Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Wilderness of Old Age

Good days - rare
Bad days - many
Isolation - sometimes deliberate
Body a temple to pain much of the time
Serious consideration of sedation/tranquilization to ensure a hazy nirvana within.
Avoiding questions like "how are you?" feeling no one wants to know the truth.
Feeling a bore in the doctor's office, reading the list of all that ails me off my phone.
Feeling inadequate and whiny when other elders seem to surmount all that challenges them and put on the cheery face and the lipper/shave meticulously and go out and greet the world sprinkling stardust in spite of/because of. I wish they would package that up and sell it to me.
Feeling death stalking some days and being brave. Alone but biofeedbacking myself.
Crying easily.
Living in the past at times, not consciously, but uneasily when aware of it.
Having difficulty planning something to look forward to (my father's way of negotiating old age) as my good days/bad days are so unpredictable.
Thinking of my granny turning her face to the wall and thinking "now I get it."
It is a very confusing time for many of us. There is no pattern but reaction. I can mantra my brains out but I'm still left in the wilderness.

On the upside:

I do make my bed every day.

I dress some days, others are pajama days - my favourite. When I dress I venture more outside my perfect little nest and I know that's good for me.

I read every day.

I knit every day.

I try and write every day (herewith)

I immerse myself at night in series like "Doc Martin" which helps.

I am really careful who I share with as being left hanging, blowing in a cold wind with no response, makes me feel worse. And that happens more than one would think.

I am very, very aware that others I care about, including some bloggers, are in far worse shape than I am. If we compare our health deficiencies. We can't really though.

Our ill-health bubbles are ours alone, and sometimes there is no map or compass to find the way out.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sunday Smatterings



What is your concept of an afterlife if you believe in such a thing?

I find out here on the Edge, for the most part, the concept is of a life just like ours here on planet earth, bingo is still played, pubs still attended, birthdays (the earthly variety) still celebrated and Facebook is used as a message centre for the Great Beyond. As in "Happy birthday Dad in heaven, I know they have your favourite beer up there!". "Happy anniversary Mom, are you now baking your pies for God/Jesus?" I have yet to see a response, but it would be lovely just to see the reaction.

As for me, I believe we live on after we die in our very original form, as in stardust, I can't ever imagine us rising from the dead on Judgement Day and the concept actually gives me the willies.

This one wild and wonderful precious life is all we have I think. But I am always interested in others' beliefs.

But I also believe there are billions of other planets, like ours, many far more evolved where time travel exists and I like playing around with that concept in my head. As in our planet keeps going back to square one and a massive culling takes place every couple of hundred thousand years and yes, time travellers from the past walk amongst us watching in disbelief as we continue to eff everything up yet again.

I look out my window tonight at a sunset of rose, the wise crows perch on the wires and the gulls soar overhead, with a pink blush drowning the white of their wings and I am gobsmacked at the beauty. And I wonder if the Trumps and the Johnsons and the Putins et al were forced to watch such magnificence would it change their view of this world. But somewhere deep inside, I know it wouldn't. We are accelerating towards climate collapse at an ever faster rate and the kings will stay in their counting houses. And yes, they would shoot those goddamned birds for sport.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Words for Wednesday

I decided to participate again in this Wednesday stimulant. My creativity got fired up with these words so generously provided by Elephant's Child

This week's prompts are:

1. Deviled/which might also be spelt devilled*
2. Interdependence*
3. Watery*
4. Figs*
5. Zoom*
6. Headphones*

1. Gargled*
2. Presence*
3. Yelling*
4. Andalusia*
5. Snowdrifts*
6. Exfoliate*

It was the worst party ever. She cursed her own presence and put it down to her interdependence on her boss, Almighty Violet, who just about ordered her staff here. She needed the pay cheque and Almighty Violet needed her organizational skills.

Internally, she yelled a silent scream of frustration, cursing the position of looking after Almighty Violet. Because that’s what it amounted to, one almighty cursed existence, out in the wilds of Andalusia trying desperately to improve on her Spanish. Yeah, so she lied on her CV.

She selected a devilled egg from the platter on the buffet and winced at its watery texture, faux mayonnaise. She moved her hand over the figs. They were just as she suspected, dry and shrivelled. What happened to paella and those lovely local dishes??

Bloody hell! was that Bart, her assistant, wearing tiny headphones, bopping his head and grinning at her? Tuned out. Clever boy. Hard to blame him.

Ah, her eyes zoomed in on the washroom across the hall. She disappeared quietly inside, closing the door. And rinsed out her glass of cheap white wine, gargling with water from the tap.

For this she had taken a razor and exfoliated herself? Even her legs which grew hairy in the winter and were excellent insulation against the snow drifts surrounding her cabin.

And six months more to go on her contract. She’d better find those Speaking Spanish Like a Pro podcasts. Ah Bart would know! Of course!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What did you do in Snowmageddon, Mummy?

Well, our State of Emergency still exists, limiting purchases and trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. But the peaceful silence of no traffic continues. Military helicopters overhead sort out areas to still be shovelled. And so much snow. So very much.

I admired my plant which bloomed in spite of the snow, taking my breath away. considering it was one of those plants I wanted to throw out as being gawky and, well, ugly, it must have sensed it so threw out masses of blooms. 9 at last count.

This is the side doorway going into our building. Bear in mind this is a sheltered doorway.

So I designed and started knitting a "Storm Shawl" after 2 frustrated rip-outs I was pleased with this one. It is a variegated yarn and goes by the name of Violet. It will be more in the nature of a scarf-shawl, drapey and matchey to the winter goose-down long jacket which daughter gifted me with. It's a lovet green and I've always loved those greens with any shade of purple.

I also am nearly finished my annual read of A Moveable Feast. Don't ask me of my fascination with this book, I find it hard to justify. It just captures so well a Paris of Joyce and Fitgerald and Stein et al. And no, I'm not a fan of Hemingway - though I did call one of my characters by that name in one of my novels. I guess his youth, innocence and kindness shines through before he gets snared by fame and booze and depression.

And then there was the car moving. Car was dug out and moved to a clean spot and then after waiting for the plow to dig out the spot it was taken from and moving it back in again. Musical Cars in other words. My kingdom for indoor parking which I had at my house.

This picture was taken through a screen but I rather like the effect. You can see the height of the snowbanks around the visitor parking lot.

I had 3 coffee occasions here at the apartment. I was glad it was clean. Catching me when all tidy and presentable is rare. So I felt a huge achievement and even offered bon-bons on a small wee serving thingie. Along with my marvelous coffee. Always freshly ground dark roast beans - in case you're ever in the area and love good coffee drop in. Take me as you find me.

A friend dropped by with an unexpected dinner last night. Moose stew with carrots, brussels and gravy and divine potatoes. Enough for 2 meals so I'll be well fed tonight too.

So that's it for now.

Waiting for the SOE to be lifted.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hurricanes and Blizzards

It's been dubbed #snowmageddon2020 and fact is I have never experienced a worse winter storm.

This was announced yesterday at 11.00 am.:
As of 11am, the Mayor has declared a state of emergency. All businesses are ordered to close and all vehicles are ordered off the road except emergency vehicles. Please return home until the order is lifted. #nlwx #nltraffic

The city has never been closed down before. We are tough out here on the Edge.

A state of emergency was enforced in St. John's. All vehicles and humans off the roads. The winds roared, the snow flew horizontally, the biggest fear was the power blowing out. It didn't. thankfully.

here is a sample from downtown where many reporters holed up in a hotel. No one could get to their homes outside of the city.

Our local CBC radio station died with no power and the batteries and/or generators weren't working either. The staff were trapped inside of the building overnight sleeping on the floors and wonder of wonders, hooking into CBC Halifax, Nova Scotia, to keep us company for the entire time. It was extremely comforting hearing stories from call-ins. Farmers and stable owners, sleeping in their barns keeping the animals calm. Many opening their doors briefly to catch the awful sound of the peak 167km/hour winds. Windows completely snowed over. Just now the sun came out after over 24 hours of non-stop intensity and partially melted two of my panes:

the plows were taken off the roads due to the danger of being unable to see the road edges or heaven forbid, near the open ocean.

The historic Battery area was evacuated as there was an avalanche which fell into the backs of the houses shown here. No human injuries thank goodness.

And this final story:

Not the baby - but this woman should be premier of this province. She gets things done!

PS, we're still on emergency status here but there is snowboarding on the streets (we're very hilly, a la San Francisco) but we have bright sun.

How innocent the world looks after a storm!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday Tendrils

An old piece of my writing in a journal:
"My life is but one wild brief dance in the ballroom of time."

I was wondering a couple of days ago (not sadly) when was the last time someone called me "darling" and came to the conclusion it was when an aunt, who lived to a great age up to a few years ago, used it as we had tea in front of her fire and she gave me gentle words of wisdom always interspersed with the word "darling". I use it myself, of course, to family members, to cherished friends. It is an important assuring word and we need to use it more to those who are dear to us. " My dear" or"Dearie" doesn't quite cut it, or "honey and "love"for that matter, I find those words quite dismissive and meaningless.

I am not having a good day health-wise, seems to be some bodily reactions going on but nevertheless I persist as best I can and showered and washed my hair and moaned to myself. And then Joanna (my cleaning lady) arrived as I was cancelling my plans for the morning with friends.

And the loveliest thing. I was sitting in my office chair letting my hair dry. I have a lot of hair and it is now long (no hair cutting/styling money pit anymore) and she began to stroke it and run her fingers through it and hum a bit and said:

"You know the last time I did this was when my daughter was about 12 and she let me, and it is one of the most beautiful things to do, isn't it? Run your fingers through long hair, your hair is so beautiful."
She made my sad, sick and sorry day.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Inside of Me

Inside of me there's mixed feelings.

This constant tiredness I have, so limiting, so crushing. Raising the old voices: You're lazy, you're good for nothing. Why are you pretending? You can't be this tired. Nobody can be this exhausted.

Inside of me I think, as I park beneath an ice-covered sign, and get George, my trusty companion cane from his back seat, why am I here again, at my nephrologist's, going over the readings: the stalled (I hope) kidney deterioration, the never really controlled blood pressure. He will be dismissive and win the latest award for complete lack of bedside manner.

Inside of me perks up when his nurse talks about my media appearances how all of them are quite impressed at what I have accomplished even if it's only awareness of the crisis of senior poverty.

Inside of me cringes, I've gained five pounds. Not surprised. I am far too good to myself as my people have it.

Inside of me, I'm pleased he meets my eyes many times and apologizes for having to take a cellphone emergency call from the dialysis unit.

He goes over my latest results on his screen and stabs at my blood readings.

You are severely anaemic! he says, did you know about this? Are you exhausted all the time?

Inside of me I flutter with mixed emotions: well that explains it, oh that's a relief. I'm not a lazy arse after all.

This is serious, he continues, and may involve some kind of bleeding. I'm sending you for some tests.

Inside of me I think: Add this to the Test Pile. I'm on this medical testing treadmill now. An old woman who talks incessantly about the stream of specialists and tests cluttering her daytimer and grimly condemning the wallpaper in God's waiting rooms.

Inside of me I yell at my inside classroom: Which one of you is misbehaving? Is it you liver? I haven't heard from you in a while. Not you bowels, you've always behaved yourself. Sort of, as you can be quite secretive and rebellious. You've let down many of my friends. Skin? No cuts or bruises. Good job there, skin. Heart, you keep booming late at night and missing those beats, and that congestive nonsense has got to stop - that's another test coming up. A Holter test to catch you in the act, so to speak.

Inside of me I think: Is all this necessary? Should I just cruise on, oblivious, reading and knitting and tired and wonky on the pins. Does health stress, tests, consults, exams and all the rest of it contribute to a far earlier demise?

And oh yeah:
This is our current weather status here. Worst winter ever. I offer it to my Australian readers, it might just cool you down, if only for a minute, looking at this.

Monday, January 06, 2020

A Letter from my Grandmother

I was reminded of a letter I received from my grandmother when I wrote the previous post. I went through my treasure box of my mother's and father's and aunts' letters (I wish they were all there, my mother wrote to me weekly, long newsy letters before she died just over 4 years after I emigrated to Canada). I am missing hundreds of them. But around 50 are saved.

Anyway I found this lovely letter from my grandmother, sent in the early part of 1970, she left it undated. she refers to my father visiting my mother every day when she had extended hospital stays. My mother was to die just over a year after this letter was written. Granny was never the same after her death. It was a terrible time for all of us.

Granny didn't like letter writing, she always felt embarrassed by her lack of education, she was very young (around 10-11) when she left school to work in service to help support her family. I have corrected her spelling where necessary but I have left her punctuation (or lack of) and grammar stand due to the charm of it and the way I can hear her voice in her words. My mother had that gift too.
I adored my Granny and had the great good fortune to live with her and my grandda for a while in 1946.

My dear Mary

Thank you ever so much for your lovely letter and present you never forget me Mary and thank God to hear you are over your trouble and that God sent you a lovely little baby girl a sister for O*** please God time won't be long slipping Mumma told me that she is very tiny but don't you mind that Mary they run up better than the big babies

Mumma (my mother) was the same too I could only bath her evening second day she was very hardy and Mary Mumma is getting stronger every day thank God for that I suppose you heard she was down to see us and she is coming down on Sunday so I will have this letter ready for her

I was thinking Mary that you will have the summer before you now and you will never miss her getting big what a lovely name you gave her Mary you are great I suppose T** had a say in that I don't think I hope the little darling will enjoy her name what do O**** think I suppose she is great looking at her and her little smile

O must be getting very big please God we will be seeing ye all in the summer and dad and all the boys are very good tis great that G***** (brother) got the bank and that he is very happy. J*** (brother) was down after Christmas he is getting to be a lovely boy he is after getting fine and fat thank God for that

I often felt very sorry for your daddy and the way he used looked after Mumma he never missed going up and down to her he was great to cheer her up thank God for that they are both very good and we have her to go to here for our little chats she is one of the best in the whole world

I am here at 51 Main street and am very happy which is a great thing Mary the flu was very bad thank God I did not get it so far all the families are going on great.

J--- (my cousin) is doing a line with a very nice boy he gives her a very nice time and she likes him

Mary dear I will ring off now and will give this to Mumma when she will be down on Sunday

I hope you make this out.

Good bye and love to Mary, T** O*** and J******* from Grannie xxxx

(PS) Tell T** I was asking for him it won't be long slipping when I will see all the family love Grannie

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A Letter to My Granddaughter

Darling Girl Woman,

You continue to astonish me both in your academic career (Master of Economics, how brilliant you are!) and in your conduct of your life.

I feel so fortunate in having watched you grow and to spend so much time with you, whole weekends, whole weeks, having you in my office every afternoon after school for many years, having you and your mother living in my home in Toronto (albeit a separate apartment) for years.

I have so many treasured memories.

I remember one time picking you up from kindergarten and you clutching my sleeve and said "Grandma, are you warm enough?" Such concern from a 4 year old was indicative of the wonderful, kind person you would become. I remember when you got your first skateboard and I found an empty underground car parking lot and took you there and we spent 2 whole hours (and many times subsequently)while you skated and skated and whooped and jumped.

I remember riding the subway rails with you in Toronto with no destination in mind, just sitting behind the driver and watching the tunnel ahead of us. Getting off, so we would chat with the driver and sometimes getting back on again or sometimes riding the odd escalator and going down once more to ride with no destination.

I remember reading to you and singing to you ad infinitum. And writing stories with you.

We always pool our music and make playlists together and I love that you sometimes find new versions of my "old" music (Elvis!) and adore Ella Fitzgerald and my weird folk music tastes as I love your Pink and Lord Huron and you my Radical Face.

I remember our annual vacations together and the fun we had, it was hard to tell who had the most fun, me or you. I remember us two riding ferries and trains and hiking and playing pitch and putt and me watching you for hours as you rode carousels and switchbacks. And you playing all afternoon on the beach with your imaginary friends.

Oh hiking, lots of hiking. You would always spontaneously offer me your hand when we forded streams and came down cliffs. You would always point out the "safe" rocks for climbing. You were fearless and courageous. And still are.

Which brings me to now, and the time we spend together, you 25, me 76. You are endlessly kind and caring. I never have to ask you for anything. You hold my hand when negotiating icy sidewalks, you ask me for shopping lists so you can lug heavy or awkward items up to my apartment (and you include some desired items without being asked), you wash the dishes without my noticing, you display endless patience with the physical challenges I now face.

You are so wise. I can ask you for advice and you reflect deeply before responding. You are joyful and intelligent and highly sociable. Many comment on your beauty and you truly are very lovely. But it is your inner that shines, how much you care for your mother, your partner, your friends and your colleagues.

You truly are one of a kind. And I am so incredibly blessed that you call me Grandma.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Books of 2019

Not as many books read as I had hoped. My knitting interferes with my reading and vice-versa.

(1)Asymmetry - Lisa Halliday**
(2)How to Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan***
(3)Great House - Nicole Krauss - I'm stuck
(4)A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles*****
(5)Latitudes of Melt - Joan Clark*****
(6)A Ladder in the Sky - John Boyne*****
(7)A House in the Sky - Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett*****
(8)The Great Believers - Rebecca Makkai****
(9)The House of Allsorts - Emily Carr*****
(9)The Magnificent Spinster - May Sarton****
(10)We all expected to die - Anne Budgell*****
(11)Our Homesick Songs - Emma Hooper 0
(12)Rules of Civility - Amor Towles ***
(13)Feeding My Mother - Jane Arden*****
(14)Small Fry - Lisa Brenner*
(15)Gaff Topsails - Patrick Kavanaugh 0 {DNF} {BC}
(16)The Beginners Goodbye - Anne Tyler****
(17)Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing - May Sarton****
(18)A Slipping Down Life - Anne Tyler***
(19)Digging in America - Anne Tyler****
(20)If Morning Ever Comes - Anne Tyler***
(21)The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris**
(22)Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler*****
(23)The Boat People - Sharon Bala*****
(24)Milkman - Anna Byrne*****
(25)August Gale - Barbara Walsh {BC}****
(26)We Were the Lucky Ones - Georgia Hunter {DNF}
(27)Providence - Anita Brookner****
(28)The Crow Trap - Ann Cleeves***
(29)Beneath The Earth - John Boyne ****
(30)A Mother's Reckoning - Sue Klebold{BC}****
(31)Growing Up Next to the Mental - Brian Callahan 0
(32)The End of Absence - Michael Harris*****
(33)The Power - Naomi Alderman*****
(34)Left Neglected - Lisa Genova***
(35)A Misalliance - Anita Brookner****
(36)Normal People - Sally Rooney*****
(37)This Glorious Country - Florence Clothier {BC}*****
(38)Sum - David Eagleman****
(39)Boy Swallows Universe - Trent Dalton*****
(40)The Dreamers - Karen Thompson Walker**
(41)Send More Tourists the Last Ones were Delicious - Tracey Waddleton****
(42)A Private View - Anita Brookner*****
(43)Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner*****
(44)City of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert*****
(45)Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner**
(46)Invisible Women - Caroline Priado Perez*****
(47)Stay Where you are and then Leave - John Boyne ****
(48)Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Grace Honeyman ****1/2
(49)The Innocents - Michael Crummey ****
(50)No Time to Spare - Ursula K LeGuin*****
(51)Dear Evelyn - Kathy Page*****
(52)We are all simply Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler*****
(53)Emancipation Day - Wayne Grady{BC}**
(54)Pond - Claier Louise Bennett*****
(55)Salt Path - Raynor Wynn*****
(56)Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng*****
(57)The Best of Adam Sharpe - Graeme Simsion {BC} 0 DNF
(58)Everyone Brace is forgiven - Chris Cleave*****
(59)Three Women - Lisa Taddeo***
(60)The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead*****
(61)The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliott - Carolyn Parsons**

The very best were 4, 13, 23, 24, 32, 36, 39, 43, 44, 46, 51, 54, 55, 56, 58, 60.

Some were book club choices, some I couldn't finish due to a preference for watching my fingernails grow. But on the whole, some truly great and immensely readable and enjoyable books.

All the books read over the years of blogging can be found here.

I am also on GoodReads if you'd like to find me there.GOODREADS WWW REVIEWS