Monday, December 31, 2018

Of Friendships.

I'm one of those women. A single woman you could trust with your husband. Consequently I have male friendships outside of the couples scenario. I make it clear to the wives that that is who I am without being pompous or declaratory. I inject into a conversation somewhere along the way that I have never fooled around with a female friend's partner. And I never would. Even though it has been done to me a few times. I know the pain of it, you see. A formerly trusted friend in the ultimate betrayal of friendship. Not to say I haven't been hit on. For I have. Many times. But I have rejected such advances and felt the utmost compassion for the friend so betrayed, knowing too that couples sometimes have an "arrangement" where such behaviours are tolerated. I am not as pure as the driven snow, though, don't get me wrong. It is just that there are certain lines I would never cross. And I view my intimate male friends as a true gift in my life and I know it is rare, as my conversations with other women bear me out.

And I honestly believe that if I was in an intimate partnership of my own, I would not have the benefit of such friendships, both male and female. There wouldn't be the room, perhaps.

R was one such friend. I met him about 25 years ago as a colleague in a large corporate environment where I had a contract and he was the vice-president. We liked books. We liked travel. We liked unsuperficial conversations. We liked writing. We liked theatre and long lunches. We had the gift of honesty with each other. He was a tall, attractive man and had travelled giving lectures in most countries of the world. When his mother died he came to me and told me he had to deliver the eulogy and didn't know what to say about her. He loved her deeply but words wouldn't come, apart from mawkish sentimentality.

I wrote him this, which he read at her funeral:

An Unremarkable Life

From the outside her life was unremarkable,
Simple, routined, unchangeable, solid.

Inside she was like the shelter from the storm,
Holding us close when our brother died
Even when her own heart was shattered
Leaving two sons when before there were three.

She found her comfort in her garden,
Her magic fingers teasing growth out of
Bulbs and cuttings and twigs,
Drowning our home in extravagant colour.

Undemanding, nurturing, a willing ear
To troubles, challenges, tragedies
Soft words offered when requested,
With gentle hugs and unwavering support.

All who come to honour her today
Would astonish her, for she was humble
In her kindness, never seeking spotlights
For her anonymous generosities.

She was my north star,
Constant, fearless, guiding, true
And she will never know the desert
Of emptiness we face without her.

Part 1

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Words for Wednesday on a Thursday.

Being out of town 'n all for a few days, I am a wee bit behind in my life and in blog reading and blog responses too. I also had bad news on Christmas Eve which I will talk about some other time. Meantime I find Words for Wednesday a most welcome distraction, thanks to River at Drifting Through Life. Feel free to join in the imaginative fun.

1. hair*
2. dissolve*
3. concertina*
4. candlesticks*
5. ribbons*
6. causeway*


1. wizard*
2. bonfire*
3. unload*
4. beams*
5. discarded*
6. chocolate*

The house stood starkly, grey and grim, all by itself, just before you crossed the causeway. You could catch a glimpse of her as the sun, like a bonfire some nights, dissolved into the sea. She'd light the two candlesticks in the open window and play a mournful tune on the concertina. That one distant summer, us two young lads would go out there on our bikes and sit at the edge of the property on the beach and watch and listen, our pocket picnics unloaded and shared: chips, chocolate, pop. Her long auburn hair was festooned with ribbons of many colours and moved with the music in the amber light.

She'd play for hours. We'd wonder at her story, marvel at the moonbeams that would sometimes bathe her face when darkness fell. She looked like some kind of wizard, not of this world, as if she had discarded another life, like an outgrown dress, a long time ago. As we rode back home along the causeway, with the tide lapping against it, the haunting tune hitched a ride with us for a while, finally falling off into the waves.

I ran into Robert, my one-summer friend, a couple of years ago at a convention. I hadn't seem him in thirty years. After the pleasantries, I asked him about her, about our many nights on the beach, watching, wondering, making up stories about her until we had to leave, reluctantly, as parental curfews loomed.

He looked at me astonished. "You must be mixing me up with someone else," he said, "Or you've had one too many of those Scotches."

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Homes in Canada

(See previous post on homes in Ireland)
1967 the year of emigration from Ireland to Canada. Our first home, in March of that year, in Don Mills, a suburb of Toronto in Ontario. We rented a 1 bedroom apartment on the ground floor and the previous tenant sold us all his high quality furniture cheaply when he moved back to Bermuda. We faced the back of the building and there was a large swimming pool and we would just slip over our railing to access it. We viewed it as "our" swimming pool. We bought a green 1954 Belair for $200 and started the motor with a screwdriver under the hood and it would easily hold 4 in the front and 5 in the back with ease and no seatbelts. I was amazed with the diaper service and shirt service door delivery. And Eaton's and Simpson's Catalogues. Even though we were poorer than church mice. Rent was $105.00 per month.

In 1068 we upscaled to the 4th floor of this apartment building around the corner from our previous one. It had two bedrooms. And I made all the drapes and my clothes and daughter's clothes and husband's casual clothes (hello Safari suits, bell bottoms, loud vests, floaty shirts!). Ah peasant dresses and head bands and protesting Vietnam and consorting with US dodgers and yelling at the US embassy prior to them blocking it all off were what we did on weekends. Rent was $140.00 per month.

Then 1970 came and we had another baby and needed a house and we had such a tiny no budget and no downpayment. And I went to the bank and lied about having to fly to Ireland and needed a loan and they gave me $1,000 and we used it as a downpayment on this house. It was south of the Danforth in Toronto. It cost $17,000. But the owner held a second mortgage for us and the bank held the first. We couldn't believe it. 26 years old we were and owned an actual house and a green Belair that held 9 passengers comfortably. We had BYOB parties every Saturday night after the rugby games and I played the guitar and we all sang folk and drank a lot. And we added a dog and a piano to the contents and boy were we happy.

This house today is worth over $1,100,000.
You read that right.

More to follow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Words for Wednesday

Thanks to River who is hosting Words for Wednesday for the month of December. Please visit her blog and see what others have done with the words. And maybe try it yourself.

1. miasma*
2. powerhouse*
3. shiver*
4. foolish*
5. plumber*
6. twenties*


1. foyer*
2. palms*
3. intricately*
4. monastic*
5. courtyard*
6. sprawled*

The fountain in the hotel courtyard had never been installed properly. The water created a misty miasma which seeped into the foyer. Of course the potted palms thrived in this but the guests had to intricately weave their way through the sprawling damp, shivering and complaining that they had not wanted or needed a monastic stay such as this.

It was foolish, the staff thought, to bring in this young plumber who looked to be barely in his twenties, the latest in a long line of much older plumbers who had tried to fix the problem. He proceeded to drain the fountain and then took it apart as they all stood around him, shaking their heads.

“Look,” he said to the manager holding up the large configuration of a motor. “This is the powerhouse of the fountain, it needs to be programmed properly. I would assume you would like a gentle waterfall with no mist?”

Ten minutes later, the fountain was running again exactly as he had predicted and the courtyard and lobby were beginning to dry off, putting lie to the belief that the young ones don’t know what they’re doing these days.

Staff and guests broke out into spontaneous applause for the young man as he packed up his gear and grinned his goodbye.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

From the Other Side

I am handicapped. No way around it. A form of denial manifesting in a wish or hope of “improvement” in the future I have now trashed as a pipe dream of unreality.

I was up against it last night. Evenings and nights are my worst time to walk. And it was a massive distance – traversing corridors on two different vast and shining floors of the university after maneuvering myself off a huge parking lot. I had to stop many times and lean on my cane (a fairly constant pal now). My two companions, frankly, irritated me with overly concerning themselves with my condition often to the point of massive irritation which manifested itself in rudeness. I have done this myself in the past with offerings of assistance but not with any "helpful" advice as they did (“maybe you should consider a wheelchair, consider a zimmer?”) last night. They meant well. I know they did. Then one said I should consider the surgery (12 weeks in hospital) as her mother, who died last year, was very well taken care of in the 12 weeks she had been in that hospital. I did snap at her a little (I was in extreme pain at the time) and asked her what her terminal mother had to do with my condition which involved vein and artery stripping and a brutal recovery if successful or not.

So all this is to say that I apologize to anyone physically challenged who has crossed my path before. I have tried to be careful and kind but sometimes it just isn’t enough.

These days I have doors slammed in my face, kids running and tripping over my cane nearly toppling me, the non-handicapped parking “for a minute” in a designated handicapped spot and comments like “well you’re walking, it can’t be that bad,” or “so many are far worse off than you,” or “everyone has a cross to bear in life”.

Jeez, as if I don’t know all these tired tropes off by heart and meditate on them periodically on a bad day. Today is a bad day. But I’m heading out on some book selling errands and a drop off of a small gift to a dear old couple (5 years older than I qualify as old).

Let’s all be kind and careful.

And mindful of each other.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Words for Wednesday

River is hosting December's Words for Wednesday. Please visit her blog to see what others have done with the words.

This week's words are:

1. controlled*
2. strolled*
3. belongings*
4. shook*
5. leather*
6. reminded*


1. pedal*
2. black*
3. digs*
4. sheepdog*
5. sample*
6. routine*

She had to mentally pedal back and control the rage that shook her suddenly. She reminded him that Alfie, her Irish wolfhound, had strolled in with her when she originally signed the lease for the digs a month ago. Pets allowed. He hadn’t mentioned Alfie not being allowed.

Now she was here, all her belongings out in the street with the mover, Alfie panting beside her after the two flights of stairs.

Buzz, the landlord, stood there in the hallway in his black leather jacket, booted legs spread, arms folded, forehead furrowed.

Pets mean cats, small dogs, fish, birds, not these huge aggressive noisy beasts, he said scathingly.

I can give you a sample of how good Alfie is, she pleaded, look! And she went through all 50 of her routine commands which Alfie instantly obeyed.

You had me on the bark and quiet orders, said Buzz, visibly softening, arms unfolding, now let me give you a hand with your stuff.

If you are so inclined, have a bash at this yourselves, it's a lot of fun!

Saturday, December 08, 2018

In Search of Former Homes

Being Ireland, where everything is preserved, I thought to gallop around in Google to see again the homes I had lived in through my life there and was pleasantly surprised to see all, as expected, are preserved. Astonishingly, considering I am going back 75 years, they are almost exactly as I remember except for one notable exception.

First is the house my parents shared with his mother, where they got pregnant with me. My father and his 5 sisters were raised in this tiny home.

Mum had a huge falling out with her mother-in-law and left a few months before I was born to go live in this flat on the second story. To the best of my knowledge a chemist was on the main floor in those days. My father was the town clerk in the town of Midleton, Co. Cork.

I was a total handful at 3-1/2 when my brother was born so I was sent to live with my grandparents in the country for a while. The bones of the house still stand but it is much changed with the sprawl of development all around and the acreage where I went with granda to get the rabbits lost forever. The hedge at the front and the chickens in the yard and the long hawthorn hedge at the right hand side where Granny would dry the clothes is now just a memory. The road was also widened in front of it and an addition put on the house at the left. I have fond memories of Granda riding a bike home from work and bringing me sweets and many evenings out front with music and dancing on the flagstones. He was a strong Republican to the bone and a massive supporter of the Irish language and Sean nós.

This is the house (on the left) where 8 of us lived in one of the newest suburbs in Cork city. We moved there when I was 6. I remember moving day well. My mother lit a fire with cardboard and newspapers in one of the upstairs bedrooms but she was very sad leaving her sisters and friends. The city must have been terrifying for her. Dad had a good job at Cork County Council.

After I married I moved to Dublin where my husband was working (I lost my job upon marriage - the good old days) and we planned our emigration to Canada for many reasons of which I have written about. Here is where we lived in Dublin on the Rathmines Road, 2nd floor flat, with the turquoise (ha!) door. Shared kitchen, working fireplace in the one room, bathroom down the hall, 24/7 screaming baby on in the first floor flat.

And onward I went to a new life in Canada.

I have no regrets.

Friday, December 07, 2018


Without a good laugh at ourselves in life it can be very dull indeed.

I am still working on bringing this apartment into order, though basically it looks quite good (quirky, eccentric to others).

I was struck by this image the other night as I went into my bedroom. And I laughed. It is the bedroom of a teenage girl.

And I absolutely love it. I went mad on the aqua, obviously, but there's something about it that soothes me, oceanic in ambience maybe.

The bedroom is divided in 2. One half is my office/den - I'm still working on bringing more order and creativity to that side but it is highly functional and I can find everything. I will take a photo of that when all is to my satisfaction. My desk overlooks some gorgeous trees and brilliant skies and birds. And I still have room for a separate "ladies'" desk on one of the walls where I edit and revise my work.

The bed is very comfortable, Daughter had it custom made for me in the guest room in her house in Toronto so I am pleased it was never tossed. Double/queen/king beds take up an inordinate amount of room and this suits my downsizing splendidly. And it is massively comfortable. And if I am ever required to bed-share at my age I will be as surprised as you.

Do we all regress as we age I wonder?

The comfort of the girlhood bedroom offering newfound solace in the aging process?

But yeah, I'm happy with it.


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Words for Wednesday

Words for Wednesday are a weekly feature, this week hosted by: Drifting Through Life.

This week's words are:

1. noose*
2. moose*
3. soon*
4. omen*
5. shoe*
6. onion*


1. hourglass*
2. fireplace*
3. fragment*
4. paradise*
5. discussing*
6. wondering*

The moose grew and grew. He outgrew the leash so she had to fashion a type of noose for his daily walks. She kept her hourglass figure in shape that way. She enjoyed discussing the care and feeding of her moose with random strangers in the park who must have been wondering as they fled away. Onions, she shouted after them, and good leather shoes for his hooves!

There was paradise ahead. For soon he would be carved into scrumptious fragments and roasted on her fireplace spit just in time for the holidays.

Monday, December 03, 2018


A friend posted this on Facebook today and I thought to share it here, it is so beautiful and profound.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Or alternative title: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I have loads of good intentions. Like correspondence. Something that is now overwhelming me. Sometimes in a day even the texts on my mobile overwhelm me. Like I don't want to be rude and fly off a two word response, especially if others have taken the time to write an epistle, so I ignore. hoping for a massive power surge into my brain and fingers and well, that never happens so then I receive a plaintive You Okay? (or rather in text speak: U K? which can throw me wondering why the United Kingdom is part of some text quiz) which is a normal question launched to a non-responsive at my age. For we can drop suddenly. So then I have to answer and address the previous text too.

Emails are another story. Sometimes I receive lovely long ones from blog readers who have recently discovered me and write glowingly and sincerely. Now I could just simply thank them but I feel obligated to write something longer, after all they've made this effort and I'm mindful of common courtesy. But long finger is where that goes.

The perfect time never comes, of course. Today I was cleaning out my inbox. And I discovered some of these "good intentions" emails, lying forlornly and unanswered. I sound organized. "Cleaning out my inbox" when, in fact, it hasn't been fumigated in about 4 years.

Within the bowels were emails from two old lovers I hadn't bothered with either. As they depressed me. I re-read them, they were lists of health issues and the health issues of family members - distant ones even, ones I never met - and I knew why I hadn't responded, never one to get into I-can-top-that-itis in the medical ailment olympics enjoyed by many both near and far as they age. Plus I have difficulty in imagining once agile and creative lovers now prostate-prostrated. Call me callous, but gawdess, please leave me with rose-scented sheets and morning mimosas and full heads of delicious hair.

I'm finding also it's harder and harder to gobble up life when presented in big chunks. I could only attend only one of two sequential events last night. I chose a play rather than a launch of an acquaintance's book at the university. I'm at the age where I'm pacing myself. This came on me all too quickly and viciously.

This is the fog outside my window right now. Normally my view has a wee mountain with a tower at the top, a lake and a slice of ocean. I've always loved the obliteration of fog. More so as I age. I wonder why that is. Ha!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Words for Wednesday

I like this weekly event - courtesy of Elephant's Child. I'm managing to use all the words so far, so yay me :)

1. opera*
2. recommend*
3. champagne*
4. excitement*
5. sunshine*
6. jam*

1. dimension*
2. raid*
3. weed*
4. admiration*
5. corner*
6. employ*
Billy was taking her out to the opera. She was dizzy with excitement at the idea. Her admiration for him hadn’t abated since he was a senior to her junior in high school. If cornered she’d have said he was certainly a champagne to her beer – and sometimes weed – tastes. She hadn’t seen him in ten years and they’d recently hooked up on Facebook.

She was expecting a fresh and sophisticated dimension to her life. She raided her sister’s closet for the perfect dress, a yellow as bright as sunshine and the highest heels. He picked her up at her door dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that read “The Jam” showing psychedelic strawberries beating huge drums.

Oh, he said, I wouldn’t recommend what you’re wearing, you’re a bit over-dressed! I’m employed at The Opera, a heavy metal club, that’s where we’re going.

I’m the bouncer.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Beloved Poem

I had to learn this poem in school when I was around 14, and I fell in love. It's clung to me over the years and I find I say it quietly, internally, when I am confronted with great beauty or an unexpected delight. The tears spring to my eyes, happy tears, sad tears, mixed tears. Elephant's Child posted her beautiful Sunday Selections photographs and "my" poem, of course, came to mind and I thought to share it with her and now to share it with you too, my readers.

The poet, Patrick Pearse, was an Irish hero, teacher, writer, poet, rebel, fighter for Irish freedom, and wrote this poem in Kilmainham Gaol on the eve of his death by British firing squad for taking part in the 1916 Rebellion at the GPO in Dublin. He was 26 years old.

The Wayfarer

The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Snow in St. John's harbour.

She's early and it may be temporary. I had to cancel long made plans to stay overnight in the country. Daughter stayed last night as she had medical appointments running into late yesterday. She said her MRI at 8.15 PM at the hospital was a doddle. It was so quiet just the cleaning staff and a few others like herself and no waiting.

I told her I'd been unwell on Thursday so cancelled my Joanna who does the cleaning so therefore the kitchen floor wasn't up to Joanna's standards. Her response:

"When did we ever care about kitchen floors, mum, that's why we had dogs!"

"I raised you perfectly, darling," I responded.

So today, I'd been thinking about this blog post I'd written on a relationship I had at work years ago between a holocaust survivor and myself, at that point a practising RC. I thought it could be expanded and fictionalized into a play or a short story/novella, so I began working on that and was glad of the time that became available tonight.

There is snow outside and it is peaceful and quiet. A good time for writing.

I took a break and watched a muddle of a film, Certain Women trying to make sense of it. Couldn't. A waste of an extremely good cast with appalling continuity and much silent driving, often obviously on a set. Much horse action which was lovely and a galloping yippy dog, but all this did not a good movie make. Pointless drivel. Yeah, I'm harsh but I thought there might be a tiny payoff at the end but no sirree bob.

And oh yeah, our book made the front page of a local newspaper.

Friday night, chez Wisewebwoman.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Words for Wednesday on Tuesday

Words for Wednesday coming from Elephant's Child. I'm finding it a lot of fun.

Here are the words:

1. transparent*
2. solve*
3. theory*
4. loot*
5. take*
6. wing*

1. demonstrate*
2. graduate*
3. justify*
4. strain*
5. stain*
6. blackmail *

Here's my wee story using all the words:

He thought the blackmail was justified. She had been so transparent in her cheating at graduate school. He had solved the problematic wing theory only to discover she had looted his idea and then demonstrated, complete with viral strains and glass stains, his solution. He was going to enjoy taking her down. Publicly. He had the proof.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Little Victories

As y'all know, I take nothing for granted. Even surmounting in tiny ways my physical challenges.

The pot above is a bit of an achievement for me. I was talking of my spicy African peanut soup to someone last week and I thought to myself: I must pick up the ingredients. Next thought was: I can't stand that long on my legs, the pain will kill me.

Then I thought, what odds, give it the old bash. You need to surmount some of these physical challenges of cooking great stuff from scratch.

I took all that cooking and baking stuff for granted. As we do. Inject some health issue and we can be brought to reality quite quickly.

I tackled the recipe, chopping, peeling, slicing, but slowly. Using multiple cutting boards and resting in between.

And Lard Thunderin', as we say out here, look at the pot! All done. And note: this is a completely vegan recipe.

Now some of you will want the recipe and nothing is formalized and basically doesn't need to be but here goes, just a list, be sure to simmer the veggies lightly in oil first to give that added oomph:

Large can of pumpkin
1 can of coconut milk
Goodly amount of chopped up spinach, stems removed
1 or 2 yams/sweet potatoes depending on size.
1 large purple onion chopped
1 smallish red pepper chopped
1/2 of jar of pure peanut butter
A couple of cloves of chopped garlic
A smattering of finely chopped ginger and chili peppers
2 heaping teaspoons of good quality curry powder or enough to personal taste.
Use up all your saved veggie broth or buy a large container of same or use veggie cubes.
Add water to taste
Peanuts to decorate serving bowl.
Stir well at 30 minute intervals, I use a timer to remind me.
Use immersible blender when cooked to smooth out onions and yams - but not too fine, palatable chunky is good.

That's it.

I usually simmer it for a few hours.

If you try it let me know or suggest your own modifications, improvements. Or pass on a treasured recipe of your own.

We're all in this together!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Words for Wednesday

Courtesy of Elephant's Child, I thought I'd post the words for Wednesday:

1. peel
2. justify
3. wall
4. employee
5. temperature
6. roll

1. volume
2. revenge
3. fraud
4. explain
5. weak
6. vague

And then tell you the wee story I created using all the words:

She justified the skin peels even facing the wall of disapproval from her fellow employees who could barely contain their eye-rolls.

When she walked back into the office after her treatments the temperature became colder, the volume of discourse weakened as they all stared.

She didn’t think it necessary to explain how vaguely youthful she felt afterwards even though she knew the treatments were all a fraud.

But one of these days, she would exact her revenge. Just wait and see.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


I'm sometimes taken back to my own young womanhood and how I behaved around my elders. There were many elders. My mother had 3 sisters and two brothers, my father 5 sisters. I was lucky enough to have grandparents and for a while even a great-grandmother. Along with these there were great aunts and great uncles.

When I was a child the vast sea of such creatures seemed endless. Some were accorded more attention and respect from my parents than others. As a "sensitive" I was in tune with those signals. One great aunt was "tolerated" as she was "finicky" over food and a grand snob over manners and behaviours. She was my granny's youngest sibling and was "spoiled in her ways". My granny was salt of the earth and had no time for ideas above anyone's "station".

As a young woman, some had passed on but I spent a fair amount of time with all the sisters, there were 8 of them between my parents. I must dig out some photos soon and post some here. The few I could sit down with for any length of time had a joie de vivre, and had interests outside of hearth and home. I loved the history lessons and also loved how interested they were in me. What was I doing "outside" of myself. I would ask them questions about crafts and who they wrote to, and what they read, and who they played bridge or scrabble with. I felt hugely privileged if they asked me to come down and play cards or board games with their friends. It was a mighty "occasion" for me to sip the tea and sample the pastries and be included in the scrabble game and just listen to the rhythm of their chat as they covered so many topics: political, religious, business, arts and culture. People who were sometimes 50 years older than I was then. The big test of such occasions, my mother would say, is to see if you're asked back. The implication being if I wasn't it would be due to some unforgivable lapse of manners on my part. I'm glad to say I passed the test.

Which brings me to today. When I'm around the youngsters, and much as I want to, I avoid health broadcasts, my mobility limitations, the aches and pains of an elder, the medication competition. Is there anything more boring in life?

I was at a book launch yesterday by an older woman. She read excerpts from her work which were all fascinating, dealing with her life living amongst the Inuits and gaining the trust of the community.

I was totally thrilled to see a woman there I had lost touch with. She had assisted me in forming an elder racing moving group we had formed a few years back called The Honourable Stragglers. It turns out she was the sister of the author. I had to grin when she asked me if I was still racing and I said no, health challenges. And she grinned and said me too, don't we all, and we made a lunch date to get caught up on all our doings. She is certainly a mover and shaker so I am looking forward to it.

And it struck me that maybe my relevance is to my peer group. Maybe real freedom in old age is being myself with others of my generation as long as we are still doing "outside" of ourselves and to keep collecting them as the treasures they are, adding new as others move on.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Words for Wednesday on Thursday

Thanks to Elephant's Child for these weekly prompts that open up my imagination so well. I am pleased to say I was able to use all 12 words suggested.

Dear Harold
I am enclosing the final divorce agreement.
Your objections are serving no purpose.
I assure you once again I do not, and never will, care for this patch of land you’re jamming with diggers and trucks along with the neglect and gravity taking care of the outbuildings. Our joint holdings have to be sold. Potential purchasers are bent out of shape at the non-organic state of our yard.
Shame on you.
You are a textbook case of a mangled psychopath.
Your soon to be joyful ex-wife,

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Elder Excitement

Without Ramans's exclamation point :). This is a joint posting project by Ramana and myself. Here's the link to his post.

I had posited to him that the reason he read thrillers was to create excitement. Getting that adrenalin rush. To revisit that type of feeling we had as children and younger adults. What do we do and think and feel to create excitement as elders? Living in an independent senior complex as I do I get to observe elders intimately. Not much excitement is visible but there could be a lot of it behind closed doors, who knows?.

This all brings me, of course, to what excites me in my seventies?

I'll list them but not in any kind of order:

Music, always music
A good story
An excellent film
Designing a new knitting piece
One excellent photograph out of many that I took of a scene.
Stimulating conversation (last night at a friend's for instance)
Helpless laughter
A sunrise
A sunset
A roaring fire
Watching the birds soar and swoop as they're doing right now as I write this
My thriving African violets on my windowsill
Live theatre
Waking up pain-free
The open road
The crashing sea
Dogs, any dog.

And I am mindful of that old adage: Measure wealth not by what you have but by what you for which you would not take money.

This: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé 1987. Barcelona. Sublime.

Now tell me what gets you excited?

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Fired Up

I'm currently working on a fresh collection of my short stories which are not featured in Write Around the Bay. Many I wrote quite a while ago so they are rejuvenated to my eyes once again. A few I extracted from my blog and have worked diligently on perfecting them to the best I can achieve, many taking your comments into consideration as to how they can be improved. I thank you all for that.

I am fired up about this new collection (called Rock Salt or Embers of Time) and feel it has potential perhaps with a local publishing house, or maybe one that has a wider readership. Though I am under no illusion with regard to publication. I don't know what the secret is and often wonder at how some books get published that are so poorly written and edited with a count-the-cliches element running beneath the turgid prose. I read such one recently and persisted even though I wanted to toss it against the wall. A form of study, if you will, as to how writers/publishing houses get away with this. It failed dismally in the respecting of the reader philosophy I hold dear and the last two chapters particularly were persistent slaps in the face to that theory. A few clunkers: "hipbones protrude from my waistline" (huh?) "I watched her drop on to the sofa, a giraffe making an ungainly attempt to sit" (huh, again). And hundreds more of such appalling metaphors that yanked me from the story-line repeatedly. But I do learn from such reading adventures.

And then I feel a bit harsh and judgey. Because I know how hard the whole process is. How agonizing the editing can be. How every writer I know is fearful of readers' opinions. So creativity of any kind has to be nurtured and supported.

I am squirreled away at the moment, not answering bells and buzzers and tinkling phones. It's raining outside and I'm not taking it to heart.

I'm taking a break to blog before combing my blog once more for buried treasure ready to be edited and ironed and stroked.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


This story is a prompt from Words for Wednesday.

My father would have been 99 today. He should have been alive to see it. He took up cigar smoking rather late in life and enjoyed them far too much. He inhaled them. Yes, seriously. The lungs of an ox. He died 15 years ago from heart disease. I'd say caused by the smoking. But there's some that might dispute that. The man would walk a couple of miles a day and go for the long haul on the weekends. Healthy and hearty of appetite. A good grubber as we say in the parlance of my people.

He would find it hard to keep a straight face as two of his children (myself and my brother) would run marathons late in our lives. He thought it ridiculous. Me already a grandmother running my arse off around the city of Toronto. Why wouldn't we walk? How foolish was this?

He became belligerent about his latter day smoking. He would insist that fumes off the tailpipes of buses caused more lung cancer than his puffing away on his Maria Bendettis.

I wouldn’t let him smoke in my car when we travelled throughout the US and much to his chagrin I would descend to the role of persnickety parent with him:

“No one has smoked in my car, Da, so finish it before you get in.”

“What in God's name would one cigar do to a fumey old car? Are you mad?”

“No, but I will be very soon, get out of the car and finish that thing on the side of the road, or put it out.”

Saucy as a child, he would roll his eyes at me and there would be great heaving sighs and mutterings thrown my way as he angrily did what I asked, leaving behind him a heavy sullying of the interior air. No one likes being stranded on the side of the road in the middle of Pennsylvania. And he was against hitching as you'd never know what kind of axe murderer (or worse, he'd say, and I'd think, what's worse?) would pick you up and hack you into grains of sand. I would feel as if I'd caught one of my own teenagers smoking weed as I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel waiting for my oul fellah to do what I told him.

I find I'm getting to that age myself. Where my foolishnesses are ripe for daughterly admonitions (you're not driving all the way across the country BY YOURSELF? You're not eating SUGAR? Did you go out for your DAILY WALK?). I remember the dear old mother of a friend, post heart attack, ordering banquet burgers loaded with bacon and horrible greasy cheese and glaring at us in defiance as we sucked up our belaboured criticisms and let her at it.

It's a teetery old line we walk, much like funambulists, us seniors. Stranded halfway between rebellion and toeing the line.

Now I get it.

This true story has been slightly modified from my original post in 2011

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Letting Go, Moving On.

I've let go of a few ongoing commitments and involvements lately. I found so much of my time was sucked into reading the multiple different group chats, the organization of duties, the learning curve of new skills (in one case, hello sound engineering!) that there was no longer any enjoyment in any of it. I felt pressure and stress and my attention was scattered and completely unfocussed.

I also suffered from an ongoing resentment against myself for in my desire to keep stimulated and involved neither was happening.

Sometimes the need for evaluation of time spent needs to be thoroughly examined. Which I did.

As I age I am discovering that decisions need to be made quickly. How the hell do I know what time I have left?

So I dropped three outside involvements in my life. Without any regrets. And no agonizing. Clean, clear.

I'm now dedicating time to things that motivate me further, like my book launch tomorrow which is thrilling me no end as I put together a playlist for the background music, a draw for a free book, intros of the presenters and readers, my wee talk beforehand, the greeting of old friends, the chat, the gratitude, my own reading.

Orders are exceeding all expectations and we're going into a second printing and scheduling more signings around the city.

Life is good.

What's been your experiences with letting go and moving on?

Monday, October 22, 2018

For Your Pleasure

In my Tao meditation today I was encouraged to evaluate a tiny piece of thread.

Consider how it started its life. In a seed, in a cotton field, think about who harvested that cotton, who spun it into cones or on to reels. Who packed it for shipping. Where it sat on a store shelf. Think of its incredible journey to get to my basket.

We can do this with everything I suppose, especially when the 9-5 life no longer beckons and there is time to contemplate.

Doesn't life go backwards? The time for contemplation should be in the working years. However, I do remember a magnifying glass and a grain of sand when I was a wee girl, marvelling at how much was in that speck, the glitter, the colours, the texture.

For your pleasure (and mine) the following:

The finished chair. My apartment is coming together with these added colours.

I started a shawl for Grandgirl in her favourite colours. But I was completely taken by the yarn as it sat expectantly in this precious yarn bowl.

And last but not least, a beautiful shot of cliffs and sea (remnants of a now sedated Michael from a distant shore) outside my favourite beach, Middle Cove.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Words for Wednesday

Photo from:
Writing prompt from:

The Bench

He'd wanted desperately to put his hands over his ears and yell and shout. To stop the torrent of words pouring out of her mouth, overflowing on to every tissue in his body. But he didn't. He was too conscious of how childish this would look, how demeaning and pathetic.

Instead, he left her standing in the kitchen in mid-flow. His wife of fifty one years now.

He tried to sort out the words she'd used, to put them in some kind of order and perspective.

She used the word narcissist, she called him a narcissist. He'd have to look that up, it sounded like he was a flower of some kind. No ponce he. No sirree.

Then she yelled "hopeless sociopath". Him. A retired detective. As if.

But the clincher was when she said it was time for them to go their separate ways. It was time for some happiness for herself after all those years of fearful living with a monster. Meaning him. Again, as if. He knew monsters, he'd put them behind bars.

She wanting to sell the house and share the proceeds. Give her freedom. Freedom from what?

When he was the best husband and father a woman could even dream of.

Now he'd go home, his home, and talk some sense into her.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Nugget

Reflecting on so much this morning.

Many, many blogmates have such challenges at the moment. One wrote her last blog post. Heart-breaking. We had exchanged much over the years, she would send me Tennessee handmade soap Another, a pillar of elder-blogging, is facing a very finite life now after many treatments. Another's wife has been diagnosed with a serious cancer. I won't link to any of them for if you've been following them at all you'll know. And I respect their privacy at this time. I know that many of my long term blog-mates follow the same blogs as I.

All of this to say, I've lost a few dear blog mates over the years. One develops quite a history when you read each other's words. Often daily. And it focuses my mind very sharply as I head in that same direction myself. I am under no illusion of eternal life. Unless you count stardust which may not be as inanimate as we think. To dust we shall return has massive truth.

So the nugget?

Take absolutely nothing for granted.

Maybe that's the secret of life?

I look around within my own radius and even the tiniest things bring me joy. I don't take any of them for granted. In spite of whatever ails me - you know what I mean.
An African Violet that won't stop blooming
A chair seat cover that I just knitted - it needs to be blocked and finished but I totally love its Mexican flavour, it cheers my heart.
A turquoise wall panel that I managed to hang (it's in an awkward spot behind my immovable bed) and attach some meaningful cards to. I love how I can change the art around as the mood takes me.
And last but not least a shawlette I knitted for a friend in New York, a friend of nearly 52 years, we met on the last emigration liner leaving Ireland back in the distant days.

It really does fill the heart to look around - what do you see from where you're sitting, standing, lying? And do you take it/them for granted?

Saturday, October 06, 2018


I would be most grateful for feedback on this very short story that I have struggled with on and off for about two months. I think it finished now but am totally open to suggestions. I am hoping the point of it is clear or that some reflection on elder life is teased out of readers. It's a true story.


His middle-aged son brought the dogs for a visit every Wednesday afternoon, Scotch Terriers who looked just like the picture on the old Black and White Scotch whisky bottles. I’d be drawn to my second floor window by their ecstatic yips.

The old man would be at his open window on the ground floor, leaning out, waiting, calling them by name, Maud, Billy, over and over, his quavering voice filled with longing, his magnificent head of white hair streaked with traces of a youthful auburn. His son would hold each dog up in turn for him to pet with his crippled arthritic hands.

Someone told me they were like children to him after his wife died. He held on to the marital home until he was no longer able and his son then moved him into our no pets allowed independent senior living building five years ago. Word had it he signed over his house to his son with the understanding that he took care of the dogs and brought them to visit.

Last month he graduated from our building into one with a higher level of care. A couple of small trucks and a station wagon showed up with the whining dogs peering out the open window. Ten minutes later his son emerged from the building carrying a large suitcase. Next came the old man, tottering along on his walker, his extraordinary hair like an orange-streaked cloud at sunset. He was stooped over, reluctance in each uncertain footfall, losing more and more ground as he fell further behind his son.

But catching sight of the dogs he straightened with some effort and his eyes lit up, Maud, Billy! and they bounced out of the open car door to greet him, trying desperately to climb the walker to get at his face. His son folded the walker into the trunk as his father clung to the car door, looking up at my window. I saw tears lodging in all the folds of his face and I nodded, absorbing a little of his pain and fear.

As his son helped him into the back seat the dogs fell onto his lap in spasms of joy, his words were blurred and hoarse under the excitement of their yelping.

The station wagon moved away and was quickly out of sight. No one stands around outside to say goodbye to anyone leaving here. It’s like it’s contagious and no one’s been vaccinated.

The trucks immediately disgorged their drivers and the two men vanished into the building. Shortly afterwards, the windows to the apartment were thrown open and the accouterments of his left-behind-life were tossed onto the lawn.

Where are you taking all his stuff? asked Bertha, who patrols the grounds of our building like a border guard, all ninety years and ninety pounds of her. The men looked at each other then at her.

To the dump, lady, to the dump, one of them said impatiently. They loaded the two trucks with boxes of dishes, cheap shelving, metal tray tables, a saggy couch, an over-used easy chair, pantry items, an old mattress, a melamine headboard, sad linens, a wonky kitchen table with rusty kitchen chairs, photos in frames of weddings and children and soldiers, many albums, scrapbooks, magazines, an old console television and a stereo turntable, rickety bookcases, books, a giant bag of dog biscuits.

It took a week to air the place out for I heard the old fellow smoked like a chimney.

Professionals then came to dismantle and eject all the cabinetry and fixtures and cart it all away, some of it falling apart, missing knobs and drawer fronts.

A few days after that a pair of plumbers came. I could hear the hammering and the sound of things being torn apart, next I heard a clinking and clanging an hour or two later and looked down below and caught a glimpse of copper and for a few seconds thought it was the old man’s head protruding from the window.

But no,various lengths of copper piping were being passed slowly and carefully through the apartment window from one worker to the other.

They were then wrapped like treasure in flannel sheets before being reverently placed inside a van, to be auctioned off, no doubt, to the highest bidder.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

So - A Strange Story

The Magical Beach

At my age we have to be careful of the men in white coats brandishing strait jackets.

Especially when it comes to the unexplainables.

I verbalized an extraordinary occurrence to only three people.

The first dismissed me out of hand and changed the topic of conversation immediately and never got back to what I had experienced.

The second asked me quite seriously and with concern: Did you hear voices in your head?

The third nodded carefully and said: Oh, I totally get that.

So here goes:
I was on this spectacular beach on a gorgeous day sitting in my beach chair. A young man passed with his dog and we exchanged pleasantries. This youngish black dog looked me right in the eyes as he walked past, he was on a leash. Dogs do this with me sometimes as if desperate to communicate their thoughts.

The young man went a distance away on the sand, the tide was out. He began to train his dog. I am familiar with that having trained a few. All the commands obeyed were rewarded with tiny treats. He was good, the commands were simple, one word, clear. Memories flooded me. There is nothing like a quivering dog, rooted in a stay, waiting for a release. The joy shared by trainer and trainee is immeasurable.

I just couldn't stop the tears. I was alone so there was no one to see, feeling utterly sad, missing my Ansa so much, how she loved the beach, how we frolicked, she was a great paddler but hated swimming. And paddle she did once she saw water with this wonderful grin on her face. Sometimes tears can hurt right down to the toes. They did for me that day.

A large perfect feather wafted down onto my lap and I held it to my cheek and stopped crying. And clearly I immediately sensed I could walk the beach, an impossible challenge.

So holding the feather I got up off the beach chair and walked and walked without pain and then turned around and walked back to the chair. An unimaginable feat. I held the feather for a while and then carefully inserted it into my camera bag for safe keeping and walked a little more, I came back to the camera bag and the feather had vanished. I searched high and low everywhere within quite a radius, no feather.

I had the strongest message again that the feather was merely a temporary sign of greater things to come, to stop hunting. To be still.

Which I did.

Three days later, I was having breakfast with my guest-friend in my local diner when I looked up and standing there in front of me was a person I love dearly but who has been long absent from my life for many, many years. We both burst into tears. This reunion has been exploding with joy ever since. In ways I could never have imagined. This remarkable event is now all connected to the dog, Ansa, the tears and the feather in my mind.

Coincidence? Well yes, says my reality check.

But something else? Well, perhaps yes. Though I am far from being a woo-woo person.

But this whole experience?


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Blog Jam

May Sarton:
"Solitude is a way of waiting for the inaudible and the invisible to make itself felt. Solitude is never static and never hopeless."

Embers of Time.
These last fragile moments,
These burned out coals
Hold no flame now.
But I blow upon their
Dusty pink ashes
And a tiny flicker wavers
Long enough to spark
A memory of fire
To warm me briefly
In the uncertain light.
WWW 09/30/18

Does the inner life grow richer, more fearless as we age?
We have more time for reflection and creativity even if it resides only in our inner.
Do we keep these strange thoughts, these rich inner happenings to ourselves?
Do these griefs and joys and inexplicables remain forever under lock and key?

Monday, September 24, 2018


We all get them, n'est pas?

I was feeling "off" yesterday and a few health issue challenges threw themselves at me. A good reminder of the fallibility of the aging body. I find this was succeeded by floating anxieties which pop over the parapet and remind me of poverty, forgetfulness, who do I think I ams, and a kind of general malaise of why botherism.

Cheer deserts me, every perceived slight is taken to a deeply personal level and scrutinized carefully for even more hidden pinpricks of disdain or contempt.

Are you still with me? Can anyone relate?

I try and counter all this with my daily dose of Tao.

Today it was to scrutinize all the tiny physical things around me and reflect on their origins, transitions and possible 100 year decay far into the future and way beyond my lifetime.

Then I focus on what I see: the glorious sunshine, startling greens, transcendent blues outside my window, my blackboard of writing projects.
What I hear:: silence, the flapping of the flag against the pole outside, the odd birdcall
What I touch: the keyboard now, lastly the knitting of a shawlette that I had to rip out as my pattern didn't work. A gift.
What I smell: some wonderful incense, a healing scent, to lift the spirit.
What I learn: Trying so desperately not to let my new phone (the old one was whimpering and finally died) frustrate and defeat me in a challenging learning curve of swiping, shaking, touching what I shouldn't touch, installing endless apps, promptly forgetting the new system protocols, digging for accounts and passwords and finding I am an inpatient whiny mess after about 15 minutes of this. Not helped at all by losing all historical texts (essential in the case of my friend with dementia challenges) and having wires crossed in my contact list - now sorted.

Living in Tao I am not. Though I try.

Friday, September 21, 2018


I spotted this ship Amadea curled up to St.John's Harbour yesterday and just had to look her up.

Here she is in Wikipedia.

I wouldn't mind one of the two Royal Suites. You could have the other one.

She has a crew of nearly 300. More crew than the passengers and she cost $150,000,000 when first built.

I wouldn't mind sailing to Greenland on her. That would be my type of cruise. And I like to believe she's small enough not to do much damage to the environment.

Here's her schedule. Expensive.

From my rusty Latin, Amadea would mean love of the goddess or goddess love.

Ships and trains fascinate me. Always have. I see one like this and I want to board her and see where she takes me.

I apparently can at Harbour Symphony Time where one year the Amadea was part of the annual symphony, a meticulously planned sound event, conducted digitally and all boats in the harbour participate. Best heard from a distance. But magical nevertheless.

PS Isn't our harbour beautiful even on a mauzy day?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

On the Go

Another shot of Eastport, some day I will write about an extraordinary experience I had there.

I keep planning a no-do day with PJs, books and knitting on the go. But no dice. Not happening. Today was a good one I thought, just a phone call with a distant friend booked for 11.30 and then the rest of the day to moi. Not to be. Joanna, my cleaning genius, called and said she was "doing" me today and her car was banjaxed so I had to pick her up (dressed for that, nothing worse than tempting fate with a bad accident). Joanna is the boss when it comes to cleaning my place. She is at a bargain basement rate and shovels me out and keeps me reasonably civilized. Left to my own devices I can't tell you the condition this place would be in.

So I'll briefly list what's on the go here:

(1)I've created a strange androgynous alter ego (Pat Picco) who's making a series of interview type podcasts with off the wall others. More on that later. I've had to work very hard in talking out of the left side of my mouth and lowering my voice to create this persona and sound tests are tomorrow. Her first interview will be with me and another knitter discussing the mathematics and other elements of knitting. Other interviews lined up will be with a naval architect and another with practitioners of a Philippine martial arts (kali, escrima, arnis) who come from opposite sides of the globe and met accidentally at a brainstorming session I was at. More on that and links when up and running.

(2)The long overdue anthology has been published!! Yay! This is the collection of the short stories, essays and poems that came out of my writing workshops. It will be launched formally next month followed by a book tour.

(3)I'm on the Board of Directors of a feminist theatre which supports women playwrights, directors and actors and is putting together a new season of great plays and a grand gala in November.

(4)I'm working on a collection of my own short stories and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I have enough for a book. I'm enjoying the process of super-editing and culling.

This is all keeping my life full beyond measure but exciting and enriching and stimulating too. I believe I'm the elder (by far) of every space I'm in but hell, I feel so much gratitude and sheer old-fashioned lucky for this privilege.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Returning Home

Today was one of those days of laundry and catching up with my St. John's Life. And exhaustion.

I've taken on two long road trips this past summer and maybe that wasn't so wise of me. A lot of driving.

However, the other side of me thinks this is a good thing, to still be semi-active, not as much as I'd like, of course, but savouring the sweetness of life. Particularly beautiful Newfoundland. I never tire of the scenery and here are a few samples:
The Architecture of Trinity

I spotted this man painting his extraordinary shed, more delicious architecture, again in Trinity, I was desperately trying to get that can of paint on the ground in the picture:

We stayed in Eastport also, the beach was breathtaking, my friend is a speck in the distance in this picture and she's going to enlarge it and put it on her bedroom wall.

And finally, Salvage. An artist's paradise.

The great news is that I am newly inspired, freshly minted in fact, with many wonderful events and projects about to unfold. More on that later.

Once I catch my breath.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

We Count Blessings

A dear friend has come to stay, one with her own health challenges.

We are heading off today to points northish.

A Grand Tour.

Of Trinity
Of Twillingate
Of Fogo.
Of Eastport.

Much theatre is scattered in there. And if we can manage wee hikes we will do so. Sticks and stones.

Weather is spectacular today. But we pack books to read. And an excellent coffee.

I have found her visit here so far has been about blessings, good fortune and contentment.

I will post when I return.

Write amongst each other for now.