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."