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?