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."