Monday, August 31, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole.

My dear D**** left us early this morning. I had written to her as I had every night before going to bed. Recounting another memory of some event we'd shared. I always loved hanging with her. The thick and thin strands of our shared lives.

I may be getting custody of her dog. Which will all work out.

I took in another pet years ago when another friend died and no one wanted her beloved cat. Her cat was hard to love but I made of it an office cat and it got socialized and lived happily ever after. For years and years.

Maybe that's my function, taking care of the pets of my deceased friends. I don't know what happened to Helen's dog. Another out of control snarly pet. I would have taken it too but quarantine stuff between Canada and Ireland would be a huge roadblock. I think she was "unrescued." I don't ask.

The rabbit hole is weird, my day to day stuff keeps me going. I'm glad of the PGs who are not aware of my broken heart, my private tears.

It's been a year from hell so far, I feel the wind blowing through my soul for far too many moments.

I am so very glad for those in my life who reach out and comfort me in times as these. I've never been more aware of the love offered by those I trust in my times of almost unbearable fragility. I am truly grateful.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blog Jam

Lovely days out here on the Edge of the Atlantic. Big moons, big suns. Green grass. Denim water.

What's there to whine about?

There's always something. My legs are still causing me difficulty even with the switch in meds. I'm not up to much, about 2k, and the pain is something I have to meditate through. I keep at it - Elder dog and I, she's very slow which suits me.

I talked to Ansa's groomer a few days ago. She's going to take her in as a solo with no other dogs to make the occasion as free from stress as possible. Sixteen years old (over 100 in human terms) is pretty ancient and deserving of slow pampering. I was reluctant to add the burden of clipping and shampooing to her, BUT she needs it.

I've been editing up a storm on this anthology we're producing at the end of Workshop 1. Some really good writing.

PGs are trickling in. I get a lot of last minute PGs which I decline as it is too stressful given an hour or so's notice. But I'm looking forward to a visual artist from Quebec coming on Monday and Larry The Gambler is still here and we had a lovely chat tonight.

I feel I could bore for Canada right now. I could go off on a political rant but I don't have the energy. I want to curl around the end of my current book "Girl on a Train" - anyone else read it?

And oh, I did my volunteer stint at the library today and while there I designed and made this dishcloth. Can you tell what it's meant to be?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I've got a weird brain, it shoots off in strange directions sometimes. And I so enjoying mulling.

Like: I have a PG staying with me for 8 days. Let's call him Larry.

Larry has removed himself from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada to spend a year in Canada due to U.S. Tax laws which will assess him at a far lower tax rate if he hasn't lived in the US for 330 days. So he's travelling the length and breadth of Canada in a fancy car he drove up from LV. And I imagine he likes the non-sterile environments of regular people's homes to stay in through the web-based service where I and many others are registered to rent out rooms for a fee.

The thing is that Larry's fortune has all been made on gambling.

Mull: aren't these millions infected? In some way their foundation is based on other people's pain, desperation, addiction and possible bankruptcies, isn't it?

Does the misfortune of others cling to this money?

Mull: what money is clean? We don't really know if it's clean, do we? Do hardship and sorrow cling to the bills I throw in my wallet?

I remember a spiritual guide once telling me we have to be careful as to the karma each piece of earthly treasure holds as it can steal our very health and wellbeing.

"Keep your good money separate," she advised, "Pass on this goodness to others."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Strange Times, Unimaginable Scenarios.

Edvard Munch - at the deathbed of a child.

My friend, who is so ill and looking at the final exit door has a huge challenge tomorrow. I keep thinking about it. My friend is nearly 70 and her parents are still alive and she has to tell them, face to face, she is dying. She wasn't going to. She had intended to have her brother break it to them when she'd passed as she is highly sensitive to prolonging pain for them. But her brother is, as he always has been, a complete and utter jerk. Oh, the stories I could tell you.

Her parents are on their way from the seniors' complex in Ottawa to Toronto where D**** is in hospital.

I can't truly imagine what this is going to be like. She's very close to her father particularly, and he will be devastated. I met her parents a few times back in the day. A spry and fun couple, her dad one of those enthusiastic jokesters interested in everyone and everything. Much like her. The news may just about kill them. Seriously.

And my own previously unimaginable scenario? Planning a dinner here in my house for Daughter, her father and his wife.

Strange times indeed.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jackets and Gooseberries

"It wouldn't buy a jacket for a gooseberry" was one of my mother's phrases when observing a pittance of cash offered for some bauble or other.

Well, that was me last night.

I got paid to perform. And the lovely audience there bought some of my greeting cards featuring my photos and my poetry.

And all the big bucks were added up and there wasn't a jacket to be had for the poor gooseberries.

But was I thrilled to pieces?


So I stroked the wee cheque. And counted the cash and put it into an envelope and tucked it away.

And I tell you: There's nothing better than getting paid for something you'd do for nothing you love it so much.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Maybe it's my age, having lived looooong but today I was caught completely unawares at my hairdresser's. I think I wrote about her place before. An old Victorian house in St. John's. All artifacts preserved, fire places, chandeliers, crown mouldings. A darling place with stairs running everywhere and the best atmosphere.

Every six months they mix up all the cutters and stylists and colourists, give them new work stations in different rooms in the house, match them up with those they haven't worked with before.

"Keeps us all fresh," says Bernice my faithful stylist. She's a gift, took me from hair to the waist to a smooth bob that lasts and lasts. You find a good cutter you stick with her/him.

So now she's been matched with this absolutely outrageous stylist for 6 months. I think my jaw dropped when I cast eyes on her for the first time today. Breddie, her name sounded like. Breddie was dressed in an absolutely wild purple and orange mini-dress revealing much of her body. Bright red pumps with 6" heels. Piercings with hardware all over her face including her mouth and nose. Matching colourful tattoos featuring wild flowers covered both her legs, her arms, her breasts and her neck. Her dyed blonde hair with purple streaks swung to her waist festooned with yellow bits and bobs. And one long ostrich feather of emerald green. I took her for an out of control 19 year old.

"Breddie's a card," laughed my stylist who's in her mid forties and dresses soberly in black with sensible work heels and a soothing manner.

Well, thought I grouchily, "card" would be a massive understatement in my book. I can just see the drug den and the biker boyfriend and their lives of dodgy cop avoidance.

An older woman toddled in and sat in Breddie's chair and proceeded to ask her for the wedding photos from the weekend. Whose wedding, thought I, surely Breddie and her criminal dimwitted druggie biker wouldn't be invited to anyone's weddinge

So Breddie hauls out her Iphone and treats the four of us in the room to HER wedding pictures at a pricey well known golf club. In white. All tats under wraps. All hardware removed. Criminal Biker Boy is in a black tux and a perfect hairdo with not a tat or a piece of metal or leather or hairy armpits in sight.

And the killer shot? Their two little flower girls scattering blossoms at their feet as the bride and groom kiss.

Their daughters, five and three years old.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Downhill to the Barriers

My friend goes downhill rapidly. We talk. She wants me to come. So we can hold hands for a while. All expenses paid (she can afford it).

I didn't sleep last night. Tossing and turning. "I have to." "I can't." Nothing was clear. There are too many commitments here. Not least of which is to elder dog, Ansa, who is getting frailer by the day. The walk tonight was pitifully slow. She's gone a bit barky also because she's deaf and also "sees" danger in the shadows of trees. She will go down protecting me. I can't pass her over for care to anyone. For one, she can't jump into the car anymore plus she's too heavy to lift. And she's a real care now.

Next, I have a performance - advertised on teevee yet - this Saturday, sold out. Like, I don't show for this?

Then I have two separate PGs coming to stay next week.

I could go on, there's loads more but I'm boring myself to bits as it is. Someone reminded me of how sick I got the last time I was in Toronto and I positively dread the polluted air there. I have weak lungs (double pneumonia and pleurisy as a 9 year old)and last time was so bad I had to leave earlier than expected.

And guilt, we haven't talked guilt yet. I'd love to see her and there is such urgency to it as she tells me she's terrified her brain won't be there by the weekend even. I cry a lot of useless tears.

But, I can't surmount all these obstacles to get to her. And I'm old. Did I mention that? And, um, tired and not overly well myself. And still reeling from Helen's death. And Laura's death.

Apologies to faithful readers: I'll get around to reading your blogs one of these days. Promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Anybody out there know how to "fix" the formatting on my blog. It's been wonky for a couple of weeks. I went into the backlog of posts to see if a photo/picture was too big or book list too long, etc. But to no avail. My posts are thrown to one side and my archives list emerges on the left.

It shows up on devices with none of these issues it appears.

Much appreciated, it's, well, irritating.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Keeps Us Going

I don't know the answer to the question for the "US" of it. I can only talk about me.

Talk. My friend and I talk. Yes, she's still in the hospital. We chatted into the wee hours of this morning, even though I had a "look-sharp-and-alert" meeting in a few hours focussing on local demographics. It was good to hear her voice and wit and intelligence. She's a brilliant woman.

She's taking notes of all the stuff going on around her and she read it to me and we were hysterical laughing even though a lot of it wasn't really funny at all but taken out of context it is. Hospitals can be cruel, callous places. Particularly for those who don't behave as expected - subservient to Demz in Charge.

I said to her: these writings of yours need to be a performance piece, seriously. For example: she is lying there with her eyes closed and two nurses are changing both her colostomy bag and her diaper and she overhears one of them say to the other sotto voce: "Did you ever see such a weird vagina?" And of course, this begged the question: how could they see inside her vagina, or did these two supposedly medically articulate people mean vulva or labia? How confident am I, she says, when the hospital staff can't accurately name body parts?

Meanwhile we crack up through further readings from her journal. Every overheard conversation or off the cuff remarks by doctors to each other, her hand-wringing visitors who find her 'difficult', her inept wheelchair pusher who loses control of all her life-giving gear in the garden and literally trips over all her tubes.

And that, my friends, that joyful hooting, keeps me from curling into a ball and sobbing my heart out.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Blog Jam

Ansa's getting old. Really old. Bad incident last night with her bleeding from her mouth all over the downstairs. I think her cataracts cause her to bump into things. At first I thought it was another animal attack outside but there were no scratches on her face and I think she pierced her lip with a tooth when she ran into something in her 2 minutes out of my sight. I can't get near her jaw to check.

Tonight she got stuck on the floor. I'm not an engineer and she's a heavy dog + bad back here too. I tried a sling with a sheet and then as she licks my hand (gawd, it breaks your heart it does) I heave upwards with her back end and she lets me. We are both weepy from the indignity and the effort. Problem solved. For now. I've now banned her from the office as she won't walk on the rugs laid down all over it. Dog are like that, delicately stepping around all safety measures. She's on the back hall big rug now. I may have to fence her in a little more.

Meanwhile my PG* has fallen so deeply in love with Newfoundland he's bought a house here and is not going back to the U.S. but is outsourcing the sale and disposal of his properties in Massachusetts. Imagine. I don't think it's my delicate crepes for breakfast or my wee Tigeen doing the trick but how lovely. He is enchanted. As I was and am. The fairies got him too, as the saying goes.

We have our big community midday dinner tomorrow. Hot turkey meal, veggies, dessert, tea/coffee all for $12.00. I mean seriously. I couldn't cook it for that.

I made an old recipe from Ireland tonight. It was served in spring when there were more winter onions than they knew what to do with left over hanging from the rafters in the barns and sheds, so they'd be incorporated into a lovely whole wheat bread. Lashings of them. Usually served for breakfast with an egg or two. The carmelized onions sit on the bottom of the pan when you stick the loaf in the oven and then they swim their way through the bread, some breaking rhrough the top. Heav-en-lee.

*Paying guest

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

In praise of the ordinary.

All under this very same moon some are going through rough times right now. I think of them as I do my day to day routines. I hang clothes on the line. I have a long term PG* staying at the Tigeen. I cook breakfast for him every morning. We talk. For hours it seems.

I list my two spare bedrooms for rent. I rewrite draft 8 of a short story I am submitting to a local competition. I pay bills. I knit a bit. I read. I nap. I drive to get the mail. Friends drop off produce from their garden. I plan a curry for tomorrow night. I talk to Daughter who invites me for a lunch of shark meat. I email my hospitalized friend a few times during the day. She is writing a story too. I cry reading a few blogs. I laugh reading a few more.

I pick some beach blossoms and vase them. I frolic with the dog on the meadow. I breathe in the smell of the sheets and duvet covers fresh off the clothesline and think of my granny who dried hers on top of the hawthorn at the side of her field. Oh - that scent of all that is good and simple.

I think: ain't life grand. Look at that moon! Oh, the golden light of it reflected in the water!

Thank you, grandmother moon. Thank you for this extraordinary, ordinary life.

*Paying guest

Thursday, July 30, 2015


My friend D**** and I email each other many times a day. As thoughts strike us. She likes my cursing. I curse out what ails her and the sometimes appalling treatment by the medical people at the hospital, her occasional depressive thoughts, life. You know. It all helps. She's told to "Be brave" a lot. Have you ever heard of anything more unhelpful when you are scared to death of tumours lumping out the hidden organs of your body and half your bowel is lodged somewhere in the trash outside the hospital labs?

So I tell her to ask these medical morons to please change places with her - they can lie down in her bed and she can yell at them to be brave after she's sliced them open. I said that to a team of them once, when my surgical wound opened up and started bleeding all over the hospital floor and I was screaming and they said it to me. It shut them up.

For what is bravery? Those poor teenage soldiers in both "world" wars smiling while they were used as cannon fodder and slaughtered?

Chin barely quivering while biopsies confirm your worst fears?

Whimpering quietly under the covers when the pain meds fail to ease your suffering?

As far as I'm concerned not groaning/moaning/screaming/yelling in pain is just protecting the delicate sensibilities of those around us, right? It's a very good thing to let that pain out. Why bottle it up for the ulcers to play with?

I was sharing with some friends over dinner last night the fact that I am now terrified of walking in case the sudden paralysis in my legs stops me cold in my tracks, as has happened in the past, and heaven forbid I should burden someone with having to come and get me.

And we all had a good laugh, like gawd forbid we should be a nuisance to anyone even though we're crumpled on a heap on the road, breathing our last.

It must be Irish. Or something.

Let me die bravely, right here on main street.

Sorry for your trouble for having to shovel me off to the side.

D**** and I had a good laugh over that one.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I Take Notes

I take notes on books I read. I wish I had done so even as a child. But. Notes trigger ideas in me, validate feelings often unexpressed or ephemeral. Answer the whys. Illuminate the squelched thoughts. Give me hope, yank me from despair.

For example:

I love this thought from P170 of The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout:

"And she learned - freshly, searchingly - of the privacy of sorrow. It was as though she had been escorted through a door into some large and private club that she had not even known existed. Women who miscarried."

Anyone who has miscarried (myself, my daughter, some friends)finds this reflection resonates. Deeply and profoundly.

It's a private club. Lifetime membership.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Crazy Knit Lady

Equivalent to "Cat Lady". No, no cats. Not now. And in the past never in extremis. Two was the maximum ever along with two dogs and two birds and two fish. Kids. What can I say. Now no cats. But knitting, yeah.

You see before you a yogurt maker I got for a dollar yonks ago. It was missing two jars, I had to use two jam jars for a while. It never had a cover. But a dollar. Hey.

Then Daughter found 3 jars at a flea market for 50cents each. You'll note yogurt maker is nudging its way to a deluxe model now. No more jelly jars, All jars (and a spare) are now milk white glass.

But I got tired of wrapping it in towels while it did its biz, you know?

And I had leftover wool. And knitting in the morning has become a sort of meditation for me after breakfast. I am hoping my BP will improve, as in slide downwards, as I'm getting a bit tired of my weekly dates with my doctor. Not my type.

So tada! behold the yogurt sweater!

I am hoping Ramana will see this as he makes his own yogurt too and as far as we are concerned we are the only two in the whole universe who do so.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Terminal Technology

So. I write to my friend who is, to all intents and purposes, terminal. In the hospital. With bags and tubes and discomfort and pain and anger and frustration and fear.

These are her wishes. This is her e-mail from last night exactly as written:

Not a great day

Cleaning draining

Dr visits

Intravenus injections daily now - no oral

Learned how to check blood

Endericonolist testing gor cancer now

Sugars still up but coming down

No visitors please right now

No calls

Cannot answer easily

Easier to communicate by email

I am not going anywhere

This is my reply:

I hope today is less painful for you.

I hope your spirit can take little journeys inside you to better places.

I remember an A-Frame near Tweed where we had such a happy weekend sitting by the water. I was knitting. You were cross stitching. And we talked and talked.

I still have your needlework (in a frame) hanging on my wall.


I thought to send a shared memory every day. I think that would help me if I were her.

Who's to tell? Who's to know?

I know I wouldn't want anyone around me. Email is good. Very, very good. The right distance.

And PS - this blog is anonymous, otherwise I would never breech her confidence.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rose Gardens

OK. Stand up those amongst us who were promised one?

Not me.

Certainly not me.

And not those I care about, for sure.

Such sad news today. From my former life in Ontario: One old friend died on the weekend, he visited me here in Newfoundland a few years back. Another old friend was taken to hospital by ambulance in the last few days and she is riddled with The Lad*. She was terrified of doctors and now it's all too late, it seems. Another is in palliative/hospice care with a few days left.

I write all this down so I can look at the reality of it. My back (due to that awful fall I had) is acting up and causing me some grief and I could list a few other "what-ails-me"s for you but I won't as it all seems trivial and there's nothing more boring than a blow-by-blow of someone's health challenges.

Especially when those she cares about are in various stages of terminal illness and she's not.

But then again, we're all terminal. Savour the days, my friends. We never know when our numbers are called.

*Anyone ever heard this terminology used for cancer? We used it in Ireland back in the day. Maybe still, who knows?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rearview Mirror

This kitchen towel and dishcloths are on their way to a special friend right now.

I heard an expression a long time ago which helps me today.

"It's OK to glance in the rearview mirror once in a while but don't stare or you'll miss the view in front of you."

Something like that.

And you know what?

It's a wonderful piece of advice.

Plus: running out of time - at my age, you just don't know how much of it is left.

So no staring back anymore.

I stay where my hands are and dream up new dreams, plan for the future, have a happy in every day (or two or three) and practice mindfulness and kindfulness a couple of times during the 24.

And tired. I try not to get tired. It does nasty things to my brain.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


There's something about good friends who come to stay.

Hard to define.

I've lost a fair whack of them in the last few years, so the remaining are very precious indeed.

So last night, just the sitting and chatting and sharing the "all-of-its" is better than a week at a spa with therapists hand and foot 24/7.

Ya know?

Thursday, July 16, 2015


....view last night from my front deck....

Antidote to what, you might ask? Well, life.

A friend has been making these posts about "What makes me happy today." So I thought to adapt it and use it myself. Focus on the good stuff. I felt the stress pile up again, too much on the platter at the moment. Too much bursting of bubbles too. I feel I was living in one for a while and now it's smashed wide open and I see my delusion, my tolerance and excuse making for some pretty nasty behaviour exhibited towards me. And while there's freedom in that awakening, there's also grieving. We only truly grieve broken dreams, I believe. I don't like waking up to reality but once I'm through a few days of it there's a wonderful freedom in the untethering of expectations.

So here's my happies for today:

I was gifted with a whole evening to myself. A meeting was cancelled as we didn't have a quorum.

I found a pot of thyme. You need to know how much I adore thyme and can never, ever find it in Newfoundland. I found a wee pot today. It is sitting in my kitchen window as if we have sun.

I planned out the menus for friends who are arriving to stay for a while. I love planning menus and looking at well used recipes. One of the friends can't tolerate garlic or onions so I enjoyed the challenge of leaving my very favourite ingredients out of things and substituting (lime anyone?)

I hung some pictures, I don't know why I haven't hung them here before as they all have meaning.

And while I was hanging them, I thought: why aren't you hanging your own pictures? So I'll get a few blown up and framed. That will make me even happier, seeing my own work on my walls.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


I have this thing. I just wonder if anyone else does it. I'll mishear or misunderstand something and my version becomes my favourite and if you happen to say the word or the phrase I secretly convert it to my chosen meaning.


My first awareness of this came about when my mother was reading out loud from a letter she'd received from my godmother, her sister, who lived in London, England. I would have been about eight.

Mum read that my aunt and her family were having their annual "hols" in Weston-Super-Mare that summer.
I was green with envy. I thought: what an adventure, riding out to the west on great big horses.

"Why can't we do that?" I asked her.

"Because we're in Ireland and they're in England!" my mother probably explained.

"But there are lots of big horses here too, we don't have to go to England!"

At this point I was ignored I would think, I was one of those kids who would try the patience of anyone within earshot, always asking question after question.

But the visions in my head of Auntie Norah, Uncle Michael and their two small daughters galloping off to the magical west on their super mares never left me.

Even today, every time I see or hear Weston-Super-Mare I can still picture the four of them, hair flying, laughing joyfully, cantering over hill and dale chasing after Roy Rogers and Trigger - for that was the only west I knew then.

The Wild West.

Oh, and happy trails to you!