Sunday, January 30, 2022

Mad Writer

 I'm in Mad Writer mode lately. Churning out a lot of my own memoir about my first year in Toronto. A year in which so very much happened, much of it kept hidden and secret. For very good reasons. Held in a locked closet in my mind for fifty six years. I'm very glad I have such a memory for detail and notice, through the Sibling Zooms every Sunday that we all share that ability.

Along with that I have the online writing workshops I'm facilitating. We are all missing the live ones, and these real enthusiasts are producing wonderful work. Which I am critiquing. Which takes oodles of time as well.

I've missed writing here which I will try and rectify but sometimes I just want to throw the keyboard against the wall and do something utterly different.

I love the goings on in Ireland at the moment with the Russian navy off the coast of West Cork.

Daughter sent me this earlier on.  I sometimes forget how the country of my birth has such marvelous humour.

Listening to Irish radio this morning they had a CNN reporter who was on location in West Cork. The reporter was a Kerryman who is based in America. At the end of the discussion about the fisherman taking ownership of standing down Russia (ha) the host of the show then said something like.."C'mere to me now. You're among your own here so I'm gonna ask you what everyone in Ireland really wants to know....did you get paid to come home and visit your Mammy?"

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Melange a Trois

 (1) Thought I'd show you my Wall. Note caps. This was a blank wall facing a bookcase in my hall. I send cards, I get cards. Some of them arty or old or meaningful and I like them to hang around for a while. I had a roundy thing with slots which would hold about 20, all cramped together. It teetered. I had a few lovely framed corkboards in my office/bedroom and pinned some up. Then I thought wee pegs and a kind of double clothesline. And this seems to be working. I get to walk by them all, and can change them at whim.

(2)I had tea shipped in from Tipperary at Solstice as a gift for Niece to share over the festivities. With a teapot and inbuilt strainer. To me, tea should never, ever be in teabags. It needs to be loose-leaf and full of aroma and taste. This was a huge hit so I sourced more of this magnificent tea in Canada at half the price and got bags for Niece, Daughter and myself. This is the tea I was reared on. Blended by a Master Blender in Cork by the name of Dennis Daley.

(3) I'm preparing for a CBC radio interview tomorrow on how seniors have been managing themselves in the Time of the Plague. I believe that schoolchildren and seniors are suffering the most throughout this time. And there will be a ripple effect for generations to come once we move beyond (?) it. Let's face it, we are not too far off from death in the normal state of affairs, but it is much, much, harder missing physical contact with family and friends. Along with other challenges, far too many to get into here.

I realize I am luckier than most in that there is never enough hours in my day to satisfy me. I get up early and even if I sleep in for an hour I feel ripped off.

 Daughter visited me yesterday and brought me a grid notebook (genuine antique with leaves of carbon paper at the back!) and 24 brand new colouring pencils. I felt like 6 years old again, can't wait to experiment with these babies.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Clothes Line


Of all the many pictures (with resulting cards and prints) I have taken over the years this one has been the most popular. I had repeat orders  of hundreds of cards printed. And it was also featured in a calendar. The reason I am writing about this is because of Lana, my dear friend who has dementia/ Alzheimer's.

I sent her one of these cards a few weeks ago. I had sent one to her before when it was first published but of course there is no memory of that. Every day is fresh to her.

She was upset she was in lockdown when I called her on Monday night. She is confused in that she thinks she has Covid and hates her meals being delivered and misses her walks. She's in a luxury building and paces her room. Fifty feet long, she tells me. She counts the steps. Having seen pictures of the interior or her residence, I believe her. Enormous rooms.

"But," she said, "You sent me this card. And I put it under a small lamp beside my bed. And every night I stare at this picture after I've read the poem you had printed on the back and it puts me to sleep with a smile on my face."

Some Day on Clothes

The blues 

Dance through

His shirt

My skirt

Flit Lift

Snap Spin

And I couldn't stop crying when I got off the phone.

Friday, January 14, 2022


One of Ernestine's photos.

A dear old blog friend died the other day. She lived to a good age - 87 - but had many trials and tribulations with her health over the years.

I learned much about aging from her. I also learned much about acceptance and making the best of one's days. And simple recipes and saying hello to mornings. Each one a gift. She loved her truck (she was a tiny woman) and her thrift shopping and worked hard on her beautiful garden and found inner peace.

Her photography was gorgeous, she lived on the edge of a farm with her dog, Callie, and resisted (my how she resisted!) being packed off to an assisted living facility. But her poor body finally gave in. She went quiet for a while but her youngest daughter kept us all abreast of her condition and outlook.

We exchanged wee gifts and books over the years. I particularly loved the handmade soap she sent me.

Thank you Ernestine, as you soar with the stars. 

You left footprints on my heart.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


It's a very rough day for me when three condolence cards have to be written and mailed. I'm not a believer in platitudes and pre-printed sympathy cards. I like to do a little eulogy of my particular memories of the deceased to the grieving loved ones. I'm in complete isolation apart from the two in my bubble. Not that I could attend funerals or wakes anyway as such gatherings are disallowed in the Time of the Plague.

The first was to a dear friend of  over forty years duration whose mother had died just shy of her hundredth birthday. A difficult one to write as she and her mother were not deeply connected. My friend is very honourable and was incredibly dutiful to her mother in her last residence in a home for retired military. I liked her mum, British to the backbone, sharp-tongued and judgy, careless with money. And quite selfish. As someone else's mum can be to our great amusement, but not our own. Heaven forbid. She never took the time to get to know her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchilden. So I wrote about the great old Irish expression when the last parent dies :"Now the roof is off your life," which has great depth if you ponder on  it.

The second was to a friend of some fifteen years whose daughter died when an ambulance was delayed. She had a problem with her leg (blood clot? - it would be intrusive to ask). She was in her early forties and leaves three children, the youngest is ten. This couple lost their eldest a few years back, he was a non-verbal autistic and died from a seizure. I can't imagine their grief. She was his favourite child, full of vim and vigor and they would run together and raise funds for autism. I've written about the death of one's child a few times. It is unspeakable.

The third was particularly hard as I wrote about this multi-talented man here.  I can't re-read it without bursting into tears. We spent more time with him this past summer and cooked for him and his partner in our rental up in the Great Northern Peninsula. He knew his gig was up for a while and opted for death with dignity. Effing cancer. Effing cancer. So I wrote to his partner citing his wonderful attributes and that magical night we spent when he played for us. 

And it was the last time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022


 I look at the headlines today and heave a huge sigh, of despair, of hopelessness. Is anyone paying attention to (along with everything else) our end of days climate change? Anyone with power? And yes I'm aware there's nothing individuals can do. And I keep thinking about the film "Don't Look Up" and thinking how prescient it is as we roll our way to species extinction.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Thoughts of a Heretic

I've never understood the concept of prayer, even when I was a thoroughly inducted RC back in the days of Holy Cacklick Ireland

I am surrounded by prayerful people here who throw "thoughts and prayers" at any crisis, global, local, familial without a shred of irony.

Well good for them, they must feel better. They have a direct pipeline to the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper (ICH for short).

Thing is, when thoughts and prayers are ignored, it is ICH's will, which for us lesser mortals, is only understood by ICH who seems contrary and brutal. Given that little kids get cancer and suffer and die in spite of the pleas. It's all ICH's plan of gathering billions of child-angels home. For what? Oh we're not privy to that. R-right.

When thoughts and prayers are attended to, say for a really sick friend or relative, it is the glory of ICH that is acknowledged profusely and those who prayed to ICH. Not the medical team, the paramedics, the brilliant surgeon, the radiation technicians. Not science. No sirree bob.

Such mental jigging and juggling. Such pride and smugness in the successful prayers when all becomes well and the storm is over. The inference being for those not so lucky, ICH was displeased with their prayers. There was a right way and a wrong way to pray and some had access to the ear of ICH and others were just doing it wrong.

It does my head in. I need to tune it all out.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Nothing for Granted

 The stuff we take for granted when we are in good health never fails to astound me now. I am so conscious that it can all be taken away in a heartbeat.

I had around two years of debilitating health deterioration, to the point where I had to buy those eggy frozen pre-mades for breakfast as I couldn't stand long enough at the stove to make my favourite porridge and cook my egg. Also because of the chronic anemia, I could only eat tiny amounts or I would go briefly blind as my blood was so bad. Literally. Frightening. I really never thought any kind of health and mobility could be restored. I'm still not too steady on the old pins but I can stand and do stuff now, hang pictures, wash the dishes, haul in groceries. Cook.

But enough of all that, I've written much about it here in the fervent hope that others don't need to carry their health challenges alone as the mental and emotional toll of that can be enormous.

So tonight I baked a spinach quiche. All by my little old self. And it tasted so good. Very simple old recipe - bits of bacon or ham, (4 eggs, 1/4 cup of real cream or less - mix these thoroughly), carmelized onions, mushrooms, chopped if you have them, 1 cup of finely chopped spinach or kale. Pour into a smallish pastry pie shell Top with a good cheese, grated or small lumps. Serves 4. Salad or coleslaw on the side. Omit meat if vegetarian. 

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Throwing Down A Few Words.

 A storm has been blowing all day, lining the windows with lacy clouds and ridges. 

Picture shown to cool down my Australian readers and others upside down from me in the warmer summer climes.

Snow plows chug around all day, clearing as they go. Noisy but necessary. If there's an ice buildup under the snow or on top of it we become immobilized quickly. The manager wears his blizzardy clothes and sets to the pathways with his power snow blower.

Ah winter. I persisted far too long with the scarf shown, I wanted to surprise my grandboy-in-law, I loved the colour combos and the design. But boy after about 16 hours I realized it was a massive mistake and it needs to be ripped out and gauge checked this time. It could just about stand up on its own and walk out the door.

So even experienced knitters make errors, but the thing is we are stubborn and often persist far too long hoping the piece will fix itself (magical thinking).

Monday, January 03, 2022

On Crows

 Painting by Deborah Stock.

I like that they scream at me if I leave my building on my way to the car when I don't have any food for them that particular day. I have no idea how they sense it's me in my brief hike of ten steps from the door to the handicapped spot as I unlock the car door. But they assemble, waiting. Patient. A little frightening. No wonder their collective noun is a murder of crows. They sound as if they could like to murder me. Above me, they gossip in their language. Chastising, berating. Reminding me to buy the bag of peanuts. When I do distribute their preferred food choice they (I like to think) drop a fir cone near my car. A gift, an encouragement. An odd white feather (a murdered gull?) another day.

I have a few crow stories

And yes, I love them, their intelligence, their fearless behaviour on streets and parking lots, eyeing cars, dodging them, their massive assembly at night before they take off to various rookeries. The way they quickly learned to imitate the gulls in front of my house by catching oysters and mussels and dropping them from great heights onto the rocks to break them open.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

What you may not have known.

In women's circles we talked about this. In the book (The Push by Ashley Audrain) which I'm reading currently, she opens with this:

"It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother's heartbeat.. Actually the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother's blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old-foetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother's womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her own grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother's blood before she herself is born......

Layne Redmond: When the Drummers were Women.