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.


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*
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:

frizzy hair*
hot air*

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


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


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.

Push the penny
Xs and Os

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.