Saturday, February 11, 2017


I'll tell you: I'm taking a well-earned break right now.

When I put word out on FB (I think I mentioned before that FB is quite different out on this thinly populated enormous island on the East Coast) that I needed a treadmill, cheap, and helpers and a truck to drive it here when I found one, the community got busy. A woman 50k away that I met once or twice, had a son living in the other direction from me who had a treadmill he'd never used, top of the line she thought, built in TV (?), and he was giving it away. Then I heard from two friends who had the means and transportation to pick it up tomorrow and cart it into my house and set it up.

All fine and dandy, right? Except my office is the worst nightmare in my house with so little uncovered floor space as to make you tiptoe in gently, or in Grandgirl's case when she was here and looking for my unused eReader, to shake her head at me and say: "Seriously, Grandma?" To the absolute astonishment of Daughter and I, she is a bit of a neat freak. Breaking the chain of generations of proud non-housekeeping women, 5 at last count.

There is only one spot for this treadmill and it's in aforesaid office. The only dump in my house. The rest of my house is pristine because of PGs so everything spare has been thrown in here. I was waiting for expiry dates on tax files, to finish sorting through old photos, 10,000 pens, pencils, markers to spontaneously combust, reference books to sort themselves and land on shelves, all my writing files (ye gads!) to bind themselves, annotate themselves and throw themselves into a lovely wood and glass cabinet purchased yonks ago for their usage.

I wouldn't let anybody at anything as, you know, valuable papers, old photos, all my sheet music since I was 6, and stuff: don't touch my stuff syndrome.

So there I was tonight. nearly in despair looking at that catchall six foot long side table that holds every piece of undealt-with crap of my life. Marking the exact and only spot where my new treadmill is going to sit.

And I put on my big girl knickers and I tackle everything on it, under it and around it. And I find Ansa's lost toys, which break my heart, and get everything out into the front hall, stacked. And resist the urge to go through old photos and letters and cards and files and my published stuff.

And I say to Grandgirl via text as she is a fount of wisdom at 22: give me a good idea to get me on the effing magic treadmill when it arrives.

And she says: audio books and podcasts and Big Rule: they can only be played when you're on the treadmill. That way you have something to look forward to.

OK Legs.

We are going to regenerate you, a la tadpole.

Sorry about all those tears.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Day Zero

I watch the seabirds flying close to the stormy bay, eyes alert for fish. I throw out some seed for the littler birds. It's cold and windy and bitter out here.

I've lost water in my house. Yesterday I lost the woodstove too. Leo sorted out the chimney for me so I have heat again. But the water? No idea what's going on. I turned off the pump. I do have a container to make coffee or soup.

I'd like someone to come and take care of me. The downside of living alone is when things go wrong. As they will. Or two or three things go wrong. And there's no one to worry-share.

It begs the question: How many of us are brave and stoic on the outside and crying in fear on the inside? How come the chin-up and chest-out manifesto is our fall back scenario?

Is life just a performance for most of us? Be brave, we're told since childhood, don't cry, this won't hurt a bit - the first Big Lie apart from Santa Claus.

In an odd way I found out how really brave and uncrying I have been.

"You've had this disease for at least 10 years," says my vascular surgeon, "And you've completed how many distant road races?"

"Seven, eight, nine?" I say.

"You must have been in terrible pain at the end of them all?"

"Yes, I was," I admit,"I felt like fainting."

"The vascular system in your legs from the knees down has deteriorated by 60%. The thing is I could surgically intervene, and the odds are not good, or you could work on creating an alternative vascular system in your legs. It' going to hurt like hell and there will be many tears but it can be done."

I'm too old for this shyte, I think. I'm tired. I'm not brave anymore.

And then so many are worse off than I. And I feel small and selfish.

"I'll see you in six months" he says, "But if you sustain an injury or notice blackness or bruising in your legs, you are to call me right away."

"Remember," he adds, "Forty-five minutes a day of brisk walking through the pain and tears. It can be done!"

They're not your effing legs and pain, I think meanly, as I smile at him, his father born in Mayo, his pin-striped 3 piece suit right out of Central Casting: Mr. Surgeon.

Can I do more pain?

And continue writing this shyte on a blog, when so many like me are giving up blogging?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 6

In these unbelievable times I'm cheered by, as Mr. Rogers so aptly called them many years ago, The Helpers.

The Uprisings everywhere. The humour in the face of unbelievable stupidity and racism. Lawyers coming together to defend the most vulnerable. (Does 45 even get the fact that these refugees are fleeing from a carnage his country created? Don't bother answering)

The Helpers are everywhere.

Our own Prime Minister tweeted this:

Yeah, the man can tweet.

And this, this, made me lol/sob:

And got me thinking of how it really must be in 45's Orange House.

The Masters of the Universe have never been more visible.

I watched Noam Chomsky's doc again last night. Wow, prescient. I highly recommend.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 5

The worst of it is that thoughts don't leave me rest. Unbidden, often of the past. I occupied myself sorting out the android and its feeds. It wasn't doing what I told it to. Dropping favourites, reinventing newbies which were of no interest. That kept me in bad temper, but busy, for a while. It turned out there were two similar feeds clashing with each other. Order is now restored and so are favourites.

I Doctor Googled myself and found that my two underlying health issues were not helping this overlying issue: Da Bug. I may have to go to doc on Monday if I don't feel better. I see the specialist on Wednesday at the hospital which I feel quite hopeless about. I know. But it's the way I feel in this shallow-breathing painful world I live in at the moment.

Over the years I've gotten to know fellow bloggers in many ways. Often face to face or through emails and snail mails and gift exchanges. Many are of similar bent or political leanings. One, who has been a blog friend since I started blogging way back, and blogged frequently and eloquently, made the announcement today that she has terminal lung cancer. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't stop crying.

There have been a few such losses over the years. It surprises me how very close we can feel in the ether to each other. And the huge void that is created by absence.

I send her sustaining light and love through the challenges ahead. And yes, it puts my own tribulations at the moment into some sort of perspective.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 4

Oh the misery.

Oh the hacking.

Oh the sleepless nights.

And sleep filled days.

The isolation.

The pity pot.

Grandgirl arrived to great excitement on Sunday.

She and Daughter hung out in my house until Tuesday.

She'd arrived with the remnants of some kind of bug.

Non-infectious, we believed.

Poor fools.

Mine started on Tuesday. Grew to an unmistakeable fever by Wednesday, was full-fledged by Thursday and today, Friday, has developed fresh symptoms like stomach let down.

All the bodily functions we take for granted now become questionable in execution.

I'm the type who hates being catered to even though many offers have been flung through the phone and on media.

I am completely uncivil and unfriendly and unsocial in my illness and the slightest effort thrown in these directions sends me spinning downwards.

So I Coventry myself and wander around the house quite aimlessly, unable to read or knit or concentrate on anything stimulating on Netflix.

I collapse regularly in a heap on my bed exhausted from the effort it took to get there.

So yeah. A bit of a whine.

Because I know you're all far away and can't knock on my door with a cheerful countenance and chicken soup.

Saturday, January 21, 2017





adjective: remiss

lacking care or attention to duty; negligent.
"it would be very remiss of me not to pass on that information"

synonyms: negligent, neglectful, irresponsible, careless, thoughtless, heedless, lax, slack, slipshod, lackadaisical, derelict......

Not to say I haven't been writing.

I have.

And designing and knitting too. And reading. And conversing. And playing Lexulous on line.

And storm watching. We were all worked about that, my town and I. But those forecasters and Environment Canada got it so very, very wrong. As they often do. There's something about meteorologists' brains and the sea and radar patterns that doen't mix well. Grandgirl cancelled her flight tonight as a result, so now she arrives tomorrow.

The bay is frozen, it is quite startling in its beauty. It's cold. But the fire is cosy. Some people lose their minds in weather such as this. I'm delighted with it. More me-time, no outside pressures apart from irritating phone-calls with demands which I'm ignoring for today.

I do miss my old girl, Ansa, though. Not the old and tired Ansa, the lively, funny one.

Monday, January 09, 2017


I would never have described myself as such. Ever. But late in life I'm up against this defect of mine. And it is a defect. Perfectionist. It's a prison.




noun: perfectionism

refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

It is paralyzing when it comes to my writing, to my completion of major projects. For example, I've written 3 novels. Understand that apart from an inquiry letter to publishers/agents here and there I've never pursued with any kind of energy or dedication actual publication of any of them as there is still so much to fix/rewrite/edit, you name it. Incomplete. Imperfect.

The recent anthology was agony. I will never look at it again, even though I've worked it and worked it. Because I will still see flaws and construction/grammatical problems et al infinitum. And this is depressing. Utterly.

My short stories, articles are never the issue as I can rework/edit these to my heart's content. Which I do. And then fire off. It's the larger works that are my personal sticky wicket.

The thing is, I let Novel #2 go for about 4 years. It had been work-shopped to much acclaim, a concept not written about before to everyone's knowledge. I hadn't read it since. But I needed the work I had done on it for a creative non-fiction short piece I'm writing.

So I took all day yesterday and read it as a stranger might and I was overwhelmed with how good and moving (I cried, lots) it was and today I'm going to work on expanding some chapters and then having Daughter and Grandgirl read it and take or not take their valued considerations and then fire it off, maybe a 100 times like a machine gun to different publishers without looking at it again.

And then get on the backs of the other 2 and do the same.

Time is running out.

On all of us.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

WWW - Unlimited.

My mind has always been my freedom. Ever since I was quite tiny.

When troubled I would lie on my small bed face down and imagine myself soaring over hills and mountains and then off into the sky, cruising over waves and boats and trees and houses.

"Oh" said my friend D to me last year, a couple of days before she died, "I can't bear the thought of my mind being gobbled up by this disease." Me too, D. Me too.

My mobility is impacted by some serious health issues. I am waiting for specialist evaluation to see if there's a solution.

But meanwhile I pace myself and prop myself on some hiking poles, counters, whatever is handy. I'm goodly for about 25 paces and then, suddenly, the power is gone, like pulling a plug out of a socket.

Dr. Google alarms me greatly so I avoid.

I also avoid talking about it with friends. There's nothing worse than a medi-bore.

Except for here.

The once.

My point? I am surprised at how unlimited I feel inside me. I celebrate all that is good and wonderful about my life.

I've discovered I'm far kinder to myself than I would have anticipated. I talk myself through fearsome challenges. And congratulate myself on a job well done if I've made it to the garage and into my car.

I've eliminated some previously terribly important and unletgoable items from my diet with ease. My goal is perhaps being under my normal weight to ease pressure on my vascular system. But I haven't overanalyzed this, it just seemed like time. I don't feel deprived. At all.

I find I'm in a really good head space. I anticipated much whining and berating of my misfortune and button-holing of willing ears. But no, that hasn't happened.

It's not a misfortune. And I don't compare to others' setbacks or worse-off scenarios - always terribly unhelpful, IMO.

It just is.

Inside, every dream is still realizable.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Ah no, I won't throw them out. No matter the day that's in it.

We are all individuals. Our journeys are so different and our instruction manuals are self- written. All the platitudes in the world won't fix us. I read the Dalai Lama periodically. And yes, his advice is sound. But my own self=advice is good too: "Yes, you can get out of bed today. Yes, you can ride this storm, remember the worse ones? Find the light in your day."


Our etceteras are larger than our cores. I share my journey in case it ignites a tiny spark in someone else. But advice? Never. Unless you ask for it. And even then I will only impart some hard won lessons of my own.

Through this past week I've run the gamut of many emotions. I wanted to throw myself on Daughter when she left on the 27th. But I didn't. What a burden to one's child even if the child is going to be fifty soon. Fifty. Take that in.

I wrap my own neediness up tidily and bury it somewhere in the pit of my brain when someone I love leaves. The leave-takings are more poignant as I age. It could be the last time. Morose? Morbid? Well, shoot me.

I remember my mother breaking down in bits the last time I saw her. She held on and held on and I stayed that extra minute hugging her. I should have turned away to spare her pride. And her shame, my wonderful, strong mama. I'm reminded of that with Daughter. So I laugh and push her away and as soon as her car has gone. I cry. For what? For losses, for the tangled old year behind me, for my uncertain health. And for her kindness to me. In spite of. She is exceedingly kind as if in compensation for her sister, for the betrayals of my family. So I don't add anything extra in the way of emotional demands on her.

I'm grateful for all the privacies that I don't share in person but do on this silly old blog or in my journal.

For the many of you out there who seem to get my eccentricities and can add some of your own. We find each other and commiserate and laugh and share.


I thank you.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


At a table next to me in Tim Hortons, a woman of my age to three companions:

Imagine - me, 6 children in 8 years and he has the sauce to tell me I was good for 8 more! I said to him, well it was more of a scream, you`d better yank the damn thing out of me or I`ll find a good protestant doctor who will!

From Leo:

Mudder would have to cut up the apples and oranges and divide them among the 8 stockings. And there was only one peppermint hobnob each. Fadder would drink all the Christmas money away.

A good friend to me:

You`ve always admired my French glass bottle of lavender soap, and guess what I found one for you!


Well, it`s all wonderful Jingle Bellish isn`t it, until Harold arrives. No, we never invite him. He just shows up and what can we do, surrounded by little ears waiting to pick up on all the fucks. And it wouldn`t be so bad until he shoves Tom out of the way, as if Tom wasn`t my legal husband now. I mean Harold and I were only married for 7 years of hell, right? And now he expects to sit at the head of the table beaming at his grandchildren. I tell ya, Tom is a saint.


My happiest Christmas? Prepping the food at 4 a.m. and feeding the homeless at 10.00 a.m. in Toronto with my younger daughter. And talking to them, hearing their stories, their memories. Singing together. Joking, even. Feeling so privileged at the end of it all. Humbled.

Whatever you do, whatever you wish, may it all bring peace and joy and a smidgin of hope for the new year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gratitude - Surviving.

I am grateful I have survived this long. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries and certain times of the year are worse than others for most of us.

I was thinking back on pivotal moments. The ones that changed everything.

I've had a few directional shifts in my life. Emigrating to Canada. Semi-retiring to Newfoundland. Recovering from alcoholism. To name but a few. And children. Bearing and rearing of same are enormous pivotal moments.

I have very little regrets, if any. I can't think of one offhand apart from wishing I'd been kinder, less defensive. We use the tools, often faulty, that we're brought up with, and frankly I should have abandoned mine much sooner. But I can't preordain the speed and direction of my own personal and spiritual growth.

I can't understand you if I can't understand myself.

I'm shocked by people who put an end to their learning. One said to me recently: I hate new words, I hate learning things. I've had enough. And she's 8 years younger than I.

And here I am wading through a book about Burma and designing a book cover for a daytimer. How? I ask myself. How can we abandon being curious, being creative, being a scholar?

So as I age I find fewer to discuss ideas with. I find, on the whole, talk is reduced to gossip and medications: yours, mine, ours.

But I have a cherished few. And the Young One. Grateful for that I am.

Grateful for Daughter who sees me right each and every time in ways I can't even count.

Grateful for the one sibling who checks up on me with frequency and concern. One out of 5 ain't bad.

Grateful for dear friends who are there, always, with love and open hearts.

Grateful for this one wild and precious life.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Gratitude Day Wevs

My dear young friend had another catastrophe befall her which took me a fair distance from gratitude.

Her father's best friend assaulted and tried to rape her in the woods.

And her father did nothing. His BFF is back in his house as if nothing happened.

Her mother, as usual, is stoned out of her mind on pharmaceuticals.

We are moving heaven on earth to get her out of there and into assisted housing.

Sometimes life just sucks the bag and it's so hard to find the little diamonds underneath all the coal.

My missing daughter's birthday is tomorrow and this is always a rough time for me.

I spent the morning at the hospital with my vascular evaluation and that's not looking good.

So here you go:

Gratitude are my friends who are solidly there, all the time: supportive and loving in so many different ways I cry when I think of them. I'm not fit, as we say right now, and their arms and hugs reach out and hold me closely and cook me supper and listen as I cry and try and make sense of the world that would hurt my wee friend so deeply. And my missing child who could be? Not hide nor hair of her can be found. I just can't dig deeper. I don't want to know. It would be too much.

And Daughter is having challenges with her new job. Her MS is rearing its ugly head after a long nap and badly affecting her, poor pet.

But yes, if you're reading this, it's still this side of the daisies for all of us. The weather is kind. The bay smooth as a mirror, Grandmother Moon watchful and alert over it all. But puzzling. As I am.

As 2017 looms large on our horizons.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Gratitude Day 6 & 7

My house in the fall

I was slumpish most of yesterday. Could not seem to get motivated and then stopped trying. Went with the flow. And I'm grateful for that, knowing enough now to stop, careful as to who I share with as I don't need the admonitions - you know how they go: stop worrying, get outside, breathe.

(1) One friend in TO told me to have a Board Meeting/meditation with my body parts. Gather them all together for half an hour and reason things out. Ask the legs to improve, ask the heart to drop this alarming vascular shyte, ask the brain to co-operate and not add worry to the turmoil. So I did and felt 20 tons better. Seriously. Candle glowing and the parts all listening.

(2)Another friend texted she had loads of designer clothes for my young friend and if she dropped them off would I give them to her anonymously. Wow, yes, yes and yes.

(3)Today was much better. A fantastic community brunch in our local pub/restaurant. Daughter and I spent some time together after and she had all these goodies for me in her car. I had to suspend my cleaning lady due to unexpected bills for car brakes and then the whammer of a new hot water tank plus labour really threw a huge dent in the budget. Daughter insisted on paying for my Emma's December housecleaning. Some things just make you cry. That made me cry.

(4)My favourite rain jacket had gone AWOL. It's only about 10 years old and owes me nothing, but you know how that is. I love it. Hood, huge back pocket on the bum, 4 side pockets, I can look like a grocery store shelving unit in it when I pack it up.... but I love it. I called my past 4 locations where I'd been to see if they'd seen it. I gave up. And then, today, underneath my cloth grocery bags in the trunk? A flash of navy blue. Oh baby, I said, come to mummy.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Gratitude - Day 5

The barn cats continue to wait for Ansa. She adored them. And they her.

At times, it is difficult to keep focussed on this attitude of gratitude. And in case you think life is a sunny bowl of cherries for me, it isn't, I have other more serious painful health issues which I prefer not to obsess about (hence my last post) but of which I'm consistently mindful. Further tests coming up next week.

(1)In my volunteer position I was extremely stressed about an employee situation I had to manage as some had threatened to quit over an ongoing dispute knock-down-drag-out-hostility between two men. It tested every level of employee conflict resolution I had negotiated in my working career. But a half hour later after I started the meeting, they were apologising to each other. Surprisingly, one of the men was close to tears, the other looked ashamed. There are no sex stereotypes. And I didn't have to pull my old woman card once - i.e. "I'm getting too old for this shyte"- which I've used sparingly in the past to great effect.

(2)"You are just another version of me." I read this recently and was moved by it. It's a shame it's not a national anthem or something.

(3) I had put a little nostalgic statement on FB about the Sunday brunches I would enjoy in Toronto with different groups of friends. Lo and behold, in response, a local restaurant is test-marketing a brunch this coming Sunday.

(4)Midnight last night, as snow had been forecasted, I thought to put my car in the garage which I use for the winter season. And holy disaster, batman. No room for the car. I'm in my PJs. But I got down to shifting and moving and tut-tutting all over the clutter on the floor. There was more dog stuff than anything else - 2 beds, her blankies, her car gear, her dishes, her stool, water fountain, dry food holder, etc. I didn't cry which is good. But there's nothing like cleaning up your own mess at midnight in a floodlit garage for neighbourly entertainment. "You OK?" came sailing up over the meadow from numerous stopped cars. Any truthful answer would have rendered me certifiable so I waved them all away with a nonchalant grin. So yeah, I finally parked the car where it belongs for the winter. And PS the snow was pathetic, about 10 flakes. But I felt so good about this midnight housekeeping so I did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gratitude - Day 4

Sunset on the Bay - 2009

I'm decidedly weird when it comes to my health. When symptoms are serious, I toss it off, when mild I obsess. A rare headache is a brain tumour, problems with my feet are definitely malignant melanoma, maybe gout if I'm lucky, or worst case scenario: amputation of the entire leg due to (take your pick)gangrene, undetected aforementioned melanoma (it happened to my mother)or blood clots everywhere.

(1)I trot off to my podiatrist yesterday, self-diagnosed from all my toes hurting, particularly in bed, unbelievably so in socks. Fully expecting any of the diagnoses featured above, in flashing lights. I had to say pardon? when he shook his head and said "Seriously dry skin," and bumped up the strength of my foot cream.

(2) I was going blind a few weeks ago, thinking white cane, home for the blind, too old for a guide dog?, loss of licence, friends, lonely in a one roomed hovel because of tripping over everything around me, rationed down to audio books and a 2 hour a day helper to wash me and ensure I hadn't set fire to myself or my hovel. I took the bit between my teeth and checked in with my optometrist who told me that my eyes hadn't changed in 8 years, I still had good eyesight. But my gawd my eyes were dry I must be rubbing them all the time and causing blurry vision, how uncomfortable for me and handed me a bottle of drops to use.

Yeah, a heavy duty foot cream and a bottle of eye drops.


And so very grateful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gratitude - Day 3

Copyright - Christine Henehan

(1) A pyjama day, so few of these nowadays, it was brilliant. Got hooked into a Netflix "Shetland", rather lovely with the main character sharing custody of his daughter with her biological father.

(2)Coffee beans. Good coffee beans. Ground to taste. Perfection.

(3)Moose stew, donated by a friend. Delicious for dinner.

(4)Perfect weather, bay as still as a mirror, clouds of summer blue, bright sun, green grass, lilac tree still hasn't shed its leaves.

(5)My clothes dryer vent now fixed. For those wet snowy days.

(6)A picture that enchanted me - see above.

(7) Fresh sheets on my bed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gratitude - Day 2

(1)As I look out my window right now I see a fishing boat heading out to sea. I think: incredible I get to live here, looking out at the bay, watching boats, hearing birds, being in this moment.

(2) A long time friend from Ontario called in distress last night. I believe that the only one who understands another's pain is someone who has lived through similar. Hers involved familial abuse and I've certainly lived through that in many of its forms particularly the shunning and back stabbing coming out of left field. So I could commiserate and share what I had done to rid myself of the ka-kas. Not that the scars leave but they heal over and we move on and then only go to where we are valued and respected. We had over 3 hours of chat and I am grateful she reached out and even more grateful I could revisit my own times of (looking back)painful turmoil and surviving it. It does pass, although never forgotten, but the hurts we endure can help someone else when malice strikes out of nowhere.

(3)Daughter left a message saying she had booked brunch next Sunday. She has been working so hard and I am so happy she plans time with her mother on her precious days off.

(4) My fire. I took joy in the faces around it yesterday when we had that meeting concerning my young friend and her intolerable living conditions. A fire adds to comfort and ease, brings us back to the basics of hewing wood and carrying water. A great meeting. My friend said, through tears: I never imagined I could have a caring family like this. Tears all around. And action plan initiated.

(5) Staying where my hands are. Not getting riled up on the political scene. Anywhere. Backing off.

All is well.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gratitude - Day 1

In these times of turmoil and uncertainty and to lift my face skyward, I thought to list, each day for a while, the uniqueness in my days, the sometimes tiny things that bring me joy, the often unnoticed kind gestures of others, which frequently get squelched underneath this anxiety that haunts each waking minute. I need to be reminded there is so much good in the world, so very much.

A friend and I had a date to go an afternoon tea and concert today which featured a few other friends of ours. At the last minute she cancelled. I felt like cancelling also. Schlepping all the way into town all by myself, blah, blah. But I phoned an acquaintance who doesn't live too far from here and arranged to hook up with her. I'd like to get to know her a little better. This was completely out of the norm for me.

(1)On my way another friend called and said he'd been talking to someone who might be able to help my young (29 yo)friend find a place to live as she needs to leave a toxic family environment. Meeting arranged at my house tomorrow.

(2)When we got to the venue (an old church), an unexpected pleasure was a good friend racing up to me at the door and insisting we join their table. There's nothing like walking into a large performance space and being made feel so very welcome. When I gave my name for the pre-booked ticket the guy in the box office said "Oh, you're the playwright, right?". Talk of warm fuzzies and girlish blushes!

(3)The concert was wonderful and the food so lovely, all served with élan. There's something about afternoon tea and real china accompanied by live music that zings.

(4)My acquaintance, now friend, who has lost a ton of weight, told me she had a bag of brand new clothes in her car which no longer fitted her, some of which I might like. There are Santas everywhere.

All in all a rather lovely day now that I think about it.

And not the other stuff.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Mighty Abyss

The mighty abyss. Waiting for us all. Two this week. One today. Long term friends. One a client, or maybe two, one asking for free tax assistance periodically. I was reviewing emails and had forgotten that. My sent folder was full of such requests along with affectionate exchanges over the years. The other, who died today, was a successful, long-term client. Friend would be a strong word for E, it was one of those connections in between client/acquaintance and not-quite-friend. Friends are those I invite to my home for kindred spirit communion. Not E.

You know how it is when someone close dies. You mull over the times. Revisit. And try not to speak ill of. E was a strange bird indeed. I don't think she allowed herself closeness or intimacy.

Twenty years ago, I remember flying to South Carolina with her for a retreat in the mountains near Asheville. A gorgeous spot. I'd had a huge argument with my man of the time in the morning. He had said he was going to drive me to the airport to meet E before boarding. In the morning he said he was too tired, go get a cab. And I went spare. He sullenly drove and I made the airport just in time for boarding. I remember not sharing what had transpired with E and faking normal. The trouble with people who don't share with me is that I usually feel like a crazy lunatic if I do share: the eyebrows, the long stare, the h'ms, as if such derangements were your peculiar dysfunction and certainly never happened to them.

I had all these gift certificates for a car rental, courtesy of another client. So we rented a car at the airport and E insisted on herself taking the first driving shift through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I didn't argue, though I was feeling slightly miffed as I had paid for the car, certificates notwithstanding. When I feel miffed I feel small, and ask myself why are you making a big deal out of this?

It was a long drive and after a coffee/pee break, she got back behind the wheel in spite of my friendly "my turn to drive now?" The weekend was great, I reconnected with some old friends and the workshops were powerful and memorable.

So we leave the retreat and E, who had not given up the key to the car, gets into the driver's seat. I say (very nicely) "It's my turn to drive."

"No," she says, firmly and clearly, "It's mine," and started the car.

I debated this. Get into a whine of: you drove ALL the way here, my turn, my turn!

But I let it go, I did. Because, surely, how important was it?

But truly, it was symptomatic of everything she did. She had to be in charge, in control, running things. I gave up having dinner with her on Wednesday nights in downtown Toronto, as I realized I'm not built for the kind of superficiality she represented. Her Blackberry, for instance, was constantly under the table sucking her attention. I let her go as a client about 4 years ago, mainly because of the stress she engendered in me by leaving everything to the last minute and not heeding my gentle/and or humorous reminders.

Her death was quick and unexpected. The vicious tentacles of an aggressive cancer which she kept hidden from most who knew her.

E was a good woman. That I know. Nobody is black and white as Hollywood likes to depict. We are all a mighty mix of oddity and occasional profundity with our inner demons bouncing around for attention.

E did her best as we all try to do. She was generous and kind in many areas. As long as she was in charge. But people like E leave us with many unanswered questions about the complexity of human nature.

And now I'm wondering who's next?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On Viaducts and Trestle Bridges

In two books I've read recently railway tracks spanning rivers or gorges feature. I love this in books, when my mind can drift off and I'm back, once more, lost in a memory.

I remember getting my first bike. I was 9 years old. My post office savings account had been stuffed at birth by relatives and grandparents (1st grandchild) and there was enough money there to buy a Raleigh. A rather splendid bike. I was tall for my time so it was a lady's. I don't even know if there were children's bikes and training wheels then.

I learned to ride on my father's ancient bike with my leg stuck under the crossbar. He didn't know, as I'd finish my dinner quickly and take his bike from the side of the house and head off down the road at this odd angle, my bum on one side, the bike on the other. You see, I couldn't reach the pedals from the seat. I'd return it before he finished his post prandial fifth cigarette. He was a mad smoker then. Players and Goldflakes. He was a much calmer man when he smoked but I didn't want to test his serenity by revealing the temporary theft of his precious bike.

I was over the moon with my very own bike. In those days there were no parental restrictions on distance or time. The only injunction was to be home for supper at half five. I went wild on that bike. I rode to Blarney Castle and would lurk underneath where the Blarney Stone was and collect the money falling out of the pockets of the tourists, much of it American.

I had a taxi service. An odd thing about my neighbourhood, it was mainly boys then, very few girls to play with and those few, unfortunately, stuck close to their dollies and little tea parties. The big attraction for us more adventurous 9 year olds was the Chetwynd Viaduct about 2 miles out. The picture above doesn't do it justice. It was magnificent.

I could carry three passengers on my bike and off we'd head to the Viaduct. We'd traverse its length, we'd dare each other to run across it, we'd shove each other around, we'd clamber on the struts and time how long we could hang, we'd flatten pennies on it. There were very few trains but we'd leave the big old pennies on the tracks and collect them later, all flattened out. It fascinated us. Or maybe just me for I'd ridden it a few times on the West Cork Railway.

When I think now of this risky behaviour, I shudder.

"Where did you go today?" my mother would ask when I finally showed up for my supper.

"Nowhere, just around, nowhere really," I'd answer, "But my bike has another flat tire."

"What do you do on that bike? You must be very rough with it. Your daddy is getting fed up with fixing it all the time."