Friday, May 17, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Friday 5/15/19

This weeks WFW are hosted by Elephant's Child and they have a different twist in that participants are provided with two photographs and encouraged to weave an imaginary spell on them and see what comes through the pen. Go visit her blog to see what else is magicked and or participate.



An air of foreboding and neglect and disregard surrounded it like a cloud. There was no car to lend it any humanity. The grounds were overgrown and the nearby hills were encroaching stealthily with fingers of heather and gorse and marsh grasses. But the house was solid, made of beautiful stone with rich tiles and solid chimneys on the roof.

Erla watched it from her father's car, craning her neck around until it fell out of sight, drawn to it, fascinated, when he picked her up for his visitation rights on weekends and took her to his condo in town.

She recited an incantation on the first day of summer school holidays and then quickly packed a balanced lunch in her witch's knapsack. Mother let her feed herself - having the delivery man stock up the fridge when Erla left a long list on it, covering all the basic food groups which she had learned from the internet. Mother lived on cigarettes and bourbon, Erla did not like ingesting either although in commiseration she had tried.

Finally Erla, 9 year old warrior, was ready and dutifully left a note for Mother, who probably wouldn't get up until twilight, and hiked the five miles rapidly, approaching the building from across the heather, fearless as always.

As she neared the house, she observed the two tenants of the place on guard. One inside the house, the other vigilant to any approaches on the outside, with that odd dish of magic green stones at his feet.

"Merlin!" she called, "Trilby!"

They looked at her, then at each other. Trilby disappeared inside and then emerged from the cellar steps outside while Merlin approached her.

"Erla!" miaowed Trilby, who was far more talkative than the haughty Merlin, "We were waiting for you! We are running low on the kibble and the canned food is but a distant dream - that lack of opposing thumbs business! Not to mention those unopenable packets of fishy treats!"

"My dear!" purred Merlin, sliding his luscious fur around her bare legs,"We are fading away to skeletons, absolute skeletons!"

And Erla had to laugh, as around her she could see carcasses of field mice and some unfortunate birds. While the two tenants could stand to lose a pound or two each.

"Okay, my friends," she said, chuckling, picking up Trilby who put his paws around her neck,"Let's take stock of the situation in your pantry and I'll manage it from there. But no more bird murders, OK?"









Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cabin John

I was out with a bunch of women today. Having lunch. Tossing around ideas about seniors and poverty and challenges of women raising children not thinking about their future finances. Etcetera.

And then the talk turned unexpectedly - as it can - to "stalking" by men.

And unsurprisingly all of us had been stalked.

(And coincidentally, I am reading a book about stalking in Northern Ireland called "Milkman". Recommend.....anyway.)

So we shared stalking stories.

And no, they're not funny. They are alarming. And ugly. And terrifying. And can be fatal as we all know.

So one of the younger women shared an experience she had with Cabin John, this guy who had lived in the city and then moved out to live permanently in his cabin. Cabins here are not what you would think they are. They are often better than the houses in the city and quite lavish.

On some pretext he had gotten her cell number and then proceeded to text her suggestive messages. Telling her of dreaming about her, sending her heart emoticons, he couldn't stop thinking about her. This was all around 5 years ago.

So she checked him out on Facebook and lo and behold she found him. And his wife. Happily grinning at each other. So she told him never to contact her again or she'd call the police.

A few of the other women nodded, word had gotten around about Cabin John, pervy, older, short, fat, unattractive, they said.

Why don't I know him? I asked - I used to live in that town!

I saw you having coffee with him a few weeks ago, one said.

What? I asked, you can't be serious!

And then the penny dropped.

My dear friend John. He and his wife are friends of many, many years.

And I felt sick to my stomach. I had seen him only a few days before.

And I was still numb with shock hours later.

I have no interest in ever seeing him again. Ever.

We just never know the dark secrets of others' souls, do we? I feel enormous loss, and anger, and absolute disgust. And fooled. We have shared much over the years and now I question all of that too, his basic dishonesty. One thing about him had alerted me though. He had always protested when men were called out on bad behaviour and bleat "not all men" and I've known deep down that that is a sure sign of predation. All decent men call out predators too and support women. And some of his FB posts were sorta anti-women, kinda sexual. And then one time he had threatened his wife in front of me. ("I will kill you if you ever fool around on me!") and I put it down to unfunny, jokey "teasing". Amazing what we can overlook, I feel guilty about that. Crazy woman-guilt based on nothing.

But I know him now for who he is and it is ugly. And part of me is brokenhearted at my own gullibility and previous bemused tolerance, and the loss of what I thought would be a long term friendship.

Names are changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Slump

Yeah, I was in one. A pileup. You know what I'm talking about.

A feeling of being overwhelmed.

A planned road trip for Daughter and Grandgirl and self to see her graduate from U of T grad school, a huge achievement, wearing me down, even the very thought of it.

Too many medications switches (JFC this blood pressure thing is a nightmare, effecting my kidneys, my outlook, my sanity) to even count. And I won't go on with that, medi-bores are just that and I bore myself.

Uncertainty.

Others' expectations.

I dreaded the talk with D & G.

But I bit the bullet, appropriately, on Mother's Day. I kept thinking I was making too much of my physical challenges, but boy, believe me, some days are absolute shyte and they are utterly unpredictable. And being away from my bubble, this perfect little apartment with doctors on call and friends around, intimidated me with the what-ifs. Plus moving attention away from my darling girl with sick old granny lurking somewhere in her apartment surrounded by pills and drenched in fear. I know, I exaggerate, but you get the drift of the way I was feeling. When I have bad days I practise massive avoidance of people and things and events. It's easy. But not on the road or Somewhere Else.

So I threw on the Big Girl Knickers and at the end of our lovely brunch yesterday told D I could not make the trip and talked of my fears and pain and medical crap. And all I got back was love and concern and D saying when G gets here we will do a small trip around the island and just hang out for a lovely two days, stress free. And that made me cry.

And then I told G on the phone late that night and she was absolutely fine too, more concerned about me than herself and her Big Achievement and Grandma being there.

And I felt loved and valued. And behold, arose out of my slump today and was reborn again.

Safe and secure and looking ahead again rather than behind me, mourning legs and abilities and well behaved blood and driving forever and barreling around Toronto like I used to.

Deslumped, we might say.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

All Mothers' Day


All Mothers' Day
______________________

Mothers who never were.

Mothers who lost.

Mothers estranged.

Mothers avoided.

Dead Mothers.

Mothers in Dementia.

Mothers in other countries.

Mothers who died in youth.

Mothers abused and battered.

Mothers in addiction.

Mothers in war zones.

Mothers in prison.

Mothers who are pimped.

Mothers who adopt and foster.

Mothers who were adopted.

Mothers in brutal institutions never to see their babies.

Mothers who are brokenhearted.

We reflect and hold them tight.

For it's not all flowers and chocolate.

Ever.


(Drawing by Ana Juan in the New Yorker)




Friday, May 10, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Friday 5/8/19

This month's Words for Wednesday are brought to us by Elephant's Child who always has something unusual to offer. Please go visit her and read the entries and participate yourself (with a link to your blog post).


This week's prompts are familiar phrases:




Sun over the yardarm

And/ or


Going commando


The old navy captain was a crashing bore, ninety if he was a day. He had joined Sunshine Resthaven Retirement home on the coast six weeks ago after his wife died and it had got to the point where the other forty nine residents would disappear quietly if they saw him in the halls or in the gardens but the mornings were different. They felt stuck like butterflies in a display case as their beds were being made and their rooms tidied up by the maids.

They'd all lie around the pool, somnolent, comfy in their morning naps, waiting for the lunch bell, and he'd bluster into this sacrosanct of areas, complete in his navy whites, his cap at a rakish angle.

"Wot, wot," he'd shout, in his faux British accent, "Sun over the yardarm yet me navvies?" and he'd salute them all smartly, clicking his heels,"Do I have to tell you what the yardarm is yet again?" And then he'd rub his hands and explain its origin. How the expression originated in the north Atlantic (of which he knew every wave, every squall) where the sun would rise above the upper mast spars - yards to those in the know - of the square sailed ships around 11 a.m. 'Aforenoon', he'd clarify, coinciding with the 'stand easy'command he'd issue to his officers who would then go below and enjoy their first rum tot of the day.

This would all be said in his loud clipped accent, much like a grade school teacher enforcing some difficult lesson on truculent ten year olds. And they were sick and tired of it all.

Bernice particularly. Today she decided to do something about this brazen daily intrusion on to their morning quiet time.

"So tell me, Captain," she looked up from her chaise, her hand sheltering her eyes from the sun,"I hear tell you all went commando on those ships of yours? Is that true?"

"Harumph!" and he reddened visibly, "Wot, wot?"

"Surely you know what commando is? I thought sailors practised it all the time? Tell us about it!"

"Of course, of course!" He coughed once more,"They did exactly what I told them! I was always in what you call commando! You have to be when you are running a tight ship like mine. The navvies have to be responsive, if I say jump, they jump, bend over, they......."

And at this, Bernice and the rest of them fell about laughing so hard, they began to weep leaving the Captain puzzled, then embarrassed and then in high dudgeon, marching off back into the main building to the continued accompaniment of uncontrollable hoots, hollers and thigh slapping.




Saturday, May 04, 2019

Aging Women Seniors - Thoughts Assemblage.

I'm sorting out my thoughts here for a few reasons.

We are putting together an advisory board and seeking (a) funding and (b) forming a charitable entity if successful and (c) then lobbying the governments, both federally and provincially to supplement the meager financial support afforded this marginalized segment of the population.

Our mission - and by "our" I mean another senior woman and myself - is to remove the stigma from senior women and to restore them to a dignity of living and self-respect. Far too many senior women live in poverty and we have many seniors in Newfoundland, a number which increases every year. In 2017 it numbered 108,182 in a population of 500,000. Well over 25%. Of these approximately 65% are women: 70,300. It is difficult to get an estimate of how many of these are living below the poverty level (Category 2) and how many are retired (Category 1) from government, teaching and nursing which affords them a reasonable pension.

Total number of food bank users number 28,063 and of these 23.4% are seniors-6566 and applying the same percentage of women that would be 4,268 elderly women resorting to food banks.

And an aside: To give you an idea of how normalized a foodbank is here in Newfoundland our premier, Dwight Ball, presented the keys to a new one to the head of the foodbank when the old one burned down, grinning like a fool when he should have been covered in shame. The disconnect of the privileged wealthy politicians from abysmal poverty is rampant everywhere.

We live in a country of universal health care, thank heavens, but I'll tell you what's not covered for us Category 2 seniors (but usually covered by decent private supplemental healthcare policies for Category 1).

Dental Services of any kind
Eye examinations
Spectacles
Walkers
Canes
Expensive batteries of health devices like meters
Podiatry for diabetics
Hearing aids

And of course it takes no rocket scientist to calculate that the lack of funds for such standard items contributes to injuries (poor sight, falls) feet infections (diabetic amputations) absence of teeth (nutritional deficiencies) costing the health care system far more with hospitalizations. And of course addiction to drugs and alcohol as a mechanism of coping with these stresses is fairly rampant as well if my own observations bear me out.

The elderly have been further stigmatized by society and treated as charity cases when they complain about their impoverished and deprived existence. Living on approximately $19,200 annually, rent in many cases is 30-40% (at 35% $6,720) of this and often higher leaving very little for power and heat, insurance, clothing and self-care, essential communication and entertainment services which are exorbitant here, food, eating out once a week, little gifts for family, etc. Having transportation of any kind (car payment, insurance, maintenance, gas)squeezes 50% out of the remaining $1000 per month which leaves $500 for EVERYTHING else including food. And if I hear one more time "give up the car!" in a province with no public transit system outside of the city I will scream loud and long. Every penny is counted and many of us are forced to work in our seventies, often in ill-health ourselves. Just to barely make ends meet. I know greeters at Walmart and baristas at Tim Horton's and home care workers well into their seventies, being cheerful and pretending it's not about poverty.

Measuring senior poverty by standard poverty levels is not using the proper criteria in that many are disabled and can no longer self-care and have no desire to be warehoused in nightmare institutions and need additional income to support the barest modicum of dignified living.

And of course, many of us are too exhausted and disillusioned and and dispirited to even think of engaging in any kind of activism to change the status quo.

And I am grateful, so grateful, I met a kindred spirit who joins me in this protest. And it's not about us two, but for all senior women penalized for raising children with no monetary value placed on this in their earning years, and if they did work, it was often at 66% of what men earned thus accruing far less in the pension funds, if there was such a benefit in those days - most of my positions had no pension. And every cent of my pay cheque was spoken for as a single mother with two kids. So please, don't talk about "savings."

I am very interested in your thoughts on this.




Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Words for Wednesday - May 1st, 2019

Happy May Day everyone. This month's Words for Wednesday are hosted by Elephant's Child. Thank you EC! Please go visit her and either participate or enjoy the many different offerings and creative writing afforded by those who join in.

The week's words are:
Scuttle*
Rapper*
Drop*
Machine*
Flowery*
Button*



And/ or

Cashback"
Tipping*
Pizza*
Energy*
Unsubstantiated*
Clear*


Everything was fun and laughter until Button threw that weird rapper "Flowery Machine" on the I-Pod and then the sounds of police cars and rhyming curses and expletives reverberated through the Bose speakers and rippled off the walls and scuttled any semblance of camaraderie and their informal 5 year college reunion.

"Oh shit! Drop kick Button! Cut the noise!" screamed Maddie, bouncing to her feet and marching over to the stereo system and unplugging it.

"I'll have you know," said Button and not nicely,"Flowery Machine is a very good friend of mine and his music is gaining traction on radio stations, do I make myself clear?" He glared at Maddie and plugged in the system once more.

The friendly energy of friendships renewed in Button's large living room was destroyed, the seven of them mouthing the word "music?" incredulously at each other, regretting they had agreed to let him host this event knowing his weirdness and proclivity for annoying bands in the past.

Over the sound of Flowery Machine, Brent heard the doorbell ring and used the opportunity to turn down the volume as he passed by the sound system.

"Pizza!" he yelled at the others, gathering the cash back Domino coupons they had assembled, collecting their contributions. Maddie jumped up to help in carrying the four pizza boxes from the door.

"You didn't forget tipping I hope?" she said.

"No," said Brent, "Ten bucks for the driver. But seriously, speaking of tipping, if anyone deserves tipping over a....."

And here he stopped as he became aware of the sudden silence. The other five had surrounded Button, waving the plug of the infernal machine in his face.

"Your critique of my good friend, Flowery Machine, is unsubstantiated," Button protested,"You have no taste obviously."

"Listen buddy," said Brent,"I think we can put it to a vote here and now. This is the very last reunion you will host. And the very last time we listen to what you call music."

As Brent passed pizza slices around, Button sat off to the side red-faced and offended.

"We need to get you drunk," said Maddie who had always been the peacemaker,"Drunk and passed out quietly in a corner so we can have a decent catch-up with each other."

And they all laughed and whooped, breaking the tension.

And finally Button joined in, pouring himself another beer.






Thursday, April 25, 2019

Words for Wednesday on a Thursday 4/25/19

Mimi is hosting this month's Words for Wednesday. You can visit her here and join in the fun. Or just read what others are doing.

This week's words are:


introduce*
bawdy*
insidious*
outgoing*
laborer*
polite*

and/or

hall*
conscious*
ad hoc*
sign*
yarn*
share*

Note trigger warning to those that are sensitive to darkness in a story.

The Committee met on the first Saturday of every month in the Great Hall of the Judiciary. It had started as an ad hoc committee but gradually, over the years, it had evolved into an annual election of Committee members selected from the survivors in the town.

Five of them sat on the bench, facing the petitioners. This month there were four, a male laborer of about 40, an outgoing male hippy type of 60,and a bawdy, brassy, blonde stereotype of a middle aged woman, long past her prime, and a timid, polite, young woman in her twenties.

It never failed to amaze her, the deciding vote as Chief Justice, as she sat on the uncomfortable bench overlooking the petitioners - that it took all kinds presenting themselves here every month in good conscience, seeking help, sharing their personal yarns all seeking the same result. To be chosen.

And one only could be chosen. The questioning was intense, for no word of this process could ever emerge out to the world at large. Yes, no doubt it was insidious, but all signs of what they did had to be invisible and the manner in which they did it. A vote would be taken once all stories were presented and the winner decided.

"So," she said clearly to the first petitioner,"Introduce yourself and tell us your life story, omitting nothing, swearing all present to secrecy, outlining at the end why you wish to die and what method you would wish us to utilize?"









Friday, April 19, 2019

Change Part 2

See Part 1 here.

I have a kitchen and it's not so much that it's tiny but that it's poorly designed. I have had smaller kitchens that have worked so efficiently - well laid out, everything reasonably within reach, all my appliances comfortably at hand. This one drove me bonkers from Day 1. No room for a dishwasher - seriously. I've had one for most of my adult life and this was a downer of a flaw. I investigated a multitude of possibilities, under sink, drawer, above sink, one tenant has one she would slide out from her pantry and wheel it over to the sink to do the job and gave up as her strength was failing with the heavy pushing. So I bit the bullet and hand wash nightly and make it a meditative process, reviewing my day, planning for tomorrow.

I'm good at re-invisioning space. I wanted to eat more at home as I was relying far too much on unhealthy takeout and restaurants. My processor, old and heavy was too heavy to lift up out of the bottom cupboards and there was no counter space, ditto my Kitchen Aid. I redesigned the space on paper and went shopping for a wee island with shelves underneath. Solid, heavy, wood, on wheels. For over a year I've been looking. The cost of any quality was beyond my budget. The FB local and buy and sell had many flimsies.

Then, to my heart stopping delight, this one popped up in the local FB market place. Solid as a rock, beautiful wood, heavy and wait for it, $60. I called immediately. Rhonda was in the middle of a kitchen design and this island no longer fitted into her plans. I told her I was a senior and wouldn't mind paying for delivery. Now don't you bother, she said, I will bring it over this minute to you, you will love it.

And she did and refused to take delivery money. And gave me another set of wheels that were bigger, brand new, if I wanted to change the wheels out. It was unused looking, polished and gleaming. I'm in love with this thing. (To give you an idea of the pantry size, it runs the entire length behind it. And is inadequately shelved to add to design fail.)

And this island? It has made a huge difference to my life. My heavy small appliances sit on it with their parts on one of the shelves. I have a long extension cord in the drawer for plugging them in. And guys, I ate all my meals at home this week. Healthy, sensible meals. Things like Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, chicken curry salad, Asian noodles with shrimp. I shifted away from gluten completely,and sugar and crispy things and gravy, all the leaden stuff. I'm on 1200 calories a day as my mobility challenges affect my physicality. I am hoping that will improve.

I put my processor to work with shredding, my Kitchen Aid on mixing and I'm on a roll. I don't feel deprived, in fact I feel reborn.

Amazing what a tiny re-design can do.

I will post recipes if anyone wants. I haven't eaten this healthy since marathon training and it feels good.

And more on this later.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Words for Wednesday 4/17/19

Mimi is hosting this month's Words for Wednesday. You can visit her here and join in the fun. Or just read what others are doing.



Words for this week are:



abounding*
sloppy*
quince*
spiritual*
toothpaste*
cent*

and/or

debonair*
blind*
instrument*
bouncy*
horn*
decision*

The quince crop was excellent this year. He'd have to dig out Granny's old recipe book, come to think of it: wasn't there an abundance of 20 recipes outlining "what to do with quince in your spare time" in her collection?

His debonair self, always perfectly groomed, belied his small farmer aspirations. His partner Joe, on the other hand, was sloppy and bouncy and out of all the gentler musical instruments he could have aspired to, he played the horn: loudly and early in the morning, saying it helped their chickens in egg-laying decisions. Nonsensical of course, but Joe had this spiritual bent also and was blind to criticisms. He'd flash that toothpaste commercial smile and say that and a cent will buy me a coffee.

He was easy to love, was Joe. Now to get him to help with the quince jams, jellies, relishes and pies. All set then for the farmers' market on Saturday. And Joe would blow his horn and attract the customers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Change


Isn't life all about change though?

Then why do we never anticipate it, never allow for it, resist it, complain about it, why me dear lord it, and battle it?

My life has been full of changes. I won't pollyanna it by saying they were all good.

Everything I had to let go of had claw marks all over it.

Marriage, for ever and ever amen partnerships, addictions, moving, moving again and again. Daughter estranging herself. Love gone sour. Friendships tanking. Jobs not working out. Children. Babies starting school. Grandchildren growing up and adulting right before my eyes.

I could make lists and lists upon lists.

What brought this on?

Good question: as those professional lying speakers and politicians say (along with "we're taking this very seriously" when you know they're not at all)

Changing my diet, my life plan, my comfort eating, my foodie status. Growing up yet again.

Three days into it.

Radical change. Huge claw marks awaiting peaceful and accepting transition.

More on this later.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Processor

I'm talking my brain. I've always read quickly but I think I need to slow down. I grab words with the eyes, think about them for a while, realize they don't make sense and go back and re-read again and think: whoa Nelly!

The other day my eyes grabbed: "Decorating Engineers" off a page.

And there was a wonderful few seconds when I thought: What a great idea, they're usually so dull and drab looking, we could up the ante here and throw on some sparkly bits, hang some loud earrings, dye their hair purple, hang a tambourine off an arm, maybe some lovely tap-dancing shoes.

Then I evacuated the reverie and re-read the bit: "Designating engineers". Ah, sad. But hey! my brain going off in unexpected directions can be delightful.

Ear worms now take longer to leave me. I had two days solid of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". This will be my funeral dirge. A kind of vengeance on those in attendance. Give them all an ear worm for a couple of days. Remember me!

Caution: Ear worm alert: Play this at your peril.




Friday, April 12, 2019

On Crows

Outside my mini-office window a pair of crows are nesting. I'll have to buy peanuts for them. They are birds I've long admired for their intelligence and myriad ways of communicating. If you enbiggen you can see the crow awaiting her tour of duty on the eggs on the wire on the left.

It is said they have the intelligence of a 7 year old human.

In the past I've watched them negotiate traffic lights and, imitating seagulls, drop crustaceans from a great height in order to smash them.

And I had an extraordinary experience once where about 5 km from my home I killed a crow in my car. I felt awful, pulled over to the side of the road, looked at the lovely rainbow-on-black wings and was glad it was dead because if it was in pain I don't know what I would have done.

The following morning I woke up to this terrible cawing and screeching and looked out my bedroom window to see all these crows congregated on the trees in my garden. I went outside in my pajamas and I was close to tears. I told them I was sorry. And begged forgiveness. And as sure as I'm typing this, they settled down but continued to glare at me. They knew my car, they knew where I lived. It truly freaked me out. I remember Ansa looking up at them and literally skulking back into the house. The shame of her companion murdering a crow and now having a murder of crows circling our house. I have no doubt she knew what they were saying as she had been a witness in my car to the dastardly act.

In honour of their cleverness, I love this National Geographic snippet of crows trained to pick up and dispose of garbage.



And I'll leave you with this witty cartoon:


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Words for Wednesday - April 10th, 2019

Mimi is hosting this month's Words for Wednesday. You can visit her here and join in the fun. Or just read what others are doing. I found this week a challenge but I reflected on a book I'm reading at the moment called "The Boat People" - a very moving story about refugees coming to Canada and I thought, oh those words would fit that experience, so here we are.




Words for this week are:

gaze*
dogs*
brave*
decisive*
wrench*
tempt*

and/or

bad*
shake*
scribble*
flower*
afternoon*
camp*


The detention camp was rough, but no rougher than the rickety boat they had sailed on or the filthy holding pen from their last port. Built for 200, holding 500 in cargo and on deck. A shaking, rumbling, diesel-soaked voyage from Sri Lanka, Her broken English picked up a few words from the immigration officers, brave, bad weather, miracle, satellite. They'd been fed and showered and given fresh clothes and were now awaiting processing after their documents had been turned over.

She'd been allowed to keep her pencil and sketch pad. And she gazed about her now in the afternoon light pouring in from the high windows, tempted to sketch those around her, her fellow refugees, the officers, the welcoming Canadians she'd seen outside the fence with flowers and banners when they came off the boat, tattered, broken, starving, dirty; they, the very precious few, had survived the dogs of war.

No, she was freshly decisive, no drawing, I need to scribble as fast as I can before these memories are wrenched from me, I must write, write. I must think of my brothers, my parents. Did they survive? Did they suffer? Her throat filled, her eyes closed.

"Miss?" the voice was in her own language. A young woman stood in front of her reaching down to touch her shoulder gently. "I'm your emigration lawyer sponsored by the Canadian Refugee Service. Come with me please for your first interview. Welcome to Canada!"

Monday, April 08, 2019

Dis 'N Dat

I totally spoke too soon on the BP miracle med. Ha! My BP has normal readings but hell, the side effects of this tiny dose of Beta Blocker are dreadful. Cement head with dizziness and the effect on my legs with existing PVD condition is awful, my legs now feel like lead AND I want to sleep ALL the time because I am so irritable if I don't because I'm exhausted. I consulted Dr. Google on this med and its effect on PVD are not good plus it has mental effects. My doc had said I may want to see him this week without specifying why. Now I know. So my exhilaration was brief. Now back to the drawing board.

When awake for this 10% of my life, I struggled with a hook on my bathroom wall that would not come off:
So I posted this challenge on FB and readers jumped to the rescue asking for more pictures:
And offering many suggestions on removal:


I needed to put a shelving unit there - now removed from my bedroom closet as I have my old semainier in my bedroom. The hook was blocking its fitting exactly into that wall space.

I don't know about you but I really, really hate when plans are thrown by the "small stuff" obstacles thrown in my path.

So none of the suggestions worked.

My friend Marg appeared at my door a couple of hours ago, all brisk and business like and said show me that effin hook. Long story short as I passed her many tools from my tool box like a surgeon's assistant (I know you're surprised I have a tool box, so was she - and impressed I might add) and she had Effin off the wall in no time.

The damage is minuscule, it looks far worse in the picture. And the shelving unit hides it.

So in my tiny fractious-for-now world, order is restored once more. I wish my brain and legs would agree.




Friday, April 05, 2019

Meanwhile

Do you find it hard to stay focused?

I'm finding it worsening as I age.

There is just so much to be done, thought about, planned, executed and accomplished that it can be overwhelming.

I got into a political skirmish on FB yesterday and I became enraged at the injustice of it all. I am aware that it is merely my opinion and others disagree but I find it hard to walk away and just LET IT GO.

Meanwhile, this steals precious time away from other matters that I can actually do something about. Like the new senior women's advocacy group we are forming and tax season - did I mention tax season? - where I still have some clients (not many) to keep my hand (brain) in and a few extra coins in the coffers.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I see my new young doctor and honestly, he is sorting out my elevated blood pressure like no tomorrow. He put me on a 1/2 a beta blocker and I'm already seeing the difference though side effects are a slight headache and exhaustion. I rarely if ever get headaches so this leads me into thinking some people suffer so much from them and I am so lucky.

Meanwhile, my dear friend with dementia has had enormous trouble with her power of attorney as it has been executed behind her back and the executor put his name on the title to her house. So she was all panicked and called me (she has no other friend she trusts) and I had her write down a plan, she was remarkably clear-headed, and then the following day her brain was all jumbled again and it was like the 2 hours of the day before that we had on the phone held no meaning for her at all, they had evaporated. So I've had to walk away, I have no room for this in my brain. And I live over 3,000 KM away. So I just metaphorically bless her texts to me that tell me everything is OK now with no specifics and LET IT GO.

I wrote a 5-parter about her here

So I'm going to get a lot more selfish with my time. Practise loving detachment in all my endeavours, go stupid on political engagement and accomplish what is in my reasonable grasp. Good plan, right?

We'll see how all this unfolds.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Words for Wednesday April 4, 2019

This month's Weekly Words for Wednesday is being hosted by Messy Mimi. Please check her out and all the participants' take on the words. Thank you Mimi.

Words for Wednesday

sustenance*
booth*
street*
hint*
syrup*
drab*

and/or

older*
cardboard*
wounded*
front*
empty*
astonished*


The Recipe

The booth rental was cheap, only five dollars for the whole day of the June fair, six weeks away. She ladled out the change, coin by coin, from her small leather purse directly into the mayor's hand. She was slowing down, turned seventy five last November, she knew that, but she quickly calculated that if she sold 80 bottles of her special syrup at 50 cents a piece she would be thirty five dollars to the good. That would see her through the cold northern winter.

She gathered her drab, once pale blue now grey, dimity dress in one hand as she stepped carefully on to the boardwalk bounding the street outside the town office, avoiding a boy with a hoop and a mother with a high baby carriage. Horses were tethered to the railings outside the small tea room and carriages were pulling in front of the Blagg's General Store across the street. She glanced through the window of the tea room and saw it was empty and without thinking, went in and sat down at one of the perfect round little tables.

Mr. Partridge came over from behind the counter, rubbing his hands, quickly concealing his astonishment.

"Miss Winterton! Well I do declare! To what do I owe this enormous pleasure?"

"I need a little sustenance," Miss Winterton said briskly, she'd never lost her school marm ways and had taught Eddie Partridge, "I was conducting some business at the town office. I shall have a booth once more at the June fair."

"Why, I'm thinking you will be again offering your recipe presented so beautifully in that special bottle in its very own cardboard box? The older I get, even if I just get a hint of that lovely taste I am well near enraptured!" and Mr. Partridge clasped his hands together most charmingly.

He waved payment for the cup of tea and biscuit away as he laid it gently on the table.

"Now, dear lady, you must put 5 bottles of your recipe away for me. Don't even think of selling your complete stock. Put them aside I beseech you!"

Miss Winterton nodded, sipping her tea, nibbling her biscuit. Perhaps she should think about expanding her production.

The only trouble was, in this dry town, so many took to drinking her syrup during the June fair and within a very short while, baffling as it was, this resulted in confrontations and misbehavior and even, heavens, some fighting and wounds being inflicted.

But why worry, Alice, she admonished herself, this has nothing to do with you.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Age Distortion


I remember reading a book a long time ago by a psychiatrist. I was really into personal development and improvement then. I gave that up a long time ago when I realized my own journey is unique and can't be based on any guru blowing off about his or her life experience and encouraging others to follow in the same footsteps. Well no, that would be merely a distraction. I follow my own path, read Tao in the mornings and reject or embrace any suggestions.

But I digress. That book I read was summarized as follows:

Why do we all behave as if we have 200 years to live?

For of course we don't. And we delude ourselves constantly.

For instance: Middle aged?

Most put middle age as between 50 and 60 and even higher.

But the average lifespan in Canada is 82.30 years. (US is only 78)

So truly middle age is 41 in Canada and only 39 in the US.

Imagine those turning 40 announcing they are now middle-aged!

So what is old age?

Most of my friends died between the ages of 52 and 70. From various causes. So let's say the average age of death in my circle (and I believe it was wider than 'normal') is 61, depending on the number of friends one has it could be higher. (So their middle age was 30+ )

So old age, to me, generously, would be anything over the 3 score and 10 meaning 70+.

Extreme old age would be 80+.

I have 4-1/2 years to get there, if I do. And I bear in mind disability and other challenges happen out of the blue. Three people I know now have dementia in different stages.

So what am I going to do with these last bits 53 months of my one wild and precious old age life?

What are you doing?

I assume here that my readers are all past middle age - meaning over 40. And many, like myself, have health challenges.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Mating Game

You can tell us apart. Us 70+ (or even 60+) women. On one side we are distinguished by our grey hair, our absence of makeup, our short unpolished nails, our sensible shoes, our jeans and sweatshirts.

On the other side (not me but I have some friends who are) are the well burnished flirty specimens, the no-fooling-anyone reddish auburn blondish permed hair, blue eye makeup, orange matte makeup, painted eyebrows, prickly mascara, whoa - there's a whole lot of effort involved. I am in awe of it and please don't think for a second I mock it.

These women fall apart when there's a single man or two in the room. The whole tenor of social interaction changes as if a switch has been pulled. Now that, I have a hard time with. I am embarrassed for them. I feel men are ripped off too. They see these women simpering and posing and oh-my-ing and they think, I'm sure, that these are representative of women as a whole. And unfortunately these are the women who appeal as mates. All intelligent conversation ceases and at that stage, I for one make excuses and leave.

I love the freedom this age gives me. I love that I can chat to men of any age as if they are as human and intelligent and sentient as I am and we can have coffee or a meal without any batting of eyes or hidden agendas. I resigned from the mating game a long, long time ago. I have never felt more me in my life. Not performing to any expectation of others. Authentic. Real to myself.

I was looking at an acquaintance on FB the other day who has been on the hunt, so to speak, for as long as I've known her. She must have gone through 5 or 6 potential partners after being widowed twice and finally found The One and they have a diamond and she has a sparkly red dress and new blonde hair and long ruby nails and a look of such triumph as she gazes upwards into his eyes and I am glad for her that all that high maintenance was worth it for however long she has left as she is a wee bit older than I.

What now? I silently ask her. Will it be happily ever after? Was it worth it?

PS Image is from the Drew Carey Show.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Words for Wednesday 3/27/19

Thanks to Delores for hosting March's words for Wednesday. Go visit her at Muted Mumblings and see what others have done. I was a little stumped at the one word offered this week but then realized where my imagination could land in the end.

My story is in 3 parts.

See Part 1 here

See Part 2 here

This is the final installment.

One word: TELEVISION


Sherry was on her second cup of coffee by the time Patsy showed up, taking her hat off as she came through the door, unbuttoning her police jacket, greeting Ben the barista by name and asking him for the usual.

She wasted no time.

"I was a victim myself," she told Sherry,"And I'm a cop. I was too ashamed to bring this to my superiors at work. But dammit, the fellow's good isn't he?"

Ben brought an espresso over along with a biscotti.

Sherry nodded, relief flooding her. She was not alone. She didn't feel quite so stupid now that it had happened to a cop.

"I'm wondering," said Patsy, "How many more victims are out there? And what can we do to stop this guy? Did you ever see his place? Ride in his car? Know where he worked?"

"It's weird, I didn't. He said he was in transition, between jobs, living on investments, selling his condo..."

"Right," Patsy dipped her biscotti in the espresso, thoughtful, "And he hated his photo being taken, said it was a childhood issue or something, though he did show me his ID when we first met... at the bank.."

"Me too," said Sherry, laughing in spite of herself, "At the bank, chatting casually about going away to France on business, changing some money...back in a week... said he'd like to get together for coffee when he returned....

Patsy gaped at her and then burst out laughing too. "Great story, huh? Me too!"

"Oh, that reminde me" said Sherry, "Another thing. I was waiting there to see the bank manager and Peter was leaving and turned to look at the clock and I snapped a photo of him on my cellphone..." and she took it out of her purse and swiped it and then passed it over to Patsy.

"Oh, well done," said Patsy nodding as she looked at the picture, "Very well done! Now we can plaster this all over media, television included. We will catch this bastard and warn other women, thanks to you!"

"And this," said Sherry, clinking her coffee cup against Patsy's, "Could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"







Monday, March 25, 2019

Impatiently Exhausted.

I've had a busy few days. Go go kind of thing that my younger self would have snorted at.

I'm taking the day off apart from filling the semainier (the last piece of furniture I ever refinished back in the day) that Daughter had for many a year and which had no business living in my rural home. In the way of travelling furniture and bookcases and chairs in our family, Daughter had no use for it and before she donated it I said I had a wee wall for it as an open arrangement I had in my closet was NOT working out. So there we are. Or here I am. You will note the 7 drawers: (from where the word semainier got its name) a week's worth of clothes. I have been partially Kondo-ized a little so now I fold a la Marie. Apart from the appearance of the drawers which pleases me no end, I can find things instantly.

I was reading another May Sarton, as an older writer she can't be beaten.

I can accept my exhaustion after a couple of intense activity days when I read this:

In me "there were two distinct entities at war. There was a hortatory and impatient person who was irritated by her lethargic twin, that one who had to be prodded awake and commanded like a doddering ancient servant."

Exactly. Bloody marvelous. I'm off for a nap now.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dis 'N Dat

I love looking at others' shopping carts. Not the big piled up ones, mind you, no, the smaller, tidy ones that look like they cater to a single household like my own as we all line up obediently in the 15 items or less aisle, ready to glare at anyone over the 15 limit who joins us. We're never at the self-checkout as we all agree that we will save the jobs of those who check us out. True or not, we believe it. (You'll note I've already made us a club unto ourselves).

The woman ahead of me yesterday was an elder runner (ER), you know the type, stringy, silver crop cut, spandexed in discreet stripes, layered for all seasons, expensive running shoes, headband for show. (Great quote from the guy behind me chatting on his mobile: The very worst thing about running 5k is the endless compulsion to talk about it ad nauseum.)

ER Cart: Good yogurt (Chatting, I told her it was easy to make your own at 1/10 the price), a bunch of daffodils, a small package of basmati rice, 8 large scallops, a mini-tray of stir fry veg, a small bottle of expensive pomegranate juice, muesli mix, a small mixed fruit tray, a gigantic bag of potato chips, a dark chocolate bar, small tub of spumoni icecream.

Mine:Yellow begonias in a yellow pot (a gift for mein hostess) a cooked ham (ditto), 2 dozen eggs, fruit tray, a ham and cheese sandwich, a humongous bottle of diet fizzy lemonade (I know, I know, I swore off the stuff and I'm back on it like a doorway drunk) a jar of marmalade for Daughter, croissants (see doorway drunk above), cheese, smoked salmon.

Guess who's NOT running.

I let the guy behind me go ahead as he only had a frozen pizza, medium, he was pudgy so I figured it was a solitary, lonely eat. He surgically removed his cell phone briefly to thank me.

The checkout woman/girl is one I like. Her name is Sammi-Jo with a hyphen and her hair is down to her waist, tied back. She looks like a born again, I keep waiting for her to evangelize and baptize the bunch of us 15 or lessers. She's consistently cheerful and totally pleasant and maybe it's just me but I always hope think that people like her will have an unexpected catastrophic public meltdown and cross over to the dark side. Even for a day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Words for Wednesday - Continuation - 3/20/19

Ah, it's that time of the week again. And thanks to Muted Mumblings for hosting Words for Wednesday for the month of March 2019. Please visit her to see who else is taking part. I find these words great for the imagination.

This is a continuation of the story I wrote last week. See Part 1 of the story here.


These are the words for this week:

blasted*, withered*, derelict*, broken*, chained*, and ground*
and/or
fresh*, growing*, alive*, active*, hope,* and dreams*.


Trapped in her car, Sherry looked up fearfully at Redhead as she passed over her driver's licence and insurance with shaking hands.

"You might as well chain me inside a prison cell," she whispered, her voice failing her, "kick me to the ground...."

"Well," Redhead drawled, "Aren't we full of self-pity? Seems like some loser guy blasted the hell out of you...."

"Peter Vanderhoof," Sherry gulped,"Broke his promises, took all my savings, left me derelict...."

"Who did you say?" Redhead said, her face transforming from angry cop to sympathy in a flash.

"Peter Vanderhoof," Sherry stopped crying, surprised at the cop's reaction.

"Tall, blonde, fortyish?" Redhead asked in a withering voice, glancing down at the licence. Sherry nodded. "Oh my, Ms. Sherry MacDonald, you need to exit this car of yours right now."

Sherry, trembling, got out of the car. Redhead held out her hand for the keys.

"We're going to call you a cab. And you're going to meet me at Jasper's Cafe in 15 minutes. I'm going to say you were sick rather than drunk. You have a chance for a fresh start here. A chance to come alive again."

Sherry's head spun. She obediently fumbled her mobile out of her purse, Redhead took it and called a cab.

"My name is Patsy Kline, and don't start with that song Crazy or you'll kill any hope of redemption tonight." And she laughed.

Sherry waited and watched as a cab pulled up beside them, not daring to say a word.

"My dream has been to catch that wretched crook predator scumbag Peter. And you've re-activated that old file for me. Do I have a story to tell you at Jasper's!"

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Talk

To me, the greatest bonus to suiting up and showing up are the unexpected delight of what ensues. My talk went extraordinarily well. I was so pleased. The audience was warm and receptive and laughed in all the right places and really listened judging by the thoughtful questions proffered afterward over the scrumptious tea, sammies and pastries.

I made a new friend - a woman who was in attendance where her fame preceded her to such an extent I had long admired her from afar - we chatted about that, making contemporary new friends in old age, and also about our activism for seniors and elder rights. She is an absolute power house, lithe, tech savvy, chair on many boards, daily workout at the gym, and at 82 is now my own personal goddess. And oh yes, she goes to her daughter's home in West Cork every summer where they are renovating a decrepit 14 bedroom old mansion. Seriously. She called me yesterday and asked me to join her family table at the swishy St. Patrick's Day dinner here but cripes didn't I have another commitment. You'd think I was a social butterfly but in reality my outings are really thin on the ground and when invitations clash I have to laugh. A rarity indeed.

I was presented with this book at the event:

And then a book was left at my door today, a book I had never heard of:

And now we're at the meat and gravy of this post. My talk which is on Soundcloud for you to listen to if you are so inclined. I had to omit so much of my life but tried to keep it relevant to the "roots" of basically losing myself and then finding myself.

(Minor irritant - and sadly so frequent at any performance these days - are those intrusive mobile phones ringing.)

Here's the link.





Thursday, March 14, 2019

Words for Wednesday on Thursday 3/13/19

One of the interesting things about this Words for Wednesday adventure is that I have made new blog buddies and get introduced to previously unheard of blogs. March's Words are hosted by Mumblings who classifies herself as a retired lunatic which instantly appeals to me. I've been in the club of "Misfits & Lunatics" since I was born and I always feel at home when I locate more of my tribe.

Her words this week are:

despair*
frizzy hair*
hot air*
impair*
repair*
midair*

You will note they rhyme, so let's see what I can do.

It was the last straw. Truly. She had just pulled out of the parking lot when next thing, behind her, was the flashing light of the police car. She slowly pulled over, panicked. How many glasses of wine? How could the cop tell? She wasn't impaired for God's sake, she was heartbroken.

This, this idiot cop, was now going to shove her further into despair. She turned off the motor, waiting, closing one eye to catch her reflection in the rear view mirror, dear God the rain had pushed her hair over the top into an even more outlandish frizz, she turned the heater up so that the hot air would dry off the sweat and tears and raindrops and snot from her face. She fumbled with her lipstick and tried desperately to repair the smear across her lips where Gordon had tried to plant a farewell kiss, the bastard.

She rolled down her window, her hand shaking and looked slowly up at the tall, grim copper, a red headed giant of a woman who looked as if she ran a chain gang on the side just for fun.

"Okay now," said Redhead, leaning down confidentially, elbows on the window sill, sniffing the air as if to tell the vintage of all that wine, "Tell me I was imagining things when I saw you launch this car clear into midair as you left that parking lot?"


Saturday, March 09, 2019

Speech!


I do wonder why I say "yes" sometimes. It sounds fabulous at the time, can you do such and such, can you speak, can you perform, can you sing, we'd like you to......

The immediate reaction of course is self-flattery, a complacence almost (ahem, seriously, I'm that good!) followed by terror, self flagellation, endless streams of internal criticism, fear, anxiety, a search for a believable bailout of the commitment and on it goes.

Oddly enough I don't have the same kind of fear when speaking about my personal addiction recovery journey, reading from my work, singing in my now shaky tenor voice or performing a set piece.

But this latest is a talk on my life, my journey from Ireland to Canada and my own life lessons, highlights and struggles and darkness, until finding myself and my long buried spirit on the Edge of the Atlantic in Newfoundland.

To reflect on my life is an interesting journey when it comes to an audience. I can be funny, but not forced funny, it usually happens spontaneously. So much has to do with the audience. I can always "feel" a room or a hall or a theatre. Warmth, chill, approval, judgement. I remember speaking once to a hall full of men, middle aged men. They all sat with their arms folded across their chests, waiting, watchful, grim, as I faltered and stuttered in the arctic atmosphere. I remember speaking to a crowd who loved me from the moment I said hello and howled and applauded at every word I uttered while I glowed and plumbed a wit I wasn't aware was in me. And all in between.

And yes, I'm preserving my anonymity on the poster though I know a few of my readers know my full name. So today I am working on the speech and along the way someone will record me and maybe, if it's anyway decent, I'll put it on here on a podcast.

And yes, it's a thrill, to be given a chance to share my life story from a completely different angle, so to speak.

Meanwhile throw the odd kind thought my way.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Words for Wednesday March 7, 2019

This month is being hosted by Delores at Muted Mumblings. Go visit her to participate or just read what others have written.

The word - and it is only one this week - is Time.

Measuring the Parenthesis

We live in the parenthesis of time.

Between the

Time we are born.
and the
Time we die.

And the parenthesis is all that matters.

And we never know the parenthesis, truly.

Because our beginnings are shrouded in fog and instinct,

Remembered by others now long dead.

And then Death moves unexpectedly for its moment with us,

Remembered by others still living.

So no one writes our full parenthesis.

Not even ourselves.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Rejuvenation

I am glad I have the opportunity to hang around the littles. 14, 6 and 3. I've always loved games and introduced the two youngest to a game of "dots" last night.

We've all gotten so sophisticated with our games on Ipads, etc., now that we lose touch with those hand drawn games loved by us elders in childhood. There were many in those days.

Hangman
Battleship
Push the penny
Xs and Os
Dots.

Does anyone remember these?

We had a marvellous time, the children were totally involved, counting their filled boxes carefully, perfecting their initials within the boxes, being kind to the 2 "losers" (their mother and I) by actually giving us boxes as we were so far behind them.

Then, because I had a pencil in my hand I showed off and did this, I would do these, and similar others, in school when I was bored and later colour them in.


We all need to get in touch with our inner child once in a while.


Friday, March 01, 2019

The Art in the Ordinary

I am often struck by how everyday objects, blink and you miss them, can stop me in my track sometimes. How colours and shapes can pop and take on new meaning.

The whale on my shower curtain (gift from Daughter) holding the boat, the bright purple shower cap, the ceramic viking ship (another gift), the towel, the shampoo and facecloth can all blend in a watery harmony.

An artist I have long admired, Mary Pratt, did this so extraordinarily well. Coincidentally, she lived not too far from me when I had my house in rural Newfoundland.

Go have a look at her extraordinary work and celebrate the ordinary.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Words for Wednesday 2/27/19

This past month's Words have been hosted by River at Drifting Through Life.
Thank you River!
Go visit her to see what others are doing with the words. And join in. I often feel I can do nothing around these words and next thing a story evolves taking me by surprise.

This week's words are:

1. passport*
2. movies*
3. puffed*
4. complete*
5. transport*
6. bleach*

and/or:

1. avenue*
2. helicopter*
3. fair*
4. clearly*
5. foolishness*
6. ability*


The transport truck dropped her off at the Clarenville turnoff, 250 kilometers from home. Right by Bleach Avenue which had a Tim Horton's and a McDonald's opposite the intersection.

McDonald's then. She shrunk down a little and ordered the kid's meal. It came with a toy helicopter and she carefully put it into her knapsack. The woman behind the counter was giving her a bit of stinkeye. As if she had some kind of weird ability to see her insides. Oh no, here she came around the counter and now she was leaning over the table.

"Are you okay, duckie?" she said, "I don't know you from around these parts. To be fair, this is clearly none of my business, but I get the feeling there's a bit of foolishness going on here?"

Stupid nosy woman, puffed up with her own importance. Why did running away look so completely easy in the movies? A passport to freedom, getting away from everything, those awful bullies, that horrible school, her stressed out mother, her crying little brother.

As the woman stared her eyes didn't look so hard anymore, but now, oh no, she felt her own flooding with tears. And next thing, embarrassing as all get out, the woman had her arms around her rocking her a little.

"It's okay, duckie," she said into her hair, "I have a daughter your age. I can read trouble from two miles away. Now give me your parents' number and we'll call them. Everything will be fine. You wait and see."


Friday, February 22, 2019

My Three Sheilas


Sheila (alternatively spelled Shelagh and Sheelagh) is a common feminine given name, derived from the Irish name Síle, which is believed to be a Gaelic form of Cecilia.
Word/name: Latin Cecilia, via Gaelic Síle
Related names: Cecilia


And a unique Australian definition (apropos of nothing):
Sheila — Australian slang for "woman", is derived from the Irish girls' name Síle (IPA: [ʃiːlʲə], anglicised Sheila).

I have 3 Sheilas in my life. Which when you think about it is extraordinary. Friends are thin on the ground at my age. And the fact that I moved to Newfoundland when I was 60 (I'm now 75) didn't bode too well, one would think, for new friendships. But these comparatively newish friends are very important to me.

They don't know each other. One is in her fifties, one in her sixties and one is in her seventies.

They are all as different as chalk and cheese.

The oldest Sheila makes me laugh until I am just about sick. We tell each other the most astounding stories from our youth, stuff we've never shared with anyone, ever, and we fall down, howling, thigh slapping, snorting, catching our breath. We share a very highly developed sense of the ridiculous and an art for self-deprecation.

The middle Sheila has been a friend since I moved here. We have traveled a lot together, gone to Ireland together, nurture each other, commiserate with each other. The other night over dinner she said earnestly to me: "You know if anything ever happens to you I'd visit you no matter where you were, right?" And I know she would. She brings me soup and hash and I know she'd feed me no matter what my condition. But it was a lovely thing to say and I will treasure it because sometimes we wonder, right? Who's gonna visit when we are drooling and incontinent and mindless. Well, I have one. Signed up in advance.

Baby Sheila I have known for a while. She was one of those instant friends. It happens so rarely. To me, anyway. Did you ever meet someone and you just know instantly? It's happened to me a few times and unfortunately they are all dead now. This time maybe she has a chance of outliving me. I have fun with her. She has a great understanding of aging, living with her 90+ dad and like me, comes from a dysfunction junction of a family of origin. And she's great at pointing out the assets and not the liabilities of life.

Picture above is one I have as my wallpaper. I was hoping to make it into a card, like I do, but the words weren't coming. What words come to you, if any?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Words for Wednesday 2/20/19

This month's Words for Wednesday are hosted by River at Drifting through life. Go visit her to enjoy how others are using the words and take part if you wish. It's fun.

1. bathroom*
2. parasol*
3. furniture*
4. duck*
5. phone*
6. puzzle*

and/or:

1. wade*
2. grim*
3. barge*
4. sporadic*
5. pizza*
6. burial*


Aunt Rose was old, yes, but they hadn't expected her to die in such an embarrassing way. And far too soon. A painting she was working on in her studio unfinished on the easel. And poor thing, there she was, stuck behind the toilet in the tiny bathroom, unable to get up, her trusty hand-painted cane underneath her, one wrist broken, her legs twisted at an awkward angle. A wretched ending, Jane thought, blinking tears back, easing the lump from her throat, huddled into her raincoat at the grave site.

She left her niece Jane and her nephew Clive to share a sizable estate, land, house, furniture, jewelry. Clive's visits to their aunt were sporadic at best, though Rose tried to drive out there every week and share a pizza or lasagna with her and would also phone her every Wednesday morning. Still, she had lain there for about 5 days before she was found by her gardener.

It was raining heavily in the graveyard, Clive ducked under Jane's parasol. Not a great day for a burial, she thought, watching the undertakers lower the casket.

"Oops," said Clive,"Isn't that the cop who interviewed everyone after she was found? What a grim bastard. Barging in here, on top of our grief."

Jane had never liked her cousin Clive. A history of bankruptcies and drugs and divorces. Grief? she thought. He'd always mocked the old lady. Borrowed from her, mooched food and lodging periodically from her. Aunt Rose had cut him off about a month ago.

Inspector Barnes waded his way slowly across wet graves and mucky paths and stood in front of them both.

"There was a puzzle," he said without preamble, "A real puzzle we've now solved."

Clive pushed himself closer to Jane as she tried to pull away.

"We had your aunt's cane in for analysis."

They waited.

"And that poor woman, as she lay dying," and here the inspector looked sharply at Clive,"Took a pencil out of her pocket and guess what she wrote in tiny print on that cane?"

Clive abruptly pushed Jane to the ground, grabbed her umbrella and hit Barnes in the face with it and took off down the hill to the graveyard entrance where two constables emerged from behind the gate pillars and slammed him against the wall and handcuffed him.

"Well," said Jane to Inspector Barnes as he pulled her to her feet,"Good for Aunt Rose. Clever woman."

And she threw a long look at the handsome inspector who still had her hands in his and then he slowly dropped them without removing his gaze from hers.

"I'll need to interview you again," he said, "At your convenience."

And, ah yes, maybe there was another gift from Aunt Rose waiting to be unwrapped.
.






Saturday, February 16, 2019

Dementia and Alzheimer's and Nuns

I remember that Time article about nuns and Alzheimer's published in 2001. Clearly. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall now so I can't access but if you're interested and a subscriber you can go ahead and do so. Nuns had not only generously co-operated with studies on these brain diseases but also donated their bodies, postmortem, to science in selfless efforts to assist further research. I remember the autopsies showed that even though advanced degradation of brain cells due to Alzheimer's had occurred in these nuns, other segments of their brains had taken over complex functions like needlework and crossword puzzles thus keeping the Alzheimer's unnoticed by those around them. The personalities of the nuns had much to do with their abilities in later years (90+). Many of them had kept journals from their teenage years exhibiting a positivism about life and a thirst for learning.

I did find a similar article in the New York Times but it's not as detailed as the Time essay - and I am relying on - ahem! - my memory about the original article.

Excerpt:
At 93, Sister Nicolette Welter still reads avidly, recently finishing a biography of Bishop James Patrick Shannon. She knits, crochets, plays rousing card games and, until a recent fall, was walking several miles a day with no cane or walker.

I was driven to write this by a visit to an old friend yesterday who is in a third level care home. She is 93 and until the last year or so was taking care of herself in her own home. Reading and playing complex card games and knitting sweaters for her pensioner sons. Then one of her sons died. And the family hadn't told her he was dying. And this shoved her over the edge into mental disarray which has remained.

My grandmother, then in her seventies, was similarly afflicted when my mother died. Within a short period she retreated to an alternative world where Mum was still with us and Granny, our darling granny, never surfaced again.

My aunt, a bridge playing, golfing entrepreneur in her nineties, vanished into her own bottomless dark hole when her youngest child died at 49.

As to my friend, she is like a skeleton in a wheelchair, her caustic P&V with which we were all familiar has vanished, replaced by this gaunt shell with haunted eyes and no memory of us, her former familiars, but a clear memory of her dead son visiting her yesterday.

An unknown percentage of these "long goodbye" diseases is down to circumstances surely? None of those nuns lost a child and I wonder if this has a huge bearing on our emotional and mental abilities in our later years. As I have witnessed, heartbreakingly, first hand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Words for Wednesday - February 13, 2019



River is hosting February's Words for Wednesday. Please go visit her and see what others are doing with the prompts and maybe, just maybe, participating yourself.

This week's words are:

1. shutdown*
2. wreck*
3. hairclip*
4. marked*
5. old school*
6. brewery*

and/or:

1. release*
2. hell-no!*
3. cherrie*
4. insignificant*
5. coffee*
6. almost*

The lighthouse stood sullen and glowering for it had seen far too many shipwrecks over the centuries to look upon life with any joy.
From its perch on the promontory its painted colours of white and cherry red stripes flared in bands around it.
As dusk fell, it seemed to rouse itself, as if being released from a shutdown, a hell-no! rousing from its depths. The light at its summit blasted forth, blazing to insignificance the granite on which it stood, beaming fiercely across the savage rocks and waters far below.
"As I'm on nightshift," said Tom, one of the two lightkeepers in the house beside it,"I'll have another coffee to get me through the night."
"Well, I'm going to have one of those artisan beers, or two, from that new brewery before I go to bed," said Amy. Sweeping her hair up in a hairclip, she strode to the fridge, took the beer, and snapping the top off the bottle, almost downed the whole thing in one long swallow. Tom watched her as he sipped his coffee, his wife, his lightkeeper partner out on the edge of nowhere. He was old school enough to long for the days of his father's time when women knew their place and would never drink alone.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Dreams

I find dreams can be so revealing of the subconscious. I am really good at analyzing them, I took a short course a few years ago and found that I could analyze other dreams while being baffled at my own at times.

I had this dream last night. Briefly:

A friend of mine in Toronto has this nightmare of a house, she is a hoarder and it's packed to the rafters with stuff. You don't need details - it's all just stuff. Pathways are laid out in the rooms to navigate through the garbage. Her bed's accessed by crawling across boxes. The stairs to the basement is jammed with newspapers and magazines. The window on her door is covered with a garbage bag. And this was when we were allowed in. For the last twenty+ years I'd say no one has entered Hilda's (pseudonym) house. So I imagine it is far worse now. It's a huge concern. We had cleaned her out a few times in the past but it was all in vain, she refused to get psychological help, she accumulated more rubbish and excess was poured into her car so that she could never take passengers. A typical out of control hoarder. I wrote about her here.

Anyway, last night I dreamed of her. Sitting in a tidy house. Surrounded by mannequins in various costumes, elderly clothes, lounging around on the chairs and sofas in her much expanded living room - she had bricked in the front door.

I questioned her as to what she was doing, there were at least 5 of these faux humans, heads down reading, as was she.

"Oh," she said, "Finally, everything is taken care of, see? My friends and I are really happy together. We read to each other."

I had absolutely no trouble analyzing this dream. Dreams are nearly always about ourselves. Very personal.

I realized:

(1) I am isolating far too much.

(2) I have been indoors since last Thursday and the weather has been beautiful

(3) My door to new experiences has been blocked.

(4) My imaginative life is now greater than my reality.

(5) I need to bring some flexibility in to my life. I am getting rigid.

So, I'm heading out today. To interact with some children I know.

It's far too easy to get locked in place.