Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Small things. Big things.

Every week I make my own yogurt and my own Irish whole wheat soda bread which I cut into quarters and then put 3 in the freezer, I set aside a quarter and then extract from the freezer as I need. Irish soda bread has to be eaten fresh. It was usually made every day in Ireland using up the sour milk pre-refrigeration. My yogurt's starter must be years and years old now. I just save a tablespoon from the last batch and use in the fresh one. And if I'm going away for a while I freeze a tablespoon of it.

There is something validating about taking care of one's basic needs. I think if pushed I could survive for a while on soda bread and yogurt. If I have interesting seeds and dried fruits and nuts I throw into the soda bread pre-baking, but it's not necessary. With the yogurt I use bottled fruit or sugar free home made preserves. I've tossed around making home-made country butter. I despised it as a child ("you can taste the grass, ew Mum!") but now what I wouldn't give for a pot of it! The high processing of food has made imbeciles of us all. Bleached white bread, chemical-laden yogurt with artificial thickeners, chemical-laden spreadable concoctions called margarine (low cal, light).

Even cheese. What have they done to cheese? I shop the stores that carry Irish cheeses. All the good Canadian brands are now rubbishy plasticized homogenous florescent orange slabs. Inedible. and yet they go flying off the shelves. There is no comparison in taste. Thank you Ireland for keeping cheese cheesy and sausages herby and edible.

I'm waiting for the pump man. I have no water. Again. The freezing cold attacked my pump-house and throttled the water pump. Winter continues on. Storm is expected tonight or tomorrow. 30cm of snow. Seriously.

At least my woodstove was fixed yesterday after a month without. Thanks to a couple of townsmen who refused even to take a cup of coffee and were horrified when I tried to pay them.

I am grateful for small things today, like wood, and homemade bread and yogurt. And heat. Blessed heat.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Whatcha At?

My blog friend Tom has a great post on retirement.

Which got me thinking about successful retirement. Redefining oneself.

There are many retired teachers and some retired professors in my community. And truth tell they "do" a lot of TV and shopping. By "Shopping" I mean driving in and out of town, which here is the capital city of St. John's about 1-1/2 hours one way on the "Old Road", maybe an hour on the highway. And it always involves many carts rattling out of Costco.

Shed life is big here. The Boys gather in sheds and work on "stuff" like trucks and snowmobiles and boats and generators and ATVs which are used for hunting. Hunting and fishing are huge and there's no retirement age from either.

Women volunteer in church: cleaning and altar fixing and choir committees and parish committees and church fundraising. If they have spare time (church volunteering becoming a dead art, so to speak) they community volunteer in card games for seniors, exercise class and library duty and 50+ club events.

Whatcha at? Is an all purpose catchphrase here. Used when you pick up the phone. I've adopted it as it is quick to the chase. "Whatcha at?" they say to me. "Oh, I'm knitting," I say, or "Getting ready for a walk", "watching Netflix", etc. And you're off and running with a conversation.

I hung out a small tax service shingle, metaphorically speaking, this year. I had basically terminated my tax business a few years back, apart from a few diehards, but felt a little financial need due to power bills being so enormous in NL. You can be freezing your arse off and the bill can be $400 for the month. Full heat would be close to a $1,000. And that's with a wood burning stove. As I type this, I'm cold. And I have had a huge cold tolerance. No more. I'm looking forward to moving in the fall so that next winter won't be a financial worry. I will be warm and the bill will be less than a quarter of what I pay now!

My time is always full. I had 3 clients drop in this morning. I have my volunteer municipal job that I love. I'm building a data base for the town library. I continue to write. I am taking bookings for my hospitality Airbnb and that will keep me busy from Spring on to late September. Needs must. And yes, knitting products for sale. Thinking of getting an Etsy account to sell on line perhaps. And cards. I sell my own cards too.
I'm a wearer of many hats.

Bored? What's that?

So - Whatcha At my friends?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Books of 2016

I'm late with this annual post. No excuse apart from a life that I always seem to be running behind but not in a good way. I make great plans, go to the trouble of writing them down in number and point form and then lose hopeless track of my good intentions. I know I'm the only one on planet earth with this problem. Any helpful hints? I should abandon my lists but it's similar to my collection of "useless artifacts" which I will write about some day too. The dark underbelly of my life.

So here goes with the 2016 list.

(1)Puccini's Ghosts - Morag Joss****
(2)Dead Simple - Peter Robinson. dropped could not engage 0
(3)Plain Song - Nancy Huston***
(4)All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr*****
(5)The Mistress - Philippe Tapon*
(6)A Sudden Sun - Trudy Morgan-Coles****
(7)Eventide - Kent Haruf*****
(8)Burning Down The House - Russell Wangersky {BC}***
(9)The Night Following - Morag Joss*****
(10)England, England - Julian Barnes 0
(11)The Birdcage - Marcia Willett***
(12)Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova***
(13)And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini*****
(14)My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout*****
(15)The Girl in the Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold {BC}**
(16)Among the Missing - Morag Joss****
(17)The Dipper - Marcia Willett**
(18)The Corrigan Women - M.T. Doheney
(19)Eve - Iris Johansen*
(20)A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway 5th(?)re-read*****
(21)A Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans*****
(22)The Piano Tuner - Daniel Mason (I'm struggling with this one 100 pages in)
(23)Settlers of the Marsh - Frederick Philip Grove ****
(24)Baggage - Jill Sooley ***
(25)Moments of Being - Virginia Woolf***
(26)The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner***
(27)Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler *****
(28)The Old Jest - Jennifer Johnston *****
(29)The Illusionist - Jennifer Johnston ****
(30)A Sixpenny Song - Jennifer Johnston
(31)The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor {BC} a re-read for me*****
(32)How Many Miles to Babylon? - Jennifer Johnston*****
(33)What We Want - Trudy J. Morgan-Cole**
(34)This is Not a Novel - Jennifer Johnston*****
(35)The Captain and the Kings - Jennifer Johnston*****
(36)The Railway Station Man - Jennifer Johnston*****
(37)By the Lake - John McGahern*****
(38)Closer Home - Karen Anne King**
(39)Shadows on our Skin - Jennifer Johnston*****
(40)Love & Summer - William Trevor****
(41)Fool's Sanctuary - Jennifer Johnston****
(42)I Let You Go - Claire Mackintosh****
(43)The Lake House - Kate Morton (500 pages, 200 too much)***
(44)The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence - 3rd re-read*****
(45)Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey - poor construction**
(46)A Badly Misunderstood Dog - Paul Rowe - *****
(47)The First Bad Man - Miranda July - she literally lost the plot - *
(48)The End of Your Life Bookclub - William Schwalbe*****
(49)Everyone Hates a Beauty Queen - Kenneth Harvey - Awful bilge, will not read him again*
(50)Save Me - Lisa Scottoline - cliché driven ***
(51)The Distant Hours - Kate Morton - challenging size, unsure
(52)The Ocean at My Door - Ken Pollett
(53)Perfect - Rachel Joyce*****
(54)Still Alice - Lisa Genova*****
(55)My Father's Tears - John Updike*****
(56)La Rose - Louise Erdrich****
(57)The Doctor's Wife - Brian Moore*****
(58)Thrice the Brindled Cat Had Mew'd - Alan Bradley***
(another Flavia De Luce but not so compelling)
(59)The Good Doctor - Paul Butler
(a few pages in and I'm tripping over edit-goofs and holy metaphors, batman!)
(60)People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks*** {BC}
(61)Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen*****
(62)Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger
(63)The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein***** {BC}
(64)The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick****
(65)The Roncesvalles Pass - Paul Bowdring
(66)The Lizard Cage - Karen Connolly*****
(67)Lost and Found - Brooke Davis*****
(68)A Sport of Nature - Nadine Gortimer - dropped, couldn't.
(69)Continental Drift - Russell Banks - dropped, couldn't.
(70)My Secret Sister - Edmonds & Smith***
(71)Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore {BC}***

TOTAL TO DATE: 71{BC}=Book Club}
Ratings:0(awful) *(poor)**(fair)***(good)****(very good)*****(excellent)

Those I loved:
20 (about 6th or 7th reading, annual event!)
All of Jennifer Johnston I adore.

A good year of reading. I won't work at reading a boggy book anymore. My life's too short. I like immersion, good editing and grammar, engaging characters, thoughtful prose. I'm not asking too much, am I?

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 2

And I use the word "beginning" for it truly feels like another one. I've had many, I've been blessed. And in my last two homes they reflected me, solo me, my décor, my artifacts, my friends, my colours.

And so will this new one that my spirit will enter on April 1st, but through circumstances of my hospitality business and my municipal position, my body won't enter fully until September.

It's a one bedroom apartment in an independent senior living complex. A friend already lives there. A friend after my own heart as we value privacy and abhor unexpected dropping around. The complex is small and charming and includes a gym on each floor, a free laundry on each floor, an outside patio with barbecues, an enormous communal two storey recreation room with library and kitchen and piano, it's overlooking a lake and is a short hop to the city of St. John's.

A few things, of many, that impressed me were it was so quiet, I loved how some of the artists living there had hung their artwork in the hallways, I was also impressed with some of the residents being in their nineties and having home care help coming in for a few hours a day if needed thus deferring the day when an assisted living home might be rquired. And twice a week there's a free bus that takes everyone out to shop if they are beyond driving.

My friend tells me we are the two "babies" in the complex being the youngest. I find that very amusing but also highly educational in that I hope to learn more about ageing in place and an ease and familiarity with the process.

The complex is close to the East Coast Trail and some gorgeous trails in the city itself.

Simmering down to a one bedroom is going to be challenging. I am hoping to market my current dwelling as a turnkey hospitality heritage home, all furnishings and appliances included. My plan is to take very little from here.

So yes, I am excited. But daunted too by the task of downsizing my existing lifestyle into one more manageable and easy.
But I am also blessed with an attitude that once I make up my mind, I don't look back. I don't want a life of regrets.

Looking ahead and with anticipation is where I'm at.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 1.

When I bought this place over 13 years ago, I knew my relationship with my darling house and land would all end some day. I'm very conscious of the ticking of my own clock. I stay in moments and cherish them and reflect on my privilege and gratitude to have this house overlooking the ocean, surrounded by trees and hills, with views right out of some exotic magazine. With its own off the grid artist's cabin tucked up on the hill overlooking the bay.

We are so finite in this world and sometimes a tap on the shoulder comes, intuition if you will, and we must pay attention.

My friend Helen's death was a huge tap for me. Then a whole series of friends fell to the wayside shortly thereafter way before their time. I say way before their time when, really, what is human time? Three score plus ten? I've been losing friends since I was six when Geraldine died of meningitis and at eight Eithne was burned in a house fire and at fifteen Rosario had brain cancer. So death walks along beside me even though many of us behave as if we have two hundred years to live. And to live with full mental and physical functions intact. Not so. Take a look around at your Zimmer frames, oxygen tanks and wheelchairs and bewilderments in the supermarkets. I do. Not morbidly but noddingly, know what I mean? Constantly aware too that most health impacted seniors don't shop for themselves so we don't see the Alzheimer's, the dementia, the legless and blind and stroke victims.

I thought to take charge then, back in 2015. I live alone. Have a fierce streak of independence, turned down potential partnerships here, 3 or 4 at last count to offer an example, and wish to be proactive rather than reactive to any future challenges I might face.

I remember a dear blog friend, I was her role model of aging well for some reason, saying at one point: "Well it's a good job I have ten more years to catch up to you and loads of time to live creatively" but sadly she didn't. She died Christmas 2013 rather quickly, from cancer.

So the power of now became a mantra for me long before it was fashionable.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


And no, it's not working. A post from my device, that is. Frustrating. As to brace the Siberia of my office which now holds a treadmill and a door that won't close and also an iffy laptop that objects to being moved and goes off in a sulk, is challenging.

So this is a post from a week ago:

I'm basically testing this post on a different platform. I've been hoppin' busy. Good busy. Like I'm accomplishing things.

I may be delusional.

Yeah, I treadmill and yeah, it hurts. And cramps in my legs at night frighten me. And one of my specialists is thawing out and oozes competence. One of my....Did you hear that? Do I win this week's MedSpeak contest?

On other fronts, and there are many, I will be moving from one paradise to another. More on that later.

Meanwhile I offer you this picture of my knitting, my porta-knitting vs the big shawl I'm also working on, which inadvertently pleased some artistic eyes even though that effect was unintended.

And we had a bad storm after all that, frightening hurricane winds, power outages and evacuations. A reminder, once again, that Mother Nature's rage can be fearsome.

Thanks to all who sent me messages and blog concern. Always appreciated.

Friday, March 03, 2017


I am troubled when I see lofty opinions offered particularly about other races, strata of society, sexual orientation et all.

Someone who reports to me, a former teacher, thinks it hilarious to imitate Chinese people. What he perceives to be Chinese. He's never met one apart from in a Chinese restaurant. But, in spite of my objections, I will catch him amusing residents with this appalling accent accompanied by the gesture of slanting his eyes. To say I am shocked at his insensitivity is to understate my reaction. I sat him down and talked to him about this racism. He was offended I called him a racist as he is "Open-minded". And truly, he says, a "Chinaman" would not be offended, they would laugh too. And he wouldn't mind if they imitated him, ah lighten up. To make things worse, he took his show on stage much to the hilarity of the audience as someone was kind enough to show me a video of his show-stopping routine. But, you know, he is extraordinarily kind in other ways. He goes beyond. So, yes, I like him but I keep hoping my repeated careful evaluation of his disturbing mockery will enlighten him one day.

Blanket statements about segments of society are bordering on prejudice also as in: "I love Lesbians". I know many lesbians, some I disliked, some I loved. Just like anyone else, I accord them humanity and differentiation. I can't like everyone. The same with gay men. Some are my friends, others are anti-feminist and exclusive of heterosexual women. I don't care for them or their opinions if they are misogynistic.

And speaking of feminism, I remember on one of my posts about this particular F word, a comment by a fellow blogger about once meeting a strident feminist thirty years before so she had no time now for feminism. I couldn't count the wrongs in that tiny statement.

No class of society is a monolith. I don't make pronouncements on the wealthy as a class. Or the impoverished for that matter. I've known nasty selfish wealthy people who gather their ill-gotten gains to themselves and never share, and others who are unlimited in their generosity. I've known poor people who are horrible, abusive and greedy and others who are gentle and kind.

A blog friend posted recently on a class or label of society he took offence to and found it wanting. I assumed he was talking about people he knew. But no. He was just blanket-judging. It puzzled me and I had to think about it and my own judgements on others.

Black and white thinking leads to racism and misogyny and anti-gay stances and yeah, fascism.

For if we don't take the time to get to know people, all people in our path, all races, classes, how can we possibly judge? I offer you Muslims.

We all bear the stamp of uniqueness.

And are one river.