Friday, December 31, 2021

The Books of 2021

Gosh the reading was way down. Granted I was quite ill for most of 2021 and well, all of 2020. I try and reach a 100 books a year but fail usually. 2021 saw me reading barely 50.  Here's the list, 5 stars were a super read for me. BC is book club. DNF - did not finish, the agony of terrible writing exploding my brain.

For previous years see 

(1) Unravelling Oliver - Liz Nugent ****

(2) Lying in Wait - Liz Nugent ****

(3) The Abolutist - John Boyne ***

(4) The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett - Annie Lyons ****

(5) Slow Horses - Nicke Heron ***

(6) The Guest Book - Sarah Baker *****

(7) Five Days Gone - Laura Cummings *****

(8) The City of Shadows - Michael Russell *****

(9) Purple Hibiscus - Chimande Ngozi Adiche *****

(10)The Searcher - Tana French **

(11)Eugelia's Daughters - Gerd Brantenberg ***1/2

(12)The Glass Hotel - Emily St.John *****

(13)The Arrangement - Robyn Harding 0

(14)Cruel Acts - Jane Casey ***

(15)Sins of the Mother - Irene Kelly ****

(16)The City in Darkness - Michael Russell ****

(17)The City of Strangers - Michael Russell *****

(18)The Dutch House - Ann Patchett *****

(19)The Old Drift - Nanwel Serpel DNF

(20)A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan DNF

(21)The Night Fire - Michael Connolly ****

(22)The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read for style) *****

(34)A Ghost in the Throat - Doireann Ni Ghriofa *****

(25)The Last Thing he Told me - Laura Dave ***

(26)The City of Lies - Michael Russell ***1/2

(27)The Midnight Library - Matt Haig **

(28)Moon of the Crusted Snow - Waubgeshig Rice ****

(29)Son of a Trickster - Eden Robinson **

(30)Our Darkest Night - Jennifer Robson ***

(31)God is not Great - Christopher Hitchen *****

(32)Local Woman Missing - Mary Kubica *****

(33)The City in Flames - Michael Russell ****

(34)Working the Rock - Frances Rooney *****

(35)The Best Kind of People - Zoe Whittall *****

(36)Memories of a Catholic Childhood - Mary McCarthy re-read *****

(37) The Springs of Affection - Maeve Brennan - *****

(38)Fight Night - Miriam Toews *****

(39)The Last Bookshop in London - Madeline Martin *

(40)Open-hearted - Ann Ingle *****

(41)The Longwinded Lady - Maeve Brennan *****

(42)Being Mortal - Atul Gavande *****

(43)Hostage - Clare Mackintosh ***

(44)Becoming - Michelle Obama {BC} ****

(45)Wintering - Katherine May *****

(46)Anxious People - Fredrick Backman  ***

(47)Born A Crime - Trevor Noah {BC} DNF

(48)Pluck - Donna Morrissey ***

(49)We Don't know Ourselves - Fintan O'Toole (1/2 way through, massive book)*****

(50)The Push - Ashley Audrain - just started.

Monday, December 27, 2021

What Love Looks Like

My old shopping cart, absolutely essential to my hauling groceries into this long-winded building, gave up the ghost on the day before Christmas Eve. It owed me nothing, I bought it when I moved in here 4 years ago for $10 at the Thrift Store. I think the shopping clerk took another $5 off the prices as it had a strip of duct-tape and a streak of paint adorning it. I mentioned its sad demise, well earned though it was, to Daughter.

Well, lo and behold, when she arrived later on she rolled in with a brand new shopping cart. And casually mentioned the lineup at Canadian Tire for its purchase was over an hour which is what made her late. We are both adverse to any kind of shopping so this was a magnificent act of love.

I am rich in books this season, all carefully selected and beautifully wrapped as we honour the Icelandic tradition of a book exchange, called Jolabokaflod That's a piece of knitting I'm working on on top of it and a gorgeous candle sent by my next door neighbour. The book gifts keep giving and giving and we also wrap ours in tea towels rather than the waste of decorative paper.

We were having such a great family time on Christmas Day that we forgot to take pictures.

I managed two.

This is of the kids' table which has my mother's embroidered table cloth on it. Before she died she managed to embroider a tablecloth for each one of her six children. They are treasured. Niece now has her dad's.

This is of Niece's kitchen as her dad and herself slogged away, carving and serving. Her husband had to work late on Christmas Day.

One of the best gifts I received was Brother (who had inherited my dad's enormous post card collection) giving me the ones I had sent him over the years. I will write more about these later. As Daughter is a hardcore postcardist, she is over the moon with this collection which I will give to her once I get through it and post here about some of the more interesting ones. 

Sending love to my readers and their families. 'Tis the season.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Chieftains - The Bells of Dublin

Every Christmas Day, for yonks, I play this album. It's playing now on my old fashioned Ipod hosting 6,000 of my favourite songs and bits and pieces, resisting the urge of all to convert to Spotify. Not yet.

Here's the album in case you'd like to enjoy The Chieftains too. "Rebel Jesus" is one of my favourite tracks. How on earth did the Christian world manage to pervert his message?

We have a lovely day planned with many of my family here to celebrate. With utmost caution as The Plague is manifesting itself here, so much so, that the testing lineups were miles long yesterday, Christmas Eve. Alarming so many thinking they need testing in our quiet backwater on The Edge.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing: Stay safe and warm in the cooler climes like here, and cool in the hotter climes of this world.

See you at the other side.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Hard Call

Leo at work, way back.

There were several messages from his family. 

Leo is in hospital, he'd going into palliative care today, please call him, he's talking about you and loves you and wants to hear your voice.

Leo worked for me for many, many years when I had the house around the bay.

I wrote about him a few times.

You can read the pieces here

So I braced myself and after many attempts reached him.

And he sounded frightened and sad and mixed up. But knew me right away. He knew I would call, he told his siblings. 

He doesn't know he's dying. The lad (as we call the Big C in Ireland) is everywhere. His whole body. He knows he'll be in hospital until after Christmas. He says I've never been sick a day in my life. I never take an aspirin even. But you said the smoking would get me. Has it got me?

Remember Leo, I say, how you did such a fine job on my wood? How you took care of my wood stove? How you made me turkey soup? Remember how you took care of Ansa when I was away? Remember how we played cards? 

We were very good to each other, Leo. You were a very good friend and worker.

When I get out of here we'll see each other, won't we?

Of course, I say.

For there is nothing left to say.

I wrote this many years ago.

For Leo and all the Leos of the World

Sometimes my heart breaks, just a little bit.
And I don’t know why that is or where that comes from.
I see him mowing and chopping and planting
And stacking and reaping, picking up sticks from my lawn
Gathering the golden brown leaves of the tired summer trees
Making straight lines along the wondrous green of the grass
Like himself, for he walks so straight, like a military man.
He makes me giggle sometimes over silly stuff.
He gathers up things from the shore that I might like.
Old keys, glass bottles, multi-coloured feathers, odd bits of driftwood,
And presents them to me like the priceless gifts that they are.
He’s very clear and direct. He knows his likes and dislikes.
And announces them without apology or humility.
He knows he had a bad accident when just a lad.
That affected his brain forever and ever.
A wondrous twelve year old in the body of a fifty-eight year old.
He tells me he likes me very much
And that he loves working for me
As I treat him fair and don’t torment him like others do.
He treats my welfare like his own, fixing things,
Working things out patiently as I watch, learning his patience.
I treat his welfare like my own, feeling his hurts,
Watching out for others’ thoughtless cruelties.

I can't stop crying.

Sunday, December 19, 2021


Sunrise from my window a few mornings ago, the deep crimson red was breathtaking and the phone-photo doesn't quite capture it. That's an owl (my spirit animal) pendant - a gift - on the window. It captures the light and moves a rainbow across my floor every day when the sun shines.

We soldier on. In spite of. Because of.

Or do we? I confess to being absolutely knackered by the latest cases of Covid with one case of Omicron here, contained, but hey. Anybody else feeling a sense of gloom and defeat?

I mean we can sway in the wind from time to time and shrug and carry on and then at others feel like crawling into bed and staying there as The Plague, in all its iterations, takes over the planet and thumbs its nose at us. Even those of us fairly safe with an abundance of caution and the health experts taking control of protocols and not the politicians. Like here in my province, Newfoundland. 

It's not good news out of Ireland and the UK and Ontario, Canada, et al. I haven't checked the US lately, I'm hoping you guys are OK with the New Man in charge. Australia has this abundance of caution thing going as well.

Meanwhile in my country of birth, the prime minister has admitted to being "worried" as Omicron gallops through his country with no end in sight. And old Boris in the UK is folding, it looks like.

So we all agreed yesterday, the writing workshop keeps us going like never before and all the writing is remarkable. It's a great way of losing one's self, immersing in an imaginary plague-free world.

I watched For Life which was on Netflix here. Quite good.

I watched some of the Irish series  Single Handed not bad so far. On Amazon Prime here.  Great views of the old sod and seascapes. For those of you not Irish, turn on CC. The accents come flying at you quickly.

Reading Anxious People (Fredrik Backman) who wrote A Man Called Ove which I loved. It's very unusual. And I'll reserve my review until finished.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

A Ramble of Thoughts.

We've had one case here of the Omicron. An odd word, I keep spinning it around in various accents but nothing feels right. It sounds like nylon underwear to me. As if it would itch mightily and be tossed in the garbage as "not fit" which is an expression used a lot out here on The Edge. Applied to boats and cars and people in equal measure. The imaginary standard of fitness is never mentioned. Maybe there isn't one. On a divorce: oh he was not fit. On an old boat: she's not fit.

I could write every day here but I think you'd all collapse of chronic boredom. I can write about anything and quickly too.  My thoughts come together on a page but rarely in my mouth. I've had to publicly speak and it's always a challenge so I use cue cards which are helpful.

We have an absolute hoard of my family gathering for this season. Highly unusual as one section is flying in from Costa Rica where they're all basking in their summer right now and will hit our winter wall of snow on arrival and will need to borrow thick pelts of coats and socks and hats and gloves as they don't have any cold clothes. Daughter is coming in from rural and decided to rent a wee AirBnB unit  in the city not far from me before the festivities start at Niece's who has five children between herself and husband. 

We keep the whole thing simple with regard to gifts and do the Icelandic tradition of a book exchange which is far more meaningful. If I've had the time I make stuff too as does Daughter, as does Niece.

Organ recital: Health is on a bit of downswing with regard to energy and BP and congestion so seeing the doc this Friday for a once over. No news from vascular surgeon yet. And leg seems to be healing nicely from skin cancer removal.

Life is full of slivers of joy and downers of mortality. I lost another friend last week. It feels like I'm misplacing these dear ones as they keep popping into my head and have to halt myself from emailing or texting them with bits of news. As if there's s wee chance they might respond from the stardust they are dancing in.

An empty lit up storefront of many in this economic downturn.

The Bell Island Ferry at a rather weird angle going downhill on the ocean.

Where the ferry is headed. Portugal Cove South.
For you trivia nuts, Bell Island was attacked by German U-Boats during WW2.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

A Nuisance

This little beauty brings me great joy.

One of my father's phrases in later years was: "I try not to be a nuisance."

By that, he meant he tried not to burden his relatives by dropping in unexpectedly and often. He rationed himself out.

Except when it came to me, living in Canada and with him in Ireland. He got into the habit of visiting me for extended stretches of time every summer. A polite and courteous suggestion of shortening his trips was met with "then it wouldn't be worth my while to come."

So, in actual fact, he became a nuisance to his daughter. I forewent my own vacation time to travel around with him as he wanted to see so much like Washington DC, Ottawa, Canada, the Maritimes, Quebec City, Montreal, etc. He was not an easy man or an easy father. Contentious, rigid in his political views and with his Catholicism emanating from his very pores. Along with inbuilt misogyny. He had once told me when I was about sixteen that "your brains are wasted on a girl." 

So our twosomes were fraught with me holding my tongue, incredibly stressful when I look back on our trips. Even worse were the comments from strangers envying the pair of us, "Father and daughter travelling together, oh, I would have given anything to travel with my dad!" I always wanted to reply; "Well, here's mine, have a larf."

Finally one summer, I had a terrible blowup with him in Nova Scotia outside an inn where we were staying where his rudeness to an Australian couple, along with a derision of my chat with a US senator pushed me over the edge. And I thought to myself, "never again am I giving up my time to be insulted and degraded and embarrassed like this." It took many, many years for me to assemble this courage. To actually confront him on his appalling behaviour.

Of course, he had never seen me so enraged as I had rarely stood up to him in the past and never in this white froth of a ten year buildup of repression. No longer would he stay with me for endless weeks.

We remained civil afterwards, and our weekly correspondence continued.  I visited him in Cork, but the most remarkable thing was how he treated me now: with deference and respect. 

The last time I saw him we were staying at a brother's place in West Cork. And as we were all saying goodnight, I went over to him and put my arms around him, he looked so small and diminished in a corner with the family milling about all laughing and joking.

"Good night, daddy," I said, not having called him that in a donkey's age, "I love you."

And true to form, he pursed his lips, and turned away in embarrassment. 

But I think I caught the hint of a tear before he did so.

Just finished this on the fly, a dishcloth, I find enormous peace in knitting.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

This Day

This day rocks and slides around every year. The day in 1969 I gave birth to my second child. The day she was placed in an incubator beside me, I couldn't touch her immediately as her skin was too delicate. In those days there was a long post- natal recuperation in hospital (8-9days) so she was laid out at the end of the nursery beside a huge window, stark naked, below the weak December sun so the Vitamin D could embrace her. Which it did. I read many books and smoked many cigarettes as I recovered. (Smoking in a maternity room sounds impossible now, but yeah, us funky daredevil hippie mothers all did.)

I got to hold her when the sun went down in the first couple of days as I healed and then could go to the nursery and be with her as she sunbathed. It worked. Her skin cleared up.

She was a bright and curious child and when she was in kindergarten she sat me and her father down and asked us seriously if there was a night school she could go to as her days were far too busy for day school. She ran with boys mainly as she found girls far too wishy-washy to her liking as she climbed trees and built a small tree house with the assistance of her far more "proper" older sister. Her seventh birthday, which took place at the Ponderosa Steak House (her choice) had only boys, her gang, in attendance apart from her sister. A cowboy outfit we bought her was worn to shreds on her. She wore her socks with one matching her sweater and one matching her pants or skirt. That made total sense to her. And to me.

She was unique and different and extraordinarily bright with illuminating insights on how the world worked. There was a patch of enormous trouble with her at fourteen when she found drugs and ran with an alarming bunch of teenagers. I didn't deal with it well at the time, I had my own demons. But through Tough Love, a support group for parents which was absolutely fantastically helpful, I began laying down tough rules and curfews and she ran away from home for a few weeks. It was a hellish time, but she did come back (long story), bedraggled and subdued and got back in school and off the drugs, shining in scholarly achievement after the first semester. 

She lived with me, just about, until she was twenty-eight. And subsequently back- emigrated to Ireland.

She is currently in the UK. And about twenty years ago now, cut off her entire blood family and her friends here.

So there is this huge chunk of wandering love chopped right out of all of our lives. I understand that not being a mother herself she has no idea of the pain of loss I and her father suffer. Or her sister and niece. 

It's like missing a limb. And the phantom pains never leave. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021



Wintering is a book by Katherine May which I recently finished.

The blurb sums it up nicely: "The power of rest and retreat in difficult times."

It was fortuitous I read it at this particular time as I gained some new perspective on wintering. The wintering of my life particularly. 

So many here race off to sunnier climes (at least in pre-plague days) avoiding the whole wintering business.

It's a time for being home, for crafting, for making soups and reading and writing for playing music and watching old movies. Embracing a form of hibernation. We've lost touch with all of that. Rising with the sun, bedding down along with it as the day comes to a close.

I was and still am, processing my latest health challenges and this has helped me see life more sharply, through a different pair of spectacles if you will. Hunkering down is OK. Our bodies crave it.

I received this wonderful validation in my email box yesterday from one of the eight people in my weekly writing workshop. It lifted me immeasurably.

M, thank you a million times over for the  magic you are creating in our writing group! I feel so fortunate! So Elated! It;s given me a new confidence and a comfort I haven't felt in my skin for a long time or maybe never! Seeing us all evolving! seeing what B read this week just rendered me speechless. How she evolves! What stories these women carry inside them come to life is the best feeling in the world.

 forever in your debt,

A wee flower in winter on my shelf garden.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Beautiful Words

I called Lana, my friend with Alzheimer's tonight. She was overjoyed as always to hear my voice. And said she adored a card that I had sent her and showed it to everyone and described everything on it to me.

She sounded so alert and close to her old self.

She said she had felt good enough to go back to her old house and to have her car back in her life as driving was her passion. And she explained to her son that her leg was now back to normal, and she was back to normal, so time to go home, right?

She quotes their entire conversation verbatim to me, "Mum," he said to her, "I'm going to be completely honest with you. The problem hasn't been really about your leg. The problem has been your short term memory vanishing."

And on the phone to me she takes an enormous breath and stays silent.

"And," she said, "I had to accept that. I had to absorb that."

And then he said to her, "You will not be leaving here, Mum. This is where you are safe and have no worries."

"And Mum," he added, "I want you to know that as your light dims, my light will shine brighter to brighten up your darkness."

And we both cried.

I still am incredibly moved by these words, the courage and honesty and love behind them. And that they stayed with her so she could repeat them to me.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


(I thought you'd like to see the beautiful city where I live)

Some setbacks health wise which have upset me.

So there.

I was too complacent perhaps with how my abysmal health for the past two years had turned around and allowed me to walk without George my stick, and Wally my wheelchair used for longer stretches. Does the Catholic guilt ever leave me, I ask myself, all those instructions from the Holy Nuns about not being proud, which covered a multitude of missteps, never taking pleasure in anything or God would turn around and smite you before snatching it away. Vanity. Victory. Holy God is in charge and will always knock you down a peg or two.

So last week was one of those weeks where every single doctor (three) visit had gloom and doom written all over it.

Finally, on Thursday, I sat in my car and hauled out the pity pot and sat on it for about 30 minutes in the backside of a parking lot which seemed appropriate rather than an ocean visit. What else can one do (unless you're lying to yourself).

Daughter and Niece cheered me up. I am so grateful for them both in my life. I haven't shared with friends, I feel quite on the verge of tears, and only with one dear blog friend directly. I am, as they say, processing. 

I will write more of this when I can.

Meanwhile the Writing Workshop keeps me busy and engaged and quite out of myself which is excellent. Niece has planned a mango curry dinner for me tomorrow night and Daughter is taking the day off next Friday and coming in to have lunch and a bit of Solstice shopping (we do books only).

Life is as life is. Acceptance and a carrying on spirit is needed.

We all have unexpected downers, don't we? 

(Another shot of St. John's - we are right on the Atlantic ocean)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


 I had a most lovely surprise on the shelf outside my door. A lovely pewter Irish candle. Anonymous.

I immediately put it to good use honouring the two dear ones I lost this year.

I posted the pic on FB and anonymous announced herself. What a lovely thing to do.

My eldest brother has Covid. He is double vaxed and boostered. So there is no relaxing with this thing. He is masked at all times. He believes he caught it on a flight to Dublin, (plane washroom?). He's recovering in isolation now. Fingers and toes crossed.

Writers Workshop is fantastic. The group is now cohesive and having wonderful fun. Great talent is on display and some excellent writing. A huge pile of work involved for me but it's all such a joy.  

An interesting sideline out of this is that I was asked to do a series of sessions with a very sharp 98 year old veteran to extract his extraordinary life story. I am really looking forward to this new enterprise and putting together questions that are easy and meaningful. I am so very grateful that I am entrusted with this and perhaps can do some more with the elderly before they pass on, their stories lost forever. I say elderly with a snort (I is one!). 

I am reminded of an article in that great lamented defunct magazine "Saturday Night" where this dance teacher visited homes for the aged and taught them basic moves and encouraged them to have more creativity and endurance when dancing. She said she loved helping the elderly embrace a fresh activity. As she climbed into her sports car after a class , the interviewer asked delicately how old she was. "92" was the response as she zipped off. That story stayed with me, nearly 40 years later.

I see many elderly reliant on their families for entertainment and inclusion with nothing else on their platters. All outside interests suspended, personal development a thing of the past. All their friends like themselves, trapped like a fly on a spiderweb of expectations which, of course, are never met. Sending out depressing guilt-o-grams to adult children about not seeing enough of them. 

Never has it been more important to "get a life", keep stoked, do something new, get out, feed the birds at the lake, take a drive, get a colouring book, a jigsaw, take a photography class, get more plants to look after, talk some new ideas. Be realistic with the time one has left (short).

What are you going to do with what's left of your one and only wild and crazy life?

Saturday, November 20, 2021


 Stubblejumper was bemoaning her lack of finding a proper 2022 Planner. Seems she and I are very, very fussy about our planners. They have to be workhorses.

I found a beauty a month or so ago at a dollar store (who'd a' thunk it?) Unbounded joy for $4.00 approx.

Week at a glance - huge amount of room for every single thing. I like to slot in stuff beforehand and book time off, a day off preferably.
Pages of To Do lists and pages of notes - I use these for movie and book recommendations. And Important Thots. And my never ending to do list.
Special see-through section at the back with a zipper for those bits.

After two years of frozen friend and family meal drop offs I am back to cooking again and had to brag about this marvelous old recipe meatloaf with sides of kale and carrot/sweet potato. I gave leftovers to Daughter along with my home made soup. Quite a switcheroo. So happy about this.

And finally I was in a thrift store (buying men's PJ bottoms, thanks for asking) and found this great ginormous clock to hang above my toilet. I love clocks. Always have. This is so vulgar as to be sublime. 
Ecstasy for $10.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Cognitive Decline in the Elderly

I won't get into the link business here as there are far too many essays and articles on the topic of cognitive decline during these hazardous times.

Elders have been adversely affected during Covid, due to lack of social interaction, normal leisure activities, large family gatherings, etc. I would add the appalling new layers of climate change (which is quite horrifying out in British Columbia at the moment), here's a link to that for readers outside Canada. BC has been cut off from food delivery and is totally isolated with highway washouts and mudslides.

I am witnessing a situation first hand here in the building with a friend who has virtually pulled down the shutters and refuses to come out. I've tried my best over the past week or so to get her to come to the beach or out for a meal or even a coffee or even to come here for a chat in her PJs or me to visit her. I believe the Black Dog (or perhaps a pack of black dogs) has got her firmly in it's grip. I can't get through to her and it's alarming.

She's let many activities go, even her driving. Another friend tried to coax her out to a prime beef dinner on Saturday night at the RAF club ($15.00!!) and she declined even though our table will be just people who know her well. 

I texted her today that I didn't want to be a pain in the arse trying to break through to her and said I was always available for a chat. All I got was a little heart emoticon in return.

I am really concerned. The Black Dog was my familiar in the past but thankfully, gratefully, he took off some time ago and hasn't shown his slavering jaws in a long while.

I believe this is a rough time for many of us (children, seniors) And the future of this wee planet is looking grimmer and grimmer and Covid rates are through the roof in Ireland and the UK again. Masked will be part of our daily existence (forever?) and I have little faith that politicians will sort out and correct the trajectory of the acceleration of devastating weather conditions due to advancing climate change.

As an Australian prime minister said a few years back (sorry can't remember his name) when the fires were chewing through his country "You're on your own."

We are all on our own basically. 

There is no magic wand.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

So There


So There

I wish there was a heaven

With everything promised

Without the fires and judgement

And resurrections of bodies

And where we didn’t have to sing

Praises and question why

I’d add my mother’s arms around me

And a white grand piano

And meeting Beethoven

And Emily Dickinson

And so many others it would take

All day to name them

But I’d have eternity to sit down

And chat with them one by one

We’d all be our old selves

Not new selves who sound boring

But how would we find each other

With all the billions already there

Would we get a kind of GPS

And a magic plane or train or car

I couldn’t live in heaven without the

Ones I loved being right there

And the ones I didn’t love not so there

It all sounds so complicated

And unmanageable and undoable

But I can dream

Of my own kind of heaven

Can't I?

MM 11/16/21

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Lana's World

Outside of her new home.
Some of you have followed my posts on Lana, my long term friend who descended into the long goodbye of Dementia/Alzheimers. She is younger than me by 2-1/2 years which makes it all the more poignant.

Up to about a month or so ago she was still driving which alarmed me greatly. I kept in touch with her son and another friend of hers who checked on her regularly.

Then a few weeks ago she wasn't answering her phone and her son found her on the floor of her living room with a massively swollen right leg.

Community area of her new home.

He sprung into action. Got her to the hospital (she had blood clots) and immediately arranged for her to be admitted to a care facility. A very fancy care facility. Unaffordable to most but it turns out he's one of those quiet millionaires (real estate, stock market). Her house is worth a lot but he hasn't seen the need to sell it yet. She is very fortunate.

I call her once a week and enter her brand new world. She surprises me with her sharpness at times, asks about my writing, wants to hear all about the workshop but I'm very much in the now with her. All short term memory is wiped as with a blackboard eraser from her mind within a very short length of time.

It humbles me. She speaks of her surroundings - a chandelier in her room, a brand new TV screen installed by her son, a selection of framed pictures and photos from her former home. She laughs. "I wouldn't have chosen any of these myself" and she describes them to me. Her leg is shrinking. And she's walking the halls. 

Every floor is carpeted - a long cry from most "care" homes. It's like a luxurious hotel" she says. A privilege denied to many. And she knows it. She is incredibly grateful to her son who stepped up to the plate, so to speak. Their sometimes fractious past long forgotten.

It's extraordinarily peaceful talking to her for about 45 minutes every week. We are very much in the now. I never question her. Even asking her about dinner would be stressful but now and again she'll talk about the menu and I am astonished at the choices on offer and her memory in recalling the items - a long list.

She asks me to give her some memories which I do. Trip to Ireland, trip to New Brunswick, a couple of trips to Newfoundland and to her parents when they were alive, weekend retreats, volunteer community work we shared. She delights in each memory recalled for her.

"My grandson has my car!" she suddenly announces to me.

"You loved that car!" I answer.

"It was time," she says, "I'm OK with not driving again."

I am profoundly affected by this. She adored driving. And knew far more than I about cars.

I dread the day she forgets me but right now when I call her, she is bowled over with love for me. As I am for her.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

A Sheltered Life


I was buying groceries on line when this item was thrown at me as an under $10 bargain. I had no idea I'd been walking around never, ever knowing I had stones in my throat. Did you? 

This is a really handy gadget as it also does double duty for plucking crap out of your ears. What a bargain! I'm sure they must carry a stitchomatic (or ear glue) for patching up those pierced ear drums and that accidental tracheostomy too. 

Here's the blurb:

"A soft silicone cap to scratching your throat for a better touch feeling.
With a transparent storage case and a stainless steel ear pick.
An useful tool set for the removal of annoying tonsil stones.
Come with a LED Light for a clear vision, convenient to use.
Can also be used as a Ear Wax Remover."

You can tell the grammar is from foreign parts. 

I am now going to work really hard at being annoyed at my tonsil stones.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

My Happy Place

I held my first writing workshop in years yesterday after the fallow years of The Plague. 

There was a very satisfying turnout and I held it in the large two storey community room of my building which worked out very well. As I kept the workshop private, we had no "spectators" which happens frequently if tenants are aware of something interesting but only want to observe and not participate which I discovered to my chagrin at another group meeting. Discomfiting to say the least. 

The ambience there is quite lovely with a huge library, a propane stove in the corner, and large windows and glass doors over looking the garden and golf club behind it and upholstered window seats with a piano and a well supplied kitchen and bathroom. I will take photos next week.

I took most of  a week to get everything ready - it's a group sharing effort with prompts from me, a 10 minute exercise to flex those writing muscles and reading of individual pieces which are distributed to each other for critiques to be presented the following week.

There's a ten minute break half way through for tea and buns and getting-to-know-you interaction. 

It went far better than I anticipated. Some written pieces were extraordinary in their emotion.

The group - some of whom had never met before - seemed to get along really well. The relaxation was almost visible.

There's a lot of trust involved in sharing writing. And I observed the empathy develop. And the enthusiasm.

I truly love doing this. And I'm sure it shows.

I took this picture of my dear late friend R playing in the sand. I presented him with the bucket and spade when he stayed with me out here on The Edge. I love this image as his outer demeanor was normally so serious.


Monday, November 01, 2021


It took a while for it all to sink in.

Here I was with 2 years of disability, chronic pain, no energy, lack of oxygen and underperforming blood running through my system now behind me. Well almost behind me. I am feeling much better than I had been. So I plunged into a busy life with a lot on the go.

SOS: We had put out an anonymous survey in our building in an effort to ascertain the monthly income of seniors, what items they were lacking, what changes they'd like to see made in their current situations, etc. And also, if comfortable, please donate as we were not government funded. The response? Less that 10% of residents responding. A solitary donation of $5.00.

A request on the SOS page with its 600 members across Canada asking for donations and volunteers to help with our SAD day (Senior Awareness Day) on December 1st, resulted in zero.

As I was working on the SAD pledge poster and participant form which was the major fundraiser - all participants agree to live on the $7.00 per day impoverished elderly seniors live on - the lightbulb lit up in my head. My one assistant was deteriorating with an incurable tremor condition so can't keyboard and her tech abilities are diminished along with her voice on the phone.

I asked myself if I was living in joy or stress. And the answer was loud and clear.

I had to stop. And after 4 hours of graphics wrestling, I laid down and thought. Enough, already. Stop this nonsense. And the relief overwhelmed me, almost immediately. This was like a full time job that was a painful reminder of other positions I positively hated and couldn't wait to bail from.

I had let go of all the things I loved, blogging, writing, knitting, workshops, music, even repotting my plants. No time. It consumed me. And for what? The sound of crickets with every announcement, survey, pleas for help.

I met with my partner, and she agreed. Her health is failing. She told me she couldn't sleep with the stress of not performing even the simplest tasks. 

We gave it our very, very best. And would have given more. But the universe has a great way of showing us that even all that wasn't enough.

So we are each sleeping better. 

And my tradeoff is a return of all the joys I had let go.

A beautiful card of Dingle Beach Horses and a handmade linen star sent from my sister in Ireland.

Saturday, October 23, 2021


Feel free to join in on That Was The Week That Was. 

Monday, I had a long chat with a brother who has the same condition(s) I do. He was hospitalized and put on intravenous antibiotics as one of his symptoms was high fever. So infection for him and chronic anaemia for me. But interestingly, no pain for either of us.

Tuesday I had a spyhole installed in my door to avoid the cranks that this snarly hermit tries to avoid at all costs. Started compiling a writing workshop layout for a series of eight workshops I am giving for another anthology.

Picture is of Fogo Island, Newfoundland from a few years ago.

Rolled with two cancellations of social plans on Wednesday. I am never bothered by such things as I have masses of plan Bs to amuse myself with.

Thursday not much, several books arrived, two from Ireland and one picked up at my local charming library.

More on books later, my books read list is waaaay overdue.

Friday, we had a meeting with local bank to start legitimizing Support Our Seniors, the group I founded. I am always amazed at the emotion showed by young people including my CBC interviewer and now the bank manager, when they learn about the dismal poverty many seniors are in, living way below the poverty line in a "wealthy" country. More awareness is needed. More on that later.

Had to cancel today, Saturday, though not much was planned as I had dizzy spells this morning which discombobulated me. Now thankfully gone. But had a long nap in the afternoon to recover.

Tonight. I was alarmed at not reaching my friend Lana (read about her here) for the past month so contacted her son and she has been put into a luxurious assisted living facility. Something she, like many of us, never wanted to happen.

She had been ill with clots in her right leg and her mental stability had worsened, so he made this decision and caretook her all the way through it. He gave me her number and I was so delighted to hear her - so accepting of her new situation. She is rapturous about the care she is receiving and the incredible meals which she told me about. And how the staff chase her down, laughing, to give her her pills as she walks all over the building to get her exercise. And how she is accepting she is there forever, so to speak. I cried I was so happy and moved. She is younger than I by a few years but one never knows when life can change irrevocably.

This dear friend died during the week. She lived to a great age (94) and this was a study I took of her for a painting by an artist about 6 years ago. He wanted her eyes downcast as she had a "saintly and modest demeanor". He didn't know her obviously, as she could swear and curse with the best of us and had endless talents.

Some lovely conversations with Sherkin Island aficionados, sharing memories and with one planning a trip to Newfoundland.

Sherkin - a part of my heart resides there. Always.