Thursday, May 30, 2019

When Life Gets Busy....

As life is wont to do now and again.

I go to my local beach.

Today I brought lunch and knitting.

Morning was busy and so was afternoon.

Nice busy vs stressful urgent busy I should add.

I met many dogs there today.

I had a long chat with one who looked like Ansa and paddled and obeyed commands just like her too.

Her name was Fermie. And she took a moment to rest herself on my feet for a while which took her human companion and myself by surprise. Ansa would do that. Fermie was a rescue from Labrador. I sensed that she knew of my loss.

I took this rather lovely photo of the view in front of me and my knitting. I call this #40shadesofblue.

I find the ocean marvellously healing. The surf was high and the herring were in. And for once I didn't cry over Ansa which is a gift. Thank you Fermie.

I hear on the grapevine that the board of this building are reconsidering the no pet policy all thanks to the submission I and my fellow advocates made. If so, I'll be first out the door to the humane society.

PS for those who care, I updated my 2019 book list but need to update Goodreads too when I get a minute.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Words for Wednesday 5/29/19

Elephant's Child is hosting May's Words for Wednesday. Please drop in on her and see what's on offer from the participants and maybe join in yourself if you are so inclined. It's a lot of fun.

My story is a continuation of Erla and her feline buddies Merlin and Trilby.

See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here

Here are this week's prompts.

Pin cushion*

And / or


Once Erla had finished reading the chapter and Merlin and Trilby and herself debated who the murderer could possibly be, they were all startled to hear a knocking on the front door. They looked at each other in consternation. No one ever came by here in the years Erla had been coming. Trilby had been grappling with his needlepoint - a lion, rampant, in heraldic form - and now he pushed the fabric and the perfumed pin cushion - another affectation - aside.

Erla rose on her tippy toes and tried to peer sideways through the parlour window at the porch, the human form she could barely see was large, male and impatient. The cats rubbed against her legs in solicitude. Oh dear, the knocking was getting louder and now, oh no, the person was shouting through the letterbox.

She ran to the door and opened it wide.

"Daddy!" she said, reeling slightly in surprise. Daddy walked in, looking around suspiciously.

"You had me scared half to death," he said, putting his arms around her,"Your mother hadn't a clue where you were, and then I remembered you staring out the car window at this house as we drove by every weekend."

"But this is not the weekend, why are you here?" asked Erla, confused.

"Well, generally I'm not here during the week," and her father absentmindedly started petting the cats,"but I had to go to court today, Erla".

"Were you in trouble?" Erla's voice trembled.

"Oh no, no,"Daddy said slowly, "I was in the courtroom to get custody of you."

Erla's mouth dropped open and tears filled her eyes.

"Temporarily," said Daddy quickly, "Mama is very sick, Erla. She needs to get well."

"But I don't want to leave Mama and Trilby and Merlin," Erla wailed, "They all need me Daddy! The cats are my little power squad, my friends!"

"As I drove over here, panicking a little I must say, my little pet," and here Daddy hugged her tightly yet again, "I had the most brilliant idea!"

Sunday, May 26, 2019


I am embarrassed. Truly.

Approximately each month I clean out my fridge. And I truly hate what I am throwing away. I can't seem to get a grip on what I will use. I had an inn, I had a boarding house, a rental unit in my house (a single mother does everything to keep poverty from the doorstep) and I still shop too largely. I can never get through a head of lettuce of a head of cabbage or for that matter tasteless, bargain tomatoes. Onions I buy too large and use 1/4 and next thing, remains are spoiled and thrown.

I caught myself lecturing myself quite brutally as I did this appalling chore today. It was on my to-do list for about 4 days, in caps, to shame me further.

For gawd's sake
What an effin waste
You should be ashamed of yourself
African children
And that poor woman.

The poor woman was one who had popped up on a knitting site today and she kinda haunts me a little. Circa 1900. Ireland. Turf on the back, bare filthy feet, knitting in the hand, looks like a sock for the fellah, could be a sleeve for a coat.

Point of this post is how do you shop and stick to it and plan it and behave yourself so waste does not feature? Do you budget? Do you cook lots of meals ahead of time? Do you buy junk (i.e. processed)? What happens when you get invited out for a meal throwing all careful planning to the dust?

I am heading out shortly to meet Daughter after her Outdoor Women weekend. She goes twice a year and learns so much about foraging and hunting and fishing and living in the wild. I don't know where I got her as that stuff would have me crying in my cabin for 3 days, sulking over my knitting.

We're going to have Singapore Noodles at a restaurant we love (cheap and cheerful eats) where I will hear all about the thrills of bows and arrows and identifying flora and fauna and being amongst 99 other women as enchanted as herself with the whole outdoor thingy.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Gains and Losses

I was pondering on this yesterday. I consciously move my thinking and reflecting and musing on to gains while sometimes casting a nostalgic eye in the rear-view mirror and view the losses, but not for too long, I can get sad and maudlin and wet-eyed, not that there's anything wrong with that, either, it's just not good for me to linger there.

So the losses - and I am 75 so there are many in my lucky, long life.


(1) Dear friends, so very many, missed forever, life emptier without them in many ways, too many to count. Parents and relatives I had anticipated but never my contemporaries somehow.

(2) Ability to run, hike and walk without thought. I loved running, the freedom of roads and trails, the weekend long runs with companions, the racing, the medals, the camaraderie.

(3) Travelling. Anywhere. Any time. As long as there was some money. Dreaming of outlandish trips off the beaten track, now never to be. El Camino in Spain, Outer Hebrides, Iceland interior, Orient Express, Siberian Express.

(4) Not thinking much about energy, my own. Being ready for 18 hour days, fast recuperation, coffee at 2. Writing at 3 in the morning, not a bother on me.

(5) Any name, any city, any year, any noun, any verb, coming to mind quickly and easily.

(6) Missing estranged younger daughter, always and forever.

(7) The many adored animals I was privileged to have in my life. All missed, all loved deeply. None more so than Ansa my last.

(8) Taking good health and a perfectly working body for granted.

Grandmother Moon outside my bedroom window the other night.


(1) Having time - the greatest gift of all.

(1) Listening to music of my choice any time of the day or night.

(2) Reading voraciously. All the time.

(3) Being more "me" than I ever have before. My opinions are clearer as is my critical thinking. And I'm very keen to listen to the young. I am so very lucky to have teenagers in my life.

(4) Being thrilled to be invited anywhere, especially when there are young people there.

(5) Living in my lovely apartment. I never thought I'd say that, but I absolutely love living here. And recently I applied for reduced rent due to my financial circumstances and received notification today that I was successful.

(6) Having close relationships with my daughter and my niece (who is a daughter to me) and being treated so well by them in ways I can't even list. They are supportive and proud of my endeavours and so very, very thoughtful in their caring and concern for and of me.

(7) Having time to pursue advocacy.

(8) Being asked to perform, to hold writing workshops, to speak at different events, to help others less fortunate.

(9) Being present in the moment. Staying where my hands are.

(10) Not taking anything for granted. Ever. Seeing beauty everywhere**.

(11) Writing anywhere, any time, all the time.

(12) Knitting whenever, wherever.

A wrap, "Iceberg Season" that I started a few days ago. For me.

** In my front hall, a wee corner, everything here is a gift. The owl is my totem, given to me by an aboriginal shaman many moons ago.

What about you? What have you gained and lost as you age?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Words for Wednesday 5/ 22/2019

This month Elephant's Child is hosting Words for Wednesday with words used from contributors assisting. Please go visit her and participate or just enjoy the stories. It's a lot of fun.

Here are this weeks prompts.

Dressing gown*

And / or


A continuaton of last week's as everyone seemed to really like Erla and her odd family (as do I!). And I asterisk the words as I use them so the flow of the story remains.

Once they were fed from the pantry and it was restocked, Erla stayed for her usual visit. She sat down with Merlin and Trilby in the parlour (they hated the term "living room" they were anglophone snobs). They liked being read to and had a particular interest in English best sellers of which there was a trove at home from her father's time there.

Her knapsack was stretched to the limit always between the cat-food, her lunch and the books. She had fetched their dressing gowns of course, Merlin's buttercup yellow, though, ironically it didn't suit him, and Trilby's plaid complete with their 8 matching slippers. Merlin had chronic affectations and insisted on using a long cigarette holder when she lit one of her mother's purloined cigarettes for him. He stretched and chuckled appreciatively on the damask sofa while Trilby rolled his eyes at him as he reclined on the footstool by Erla's feet.

They all agreed she had had left off at the beginning of Chapter 9 of P.D. James' latest. Trilby had a crush on Adam Dalgliesh, her poet detective, much to the amusement of Merlin, who held steadfast to the long practice of his hidden worship of Erla who seemed to him perfection itself, though technically, of course, there was never a chance of reciprocation, or was there? She seemed to split her devotion evenly between himself and Trilby but he secretly gloated over the gift of the cigarette she brought him and imagined this marked something extra in her feelings for him. And with this, in true British fashion, reflecting thoughtfully on the cigarette, he was content.

"The coast was battered by the remains of the shipwreck, planks and masts, deckchairs, shattered lifeboats," she began "And, could that be a body sprawled bloody and bleeding on the rocks?"

She looked at them both, her eyes round and frightened, her hand on her chest. They purred in absolute contentment. Another body. Wonderful.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Blog Jam

In the "believe me you haven't lived until" department:

Walking along my apartment hallway I hear this tremendous crash coming from behind my closed door. I fish in my cart for my cellphone read to press 911. A break-in? A dementia person thinking it was her/his apartment? A bird crashing through a window screen? I open my door gingerly and was greeted with a sea of shattered mirror. When I say shattered I understate the condition of the floor. The large mirror was hung over my sink in the kitchen. I don't know how it fell off the wall as the hook it hung on is still intact as is the heavy twine fitted to last through an earthquake at the back of it. The whole kitchen floor, the vestibule, all the corners, under stuff, on top of shelves, you get the picture (ha!), is an attractive shimmering art installation.

I am about 1/2 way through cleaning it up, I had kept newspapers in a reading bin in the bathroom (you know what I mean, stuff that looks important but never gets read, ever)so wrapping all these effing slivers and slices and multiple shapes of mirror was a huge chore and I had to take a break and write about this to relax myself before I tackle it again. Before I burst into tears....and 7 years bad luck now, according to folklore? Shyte.

Which leads me to the whale today. After Book Club I went off to see the whale at Holyrood Beach, she came in after the herring followed by the coterie of a million birds feeding off her leftovers. This is remarkably early for here as we are still in Iceberg Season.

Photo is courtesy of Bruce McTavish who took a far better picture than I did. We all sat in our cars and watched this from the road. Incredible. I got out of my car and hit the boardwalk which runs parallel and guess what? The last time I walked there was with Ansa, we used to walk there all the time as she just loved it (and so did I) and I've just avoided it. And grief overwhelmed me. Here's her memorial picture. Boy I loved that furry girl so much. The grief is still alive in me. Does grief ever die?

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


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.


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.


(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
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:

And/ or


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.