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.