Friday, December 30, 2022

Time Management

 Do others find this far more challenging as we age? I know I certainly do. I'm a former multi-tasker (and yes, I know, the jury is still out on whether this actually works or not) so I have to really, really prioritize and manipulate my time carefully. I can't be rushed anymore as the befuddling starts. That feeling of being overwhelmed.

One task at a time is important. Don't move me off my plan. I was adverse to being firm about this but now, yes, I am. No more galloping off spontaneously in gay abandon, on to the next adventure, no thought to the unfinished left behind.

I am careful with my time, careful with my energy. I saw this recently and it resonated with me:

So much doesn't feed the soul spirit. The news, all dreadful, with tiny exceptions, energy vampires, pessimists, I could add to the list. I'm not a believer in new year's resolutions I am more into subtracting that which doesn't enhance my life and there is much of that kicking around. 

We had a lovely holiday season apart from one dear family member who had a positive Covid test the day after we left which stressed us out a bit for the five days clearance time. She didn't infect any of us.

A second holiday dinner on Boxing Day had our host with a diagnosis of returning terminal cancer and it was bitter sweet for all concerned as we made the best of it and shed tears where he couldn't see us. So very poignant.

I am hoping everyone had a better emotional time of it than that and all was peaceful and jolly in your worlds.

Apologies for not being on top of your blogs but it's been hectic here with the revolving door of guests staying, leaving, bed linens, towels, food planning and general and enjoyable hopping around with cars borrowed, returned, pickups. Quite a whirl but I wouldn't change it and all respected my need for peaceful time management. So yes, I did slow down and just enjoy the company and the love.

What I did notice in the two fairly large gatherings we were at was that there was no drinking of alcohol. At all. So all was peaceful. I find alcohol at these gatherings raises the voices and often the temperature - if you catch the drift.

Happy, happy New Year 2023 to all. 

May it see us all, if nothing else, contented.

Saturday, December 17, 2022


I have little chats with myself. Today the topic was adaptation to life's quirks and tumbles, to the curve balls.

Is that the secret to a contented life? Being adaptable to circumstances? Like when life doesn't go your way, when you think others are having the time of their lives as you sit alone, mulling over your pathetic life? 

And speaking of "your way" what way is that exactly?

Like the song said : "I never promised you a rose garden."

My way was having it all. The house, the dog, the piano, the big important job, the kids, the devoted husband, two cars, all the appliances I would ever need. And space. Lots of space. 

And guess what? I had the "all" that I thought would give me the best life. Plus a nanny too for good measure.

And guess what? I wasn't happy. I could point to my mother dying young, my husband not being what I thought he should be, my busy career (there was no time for piano-playing and music). Stress. Emigration. Not enough something, something. Not knowing then, as I do now, that happiness is an inside job. Nothing whatsoever to with others or possessions or your kids or your partner. Nothing.

And we're not aware of our own adaptations to circumstances. And sometimes it takes time to adapt. It sure doesn't happen overnight.

And self-blame walks into a lot of situations which we have no control over, like our health, like an estranged child, like a death of a beloved ("I should have done more.")

And one day I woke up and did not memorialize my estranged child's birthday last week. I let go. I adapted. I was done. Adapted to her choice, adapted to my reaction. Adapted to moving on after twenty years of grief and worry and chest beating.

And I realized that adaptation has been part of my life now for a long time. And I've never been happier, sick, not sick, struggling, not struggling.

I've been three years in lockdown as I have been told that catching any of the three pandemics circling the drain of the globe right now, I will die. Maybe I'll be in lockdown until I toss off this mortal coil. I have many things to entertain me. Including blogs, books, writing, knitting, some tax work. My music. Correspondence. Big etc.

It's the way of the world right now.

I have adapted.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Forever and Todo.

 An enormous word, isn't it? I was having a deep think today which involved old age, death, priorities and gripes, groans and geezerdoms.

Mainly though, there is never enough time to do all I set out to do in a day. My todo (pronounced toe-dough) lists are lengthy and spill over to the next week and beyond. What part of a todo do I kick to the curb when I want to complete all of it?

I reflect on my bestie Helen, whose wake was held at her house and her last unfinished book was propped up beside her - we shared a voracious habit of reading and exchanged books all the time, even though I was in Canada and she was in Ireland.

I think this is a great idea for readers who eventually die, the bookcase converts into your casket:

The point is, the unfinished business of what we leave behind, and how poignant is it?

I envision my own forever unfinished business: several novels, a memoir, three pieces of knitting with promises attached, a large piece of red felt awaiting embroidery, the relics of my once enormous collection of old movies (5,000?) - most now given away, but....journals - most now destroyed, books of ideas waiting for actualization.... For who's to tell when the Grim Reaper comes calling? 

So it all ends up in the dump. Forever. And that's not a good thought, not from a vanity point of view but because of pollution and our cast away lives winding up in the oceans, etc. Never more of a crisis than now. Or if one burns the lot of it then, boy, green house gases and plastic crap in the air.

I try staying awake and trying to fulfil all my todos. But being a geezer, as I am, I nod off in the most unflattering of ways. If you are old and honest, you know what I'm saying. Chin drool, startling awake in an odd place, orienting oneself, looking at a clock and wondering where the last 2 hours went. My father in his time denied he was asleep mid-afternoon but told me, snottily, he was "giving his eyes a rest."

So my eyes need a rest most days. Unless I am over-caffeinated, then watch out.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Catch Up

 I've been writing and editing and meeting with writers and neglected the blog. I apologise. I need to catch up with you all too.

I went for a walk yesterday. This would mean nothing to most of you but I'm telling you, this was a very major thing for me.

I went without George, my cane, scoped the area (it was a path around a lake - called ponds here no matter the size - I'm very fond of as it was one of Ansa's favourites) to check for resty spots and headed off. It wasn't much of a walk but boy after so very long being so very immobilized it was enormous to me. I was so happy I cried.

I had missed the cheerful greetings of strangers on little hikes, genuine good mornings and how are you doings. I had missed the winter birds bombing around, missed the myriads of dogs being walked ready to greet me. Missed the mittens and wee hat and a goodly scarf around my neck. Like a winter-walking human being.

Yesterday, in total, I had completed 2,000 steps in my day. Unimaginable even a couple of months ago while I was still, in the dark hours of the night, sleeping napping, curled up like a pretzel in pain in my recliner for months thinking a bed would never be in my future again.

But life is strange and wonderful and full of surprises. 

And I'm packing a lot of it in at the moment. I've been playing this. A favourite from the seventies and always relevant to my life for some reason.

And my Christmas cactus is right on time with her blooms with a bit of competition from the African violet.

A powerful lesson in embracing just the moments. As life can change in a heartbeat.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thrifty Bits

I used up some yarn bits to make this sofa-neck cushion. It's all cotton so washable.

Odd this, it's not in the last bit "lumpy" the photo is fighting this truth.

The top showing buttons I found in the button jar.

It took an inordinate amount of time because of my moodiness and why-bothering with myself. Pain and lack of sleep effects us all in weird ways.

I was out today and took myself off to my favourite thrift store. A large palace of a place chock a block with a vast range of goodies.

For just under $10 I got the following:

A juice glass for mornings, I didn't have one and juice looks so pathetic in a tumbler. Two sets of bookends. One gorgeous journal with TWO ribbon markers and its own pen in a holder, and a neat standup wooden frame for current card/postcard received with a double rubber band at the bottom to hold in place.

I had good news from nephrologist in that my kidneys have been stable for a while now but he warned me that flu/covid could kill me as my kidneys could not handle either.

There's a party here on December 9th but, and a huge BUT it is, 90% of the residents in my building don't wear masks and I really can't risk it, unless things improve. 

How's Covid where you live? I see the US has a huge increase in the last wee while particularly with pediatric cases (and pediatric deaths). Here the deaths in the past month overshadow the beginnings of the pandemic. But still, people tell each other "it's over" and "it's embarrassing to wear a mask, it's over-reacting to nothing."


Friday, November 18, 2022

Old Dog New Tricks

 I remember Lana telling me once (I think she was aware then of the beginnings of her dementia) that it really helped the brain to switch things up. Accordingly she was sleeping on the other side of her bed and had moved her toothbrush to the other side of the sink and her hair stuff to her bedroom out of the bathroom.

She was never a cook, ate her breakfast "out" every day for about 45 years give or take. And shopped for "stuff" as she needed it. I tend to organize myself a little better than that and save money while doing so as I don't impulse shop in grocery stores like many of my friends. I order on line and have it delivered to my car and plan a menu around my supplies and stick to it.

I do switch things around a bit. And I engage my brain in 12 games of scrabble every day. On line for about 15-20 years now. We all have pretty high ratings so that is challenging and good for the brain. I also read voraciously, now with a magnifying glass due to my right eye being nearly blind. So there's that. And design and knit "stuff."

So on this caloric reduction regime I am doing quite well. I make a variety of soups, delicious soups. My phone camera is old and my phone owes me nothing so I need to upgrade. So apologies for the quality.

Today's soup, a large pot, is potato/carrot/lowsalt bacon, chopped/onions.chopped/ kale chopped and portabella mushrooms fresh and sliced thin and used as garnish after gently sauteeing them. All in a no-salt chicken stock. I cook the carrots and potato first then blend these with an immersible blender before putting in the sauteed kale, bacon, onions and mushrooms.

Seriously? It's to die. This is a huge pot and I will freeze much of this in smaller containers and give away to those who like that sort of thing.

I've gone down around 3 sizes in the 8 weeks I've applied myself to these restrictive measures and my body thanks me.

I saw my new primary care person today and I was surprised at how thorough she was, familiar already with my intake interview which was detailed and took well over an hour and with discussion on the comments from my specialists on my on-line file. We're going to do well together, I believe. I really like her.

And my little window garden delights me with these:

I'm still not in perfect condition for an old dog, but this salt free soup making is a new trick and I can sit while slicing and chopping which is a bonus. 

Have you learned any new tricks lately?

Saturday, November 12, 2022


 A minor impatient rebellion by a few of my writers in my writing workshop yesterday. Demands to see their finished pieces published already. I took the requisite 24 hours before responding as my initial internal reactive one would have curled the hair on anyone's head. 

So I managed the reasonable, reasoned one a few minutes ago. Still calling them idiots but couched very prettily in one of those passive aggressive apologies. "I thought I had taken the time to explain the process in detail, I am so sorry if that wasn't the case."  (Note to readers: you see how imperfect I am.)

I read the rag of our local newspaper (on line) today, I don't do it often as it makes me grit my teeth. But I idly looked at my horoscope and it said:

So yes on the horoscope theme, I just finished "A Spool of Blue Thread" which was book club reading for this month. I see it has mixed reviews. I love Anne Tyler so admit to a bias. I would give it 5/5. It reads with extraordinary intimacy into a family. The secrets, the unspoken, the unresolved.

I've also nearly finished all the episodes of Season 5 of The Crown which, much like Downtown Abbey, one can't quite take seriously. The cars and frocks and sumptuous dinners and palatial residences and backbiting can't be beaten for their sheer entertainment value and re-creation. It must have cost a fortune to produce.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Both Sides Now


After a clinic visit yesterday (which I will write about later), it was late so I took myself off to a coffee shop to grab a bit of a very late lunch.

Two young men were blocking the path to the only table available with an enormous packed bag on the ground. They ignored me as I huffed, frustrated, and then I circled around them and squeezed past on the other side, really, really annoyed and huffy in that way I have so reminiscent of my father. My Jimmy moments. 

I threw my perfected Jimmy glare in their direction but they had no time for me and my petty grievances. They were sharing a small box of timbits (tiny donuts for non-Canadians) with no drinks and also sharing a cell phone, which they passed back and forth. they shook their heads at each other, mouthing "any luck?" while the other hung up shaking his head handing the phone back.

I copped myself on as I unfolded my sandwich and thought: Homeless? All their possessions in this one huge hockey bag on the floor, and where else could they put it anyway, tables were too small, they had no car, were they looking for shelter from friends? Temporary accommodation, somewhere, anywhere? 

They left suddenly and huddled outside the window opposite me, sharing a stub of a cigarette. And I just knew, looking at their fearful faces, that yes, they were. And with shelters full and foodbanks empty what on earth would they do next?

They were gone when I left. I wish I had spoken to them and helped them in some way.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Small Things

 Tao meditation this morning:

"You may be capable of great things, but life consists of small things."

Perspective is every thing. I can still feel I am underachieving at life. That there should be more writing, more editing, more workshops, more knitting of wedding gift afghans and Alaskan hats and Solstice is coming and how ill prepared I am for the the book exchange and and and......I can really pile it on, all my perceived shortfalls.

And I light the small candle at seven a.m. and reflect on the meditation, and look over at my window and I see this:

Shockingly sudden deep pink blooms on my beloved African violets.

And then I spot this over at the edge. This tiny baby forcing out one solitary flower:

And then I look at my latest wee giftie from my neighbour. She saw it at a plant sale and thought of me and bought it and put it on my outside ledge to surprise me:

I'm acclimatizing it at the moment, but she is spreading her wings as you can see.

I would never have paid attention to such small things if not for the Tao jog.


Saturday, October 29, 2022

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day coming up shortly,  where soldiers march and remember the "glory" of their service, applauded by one and all. Flag waving, cheering, teary. Medals glistening on uniforms, smart salutes, Last Post, maybe pipers in kilts blasting praise to the skies. New monuments erected, lists of the fallen and betrayed And cannons or guns fired in glory. Honouring the Dead, the Unknowns, selling red poppies to support recruitment of more such heroes. Another November 11th. Another glorification of the non-stop "wars" of men, (how many centuries now?) Another misuse of that plural noun "freedoms." 

I wrote this 5 years ago and read it somewhere, the men were pissed, the women cheered and applauded but controlled themselves when they saw the men's faces. "We will Remember Them" is a common refrain on November 11th. We even have the moment of silence across the country at 11.00 a.m. in all our multiple time zones. But I remember the women. 

1939 St. John's Newfoundland

I wiIl remember

Where are the monuments, the medals,

The honours and commemorations

For the women and girls who carried on,

Who birthed year after year after year after year

While husbands and lovers marched

And killed and drank and fell down

In wars for the wealthy back room boys.

Women who despaired and cried in the poverty of their existence

Who had no choice, no say, no name. But his.

Who died and were replaced. By women like them

Who birthed year after year after year after year

And worked their fingers to the bone day and night.

Who were oft times beaten. And raped.

And in their turn, watched their daughters sacrificed.

And now, they are glorified without name,

Sanctified only as a matriarchal monolith,

Sacrificial lambs, their misery forgotten,

Mere nameless footnotes.

Their struggles negated.

Their stories erased forever.

MM 10/28/2017

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

I Was Never Old Before

Wise words even for those of us who spill, drop and scatter things inadvertently.

So I learn. Mainly from elder bloggers, many who have passed on now. What a euphemism. "Passed on." Some to their saviour and assorted relatives, others to star dust from whence they (and I) came. And of course I learn from those in my independent elder living building. 

Some garden diligently never letting a weed so much as breathe. We have massive gardens here including vegetable patches. Some fill the covered patio at the front with flowers and pots and wall hangings. Others fill the library with catalogueing and sorting books while others make pillows for our gallery (my floor's bonus) which overlooks the large community room where I hold my workshops. I will photograph it all soon as my legs are improving greatly with my weight loss.

I had no models in my life for successful aging. I refer to the women as my dad (who outlived my mother by 25 years) was a different story entirely. My mother died young. My grandmother, her mother, who was fairly young then and survived her was a livewire but sunk into a massive depression after mum's death (grief therapy unheard of then) and was never the same. An older aunt, a business woman and golfer of some renown sunk into hers when her youngest child died. Losing a child changes one for ever.

Point being, I was on my own as to how to do it successfully. By success I mean contentedly, enthusiastically even. So I paid attention to the blogs of elders. Many had hobbies. Many travelled. Ronni, in her blog "As Time Goes By" wrote of the real challenges of aging, loss of hair, teeth, overall health, lack of accessibility with mobility issues, being not afraid to move across the continent when things didn't work out in Maine. Irene wrote of mental health challenges, agoraphobia, Ernestine wrote about the turning point of 78 when she could no longer garden but adapted her kitchen for experimental healthful cooking while sitting until arhritis defeated her. 98 year old Tom wrote of his tomato garden, so many astonishing varieties. Hobbies (blog writing being one) are essential to successful aging.

Blogging has been a life saver for many elders including me. Blog friendships can be deep and fulfilling. And blogs leave a wonderful legacy of how to navigate this final phase of our lives. 

For those lucky enough to experience it while so many others pass on.

One of the fall gardens of our building.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Bits and Bobs

So far so good on the restricted form of eating I'm on. Not easy by any means but I am committed thus far. When it's restricted it's a matter of choosing wisely rather than slapdash. With that in mind, I made a few more meals and froze them. One a highly nutritious meatloaf. I have a very long table against one of my kitchen openings and on there I can chop veggies and use my mixer and my food processor when needed while sitting down. An 9 foot long table is a marvelous thing. And I use it a lot.


On my weekly call to Lana, my long time friend with dementia, she mentioned she was reading a book about her "memory failings". I said if the book is near, maybe she could read the title. She scrambled around and told me "Still Alice."  I know this is a novel about Alzheimer's (which I read years ago and saw the movie) but I don't get too excited about Lana's grasp of such things. I said, avoiding questions as I do, "I imagine you reading it in bed." She responded, "Yes, a page a night, it puts me to sleep." "It's all about your disease," I said. "It is?" she responded, "Oh that's very interesting. A book about my disease."


I've cut back on my writing workshops this week and am taking it easy due to the changes I am making in my lifestyle. Not overburdening myself or taking on too much. With this free time I am slowly cleaning up my office. Death Cleaning in other words. I try and not leave too much of a mess for those I leave behind. There are many YouTubes and books on this but briefly here you go to get you started if you already haven't:

  1. Step 1: Let Your Loved Ones Know. ...
  2. Step 2: Start With Less Personal Items. ...
  3. Step 3: Gift Possessions Away Gradually. ...
  4. Step 4: Keep Mementos for Yourself. ...
  5. Step 5: Donate and Sell the Rest. ...
  6. Step 6: Make a List of Important Documents and Passwords. ...
  7. Step 7: Declutter Regularly.
Many of these I have done already but my closet needed an overhaul. If I haven't worn or used something in a year I am ruthless and have been for years. Two large garbage bags were filled and carted off by my helper who repurposes everything I give her. Still have loads to do mainly in photographs (boxes and boxes) and so much yarn.

But even a little bit of this decluttering is enormously satisfying.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022



Soup is a kind of cure-all isn't it? Homemade that is, not the can or packaged. In the good old days the Swiss company Knorr had a good run at it with their dried. No more now. Corporate takeovers being what they are and profiteering mightily on a once loved and respected brand name by cheapening its content: hello nasty corn products.  

I have to lose weight. No choice. I am old and too much strain on the internal organs and external joints. And my past life of hiking and running ended abruptly with a bad fall on the ice where I injured my back. 

I look around me and realize that it is the skinnier ones who live long and healthily and preserve their joints well by walking or other form of exercise every day. My doc advised swimming but a brother tells me not a good idea as the surfaces are very slippery and my footing is none too reliable and I doubt if I could carry George, my trusty cane, into the pool. Walking some days is not as challenging as others, depending on the pain in my knee joints and my back. But persistence is my middle name.

I lost 5 pounds in the last two weeks. I can never quite think well in metric, the old imperial measures have more meaning for me. 5 pounds converts to 2.27 kilos but that sounds kind of pitiful next to 5 large pounds. Kilos are too dainty. Miserly almost.

So yesterday I made my dairy free, gluten free, salt free, fish chowder. I don't use recipes for the most part so if anyone wants, I can list what I threw in it but not the quantities. 

I find soup nourishing and I don't feel so deprived when eating it. My father, a stickler for table manners, told us we "ate" soup, and only peasants "drank" it. We were also told that only the uncivilized cut their buns, the civilized broke theirs gently, not crushing the innards. Considering we were one generation removed from poverty stricken tenant farmers this was a giant leap to "grandness" in table manners. Emulating our betters. I could tell you more stories.

So I was able to put 4 jars in the freezer while saving another bowl for tonight. I have to be very strict with myself as food calls my name more often than not. And having had spells as an anorexic in my past I have to be vigilant and mindful and, well, disciplined. Ouch.


Thursday, October 13, 2022


Three ages of a woman by Gustave Klimt

Deep thoughts.

The concept of Eve started it all I suppose. This evil, tempting woman. Without her, man would have been pure and sacred and without blemish, wot?

All religions, the Abrahamic ones anyway, have this feature of the Fall of Paradise on earth, thanks to this harridan Eve.

Therefore all women need to be tamed, kept in their place, made lesser in major world religions. Virgins, of course, are special, see Mother of God, the virgin Mary, who gave birth without sin. Tempting men is our main hobby. But kept in our place, men will maintain their god-given purity.

Note the sin. Note the contradictions, giving birth is sinful, but abortion is sinful too. Which is the more grievous sin? Take your pic.

The story of Maria Goretti was drilled into me as a pubescent innocent. Her twenty year old cousin tried to rape her, she was eleven years old. She died, her virginity intact, raised to glory by Il Papa of the day for defending her purity. So lesson learned. I had to look up the word rape then. And she died forgiving him, wanting to spend eternity with him in heaven. She was stabbed multiple times by him. He was jailed, repented, and became a monk eventually. But, you know, once a paedophile always a paedophile, so what access did he have to children as a priest, h'm? and knowing the history of the largest paedo organization the world has ever seen, he'd fit right in.

And then there was the nun, Marie Clementine, also beatified, twenty three, who died saving her virginity.

And it's all about virginity isn't it? See the pattern? All these non-virgins slaughtered and martyred every day and not a peep out of the churches. The old adage of Madonnas and Whores come to mind.

And what about the 72 virgins in heaven promised to Muslims if they die for the glory of Allah? A rape festival? Would Marie Goretti and Marie Clementine et al be victims of these Allah worshippers?

The virginity of men is never celebrated of course. Losing their virginity is considered a rite of passage.

Women in my time never talked about losing theirs. Now they do, I suspect. It was considered shameful, one was now soiled goods.

My mother would not allow me to insert a tampon as "I could lose my virginity" and no respectable man would want me. I am sure it was the same in other cultures.

And of course in Ireland, girls and women were locked up as life-long slaves in hellish laundries for the mere act of flirting with an innocent male. This practice ceased in the nineties. The nineties! Worth reading about in the link if you were not aware of it.

You may no longer wonder now why I am a feminist of long standing.

Sunday, October 02, 2022


Autumn in St. John's. Photo courtesy of Ray Mackey.
Click to embiggen.

I try not to focus too much on all that ails me. I whine to a tiny selected few who have their own ailments and cranky bodies and saucy organs. And not every day as some days are fairly manageable.

Today I rekindled my writers' workshops and had forgotten completely how I felt in prepping for them, sending out prompts, interacting, discussing ideas and editing and plotting out the release and launch of our next anthology which is in its final editing.

We were all masked and sanitized and distanced.

And it was such a joy being around these enthusiasts. It's been six months since the last one and Zoom was anathema to the majority. Unfortunately. I was just too ill to physically hold them and my concentration had vanished.

Though still with ailments, my spirit has been fed and I have this sense of wellbeing which can only be supplied, I believe, by being fully engaged in the creative process.

Daughter was here yesterday and said she spent far too much time "doom-scrolling." I mean, let's face it, many of us do. The planet is in dire straits on so many levels and we could all be blown to smithereens with one Putin temper tantrum. On top of everything else.

So I said to her why don't you just stay where your hands are and just work on your art? And she was gob smacked. And then her face lit up and she  said "of course." Art of any kind is a great distraction and I tend to forget it myself. 

I can do nothing about the Ians and Fionas and their attendant devastation. Or Ukraine or Pakistan. 

But if I stay with what I do best and feed my spirit I am so filled that there isn't room for anything else.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Rage Against the Patriarchal Machine

It's the third day of it and I don't know what triggered it. Perhaps an accumulation of patriarchal rights and ownership over and of women. I hesitate to write here as I wait for it to subside. I mean the rage of course. And it hasn't. So here I go. The journal isn't doing it for me so maybe the blog will.

I asked a friend this morning, she's 83 today, does she feel rage? A rage that leaks angry hot tears, a rage that trembles the hands and falters the feet. Yes, she said. Her younger husband, second, love of her life, five years younger, died a few years ago. Some disorder of the blood, the body. they had just bought their Newfoundland home. Had B&B plans, he was a great cook, she a wonderful host. All smashed to bits in a four week hospital stay.

Oh good then, I'm not alone in my rageful week.

My rage is against male ownership of women. Triggered in no small part by what's happening in Iran. A young woman, showing a few stray bits of hair beneath her hijab jailed and killed. The protests are mighty. More women killed for protesting. For not covering their heads properly.

And this all whirled me back to my own adolescence in the fifties and my hair becoming an "occasion of sin" for leering men and boys unless I covered it with a mantilla for mass or confession or hell and damnation retreats or.....Catholic Ireland where women had no voice. 

An occasion of sin. I imagine this twisted logic is applied by Iranian men. Women with uncovered heads tempting men who are otherwise pure and unsullied by sinful thoughts.

The Machine of the Patriarchy. Making young girls and women feel dirty and ashamed and the object of unbridled desire from male human animals who can't control their baser instincts, their desire to rape, at the sight of a stray hair on a woman's head. All her fault if she's gang-banged then. She and only she has released the male rampaging raping monster by not covering her head. Only herself to blame.

So I was taught. So I believed. I lived in fear of men having been molested by an old fellah when I was barely six. My fault. I sat on his lap. I released his carnal instincts. Life long trauma submerged until I had therapy in my forties.

Raised like this, objectified because of our sex, women bury their rage. My mother had ulcers in her forties. Ulcers are repressed rage (as many have it). Some exhibit depression, the internal mirror of rage (looking at myself). I knew she was angry for many valid reasons. Because she was a woman with no voice. Except to me. And she died young.

Women are taught, were taught, I speak for myself, not to show anger, not to show discomfort, not to show hurt.

Rage is the best weapon we have. My sheroes are in Iran and other cities now. Protesting loud and long. Not afraid to show the rage.

I am hopeful the rage spills out over the USA for the mid-term elections and the declaration of ownership of women's bodies by their "Supreme" Court. Note quotation marks. That it spills out all over the world to right the grievous wrongs that have been done to all girls and women, second class citizens, victims of a patriarchy intertwined with religions that deem them unworthy of equal status.


Own it. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

My Beautiful City

 This is a photo taken by Ray Mackey of the city of St. John's, Newfoundland, at night.

This is the city during the day.

The harbour is spectacular and we have ships coming in from all over the world.

Nestled in the city itself is an active fishing village called Quidi Vidi which is beside where I live.

A photo, courtesy of Gerry Boland of Cabot Tower, which I can see from my window. This is the site of the first transatlantic radio transmission in North America by Mr. Marconi. The dog in the picture is Chief, a fixture on Signal Hill for many years, a gorgeous friendly Newfoundland purebred who sadly died a month or so ago from cancer. He and his owner will be missed by everyone.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Letting go


I've had to let go of many people, places and things in my life. Like many of us. Marriages, relationships, friendships, jobs, houses, a country, a province.

It's never easy. And I'm not forgetting my addictions either. The claw marks are enormous on those, bleeding profusely.

Old behaviours that didn't serve me well. And oh yes, the blame game to avoid responsibilities. The lack of discipline in some areas of my life. Procrastination - there's a big one. I will never understand people whose lives are in perfect order, dishes done, floors swept, beds made every morning, yoga to start the day followed by organic granola and fruit in a delicate hand made bowl. I want to put them under a microscope to study them, to see where the differences lie to see if I could grab a gene or two. I tend to be a reactive housekeeper. Advice I pass on is to have people into one's home at least once a month to keep one's house in order. It works. Also the timer. Set the time for whatever number of minutes you choose and just do some of the grunt work during that time. You don't have to finish. That's been a lifesaver for me. I don't have to do all the dishes. Just five minutes worth or whatever.

Old age has given me much to let go of. And it hasn't been easy. I'd say for many of us oldies. Acceptance acceptance acceptance of the way things are. 

Loss of of good health is a major one. I would take mine for granted. Not any more of course. But by far the biggest is knowing that the former ability to hike miles, to run miles is gone forever. Mobility, eyesight, failure of internal body parts are the norm. 

To cease fighting aging is an ongoing battle. Some days are better than others. My one wild and precious life is consumed by doctors, lab work, medications and, yes, looking for sunshine where I can. If I remember. On good days I do and on "bad" days not so much.

I celebrate what I still can do, write, knit, read and socialize when I can and when I feel safe. Ongoing Covid and world issues are almost too much to bear. We've made a right bollox of this fragile wee planet and there really is no coming back. As we say out here on The Rock - the arse is out of 'er.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Carrying The Memories


My parents on their wedding day, 80 years ago. September 9th, 1942

As we age, memories are often in solitude. Those that share them are gone, or as the eldest of six, I carry some of the better memories of my parents alone as all their siblings and friends have passed on and my siblings knew different parents once we moved to the city and five more children entered the picture. My mother died in her fifties, having been sick for five years with her youngest only just turned fourteen.

I first knew my parents as a young couple and I was the only child for well over three years. I do have an astonishing memory, both in detail, location and events. And I often recall whole conversations. They were avid cyclists and my dad had built a special seat for me on the crossbar of his bike. And I remember the picnics and excursions so very well and going fast down hills with dad making fierce noises. Their joy was to make me laugh and I delighted in their antics.

They also were part of a choral society and often held rehearsals in our flat we had in a small town in East Cork. I would hear them at night singing wonderful songs of old as they both had fine voices.

They were both avid readers and instilled in me a life long love of books.

The years were post war(called The Emergency in neutral Ireland) and rationing of just about everything was the norm.

Relatives would drop in regularly, my mother’s parents and three of her sisters and two of my father’s sisters who lived in the town and they loved to show me off in the various homes they would drop in on. That was done then. No calling ahead, everyone just dropped in in that phone-less era. And everyone always had treats for visitors, hard as they were to come by in the post war years.

Dad was very well known as he was the town clerk then and we couldn’t walk down the street without someone greeting him and arranging to go to various football and hurling matches on the weekend.

I continue to be astonished at the complex music they would sing together, sometimes just for me, sometimes when a crowd was in and music was the accompaniment to the evening’s socialization.

And I can recall the lyrics and melodies of their repertoire so easily and hear their voices as if it was yesterday and not 75 years ago.

Here's one they would sing together:

My father was a great fan of Richard Tauber who sings it here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Busy Business of Old Age

Being old is a full time job. It takes up a huge amount of head space, time bargaining, spoon counting, and energy. Add to that mobility issues and transit challenges and inflation and you have quite a storm.

(1) have a large quantity of pills in my day. I have them delivered. But nothing is automatic. I do a weekly pill sort every Sunday into these compartmentalized gizmos. And phone my doctor when getting low. He faxes (you read that right) my requirements to the pharmacy. But every single time, they forget, he forgets, one of the pills, so I have to phone the pharmacy and ascertain the status of the missing pills. My specialists don't/can't access my list of medications but proceed to tweak some but neglect to tell my GP. I have to then go to my GP and show him the *manual* changes the specialist has made to these meds. GP is informed by LETTER a week or so later of the changes. My province's health care system's data base is 30 years old and even though every year they budget some millions for updating it, it never happens. So digital management of my medical needs is absent. I should NOT have to run around organizing my own medications. Everything should be on line - the pharmacy, the specialists, my GP, me, all interacting on the ether.

(2) My GP is leaving to move to Nova Scotia as his spouse works there. I am seriously heartbroken. Our health care system here is in crisis and finding another GP is a huge challenge as there's an unconscionable shortfall in doctors. My existing GP is trying to find me a doctor due to the ongoing management (weekly) of my health issues. He's an incredibly involved compassionate and caring doctor and one of the best I have ever had. But he leaves in November. 

(3)I have fairly decent days and fairly awful days of pain, breathing, movement, take your pick. It's hard to plan. But I find if I have a "busy" day I need to rest the following day. Today is a rest day as yesterday was a family dinner out in Petty Harbour, a lovely spot, see pic below that I took in the later evening. Today, everyone is going off to have a meal at a place I love but I knew the car-ride of a few hours along with socializing with a pile of people and the car-ride back would do my head and my body in.

(4)Accessibility planning. Lately I found that those we were meeting were at the most distant table in the restaurant, already seated. Great view but what felt like two miles from the door. Last night was even worse. They get to places early and were there when we got there. I had to traverse the main floor, up a terribly rickety staircase and then traverse the second floor to their distant table - and dear gawd, they chose one of those dreadful high tables with stools. Luckily I had my cane, George, with me so I could clamber on and off the stool. I find they were remarkably insensitive to the needs of a visibly mobility challenged person but chose not to say anything as one of them is, tragically, terminally ill.

(5)Bathrooms. I always need to plan and clock the presence of. Need I say more?

(6)Tests, xrays, scans, this could be almost full time. And each one takes a day. Organizing a helper and possibly a driver as the main hospital is a nightmare of parking and accessibility with endless corridors to navigate, thus necessitating a wheelchair volunteer. No candy stripers of old here to help out. Often Daughter has to take the day off work to help out and I feel so bad about this as it eats into her vacation time. Another stress factor for the old. Leaning on our children for assistance and trying so very hard not to feel guilty about it. 

(7) Multiple other issues but this blog post is too long as it is. Inflation. Food prices. Budgeting. Medical expenses not covered by health care (in home lab work, physiotherapy, dental, hearing, podiatry, pandemics (yeah, plural). And more I am forgetting about. Fear of "The Home". Lack of home assistance for those who wish to stay independently living.

How are you all finding the busy-ness of aging?

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Running Behind Myself

 It's odd that. I leap ahead to the old me and often get caught up in breathlessness or pain and I'm really, really slow in learning the lesson of slowing down. Honouring the what is and forgetting about the what used to be.

I always moved at the speed of sound just about, multi-tasked ad finitum, accomplished so much in one day that others were astonished.

I've done enough reading to know that I was a type A personality, always eager to prove myself (to whom, you might ask, but I really don't know) and a classic workaholic.

All is changed now that I am a few weeks into my 80th year having just reached my 79th a week or so ago.

Grandgirl is here and staying with me until next weekend which thrills me no end. Our twosome time. She's enormously attentive to my needs and even to my wants. Her cooking is amazing and we plan to catch some movies and/or series in the time she's here. She will be working remotely for a few days, which is fine by me. She's a federal economist and we are so proud of her as she is - seriously - quite brilliant. Her long term partner is staying with his parents who have moved here as his dad, though quite young, is terminally ill. A real tragedy.

I am busy counting all the gratitudes in my day as I tend to lose track when my health distracts from such feelings.

I am so grateful she is here and so very thankful for our long close relationship since I first laid eyes on her. 

I have much to catch up on, calls to return, emails to respond to, half done knitting to complete, so while she's here I can get cracking on all of that as even in this small apartment we have two separate rooms to work in. 

We also plan some wonderful beach time at this glorious place a few miles from my house.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Unwritable


We all think we’re special. We all want to believe we matter and when that’s all pulled away either in our minds or by the actions, imagined or real, of another, something breaks inside of us.

And we can’t process the aftermath, the self-doubt and yes, the grief that ensues.

Tears are more frequent as we age, magnified, unplanned, spontaneous. Often with an underlay of fear and an overlay of unremitting anxiety, with pinches of despair and a dash of self-pity thrown in.

Old mantras intrude, old judgments, old tropes, old cliché-ridden nuggets of wisdom which might have applied to the younger, more optimistic self. But now are as ancient and cobweb-ridden as the receptor herself, exhausted and worn down in equal measure, well past the best by date.

Some days the old fire gets re-lit but with less fuel, far less tinder and much dampness in the logs. The flames can burn less brightly, but they do burn.

And the darkness recedes for a spell and the shadows tiptoe off to the corners of the room until the dawn.

Question: What do you fear most in old age?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Another Completed Circle Around the Sun Thoughts

Yes, I'm the happy little cutie with my mother in 1946

I am quite astonished by all the birthday greetings rolling in on me. I suppose hitting the age of 79 is a feat to be applauded. Not that achieving this had anything to do with my healthful and perfect lifestyle. Not by a long shot. As some of you don't quite catch my sarcasm so there's a bit for you. Many of my really healthy friends are dead. Well come to think of it, most of my friends are dead.

Amongst the many messages is one from an old school mate who is a whole 10 days younger than me. she partly writes:

"Speaking of school reminds me of our old school and this bit of information might bring s smile.
One of our newspapers, the Irish Independent, has a Saturday magazine.  This Saturday it had a feature on Centenarians, Four centenarians were interviewed one of whom was Sr Mercedes.. She talked about her early life both before and after she entered  St Marie's of the Isle, but the piece that might interest you was how she became a Science teacher and introduced Science into St. Al's which was unusual for a girls school then.  She never taught me as anything science-y was beyond me.  Anyway I texted Gladys to let her know and she replied as follows"She was thrilled with wisewebwoman and myself when we burned hydrogen in air and got  H20, ie water".   I wonder if you remember that incident.  Gladys also said that your class was the first to study Science in St Als. Glad you didn't burn down the Science building anyway!" 

I calculated this was 65 years ago, which is incomprehensible really. I can remember the experiment clearly in our spanking new laboratory. Girls and science were at a great remove from each other then. I feel like a living history book. Along with science and physics our incredible headmistress insisted her "gels" be taught calculus by a male teacher from the boys' school across the river.  (Our school was a picturesque old red brick building in the middle of the river Lee). Higher mathematics were absolutely unheard of for any schoolgirl in Cork city in those days. We were incredibly fortunate.

Equally astonishing to my mind is that a teacher of mine is still alive today.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Good News

I'm finally walking. I have a marvelous physiotherapist who's one of the few making home visits. Not walking far but walking. Getting the odd night, very odd, in my bed as I still wake up with pain and have to move to the recliner for any ease.

I had to really talk myself into going outside my apartment and walking. Agoraphobia had set in - a fear of falling, a fear of being outside without help, a fear of catching Covid as my building is not safe. 

I drove my car after months of not. I met a friend for coffee. We are super safe and joke we're the only two eejits wearing masks on the whole island. But elders are falling like flies here and very, very sick. And mortality rates in my age group are very high. 

I had a treatment today and he noticed I was very tense. A type A personality does not drift easily into old age and serenity. I am pain free for now after the treatment.

I'm working away on a memoir of a year in my life way, way back in prehistoric times. Creative non-fiction. I am startled as to how much comes back to me. It's really all coming to life and I relive the intensity of that long buried time.

As for the rest of me, still taking my - what feels like - 200 pills a day and marveling at the fact that I have outlived most of my friends. I will be 79 in a few days and at some point later in that day I will enter into my 80th year, my 80th turn around the sun. I am astonished. I lived hard and fast for many years and had terrible depressions and considered ending it all many times.

Looking back, in spite of everything (life is far from perfect) I am so very grateful to still be part of the human race, still full of curiosity and occasional joy, capable of sadness and delight, still full of wonder and awe at how beautiful this planet is, especially my little corner of it.

We have a fishing village, Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kyda Vyda by many old timers!), right in the middle of our city of St. John's. This village is right around the corner from where I live and has fabulous restaurants, a brewery and a whole building full of incredible artisans while fishing life goes on around them.