Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ramblings from 2012

Ansa the wonder dog and I hiked and rambled a lot back in the day. Many photos of these times pop up in my google feed regularly.

This was a day we spent walking around Brigus and Cupids 7 years ago. How times such as these vanish in the batting of an eye! Those days I would throw my good camera in my knapsack and pack our picnic lunches and her bowls and our water and strike off for parts unknown to both of us. Happy days and still vivid in my memory bank. Having a dog like Ansa allowed me to meet so many people as they were so drawn to her.

Cupids is the site of the first child born of European parents in North America. Many Brigus captains became arctic explorers.

I am so grateful to be living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Though I know many of you feel the same about where you live! These shots were taken mid-afternoon and the winter sun was lowering casting deep shadows and an amber effect on the scenery which I love.

The three sisters of Brigus.

A quiet beach in Brigus
Retired Boats in Brigus, I love the shadows cast by the November sun on these.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Dear Chantal

You're 18 years old and so very talented, intelligent and amazing in your accomplishments in your life so far in spite of so many unimaginable challenges. A full scholarship to a prestigious university. How absolutely incredible and validating for your commitment to your future and the hard work of your past.

I knitted you this pair of socks in such an unusual way for a few reasons.

The history of socks is quite interesting. They were originally made from animal skins tied around the foot and that was way back in the 7th century. Then they graduated to animal fur and finally to sheep's fleece. Historically, Very few ancient socks survive as the fibre breaks down quite rapidly. There is one original red sock that did and interestingly, it had a special pouch divided off for the big toe.

The architecture of socks is interesting. You will see how I knitted the cuff, heel and toes in different colours to highlight this for you. Straight needles, double pointed granted, 5 of them, resulting in a curved and bent piece of fabric that accommodates your feet and holds their shape if treated well.

Knowing you, I think the quirkiness of the socks will appeal as they are a truly one of a kind pair and if stolen (one never knows!) can be spotted immediately. I tried to incorporate all the colours of the changing oceans around us here with a bit of grey thrown in for The Rock.

I would wash them gently (sorry about that) as they are merino wool and dry on low heat or hang as I do. You will find you get several wears out of them before washing as they breathe remarkably well and are toasty in the winter and cool in the summer.

Wear in good health my friend. And I hope you enjoy them as I did in making them for you. The extra yarn is in case of repairs if needed.

I'll see you in December!


Wednesday, November 27, 2019


A bit of a downer of a week, not sure why. I feel a little burned out as I did much walking on Sunday through necessity and the body takes ages to recover, physically and mentally.

I feel I've lost a lot of my creative juices though I am "socking" away which keeps my fingers limber.

A friend did this lovely thing last night for her small circle of friends on Facebook and sang us this wonderful old Quaker song. Just herself and her guitar and I was transported. I sang harmony to her beautiful rendition. Here it is sung by Audrey Assad but I have to confess my friend's older voice and her guitar had a profound effect on me.

I'm in the unusual position of having no "paying" work. My in-basket got cleared out. I'm not overly worried, financially, as there are some doings in the pipeline.

One of my friends had to pull the plug on her TV as she could no longer afford cable and her back and neck got shot out when she was lifting her patient into a car for a visit to the doctor. My friend is a home-care worker and 74 and is now terrified financially that she can no longer work and may have to sacrifice her car. Senior poverty is a global issue but I have written enough on that and will update once we hit the floor of parliament in early December.

Here is a picture from here in St. John's, taken by a local photographer to give you an idea of the beauty the liners and other ships see when they cruise into the harbour. Houses on cliffs always fascinate me.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sunday-ish Smatterings

I ran into an old friend after I gave a talk last night. He would call me a friend, I know that. And I used to call him a friend until I realized that it was all fairly one-sided. And I also realized that most women I know (myself included) fill in those awkward gaps with a few of our male friends. It's hard to explain this in writing but I'll try. I remember sharing with this guy a few years back about a terrible time I was having with far too many losses in my life and he never responded but immediately plunged into a new job or some-such that his son-in-law now had. And I thought whoa Nelly, off the share list with this guy as I felt immediately worse, as if he didn't give a flying.

So as I was saying I ran into him. And since I saw him last, about a year ago, I have changed. I now ride on a stick (George, my walking cane). I mean if the situation were reversed I would immediately ask him how things were, what's with the stick? But him? No, he just looked at me and gave me a hug and waited for me to ask him how he was, and I didn't and he didn't and then he walked away, as I didn't bail him out of the conversational well. It was most interesting. I'm going to do that again with others who only broadcast at me and never, ever ask how I am or show concern, etc., but launch into some kind of monologue after I ask how they are. Life's too short to put up with self-centredness like this or narcissism or whatever we call it.

In the mail:

A postcard of Adelaide from a blogmate with her own vignettes on the back.

A postcard from my 18 year old friend, now on full scholarship in Halifax (she's brilliant)
and here's a taste:
About 145 light-years in diameter, M13 is composed of several hundred thousand stars, the brightest of which is a red giant, the variable star V11, with an apparent visual magnitude of 11.95. M13 is 22,200-25,000 light-years away from Earth.
If you'd like more read all about it here.

And last but not least, I was hunting for a copy of this book for a long time and it finally arrived from Australia a few days ago. It was written by one of my high school teachers, the first nun in Ireland to gain a PhD. We're talking the fifties here folks.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


The rain comes down today. In spatters, in force, in sprinkles. It can't make up its mind. Many birds circle the lake in front of the building, riding on air currents, saving energy, waiting for the feeders who arrive daily. From all walks of life. To sit on the benches and throw grain and bread and nuts to their favourites. It must be hard to soar when wet, I think. And what do birds do on rainy days when people stay home with their food bags?

There's a chill in the air. That wintrish glaze on everything. Joanna, my cleaning person, is supposed to be here today. I got ready for her. I always have to do a clean up for my cleaners. Left to my own devices I can create a slum out of the tidiest rooms in about 10 minutes flat. Not a skill I am proud of. But I think (she's 80 after all) she must have forgotten. And that's fine with me. At least some cleaning was done. I was going to tell her help herself to my enormous yarn collection which I have to do something about. I am a compulsive collector: movies, books, yarn, silver napkin rings, et al. But between the jigs and the reels I've let everything loose into the universe. Well, almost everything.

Meanwhile I have another editing job in which is a thrill. And I accepted a position on a board which should be interesting.

And I have a talk to give tomorrow night which involves index cards I haven't prepared yet. I like to do them at the last minute so everything is fresh in my mind and I try not to um and ah and remember to breathe and to glance briefly at the cards to make sure I'm on message and sequential. Easier said than done.

Other than that I had a very interesting lunch yesterday with two friends I hadn't seen in a about a year or so as they still live out in the country, hanging in there for another few years - for they are a few years younger than I. At one of our favourite places, a true honest pub with pub grub, including all day breakfast with lashings of home made home fries. The conversation was interesting and satisfying as we hovered around all sorts of topics including this challenge of not being able to walk and chew gum anymore.

I'm still in sock mode. Knitting them that is. And I watched the entire Crown Series 3 in a two night binge. It's like Downton Abbey, lots of froth and frocks. And stellar performances.

And I'm not feeling as if I'm on death's door anymore. I really don't know what that was all about. But it was frightening.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Old Age

It's so rare to read about the truth of old age, isn't it?

Ronni at Time Goes By does.

But many bloggers are almost apologetic about even talking about the downsides. And there can be many or few of these, depending on health - financial, mental, emotional, physical.

Or is it wearing the brave old face thing through adversity. Exhausting in itself, right?

I remember my father chugging along, even though it appears that he also had PVD (like me now) judging by his grinding-halt-when-walking-syndrome the last time we trekked Sherkin Island and we had to summon a kind driver to ferry him the rest of the way to Silver Strand and then back to the pier. He never shared any of his ailments with his children and he lived alone, soldiering on. Brave? We like to call old people suffering silently brave. But is it? Is it shame? Is it fear of being a crashing organ recital bore?

So what is old age? Hard to define. But as one old wag put it: Old age is five years older than I am now.

I'm way past my allotted three score and ten now - which used to be extreme old age a century ago. I've outlived my own mother by over twenty years. More of my contemporaries and friends are dead than alive. Let that sink in.

This interesting article was forwarded by a friend who is younger than I by about 7 or 8 years. But as we age into 75 do we get greedy? Will he change his opinion?

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Is there a point to living beyond 75? Do we continue to suck greedily on our health resource services costing so much tax dollars from the youngers who support us through their taxes? And yes, I know we contributed in our turn to the elders of our time. How long does this go on? Till we drool our way to being spoon-fed and diaper changed? I mean we think it's never going to happen to us but hey, I've seen many being carted off who didn't think it would happen to them either. Last case in point a man I had a few coffee dates with.

I am more conscious now of "last times". I know we can't go home again but I truly believe we are never quite aware of the last time we're experiencing something, or being somewhere or being with someone until we are startled suddenly into the realization: yeah, that was the very last time.

And we weep quietly. Bravely alone. Or stay removed and stoic. But that isn't a choice. It's how we're built.

What sayeth you?

Thursday, November 14, 2019


*Post Pity Pot

Troubles shared are troubles halved or even quartered. Thank you for kind words of support.

I came out of the slump. As I do. Took the whole day off even though there was pressure from other tenants to get the flu shot today as the nurses were in the building and ready to visit all who needed. I must say the service here is amazing. But I was in no mood to interact with strangers so I will just have to go to the clinic and get it.

I was inspired by blog-friend Cup on The Bus to fire up my dormant cooking skills, so was most pleased today to produce 7 bowls of coconut curry soup. 4 for the freezer, 3 for now.

I was thinking while doing so that there should be a cookbook for disabled/elderly/financially challenged etc.seniors full of simple recipes like Cup on the Bus had posted and the ones I can make, including the shopping list to make it all happen. Not much of a list but basic stuff.

I had bought a big bag of frozen onions (did you know you can buy these for a couple of bucks?) as I was always throwing out rotting onions.
Then my local grocery store supplies cleaned and chopped up veggies for a couple of bucks too.
I also buy frozen broccoli and cauliflower. And those small tomatoes. And roasted red peppers in a jar (lasts forever).
So today:
A 1/2 cup of those frozen onions, 2 small spoons of garlic from a jar - fry these gently in good oil for a couple of minutes before adding:
Large tetrapack of chicken stock
1 can of coconut milk
As much curry as you like to taste.
Maybe some water
Any veggies you have on hand.
Today was mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, celery and broccoli.
I simmered all this for about 2 hours and then used my immersible blender to cream it up leaving some little chunks pf the veggies.

Absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Time of the Year, Time of Life

A bloody downer today.

The legs were appalling, like concrete. I was flitting around (I use flitting in an optimistic way, I don't really flit anymore) and had a few errands to run and after the 3rd errand I kind of came to a screeching halt. I was the one screeching. In fear, truly. I just knew I couldn't carry on for a minute more. I drove, fearful, to my ocean. And took a pic. And cried and cried and cried. A total snorfling pity pot. A mess.

Luckily there was no one else around. It was a wet blanket of everything wrong. The madness (I think) of getting an animal when this seizure of immobility grabs hold of me, the sadness of missing my last dear departed Ansa, old age, my effing limitations, my pain, my this, that and tho other. And no improvement in sight.

Woe is me, woe is the world around me.

Now look at that ocean. Stop sniveling. It'll be here long after you're gone. Long after everyone's gone. We are stardust. Make the most of yourself. Accept Accept Accept

Life is not hopeless.

Work with what you can.

I came back into my building, leaning on the safety bars along the the halls and a friend saw me and hustled me into her apartment and told me to sit down, put my feet up and vent all I wanted and for as long as I wanted.

And I did.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Life By The Numbers

As I age, I find more so than ever, that numbers take on more significance. I suppose they always have taken some prominence in my life as I was (and still am) an accountant during my survival years. I don't use the word survival lightly. How often do many of us work away at something that is basically a kind of spirit destruction for the artist within, toiling, collecting the cheque, toiling some more, looking for better toiling and so on and so forth.

In those toiling years. I squeezed a lot in of the creative nature. Around the edges of my life. There was never enough time to express that aspect of myself then. So I pack it in now, even as I'm slowing down.

I was sorting my weekly pills into the dispenser this morning. A weekly task. It takes 15 minutes. About 30 pills a day including the supplements of niacin and turmeric and magnesium et al. It's a slow process as I tend to drop the little guys on the floor or on my lap. Not so much today but some days. You know.

We are forgetful as we age. I was supposed to go to the opera with a friend today but I think she forgot and I was glad. It was her first opera and it was probably my 6th time seeing it. Madame Butterfly. Not that I minded, I love it, but the whole getting ready thing, organizing thing. Well, you know. And then a kind of mandatory coffee thing after. I just wanted to be home. In my PJs doing creative stuff.

But I played the magnificent Humming Chorus from it and it never fails to make me cry. So cry I did. Sublime.

When I was desperate for work in the old days, or desperate for anything, a shaman advised me to face east in the dawn and hold out my hands and tell the universe I was ready for work. And then go out, broke as maybe, and give something to a far needier person than I. It always worked. I never expected anything from my actions, I should add. It was a spontaneous thing. On Thursday I gave my 80 year old cleaning woman a small raise. She never asked for it, it was just that she takes care of me in little extra ways. She was over the moon. She kept saying: you like my work, you like my work! And on Friday a totally unexpected project came into my inbox, one I will definitely enjoy and will be compensated very well for. A referral. Something oddly numerically karmic about that.

And a very odd thing. I say odd. Because I remember thinking a while back when a man I knew who was dying looked up a high school sweetheart and they totally fell in love again and she was with him for his last couple of years. I remember thinking, she went into this knowing it would all end in tragedy and heartbreak. Could I do that?

But the heart does what it does. And the brain can't stop it. And recently I met a man who is dying and I want to pull away. Now. Immediately. And the heart says absolutely not. I can't explain it. But now I understand. Numbers again. Do they matter?

My Christmas cactus. A little confused (like me)

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Enough With The Socks Already! And Postcards!

So here are the pair of socks I'm crazy about. The phone camera doesn't do them justice, they need to be taken out in bright sunshine and thrown on someone's feet and photographed properly. The yarn was a gift from my niece and I was delighted that there's enough left over to knit her a pair of these too.

In other news - I love postcards. I get quite a few, though nothing like Daughter who sends and receives 100s every year from around the world. Part of a huge group worldwide that exchange PCs from their countries of origin following (usually) a theme.

So in the past three days I've received three and here they are:

The first one is from my sister who spent the day in my favourite area of West Cork where I spent so much time myself

The second is from Grandgirl, who spent the weekend in Dallas Texas (I know!) at the grace and favour of her friend from kindergarten who had a business meeting there and treated her - these young 'uns all growed up and having business meetings when I pushed their swings in the playground. I am so impressed though that she took the time out to write and mail this PC to her grandma.

The third is from my school pal (friends since we were 11) who has beaten a deadly form of cancer and travels a lot and never, ever fails to send me a postcard. This is from Avignon and she planted an ear worm by reminding me of how we would deliberately sing Sur Le Pont Avignon in atrocious French accents at our French teacher in school and fake puzzlement at her enragement. So 3 days now and I have it stuck in my head. Revenge from Soeur LePaul.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

My Happy Place

Interesting day.

I was at a business meeting earlier where it was discussed that a property, which is being severely mismanaged by a bunch of yahoos (my private words) needs to be taken over and run properly. And I outrageously said: "You know what? This should be taken over by a bunch of women and run successfully!" And Lard Thunderin', didn't everyone (including males) vote all in favour. I tell you in all my born days this was a first. I should mention the above yahoos are all male and elderly and adverse to any type of innovation or heaven forbid technology. I am not an ageist by a long shot, but sometimes new female blood is needed. And these females are young and energetic.

I had packed my knitting. Mainly because I'm on this mad sock-knitting kick so decided after the meeting I would head off to my happy place, my beach, as the day was glorious.

So here it is in all its glory:

And here's my knitting bag and another sock on the go:

And yes, Gigi, I'm wearing my socks:

Sunshine on my feet as winter nudges her way onto our bones.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Behold the Sock

So simple, so straightforward.

You've got to be kidding.

Have you ever tried knitting one (make that two, you can't go around with one sock now can you?)

It's been years since I've knit a pair as I'm so aware of the work involved.

Engineering and mathematical work.

You heard that right.

Calculating the yarn involved, the size needles (allowing for individual tension) the size of foot, the matching the yarn to the individual socks.

And you haven't got out your five needles yet. Yes, 5. To make that sock round with no seams and ahem, no holes.

So with trepidation I began and you know? Firing up those tottering brain cells has been, well, challenging. Sock knitting is all mathematics and engineering. Shaping the yarn, making and creating and decreasing stitches. I tried listening to podcasts, but nah, can't do. All this fierce concentration is laid at the feet (got that, ha!) of my socks. And there's no room for listening to anything.

But watching it all take shape on the needles is a complete and utter meditation.

I can almost hear my internal computer recharging itself and new pathways forming. Seriously.

Here they are: one completed, one getting there. I love the colour-ways. Like dawn coming up over the hill opposite my window.

And yes, I will produce another photo of them on my feet. I am unstoppable now. I am surveying my yarn stashes and imagining where it will eventually walk.

May the sock force be with me.

PS those darker specks you see on the yellow, etc. are part of the yarn colour-ways. Tiny flecks of the brown on the other colours. It looks beautiful in reality.