Tuesday, June 28, 2022


It's about time for an update on Lana, my dear friend who has dementia. I call her every week and she never fails to remember me.

For a while, I was nervous calling her, would she forget me, would she have bouts of paranoia, would she ask me too many questions.

None of that never happened. 

Our last call lasted an hour, the longest ever.

She had me laughing uncontrollably at one point in the call when she talked about a kind of spa in her luxurious assisted living complex which has beauty salons and hair styling units.

I said how's your hair looking? Look in the mirror and tell me. she told me it was crawling down her back.

She's a fan of really short hairdos, always has been so I asked her why the change.

She explained that to go to the salon would involve her emerging like a "fizzhead" and that, she would never, ever accept.

I know exactly what she meant and I said "like those tightly permed old women?"

And she started laughing uncontrollably too. 

Then she said there's a new invention I have to tell you about.

And she proceeded to tell me about "something" that helps with hair and keeps it off her face and her aide showed her how it operated..

After a few minutes I said, you mean a headband I think.

And she went yes, yes, a headband. A brand new invention. You need to find one. They are amazing.

She's still so articulate in so many ways and sometimes her flashbacks astound me. I remind her that she is in a very luxurious residence when she asks where her money is.

She tells me she walks every day and sits on a bench and counts cars to keep her brain exercised. 

I preplan the number, she says, and I don't get off the bench until I reach the number, hundred, two hundred, fifty.

She was a numbers whiz in her past life and this is no surprise to me.

I cherish our time together.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Confined to Barracks

 Well that's it. The headline. 

Three words.

The story of my life at the moment.

Normally I love being home, not having plans. But three weeks of it?

A bit of a challenge.

So what do I do with my time?

I read.

I'm on the internet.

I play Scrabble with friends around the world more frequently (we've been playing for over a decade and we all have high ratings)

I started to take pictures of this interior life.

I welcome guests, but only those who are safe. Masked. Careful. Cautious. As the Summer Wave of the Pandemic still hasn't hit here yet but has in other parts of the globe. Some of my friends have been, and still are in some cases, deathly ill with the blasted thing.

I social-media-post outrage for that patriarchal country to the south of us throwing women to the curb once more. Has ERA ever been ratified down there? I doubt it but am too lazy to check. Or care. The women need to arm themselves with the liberal gun laws and determine their own futures. As guns are the only thing understood down there it seems. It's heartening to see many younger Canadian women of my acquaintance offering Usian women sanctuary and abortion free of charge if and when they need it.

And PS I'm on a pain medication but still sleeping in my recliner as lying down in a bed is a thing of the past for now. I feel like I'm permanently camping (which, ps, I've always hated) but in my living room without the views of the great outdoors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Out here, every year around solstice on The Rock, at the edge of the North American continent, we anticipate the hump back whales rolling in after the capelin - shoals of small fish that they feed on.

Anticipation is everywhere, the weather gives the signal first. Daily, the fogs start to roll in followed by the shoals of fish, followed by the dive-bombing gannets, who mate for life and are constantly grooming, feeding and cuddling each other.

Then the whales drift in to their feeding grounds. They come from as far away as South America, an incredibly long journey, fraught with the peril of huge ocean liner propellers and other challenges.

Photo from today, courtesy of Regina Molloy.

Speaking for myself, I breathe a sigh of relief. Our planet is OK if our whales roll in.

It's an awesome sight and one not to be missed if at all possible. I have spent whole days, and many evenings, just sitting by the water, while hundreds of them came near the shore, some as large as buses. One time I was all alone and could hear their kitten-like cries over the surf. I still get teary when I think about it. The real gifts of life never, ever cost money.

Photo from today, courtesy of Clifford Doran.

Solstice and the arrival of the whales will be forever linked in my mind.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Pain and fear, isolation and loneliness.

I thought to write here today. Even though I don’t really want to.

It’s the topic everyone works hard to avoid bringing into conversation.

PAIN: Chronic and severe and endless.

With the result that there is a loneliness that seeps over the sufferer. She knows no one wants to hear the same old, same old. So she lies, or covers up or uses a selection of old tropes.

Q How are you?

(1)Oh, you know.

(2)Much better than yesterday. (Lie)

Q What does the doctor say?

(1)We don’t say: Well (s)he too is sick of my calls.

(2)We mumble a selection of vagaries.

(3)Waiting for a call.

(4)Will call them today.

Along with the loneliness there’s the exhaustion of just plain dealing with life. Or not dealing.

There’s lack of sleep for one. There’s the ongoing decision of:

(1) suffering and being alert or

(2) ingesting painkillers and becoming a zombie.

Friends and relatives get impatient. I understand that.

But it really makes things far, far worse when they ask for details of the pain and it’s offered, only to be met with deadly silence or the clicks of an escape hatch being opened ("gotta run, talk soon!") and the listener vanishing.

So chronic pain is isolating for multiple reasons. We are not looking for solutions. We know all the solutions, we’ve explored many avenues, some involving more pain we can’t endure.

Out tears are in isolation along with frustration and a sense of hopelessness. And loneliness.

We are the brave.

We learn to let very few in to what is really going on. We forego, with longing,  the things we used to do in our health that we would simply take for granted. For example, I see someone walking on the street or in a movie and I go "look at that! they're walking with a smile!"

My big job today was sorting my weekly pills. A job I detest with all the fires of hell. It takes 30 minutes. If I don’t drop pills on the floor.

My helper comes tomorrow so I don’t have to do dishes which is excruciating, standing at the sink.

It’s over two weeks since I slept in a bed as the recliner is the only place I can do a series of catnaps through the night with some small semblance of comfort.

I can see why some go insane from this kind of existence.

And so very few that understand it.

I know I never did.

And I realize one of the greatest gifts in life we can offer each other is to listen.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Quality of Life

 Living in Canada, as one wag put it, is like living with a meth head as a tenant in your basement. A tenant who is so out of touch with reality that he keeps screaming in your face at every opportunity that he is the best tenant ever and he has all these friends who will tell you the same thing.

Well let's start with quality of life.

Canada is, guess? 1.

Followed by Denmark, Sweden, Norway. and way down the list at #20, is the USA.

And then you get healthcare. The U.S. healthcare system only extends to those with money. Lots of it. If you are barely surviving economically, serious health issues can result in bankruptcy.

"Medical bills are reported to be the number-one cause of U.S. bankruptcies. One study has claimed that 62.1% of bankruptcies were Caused by medical issues Another claims that over two million people are adversely affected by their medical expenses."

The U.S. ranks last overall on the health care outcomes domain (Exhibit 1). On nine of the 10 component measures, U.S. performance is lowest among the countries (Appendix 8), including having the highest infant mortality rate (5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births) and lowest life expectancy at age 60 (23.1 years).

Best healthcare systems in the world are:

  1. South Korea
  2. Taiwan
  3. Denmark
  4. Austria
  5. Japan
  6. Australia
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. Belgium
  10. United Kingdom
And gun deaths, so far  in the US in 2022. Those red dots? Use your imagination.

And then we have this travel advisory/warning from the Canadian government on going to the USA, as if one is entering a "third world" country:

"Gun violence

The rate of firearm possession in the US is high. It’s legal in many states for US citizens to openly carry firearms in public.

Incidences of mass shootings occur, resulting most often in casualties. Although tourists are rarely involved, there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Familiarize yourself on how to respond to an active shooter situation."

No other country in the world shoots its children in schools as they hide under desks. And the solution? Arm teachers, reduce number of doors to schools.

The louder one screams about being the very best, the greater the lie.

Monday, June 13, 2022



The hardest NOT to do is give up. I've had several years now of health challenges, one variation after another.

And seriously, who wants to listen to it.

How does one respond to "how are you feeling?" Truthfully or dishonestly. Serious question.

The brave world of "everyone has a cross to bear, so get on with it." RC liturgy says it right there in the bible. Some bible version anyway.

And of course I hesitate to write honestly. I try to "get on with it."

But old age is baffling - I basically have no role models apart from the "getting on with it" brigade.

I haven't slept in my bed for well over a week now. For the simple reason I can't lie down. So I nap in my recliner. I can't call it sleep.

Hence the title of this blog post:

  1. complaining in a petulant or whining manner.
    "she became querulous and demanding"

I may sound on the dark side of sanity at the moment. With good reason though, we can all agree.

Lack of sleep does weird things to the brain.

I've arrived at the Querulous Station.

Full steam ahead.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022


I've been struggling a bit with health challenges - mainly, and sadly, much pain, some of it completely baffling me. I couldn't even lie down yesterday, I had to sleep in my recliner.

I talked to other elders today about the pain we know and the unexpected pains we get which seem unrelated to medication shifts.

The two of them produced evidence of similar episodes which vanish after a couple of days.

I've never seen it written about before. Aging body ambulation's suddenly seizing and flattening with surprising outbursts of unexpected aches and near immobility. Some so severe that walking is impossible, along with, like myself yesterday, not allowing even a lying down.

Living with the unfamiliar.

Today is better, the mysterious crippling lurch not as severe.

I am managing a pile of editing today as we have a deadline for June 30th for The Big Finito for publishing the latest anthology sometime in July. 

I am playing Bach on one of those five hours streams which fills me with gratitude. And a kind of reluctant joy.

Iceberg Season is here and here is one pic from yesterday.

And this is right by where I live, a village right in the City of St. John's by the name of Qidi Vidi - photo courtesy of Jonathan Cooper. Fog can be a glorious sight.