Monday, May 29, 2017


A friend was taken to the hospital with severe breathing difficulties.

We do this, as he did, when we're older: we pretend severe symptoms are:
(3)A nuisance, but let's not tell anyone because, you know, they might over-react and worry and insist on stupid stuff like ambulances.

He's been hospitalized a week now and all sorts of nuisancy eye-rolling tests have occurred which he has shared with some of his closest friends.

It turns out there are four blockages in the veins leading to his heart, pretty severe blockages, which is going to necessitate by-pass surgeries as stents are considered too risky as he's 76. So he's in line for major surgery and it might be today.

Like myself, he was a heavy smoker and we quit about the same time, around thirty years ago.

BUT the lifelong effects are with us both. And when doctors and technicians informed me about MY smoking and the now disastrous effects on my legs and arms, my internal dialogue tells me they haven't a clue, look at the running races, the half-marathons, etc., how could a long ago habit affect me now?

My friend T has reinforced all this ridiculous denial for me. And I do so wish the young would quit while there is time. I quit in my forties after only 24 years of it but it was enough to do untold damage to my vascular system which has now aged and is unable to cope anymore. Much like my friend T's.

We've been led to believe it's lung cancer we should be worried about. But I, for one, ignored the fine print of it's other long-term effects. T has brought it all home to me, and now I really believe that yes, it was the stupid smoking that I'm paying for now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Labelling, self-labelling I mean, can be extraordinarily useful. I was struggling with the Black Dog - and thank you so much to all those who commented in support. It is remarkable how the ether world and caring others in the real world can offer so much comfort and understanding.

A man I worked with said to me he was going to this six part workshop on chronic conditions.



adjective: chronic
(of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"chronic bronchitis"
synonyms: persistent, long-standing, long-term; More
"a chronic illness"
antonyms: acute
•(of a person) having an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"a chronic asthmatic"
•(of a problem) long-lasting and difficult to eradicate.
"the school suffers from chronic overcrowding"

synonyms: constant, continuing, ceaseless, unabating, unending, persistent, long-lasting;

I asked him what his condition was if he felt comfortable telling me and he said "Anxiety" - he's had this basically non-stop since brutal orphanage days (Five years old at incarceration - Sweet Jaysus).

I thought for a minute and said: I have a chronic condition too.

And then: I think I'll go too.

So there. Just affixing the label to myself I felt a load lift off me. And the workshop? I can't say enough about it. 2-3 hours each. All of us (Including the two facilitators) have chronic conditions. All of us suffer periodic depression. All of us had difficulty labelling ourselves.

There is such solace in just saying it out loud to a bunch who totally understand. And boy, are there degrees of "chronic".

I got off lightly.

More on this in the next few weeks as I learn more.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hello Darkness, my old friend....

I was wondering when you'd show up.

It's been a while and you're way overdue.

Yeah, there's been changes. It seems to me you always sense these life altering corners I have to turn. You give me a few days, maybe a week, to feel confident and secure and then, without a knock on the door, in you walk bringing your cold breath and that murky miasma that clings to everything you touch.

I ran. Upstairs. And into bed. I couldn't face work, and there was a bit of it, not much, but I knew you'd take that weird position on my desk and shoot those thoughts into my head, the why bother ones, the life is hopeless ones, the lonely ones, the nobody really cares ones.

Bed is safe, though not as safe as with Ansa in it, I have to admit. It gives you free reign really when I'm this vulernable. Though you haven't stolen sleep from me yet. Maybe that will come.

My analytical mind just about destroys me after you show up. I think: what attracted you back. The Handicapped sticker the doctor suggested? My young friend saying to me yesterday she was having a hard time seeing me taking up residence in the apartment as we sat in it drinking coffee? The suggestion made by a facilitator-friend of taking the Living with Chronic Diseases series of workshops? Finding so much poignancy in every aspect of my life at the moment? Losing interest in cooking for myself?

Yeah, none of it mattered to you. You saw the opportunity and you rushed through the door.

I don't know if I can summon the energy to shove you out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Melange a Trois

(1)I can't imagine what life is like without some creativity or passion in it. Any creativity. One of my dear buddies now since gone, would make log cabins out of those flat icecream sticks, with a working fireplace of pebbles and the chimney lined with tinfoil and a porch with rocking chairs on the front.

Me? Well I write and knit. And yesterday I finished this massive knitting project. It took me months but now it's winging its way to Massachussets to a sweet young friend whom I wrote about here. She sent me this incredible yarnbowl, right out of the blue, when Ansa died and signed it "Sunset for Ansa".

We had one of those rare instant connections at her father's wake. The kind that sees into each other's souls. Rare enough to be treasured.

(2)Since I moved here I've had the chance to explore my personality in ways I couldn't even dream of when I lived in the metropolis. Time, the gift of time and beauty all around me frees up the mind and imagination like nothing else does. The timelessness of the ocean at my door, the salt-laden walks on the shores or in the pine drenched woods invigorates, wakes up dormant brain cells.

(3)I continue to whittle away at "stuff". Discarding 5 items a day. Should be more like 10. Attaching the words precious or important or valuable to pieces of it is dangerous. A burn barrel is where much of it is going. And the dump. I don't want any kind of clutter in my new home. I'm listing what's coming with me. And so far it's not much. Clutter is weighty and murky and has a stranglehold on the psyche. I lived that in a marital home way back and remember feeling so overwhelmed as we conducted a 3 day sale around and in the property. Given space, I will fill it. Time to let go. Of inner and outer stuff.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


So I was at the car dealership this Monday past. It necessitated a long wait of 6 hours. In walking days I'd go off for a walk or run, there are some interesting shops around and a giant mall across the street and a beautiful lake with boardwalk nearby. Or if I had anywhere to go without spending 6 hours in the one spot, I would have taken one of their numerous shuttles all over the city.

So there I was, ensconced one might say. Or incarcerated as another might. I never mind as I come equipped with both book and device but the knitting was too enormous to drag, I'm in the final stages of a vast shawl.

So I read and try and tune out the endless large screen TV which broadcasts non-stop sports to the slack-jawed men in the front row. I wouldn't dare touch that channel and click it to Discovery (would you?). The coffee is good, there is fresh popcorn and a few boxes of Timbits.

A woman a few rows up gets up to look at a notice board on the wall. My heart stops. She looks just like my Helen who died in December 2014. I feel tears bounce into my eyes and a golfball hit my throat, the loss can be so keen at times. She was closer than a sister, there was nothing we wouldn't tell each other. I so miss that and Stranger Woman brings the loss into such sharp focus.

I pretend to read as she sits down again, now in the row in front of me but to the side. Her hair, her profile, her slender attractive body, even her eyes with that half-moon shape, so unusual (I'm so glad one of Helen's granddaughters inherited those extraordinary eyes).

As if she senses I'm looking at her, she turns and I smile at her, urging myself not to go weird, not to say anything about Helen.

We chat, we're the same age, we uncover life stories, children. Daisy lost her husband 22 years before but as he was an only child, she stepped up to the plate and took care of his mother who died at 94 this past December. She admitted the sacrifice, but had created a separate apartment for her mother-in-law (referred to as Missus) and had a helper come in once a day to do what was necessary in personal care. But Missus insisted that it was only Daisy who could cook for her. It tied her down terribly. I mentioned my favourite Aunt Daisy to her, who was the only other Daisy I'd known personally. We talked of our daughters and their opportunities and moved on to our singular granddaughters. Daisy'd been an entrepreneur up north but moved to the Avalon when her children needed more educational opportunities. She was as fascinated with my journey as I was with hers. We were together about 90 minutes.

Now here's the zinger.

She got up with many goodbyes and desires to see me again some time just as they were paging her one more time.

Her last name was Cassidy*.

As was Helen's.

*changed at last minute for protection of her privacy as a quick FB search found her so very easily.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Dateline: Monday May 8th, 2017, St, John's

It's like this. Everything happens at once. My car lease is up next month, my tourist season has started, word got out my forte is filing delinquent tax returns and some are dribbling in, and I'm busy minimalising and bagging and donating excess, and oh yeah, my domain went down and new owners of same could not be traced through multiple sales of the domain holding company so I lost my address book and my domain name and the website I've had for 20+ years. And it's like the Irish pension I tried to get, I just don't have the energy anymore to keep chasing down my rights. Whatever they are - do we still have any? Do exhausted elders?

Daughter came for dinner yesterday. Her main purpose, apart from dinner, was to get me up to the Tigeen to survey what I was taking from there and to tidy up after the winter. I was terrified of the climb up. But I took one of my sticks and paused many times, the pain can be mind-numbing, but I made it. It was very emotional as I love it so much up there and Ansa and I spent so much time in this wee paradise as did some very interesting artist guests. Ansa'd go off up back and explore the woods. I'd write or just soak in the entire bay and the birds down below. But I am always mindful of attachment and hope the next person to inhabit this space will take as much pleasure in it as I did.

Speaking of, I was approached by a local who is interested in purchasing my little estate and batted not an eye at the price I'm asking. He needs to convince his wife, as he's in love with the place.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


This morning, I read in my Tao meditation book (always fortuitous these readings) that problems are never solved in a small room but rather on a mountaintop looking down. Yay I say unto thee and all that.

Looking at my life from a mountain top I see the beach stones are many, the rocks overwhelming and the trees overgrown.

Whittling is a frightening thought indeed. So I look at what my needs are. Not my wants. I want far too much for a small space. Now that I'm scrutinizing and evaluating and sometimes tearing up a little, I began to bag up possibly a 100 journals of my life to date. A friend will burn them in his burn barrel. We may have a small ceremony, that would be fitting. My collection of silver and old china is another story. We can all get sentimental about old stuff, long dead relatives presenting the Waterford crystal, the country auctions of acquisition when the kids were small and fascinated with the bidding. (I had to fill a four story century home - I don't use "fill" lightly, I knew auctioneers by name and could nod briefly to show I was still in the game). Stuff that has trailed me around.

I thought the times of 12 around the dining room table at brunch are gone, ditto dinners for 8. So dishes? 4 mugs, 4 small plates, 4 large plates and 4 bowls. Notice the absence of cups and saucers, passé, my dears. Ditto for cutlery. I graduated to all matching only 4 years ago when I opened my little B&B. Before then it was quirky.

Candles, candle holders, I look down from the mountain top and say: choose 2 out of the collection of 20+ and make sure you have a place for these two, I recommend small but beautiful. You must visualize them in use and where.

I have decided I am taking this narrow in depth but tall and wide bookcase, handmade and gifted to me by a carpenter many years ago. It will fit in the hallway from the front door. There I will lodge movies I love, books I love (mainly reference)And that's it. Everything has to fit in this bookcase. Right now I've spread everything out over 4 large bookcases.

So that's it for now. I'm being firm with myself.

And yeah, life is very busy and full which I enjoy, though the mind is willing and the flesh lets me down more than I'd like. I tire very easily. This does not suit me but I do pay attention.

I'm hoping to get approval for a beautiful hiking trail in the town tonight. It's a long held dream of mine. And the spot is magnificent.

So fingers crossed.