbox well unless the visits are of short durations or with the type who have profound knowledge of or have simpatico of the other. In sync as it were and I have a few of those.

I'm not terrific around smokers, I'm talking the fierce, smoke-gulping kind who need constant hits of the drug. (And I was such a creature until nearly 30 years ago. So I have an understanding.)

A friend who stayed with me all last week to Monday past, in my age range, has yet to quit nicotine. So my time was spent waiting for her to finish, to start, or to plan the next intake from the white tube. Not to mention detours to buy the weeds. And the house freezing as she bounded in and out.

It's been years since I've been around non-social smokers so it took a fair degree of tolerance and understanding from me. I found resentments piling up as I waited yet again for her to come back into the restaurant or the car or the house.

I thought toting a book to occupy me would be rude. But I found my subtle android screen-sucking would entertain me and remove the puss off my face.

But still...often she ran into stranger-smokers outside and as she's gregarious could light up yet another in their company as they chewed the fat between drags.

I love her dearly but dear gawd, if I added up all the time waiting for her in various locations, I would be canonized.

How do others deal with this?

It's not a topic I've ever seen addressed.

She's gone back to the homeland now, so my life has been returned to me to do with as I will.

And she's never been interested in my blog, even if she had the expertise to locate it for Google is beyond her.

Monday, October 10, 2016

It Goes Like This

So yeah, I'm getting a grip. I'm lining up the acceptance modules. Pragmatism is on order. I'm drawing the zen bubble around myself.

I was away for a week. And on returning home, I was faced with this newly dug crater next door. Crater? It measured about 60' X 20'. It matched the other former crater (now a ginormous shed) up the hill beside my tigeen in size. Oh lawd, sez I, another mother of a shed, this time plonked beside my house. Many more trees had been removed. Some extraordinarily old, over 100 years. A great wind barrier against the fierceness of the weather which at times blows in off the ocean. Now gone. Irreplaceable.

Yes of course outrage set in, rapidly followed by a kind of hopeless depression as the people who bought this land many years ago are perfectly entitled to do what they want with it as there are no land use regulations or zoning laws in this town. It's a haphazard mix of commercial and residential. Even though industrial blazes in the past have nearly wiped out the residential sections. I've brought up this high risk zoning on more than one occasion to be met with raised eyebrows and zero interest in changing the status quo.

So now I listen to happy residents sawing up these beautiful old trees for winter fuel and the sounds of diggers all days long, adding to the fill across the read which may accommodate more sheds.

I propose the new name of our lovely old town could be Shedsville.

So there you have it.

Friday, October 07, 2016

House Memories

It's mainly silence. But I believe a house holds both visual and aural memories forever. So now and again I hear the tinkling of a dog-collar as the tag briefly strikes the collar-hook it's on.

Or a rustling from where the dog bed was.

Or the slurping of water from one of the two bowls on each end of the house that I kept filled.

And then at night, I still say goodnight to her. The last couple of years the stairs were too much of a challenge for her. I still look to see her heartbroken face lifting up to watch me go up the Mount Everest of stairs and turn at the top to look down and catch the remnants of that enormous sigh of hers.

I still don't walk on the area of floor in my bedroom where her bed used to be for years.

Lying in bed at night I sometimes hear a deep groan which is creepy in the extreme. But this is a house memory forcing through the anguish of a previous resident who died of cancer here, far too young, many, many years ago, leaving her teenage children with an elderly father. It could be her enormous grief lingering on. Now mingled with mine.

I now close the three inside doors to the family room when I have the fire lit. To conserve the heat. I couldn't do that before as Ansa needed access everywhere. I look up from reading or knitting and see the faint outline of her sitting, back towards me, staring at one of the doors aa if there was a magic trick to opening it and she was patiently waiting for the technique to reveal itself.

I find my right hand still going to the backseat to have her kiss it even though it was a long time since she was able to ride in my car.

I still have the remains of her dog-food in a kitchen cupboard but gave away her cookies from the jar that was always stocked. Her car gear is in the garage. I find her water flask particularly poignant as after a good long hike I would pour some into her car-bowl and after she was finished drinking she would lick my hand in gratitude. I tear up even thinking about it.

I still can't finish a sandwich without tearing off a corner for her.

And leave the remains of my morning egg for her to enjoy.

Our little routines, so automatic when we lived together, now so deeply heartbreaking.

This house remembers.

And PS - more on my previous post soon. I am still processing but I am OK and the overwhelming support I received has eased my outraged shock remarkably.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Life at "Home"

"Home" is subjective, isn't it?

Do you ever write about stuff you can do nothing about?

Trying to sort out feelings like anguish, disturbance, fear, uncertainty?

I've been triggered badly and I'm trying to sort it all out, for there is absolutely nothing I can do about any of it.

I think: I have to make serious changes.

But my very livelihood and future security is completely threatened. And, I repeat, there is (seriously)nothing I can do.

This all happened while I was away. Shock and horror prevailed when I came back on Sunday, and still does.

I hate this feeling. I can't change it. I'm not like Barbara Bush. Though some can do this shelving. I can never do it. I have to pick at it until it unravels or something else distracts or.....

But I feel the earth shaking underneath me (not just a metaphor) and life will never be the same again. Serious evaluation and taking stock is happening.

More later when I develop a coherence to my thought patterns.

And you know how I do that? By talking/writing about it with a trusted few.

Until my world rights itself again.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 6

Missus has confided she doesn't want children and Mister isn't too hung up on them either. I was surprised a little, though these days it's not uncommon. I arrived home after I had my supper out. There were a million children, all between 5 and 10 in the living room, eating dinner everywhere in between screams and racing around. Below you see the living room, imagine that festooned with rugrats, their assorted keepers, toys and spare animals.

It turns out the sister of Missus had two children by the time she was 17 and mom of Missus remarried when Missus was 12 and had another family. Mister's twin bro also got married at 20 and 2 of his were part of this menage.

I totally get why Missus, though extremely interactive and fun with this enormous gaggle, would like closing the door on them when the visit was over and resolve not to add to the conglomerate.

I found this perfectly hidden graveyard on a ramble today. I deserved a ramble as I finally finished that challenging editing job which was driving me mad.

I found Smokey the cat quite a comfort to me in my deep Ansa-loss. Smokey is extraordinary as she never stops talking to any human who crosses her path (and the dog who has no time for her). Endless conversations, highly interactive and one of those cuddly types.

There can never be enough cuddles in the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 5

The editing got stuck today but a story I was working intensely changed direction on me and took me by surprise.
I went off out to ponder and mull in this glorious weather and came across this strand by the side of a lake with the mountains in the distance. I hadn't realized there was a conference going on. A Canada Geese Conference. They all becamet quite irritated at this human intrusion and scattered.

I took another picture of this fantastic place:

And then headed towards the mountains which were breathtaking, the trees just on the point of turning crimson but nowhere to stop and take a photo.

I try and find common ground with the young mister and missus. They don't believe in reading as everything you'd ever want to know is on their devices and the television. He goes off hunting daily to help his buddies bag their moose quotas and as they all have children he lets their moose kills go ahead of him. He also sells a few cords of the wood he has prepared and she crafts some lovely wooden décor for walls. For example one is a box-shelf at eyelevel made out of repurposed barn wood which holds many photos in barnwood frames. Very attractive.

I find their disinterest in my life quite humbling, because in my twenties I'm sure I felt the same way about old people. What on earth could they contribute to a conversation, they were used up, finished, done. So I'm content to ask them questions and think how very fortunate they are to be living their dreams out loud and lustily while still in their mid twenties. They seriously love the lives they're living. And their parents and their grandparents all live within the wider circle. And most of them came back from the tar sands of Fort McMurray to do so. Long before the wildfires.

I'm very much the student here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 4

The chickens!

Walked around the farm today and I offer you a few pics of what I observed. The young couple have only been farming for a year here and their clearing of the forest is admirable.

The turkeys!

I was editing this anthology most of the day, I hope to never edit again apart from my own work and one other commitment which I intend to tackle soonest. I don't know how anyone does it for a living. One 9 page story has had me rewriting it something like 20 times and counting - it is so mangled and grammatically a disaster but it has to go in the anthology because sales. No more can I say.

The trees (and vegetable garden)!

Then I went out in the brilliant sunshine for a while and had coffee and finished my book and took stock of the comings and goings of the populace. And thought long and hard about what I was doing with my life.

The ducks!

And I've decided to drop a lot of the extraneous from it. What I deem extraneous. No more committees, no more start-ups (goodbye community theatre). I am filling my days with bliss and only doing the stuff I do with joy and gratitude. And there is so much of this if I make it happen. Stuff that puts a smile on my face and not an old grouchy sour puss will-it-ever-be-over face.

See? I needed this time away to clarify my thinking, my dreams, my little goals, what's left of my life. That time is now.

We are never too old to change, m'dears.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 3

Because I can.

I headed off today, got hopelessly lost in signpost-less rural Newfoundland. It can be maddening. Plus GPS fail due to lack of service. I sympathise more with my tourists who stay with me now. Visited the above abandoned farm, so grown over I didn't want to injure myself with no cell phone coverage so took the picture from afar and speculated.

I'm over-editing stuff so have to leave it. And go back to it.

I sat in a coffee shop and observed for a while and then read my current book. On leaving, walking through the parking lot, 4 people greeted me. I love this aspect of Newfoundlanders. A perfect stranger and a greeting tossed like a flower.

I found a pair of slippers for myself at a local shop. I'm awfully fussy about slippers. These are comfortable and stalwart and won't shove me out of them. It's happened.

I saw a sign outside a local church which made me laugh and laugh. I really don't know why. Maybe you can explain it:

"Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil. There's no point."

OK. Maybe I'm getting blunter as I age. Sorry.

Chatted with the Grandgirl on PM. She's lecturing at university now. To 3rd years. She's in 4th year. Her marks are through the roof. She's enjoying it and the money but her own work is piling up. I felt lucky to get her on PM.

A dog barking set me off today. I do all my major crying in the car.

And secrets. Love them. When missus here is off teaching, mister lights up a mighty spliff. I say mighty as I didn't see it, he was out in the shed but the aroma actually barged its way into my room. I took a few deep breaths and reminisced for a while about those hippy days in the sixties.

I'm not missing home one bit.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 2

The view from my bedroom window. Nothing moving unlike the ocean at my door back home.

The woods. Watching the hunting dog being trained. The cat supervising my work. 800 words today. A milestone from someone who has struggled and struggled. The applefalls being fed to the ducks and the chickens.

Something cracked open inside me and it let the light in. Yeah, I still cry for Ansa but just once today. Smokey the cat was a comfort. As was bouncy Belle the hunting dog. Out geese hunting they were at the crack of dawn (4 a.m. yikes). Ne'er a goose. The missus, who looks about 24, is a capital shot. Bagged her first moose last year. They live off the land as much as they can. She teaches French to replenish the coffers and hosts Airbnb, lucky me.

The colours are in the trees now, should be blinding me in a couple of days, the outraged red shoving the ambers and oranges and greens out of the way and glaring at us all.

I updated my book page if you want a look-see. And I'm working on three short stories in case you ask.

My world needs to become smaller. I've lost interest in this circus called politics. And it's a circus everywhere. The more "respectable" of the newsfeeds today trumpeted Prince George had snubbed our prime minister and Herr Drumpf should win the debate tonight which I won't watch or track. Can anyone define this particular "win"? How can we take it all seriously when the bigger, planet challenging issues are nowhere to be found and the gunslingers in the states are still gunning down children and aboriginal women in Canada are being slaughtered just about daily? I'm backing away and concentrating on where my hands are, thanks.

As Schumacher had it: Small is Beautiful.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Life on the Farm Day 1

Well, not really a full day. I arrived after 6.00pm. A looooong drive, well over 600km. 2 breaks but not long breaks. Gorgeous spot, I felt I was in Ireland with all the farms around, and the animals, and hand made quilts and a stunning modern type house but all wood inside, vaulted ceilings, loft, old repurposed wood, the whole house designed by the young woman and executed by her new husband. They were married this month. She fell in love with him in high-school when she was 14, they became best friends and had their first "real" date 2 years later. They have started this farm from scratch and built green houses and chicken coops and grow crops and are expanding it into outfitting, i.e. taking groups hunting and fishing and trapping. They have a cabin on crown land in the inaccessible (except to them) wilderness. They are living their dream and so very young at it too.

So I've laid out my materials, set up my computer, filled my shelf in their fridge with my food and have settled in. I had 5 bags including my food, my journals, my binders of work, (books, anthology), my reading material (oh so much, my books by mail (BBM) have chosen this last box with extreme care, every single book I decant is riveting, the knitting has suffered and so has Netflix.

Which reminds me: update my book list on this blog. Will do.

So I'm settling in quite nicely. And happily. I feel miles away from everything and everybody.

Which is wonderful.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Know Thyself

I'm buggering off for a while. I need to regroup. I found myself a small farm way off somewhere in the middle of absolutely nowhere and booked in for a week. A small farm? Well, a change from the constant seascapes which are stunning, but I felt change, even in surroundings, needed to happen.

I thought of lurking here with the car hidden away and curtains drawn but at my age that could be misconstrued quite badly and white coated "helpers" might not be far away. I'm packing my unfinished manuscripts, some reading, some knitting, my journal. I didn't even check to see if there was internet as I don't care.

On the one day off I had in a MONTH (truly) a dear friend barged in and said it was an emergency and could I divest myself of my pyjamas and dress up a bit and go across the bay with him to sign off on some really important documents for the lawyers, it would only take a few hours.

And something snapped in me. I felt I had only one remaining nerve ending in my head and he had crunched it. Nothing to do with him, I still love him dearly but when your calendar has been crawling with crap for 4 weeks straight and there's not even a day you can call your own in your favourite pyjamas the precipice yawns.

And the grief. Too much of it. And the health, still shaky. And families out here on the Edge, they are all so tight and supportive of each other, never seen the like, adds to the sense of tribal isolation at times. And becomes unreasonably magnified

I may not do well on my own, driving over 600k to the farmhouse (and back, I trust) but I'm ready for different surroundings and being alone with my writing. And reintroducing myself to me. Being alone with words. Being alone to write my inner outwards. There hasn't been time to reflect in yonks.

I need that.

So desperately.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Snap Judgements

I was away last weekend, well actually the weekend before last. While there I had a heart stopping text, one where I burst into tears, my heart was so raw. The text read: "Terrible tragedy. T----- (her daughter) was found dead today. We're numb."

I felt sick. This friend and I had bonded over the difficulties with our daughters. My missing, estranged daughter and her unstable daughter. Each having mental health issues.

I follow my instincts in such matters now. I knew her extended family would gather around her and her husband for a while. So yesterday, after I left my sleepover in St. John's I went to a flower shop to get my friend B and her husband a living flower arrangement and planned to go directly to their home in the country.

So I'm in the flower shop and as luck would have it there's a woman of approximately my age ahead of me trying to put an arrangement together and taking a whole week of my precious time to do so.

"No, that's way too many carnations, take a couple out."

"You don't have enough baby's breath, no problem I'll wait while you go into the back room fridge."

"Oh, that's too much, no hang on, put more carnations in. No, only red, like I said."

"Hang on, it's out of balance. I want it to be perfect."

This went on for another five or ten minutes. At one point the clerk rolled her eyes at me as they discussed ribbons and cellophane for the arrangement.

The woman turned suddenly and looked at me and muttered an apology for holding me up.

With great will power, stifling my annoyance, I threw on a smile and said:

"You friend must be very precious and special."

Her eyes flooded with tears.

"I'm just off the plane from New York," she said, "I'm going to visit Caroline, my very best friend in the whole world, I haven't seen her in 10 years."

"Oh," I said, now fully engaged and curious, my impatience forgotten, "That's a very long time".

"Ah," she said, "She has advanced dementia now. Has had it for years. Her husband phoned me a few days ago and said she has very little time left. But I must see her. At her wedding I carried a bouquet of red carnations and baby's breath and I'm hoping that seeing this arrangement might trigger a memory of our friendship, you know?"

What was there to reply? I nodded, understanding completely. And as she left, I said:

"That's a beautiful tribute of remembrance for you both."

And then fussed in my turn for the little garden arrangement to bring to B.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Close a Door, Open a Window

Life's like that, isn't it.

I'm meeting a Toronto friend for dinner tomorrow night. She's in St. John's for a conference and staying with another of her friends in the city. We're meeting for dinner to get caught up as she's been moving around quite a bit and currently lives in Florida. Her friend is organizing a get together for later that evening and invited me to come along and meet her and some more of their friends from university. And added she had a spare bedroom and a bed for me. Up to last week I'd have had to turn down such invitations because of Ansa. But now I realize another world and other opportunities have opened up.

I had a radio broadcaster stay with me for 3 days and 2 nights as she conducted interviews in my town with local residents. It seems we've got ourselves noticed quite favourably due to our volunteer library and other initiatives. And it's quite odd this feeling I have: I was interviewed for about 2 hours (the total of about 10 hours she's recorded of everyone will be edited and whittled down to about 1 hour)and I would have been a fumbling bag of nerves three years ago. I literally bless the blasé now, I've gotten used to being interviewed and while I'm flattered at some level it's all part of my life here. I'm conscious of "ums" and "hesitations" and I suppose I'll be right teed off when the interviews stop (what? I've lost my oomph?)but for now I truly understand the fleeting life of any kind of fame and know it's quite ephemeral.

The fabulous weather continues to astonish out here on the Edge and I feel my life is becoming more controllable. Tourists take a lot out of one, it's constantly a performance and sheets and towels and breakfasts and cups of whatever and entertainment. Now it's wound down and I'm so very glad to get my life back. Today was my very first day of getting to choose exactly what I want to do, hence this post.

I'm a little rattled by a locum doctor who saw me yesterday and was very thorough both in questions and in assessment of my health. However, he validated some anxiety I had about my endurance when walking where my legs would seize up and I have to stop and take a rest. I am so thoroughly sick of hearing "It's all in your head" which is the standard opinion offered to most women when they complain of such "minor" ailments. He took about 1/2 hour to examine me and told me he was setting up a hospital appointment for further tests as it appears the circulation in my legs is not up to snuff and stopping activity when walking was due to oxygen deprivation. I must say that even though I'm worried I also feel relieved as I've had medications switched as my permanent doctor thought it was the meds I was on that caused this leg pain.

So a lot of open windows here. I've started a nightly gratitude list again to keep me in the right frame of mind about life. I do have much to be grateful for.

Up on top of this post I have a postcard, which I framed, of Venice, where Grandgirl was recently. At 21 I was there too. She's now 21 and fell in love with the palette of Venice, the subdued and enchanting colours, as I did. Life is full circle.

Monday, September 12, 2016


"It's better," said an animal lover to me, "To be a week early than a day late."

I knew what she meant, but dear gawd, how terribly tough it is to take a life, a breathing, beautiful life, having made The Decision.

And the day of it? It was good. It was peaceful, she didn't suffer, I held her to the other side. And after too. And by gum, didn't she eat two cookies before the sedative, the pre-fatal shot that's given, and I laughed through my tears, because, you know, our family is known as "good grubbers" and darling Ansa was one of us right to the end. Faced with the vet's (gawd she always hated the vet) and the peculiar, weepy behaviour of her human companions, she eats cookies of a kind she would normally turn her nose up at.

What's overwhelming me completely is the incredible love and support I've been given through Facebook and messages and telephone calls and hugs and emails and even casseroles dropped off.

Ansa was adored by many. She had a magical way with her, a sense of humour, a dog who loved to be cuddled even though she was a large dog, a border collie mix. In a gathering she would place her bum firmly on my foot and then engage with the crowd, grinning at each individual in turn. When I left the car to run an errand she would immediately transfer herself to the driver's seat and sit there looking straight ahead until I returned. On the job, I called it. I don't know how many times I returned to the car to find strangers photographing her for she would never turn her head and appeared, to all intents and purposes, as if she were the driver.

When we drove long distances, and we shared many long haul trips, she would jump into the passenger seat for a time and hold out her left paw and we would hold hands for an hour or two along a lonely, endless stretch of highway.

For fun, she would herd me up to the Tigeen, nudging me in the behind, dancing around me, I swore I could hear her laugh on these occasions, her joy was so palpable as I played along, dodging off the path only to be herded back on to it again.

I can't begin to tell you about this dreadful sense of loss that overwhelms me when I am alone in this quiet house. I've been kept occupied by friends and family but tonight I'm home alone and I'm lost without the sound of her feet, the breath of her, the head beside my thigh, the time for a cookie or a rub, or conversation. I stop when I realize I'm talking to myself now. I remember. And I cry.

There's not a trace of her here, not a blanket nor leash, not a dish, not her beds or her cookies or special water fountain.

Now it's the complete absence of her glorious spirit that does my head in.

I didn't expect that.

I thought there would at least be her ghost.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


More often than usual she comes and stands beside me. Even as I type this. She presses her head against my knee, my thigh. Solidarity. She's always done this. Even in a dog park. She'd frolic for a while with the others and then come back to me and press her head against me, often briefly, and then gallop off again. Telling me secrets, sharing the adventure.

She had a way of jumping lightly on the sofa if I lay down with a book, she'd stretch herself along the length of it between me and its back and lay her head just so on my shoulder, staring at me. "What is this thing called book?" I'd explain to her as best I could about this static thing that stared back at me, that held mysteries and inspiration and deep thoughts and humour and thrills. "Not as interesting as a dead fish on a beach," she'd sigh and wait patiently for me to get a move on to the great outdoors.

Her jumping days are gone. She was always the most graceful of dogs. Her movements almost balletic. Her days of going upstairs are gone. Her bed long moved to the front hall where she can keep an eye on everything.

She doesn't smile anymore. I know, silly, fanciful perception of a dog. But yes, she did have this incredible happy grin as if the world was full of endless delight and her human companion a joy to behold every minute of the day.

She followed me up to the meadow a few days ago and watched me hanging out the sheets to dry.

And somehow, I knew in the heart of me that this would be the last time she'd ever do this. Her smile was missing. I don't know what enormous effort it took her to go up the meadow. Herculean, I imagine. Her pace slow and agonizing.

She gets stuck in weird places now, behind the woodstove, the back deck, wedged in corners she never so much as looked at before. Standing for over a minute she has to sit down, take a rest.

But still, she comes to stand beside me, often tucking her head up tight against me.

"It's time, old girl," I said to her this morning, "You're confirming my thoughts".

She pressed harder.

"I'll be with you, I'll hold you and sing you your song, and kiss you and rub your gorgeous belly and listen to your secrets one last time."

Monday, August 29, 2016


One of my great good fortunes this summer was to host not one, but two community theatre directors, one from BC and the other from Ontario.

Brain picking ensued.

One of my life long dreams is to have another community theatre.

Another you say?

Well yes. I started my own community theatre in my neighbourhood when I was 8 years old. And I have a picture to prove it. Of the entire cast. I was director, writer, lead actor, props manager and stage manager. What's that you say? Ego? I didn't know better. It was all about me and I absolutely loved it. And thought at the time: I could spend my life doing this. I do have to find the photo and post it here.

So now, I'm trying to do the exact same thing in my neighbourhood here. I got brilliant suggestions from my guests and I'd absolutely love to make this a go. I tried several years back with no success as the team evaporated to other projects.

But this time? I have hope. I am invigorated. Re-vitalized with all the challenges of the past couple of years firmly behind me. A rebirth and renewal of spirit it seems.

So few years left. So much delightful stuff to do.

Life comes full circle.

This time I'll share.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Another Quarter Heard From

Present: Me (M) and two Australian PGs* (APG) both academics on a three month leave - mandatory after 10 years' employment with one employer in Australia.

APG: What do you think of the current political climate in the USA?

M: Pretty scary.

APG: Yeah, especially with that billionaire Clinton woman.

M: What about Trump?

APG: Well, after Sanders dropped out he's the far better choice.

M (aghast): Why do you say that?

APG: He's a businessman. The USA needs to be run like a business.

M: He's a failed businessman. Every business he has been involved with has bankrupted. He's been sued.....

APG: Oh come on, most businessmen have failures, that's how they become successes. They learn from their mistakes!

M: But what about the people who have invested in his companies, their shares are worthless!

APG: That's real life. Some you win, some you lose.

M: So if he fails the USian people, and I can't count the number of ways this could happen, it would be an experiment?

APG: Of course. You don't want another corrupt Clinton running the country for her own personal gain.

I backed away with my hands up and didn't touch on Drumpf's comments on racism, immigration, privilege, creepiness (i.e desiring his daughters, et al)and mockery of those less fortunate.


*Paying guests