## Friday, April 18, 2014

### Our Lovely Humanity

It's never the perfect dinner parties I remember. You know, where everything is just so. Everything matching, flowers at attention, napkins crisp and clean and even, linen spotless, best silver aligned.

No. it's the wee touches of carelessness. Something the host/hostess forgot to put away or got thrown in a corner to be dealt with later just when the oven beeped.

I am included in these family get-togethers at friends of mine. All festive occasions. Between this couple they have 13 siblings plus their partners (or not), plus cousins and in-laws. I find it hard to talk about it without crying. Happy tears I should add as this huge family reminds me so much of my own when we all pile in together. And by now I'm like this stray sister as they tease me and ball-hop me to a huge degree. Acceptance.

And the food is awesome, this afternoon and into the evening it was all kinds of fish. Fresh crab, a clam chowder that would make you groan in pleasure, fresh cod, brewis, fish cakes and fresh baked rolls. And scrunchions. I don't eat desserts by choice but the selection would make you weep. Layered trifle in a huge bowl, 7 cup pudding with rum sauce, this fancy cinnamon roll that comes out like a swiss roll. And enough to feed hundreds. And masses of tulips and daffodils in jugs and vases everywhere.

The craic was 90, as my people say. But it was when I was in the bathroom that I smiled and felt so touched. We've all had these little slips, these forgetfullnesses. Like leaving the big tube of haemorrhoid cream beside the sink. I'll admit to walking around my own dining room serving guests with a trail of toilet paper floating behind me.

And them? Neatly arranged on three hooks at the back of their bathroom door were his underpants, her knickers and her bra.

Happy season of renewal and rebirth and re-invigoration to you all.

## Thursday, April 17, 2014

### Charging Off

I was stunned when I got here today and realized I hadn't posted one single word in over a week. Most unlike me. Which means I haven't read any other blogs either.

I hasten to amend the situation.

Yes, I have been charging off in a different direction. More on that later. I took a huge chance. I won't throw a lot of bad cess on it by talking about it. Nothing may come of it and I won't look foolish in front of the lot of you. You know how that can be. No? It must be just me then.

Other than that, family stuff, interesting other projects on the go, weather is balmy, over 20C today so everyone is charging off and getting caught up with friends, etc., like there's no tomorrow. Moods have lightened. Jackets have been peeled off and boots thrown in the corner.

And the birds, oh the birds. Chirping, cooing, flying and floating. They're everywhere.

And the bay? Just look at it!

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## Wednesday, April 09, 2014

### Inspissated

It's not often I come across a word I have to look up but today I did. I always jot such words down, take a blind guess at what they mean and then google them and chortle in glee if I'm close to correct on my assumption. I find searching them out holds the word like glue in my brain. I had a father who was in love with words and we would do the crossword together every night. The Evening Echo of Cork, a reasonably challenging crossword. A fine way for a 6 year old to start developing language skills. We would look up any word we didn't understand.

Take a shot at the above word. I, of course, went right to the "piss" of it. And as the weather was "inspissated" in the story I thought: "beginning to rain." I should of course, know better than to go with the slang of "piss".

So take a shot at what it means......

Here's Merriam-Webster:

Definition of INSPISSATED

: thickened in consistency; broadly : made or having become thick, heavy, or intense

First Known Use of INSPISSATED

1655

in·spis·sat·ed adjective \in-ˈspis-ˌāt-əd, ˈin(t)-spə-ˌsāt-\ (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of INSPISSATED

: thick or thickened in consistency

—in·spis·sa·tion noun

Along with some rather squeamish medical definitions involving breast ducts. We won't go there, alright? And the illustrations for the word - many horrific images. Avoid.

Susan Hill, recently discovered by moi and on whom I have a serious woman-crush, used it to describe the thickening of a mist into fog.

So there.

I learn something new every day.

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## Monday, April 07, 2014

### The Fighting Irish

I sometimes go into things expecting huge battles. I don't know where I get this girding-my-loins-for-a-war mentality. Perhaps in childhood. Girl children in my time in the Catholic Ireland I grew up in had to choose their fights carefully. We had outlets on the camogie front, of course, and if you think camogie is like field hockey, think again. if you ever saw a hurling match you'd get the picture.

Camogie was the female version of hurling. Back then, in my time: No protective gear, no fancy sports bras, think thin black plimsolls, skirts (yeah skirts - and underneath regulation bloomers) and best of all? Black nylon stockings! It was a viciously tough game, where ankles were shredded and fights broke out at every game. We did not repress our rage. We took it out on the opposing team in camogie. Of course now they've fancied it all up with helmets and knee pads and ankle protectors and elbow protectors. Not in my time I can assure you. I had a foot broken and a finger broken. Others had teeth smashed, ribs shattered, one girl had two casts simultaneously on her arm and her leg. We raised Irish women right tough in Ireland back then. We came by it well through Cumann Na mBan the Irish women's military organization formed in 1914.

I was all girded up, in my recently new position, to go to battle for a new town hall, a performance space, a meeting place, a community party room. The old space was commandeered by the RC church. Even though the land was originally donated to the RC diocese by their parishioners and the old hall was built free of charge, etc., etc. All over Canada (and I'm sure in other countries too) the RC church is selling off 'their' properties and paying off lawsuits brought by the victims of the heinous perversions and horrors inflicted by those in their employ on innocent children. This whole reactive process by the church makes my lobes explode. Now the seniors, who contributed so much over the years to the support of their local churches, are unceremoniously turfed out of their card games and little tea dances, etc., and have nowhere to meet courtesy of these very same churches. Bloodsuckers. Don't get me started. Well, I have, haven't I? I'll stop now.

So here I am fighting for a space for my wee town so that we could have a non-denominational meeting hall, small, granted, but enough.

I get an estimate to convert an existing building into a wee village hall - the space will be lovely, light and airy - and now - and I'm really over the moon about this - the powers that be approved it tonight.

It turns out I was the only one in this anticipated battle.

Colour me ungirded.

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## Saturday, April 05, 2014

### I Get Mail

Well, we all do, don't we? All kinds of mail. I was reflecting on this. Reflecting on an old lover who recently re-contacted me and sent me pictures of a flood in his basement and then proceeded to tell me how he was repairing it along with a contractor, and, (anticipating my questions, no doubt) insurance didn't cover it as he had been away in Texas when it all went down and no one was caretaking the house so the policy was invalid. I did not find this renewal of contact in the least bit romantic, colour me yawning, but then he was older than me to begin with and perhaps any romantic inclination, whether through the florid prose of written desire or the heavy breathing of a phone-call (I'm in the book)has now entirely deserted him. Hence what is he trying to renew? Or is he just taking my virtual pulse to ensure I am amongst those fortunate to be looking down on the daisies too?

Some bloggers who were my regular visitors (and me theirs) have fled. I hope not dead. A few are my virtual friends too and I see them regularly scampering amongst selfies on FB. On to finer things than a blogging life, no doubt. I look at my report of "dead feeds" and I think "abattoir". I'm dark that way. Not that I would wish....but there were some lovely writings back then amongst these now silent keyboards.

I get lovely personal emails from readers. Some who newly discover my blog and eagerly read every single post. I think there must be 1500 posts or thereabouts now. But they read them all. I am flattered and awestruck. What perseverance! I think. And how very kind to let me know. There were three in the past few weeks. From far and near. A shout out to you dear fans, you touch my heart!

The interwebz has been a tremendous gift in my life. Through it, I've made new friends and met more than a few in the flesh. Friendships established virtually have converted seamlessly into actual friends and we chat and write off blog to each other. Extraordinary how uplifting and enlightening technology has been.

I truly treasure each and every one of you out there in blogland and the support, in private emails, through my recent depression, in no small measure, helped to shoo that Black Dog right out of this room.

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## Wednesday, April 02, 2014

### Mortifying Metaphors.

I finished this book. Yeah, I had quoted it in a blog post. But it was not in the way of a recommendation for any of you readers out there.

For the book was a slog. Normally, I shove such books aside. Donate them half-read to the thrift shop. I don't know why I kept going. It was 562 pages of my life I'll never get back.

One of the reasons was to see how many appalling metaphors the author could cram into those 562 pages. Did I mention there were 562 pages? Oh yeah, sorry, three times now.

Samples, just a few out of hundreds ~

When a fellow's hair lifts off his forehead:

"It settled back to his temples like roosting doves."

On a small sound from someone:

"Like the wheeze in the chest of an asthmatic, or the faint whimper of a small creature dying at the side of the road."

"The inquiry team were starting to dissipate their energies fruitlessly, like men urinating into a strong wind."

Reflecting on a picture of a six year old girl:

"Fair hair cut raggedly across her forehead and a selection of teeth and gaps like a half-demolished wall."

"Tears crawled over his skin, like tiny slugs, slow and painful."

Apart from these, there were also times when metaphors were needed as in two sets of parents with murdered daughters not reacting to the loss and horror. At all. In fact, one couple doesn't bother to come back from their vacation. A face etched in grief at the death, a small sob over the casket? Not at all. No funerals even mentioned.

And the resolution at the end was so forced along with the perpetrator being signalled from Page 1 or 2.

Oh, boy. Someone should have told Mr. Booth that appalling metaphors takes a reader right out of the story as she contemplates those slug-like tears and teeth like a wall or a pile of men urinating into the wind, while her mind frets over the conundrum of that chilly pair of non-grieving parents.

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## Sunday, March 30, 2014

### I have this girl......

Well, a girl she will always be to me. She's a middle-aged woman now. How did that happen? I'm supposed to be middle-aged. Well, late middle aged. OK then, a "senior". Senior what? Senior middle-aged. OK. OK. I'm an elder. This is what an elder looks like, feels like, behaves like, dresses like, walks like, sings like, talks like.

We invent our own elderhood. And a fine place it is. Most of the time. Compared to the alternative.

So this girl? This girl is Daughter #1. We've had our trials and tribulations. Oh, yes. Anyone who tells you they haven't had trials and tribulations and troubles and temper tantrums with their children are liars. Or disconnected. Or on drugs. Or in la-la land and don't know their children from the neighbour's dog. Or don't give a shyte. Trust me. Raising children or watching them raise themselves? It ain't easy. Best book I ever read on parenting was "How to Raise Children at Home in your Spare Time." I just Googled it and it's still kicking around. I know. Use me as target practice all you helicopter parents out there.

Anyways, as I was saying. Daughter has moved here. To accompany me into extreme elderhood. I never expected this. And I certainly don't feel I earned this wonderful proximity. We're not living in each other's pockets - she lives about 50k from where I live. Right where the whales come in - nearly on her doorstep. When she announced her moving here we all thought she'd last a month tops and be off on her travels again, to Peru, to California, to France. But she is loving it here. In spite of the weather, the winds tossing her house around all the time, the washed out roads, the snow, the cold. She is in love with the people, the community she's in, the slower pace of life, the clean air and it shows in every fibre of her being. She glows. She is happy. What more can one want for their child?

Today she brings over lunch, a gorgeous soup and a bread she'd made, gluten-free and with cinnamon and chili peppers and bokchoy built into it. Scrumptious. I cooked a pot roast with all the root vegetables on hand for our dinner. On the fire. We had a long walk as the day was glorious and the sea sparkled and we picked up our eggs from the chicken lady and talked to her for a while tossing stories around.

It had been a while since I felt so carefree. I wasn't going out much in this dismal weather. And it showed. I know it contributed to my recent depression. Walking and connecting with others and the outdoors is essential for balance.

Yeah, I have this girl.....

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## Friday, March 28, 2014

### The Peculiars

I'm reading a book at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, I'm always reading a book. Not the same book all the time, I hasten to add. I turn them over every few days. Some I love, some I toss, others I wade through if I'm committed like to my Book Club or to the loan from a friend or rellie who tell me I really, really, really will love the book and I'm puzzled by Page 102, enraged by Page 240, resigned at Page 425, relieved at page 450 that the agony is over, and then drum my fingers for a week wondering what to say to the passionate lender.

All challenges should be so small.

All this in the way of telling you about this book I'm reading. My favourite genre of thriller-crime: a soupcon of savagery flavoured with a heavy undercurrent of character exploration topped off with the police having their own psychological issues. Multi-layered in other words.

Well, there's a scene in this book, post the crime/murder, where all these sightseers pack their rucksacks and go off to view the bloody crime scene, middle-aged trekkers, young parents with children, elders on sticks. Making a day of it. The police are challenged to control them, there are so many of them and so few of the police. Ordinary people, like you and me, all anxious to get their thrills from the bludgeoning death of another human being. Much like the rubber-neckers at a car accident. But these people are taking a journey to get there. Sometimes a whole day trip from 100 miles away. (These crimes only take place in the English countryside - don't they all?!)

And I was reminded of this engineer I worked with. A mild wee man, married forever to a rather pretty French woman. Childless. He blamed her and she blamed him for this infertile state. I don't think they knew that about each other. Anyways.....

There was a terrible car accident about 30 miles from where we worked in which five teenagers were killed rounding a corner on a narrow country road, speeding and crashing into a huge tree with the car bursting into flames. They had all recently graduated from high school.

I asked Phil, during our Monday morning coffee break what he and Claudine had done on the weekend.

"Oh," he said, "We took a picnic and went out to Caledon to have a look at that accident site. That big one."
My curiosity overrode my revulsion. I mean....what?

"Do you do this much?"

"Oh, yes," he said pleasantly, chewing on a muffin, "All the time. But only for the more serious accidents, where there's at least one fatality."

"And what do you do when you get there?"

"Oh, we set up the picnic nearby and spend the afternoon looking at the scene and any remains or burn-marks or bits of wrecks. And then we watch people bring flowers and teddy bears, you know how that is if young people or children die..."

"All afternoon?"

"Oh yes. We meet the same people usually, others like ourselves who like to see the aftermaths, we rate them you see. Compare them to other scenes we've been at. Take pictures sometimes if they're particularly interesting."

Ghouls.

They walk among us.

Passing for normal.

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## Tuesday, March 25, 2014

### A Giggle

You'd think to yourself there's nothing funny about the confession box. That now nearly obsolete emblem of the Roman Catholic Empire's control on its underlings.

Especially when you read that the confessional was often used for grooming little kids for paedophiliac priests.

In my time, from the age of six onwards, confession was a weekly Saturday afternoon ritual. I, along with reams of other children, had to confess all our ill-doings, our sins, our pratfalls, our disobediences, our impure thoughts, to the Holy Fellah behind the screen of Da Box.

Queues of us there'd be. All watching each other carefully as we emerged, often red-faced and sweaty, sometimes crying rivers of snot, after the "interrogation". Remember- we were all of six years old.

It would go like this:

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned."

"What did you do, my child? Leave nothing out. For your Father in heaven can see everything you do. And if you leave anything out, anything at all, He will know and you will not be forgiven and you know what happens then? You will burn in hell for all eternity."

"Well...I back-answered my mammy." (I'm now shaking and trembling)

"And?"

"I stole a penny out of the dish on the sideboard."

"And?"

"I hit my brother."

"How many times?"

"I dunno. He's very bold."

"Remember now about hell. How many times?"

"Every day since last Saturday." (gulp)"And I lied to my daddy when he asked me if I made my brother cry."

"Did you have impure thoughts or actions?"

"What's that?" (I'm puzzled).

"What's that, Father." He uses an intimidating, deep voice.

"What's that, Father?"

"Touching yourself."

"What?"

"What, Father." He's irritated.

"What's touching, Father?"

You get the picture. In light of today it was downright nasty child intimidation, both corrupting and suggestive. And yes, this all happened.

So Grannymar herself suggested that I write a play about the whole experience of growing up while a mini Irish Catholic and I'm taking it on.

I've already written the outline and am actually giggling all the way through this.

A comedy.

Yes, it's a comedy.

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## Thursday, March 20, 2014

### The Upside of the Downside.

Many positives can be extracted from the negatives, right? That being a scientific fact 'n all.

Thanks for all the supportive comments that I received. Depression is normal. Especially for those of the creative and/or addictive bent. I choose to remain unmedicated. Caveat: I respect those who choose otherwise. Many years ago, medicated, I lost myself. I flat-lined. I chose (for me) not to live that way. So the 5% rough and tough facets of me co-exist with the 95% smooth - this ratio was a lot, lot worse, believe me. Sometimes it's a bumpy ride. I lose the run of myself for a while and I retreat. And breathe. And get sad. And morose. And prickly. And overly sensitive. And choose, very carefully, who I spend time with (Yeah, I know: with whom I spend time. How distancing is that CORRECT sentence structure? Just sayin'.)

I had to appear, yet again, on public media yesterday. And because I'm in the sub-human (all too human, really) condition I'm in, I didn't give a rat's you know what which serves me extraordinarily well as I'm not in the least bit nervous in front of the cameras and I can look grim and forbidding and no-nonsense (downright saucy my granny would've called it) which was just what was needed. You should see the emails on my "magnificent" performance.

Little do they know the prerequisite is the Black Dog.

I fooled 'em all.

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## Tuesday, March 18, 2014

### Side-swiped

Things go along really well but then, like a bolt out of the blue, that Old Black Dog thunders into my psyche. I'd been in denial for a while. Noticed some subtle changes in my behaviour and the absence of any kind of joy. Desiring just to be Left Alone. Not reading too many blogs, not doing much of anything apart from socks. I couldn't stop knitting socks. Ripping socks. Re-knitting socks.

Avoiding the phone. Lurking. Pretending I'm alright Jack at unavoidable social events. Fooling myself. And nobody else. Mentioned depression once to others, tossed it out there into the conversation pit, nobody bit, drew it back in again.

Just dying to get back home. And hide. And avoid.

"Aren't we all a bit bats?" said an old friend from Ontario on the phone today: by a fluke I picked it up when she rang, my 200lb telephone, "I think there's comfort in that, don't you?"

Well, sort of. My oldest friend is away, sunning herself on some beach in Portugal, unplugged. I miss her. This is completely illogical as she lives in Dublin but we track each other every day by email and the odd mailing and phone-call. And the Black Dog is our familiar, we bat him back and forth.

My perception of the world, in this condition, is that everyone is having a great time and I'm stuck somewhere, poised between frowning and lemon-faced, miserable, desperately lonely and wanting to stay that way. Forever. Being completely unfit for company as I am.

Did I mention the awful dreams?

They truly are.

Bear with me. This will pass.

I throw it out there as I know I'm not alone.

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## Thursday, March 13, 2014

### Amn't I right?

My good blogfriend Stan over at Sentence First waxes eloquent on the topic of "amn't".

Dear readers, you wouldn't believe the shellacking I took for brazenly using "amn't" when I moved to Canada. Laughter, disbelief and mockery ensued.

"Where didja learn da English, eh?" they'd mock - (and I won't start on the use of the Canadian "eh" sprinkled like salt on every sentence that was uttered to me. My ear told me "A" and I was constantly wondering where "B" was.) But this language outcast holds most of these stories for another time. I do not forget. You will get them.

One of Stan's points is we say: "I'm next, --- I?" and we say: "aren't I?" - which is an anomaly of grammar. "Amn't I?" always sounds more correct (and bloody hell - logical) to me.

Anyway, go read Stan's excellent take on this vexation. I'm sure my Irish readers will breathe a sigh of satisfaction.

Amn't I right?

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## Saturday, March 08, 2014

### Busy Bee and the Sofa Years

I am looking forward to some downtime. I've been one of those hives of activities, everything crashing into the one time frame of two lots of theatre tickets, one women-in-theatre workshop, two (yes, two)presentations of my elder abuse workshops at far flung venues, one municipal meeting added to a full day of preparation for that. This all happening over a period of 6 days.

Each night after dinner I crashed on the sofa for an hour. Daughter calls these my "Sofa Years". I never would succumb to couch-naps in the past. But now? Hey, I look forward to it when I feel the sags during the day. And I am so very grateful that when I picked out a sofa to replace the threadbare, spring-sprung sadling that came with the house, I chose a delicious, soft, wide obscenely comfy looong one that holds both me and Wonderdog stretched out together snoring in harmony (in the key of C minor I trust).

Throw in a few goodly hikes with Daughter when the days nudged around the zero (Celsius) and you get the picture of a dense calendar. This week cheers me. Only two or three items in the boxes.

I may now get around to some interior painting. I have hoarded the tips from Grannymar that she so kindly sent me a couple of years ago for Da Day when I might be inclined. I am thinking I'm so inclined now.

Meanwhile Daughter presented me with a luscious hank of gorgeous painted wool. Socks, Mum? she says appealingly.

The thing is, but don't tell her: she may have to wrench those socks off my cold dead feet.

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## Sunday, March 02, 2014

### Humbled

Cod drying on a clothesline

I spent a lot of time as a parent with adult children travelling with my father who was in the same, well, boat.

I love this 'destined to repeat' aspect of my life. For now I spend time, frivolous, playful time, with Daughter who is herself the mother of an adult child.

We were walking the roads today with Ansa and she linked me and stopped me dead in our tracks. And we looked down over the sunny sparkling bay with all the boats in a row nestled in the harbour, the two offshore islands with a red hulk of a barge lurking on the horizon, and she said: "My God Mum, we live in paradise."

And on the way back, we stopped in at friends who have been incredibly kind to me (and now to her) over the years. I had this small bag of boxed gourmet chocolates. Not too big a token, not too small. I felt it was just right. The couple were leaving to go visit her 90 year old mother but immediately threw their coats off and invited us in to their roaring fire where we cuddled with Jeff and Buddy, their large cat and small dog for a while.

So we get up and I was feeling that surge of joy one gets when you feel loved. For nothing really. Just for being yourself. This couple have always made me feel this way. I just look in their eyes and I feel loved. And I don't have to do anything for it. It is so very rare that feeling. And so treasured.

And here's where the humbling comes in. Daughter and I are leaving, hugging them goodbye, and we are each handed a bag of freshly caught halibut and a huge salted cod.

And we look at each other, tears in our eyes, as we drive off.

"I've never known people like this," says Daughter emotionally.

Me neither. Me neither. But I'm too full of gratitude to verbalize it properly. But this says it for me:

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## Thursday, February 27, 2014

### Scatter/Scattered

scattered p ppl EDD ~ 1 ~ few; SED iv, 921 Co, ~ few.
1 1986 Nfld Herald 15 Mar, p. 33 Merasheen Farewell [recording] is available in scattered stores around the province and can be purchased by mail order.
2 1981 PADDOCK 25 "Camp Seven": A scattered spruce is fit ta pile;/But only try ta git it!/You'll 'ave ta cut a t'ousand firs--/Each one will make a picket. 1987 POOLE 1 [We left Carbonear] and the meadows where we used to kick football and win a scattered game of rounders.

I love the way that word is thrown around here, it's quite inadequately covered in the above definition from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English.

I hear it used a fair whack - usually applied to people and their doings and not so much to inanimate objects.

"I was some scattered last Saturday with all those shops I had to go to."

"There was a right scatter of cousins at that funeral."

I'm a bit of a scatter myself. I suffered a major disappointment in that the two actors who had first dibs on my play have turned it down due to the scatter of both the demands of their families and the serious commitments to rehearsals and tours for the play.

I wasn't talking about this major setback at all, or sharing it. I'm a right good bottler of emotions at times. It has gotten me into a fair degree of trouble in the past.

But over dinner last night with a friend I was able to let it all out. And alternative scenarios surfaced in my mind as I shared.

I didn't go the normal route (for me) and take it all on board and tell myself it must be a dreadful play. I was surprisingly heartened by my belief in it: in recognising there is a story to be told and it needs to be heard.

I'm finally my own cheerleader and champion.

Logo for the play:

Would anyone like to take a guess as to what the play's theme is?

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## Monday, February 24, 2014

### Blog Jam

It's a fog of snow out there. Flakes so small they blanket the air, gauzing the meadow and the barn. I can't say as I like it. We had to cancel, again, the Book Club monthly meeting and now we're deferring the works till March. First time ever Book Club was cancelled and twice to boot.

As I was dressing this morning I became aware, as if for the first time, how there is no longer a need to rush. It seems like in my old life I was rushing from one thing to another. Like most working mothers, like most cramming every scrap of life into an overflowing day.

I thought:
Thirty minutes to perform all the rituals of the woken up morning.
I thought:
Why am I paying attention to the timing of that?
I had the house record (in a house of males) when still living in my parents' house. Five minutes from start to finish. Including the slap(Irishese for makeup) and clobber (full dress regalia). No showers then, just the bath at night. Now it's thirty minutes of drift, a meditation in there too, a chat with the dog. A leisurely teeth brushing, a selection of which of the two pairs of jeans to wear, or the sweats if going absolutely nowhere.

My old newfound friend phoned me yesterday. I hadn't heard her voice in well over thirty+ years. It hadn't changed. She has led a life as an emergency room nurse, a teacher, a farmer, a saw mill operator and now an artist. It turns out she is an expert in the art of Chinese fine line painting and conducts classes. And yes, she's in her eighties. Below is some of her work on exhibit at a gallery:

We also shared missing children stories. One of her sons estranged himself for twelve years from the entire family. During that time she missed the birth of her grandchildren and their growing up years. Years never regained of course - lost forever and with no foundational love for those grandchildren like she has with her other son's. She is stoic when she tells me this and has made the best of it, even through the apologies of her prodigal son. She said to me: "Apologies are too small, too inadequate. I tell him I do not want to hear them for they are meaningless. Let's make the best of the remaining years."

Wise words. I'd forgotten how very wise she was.

Shared heartbreaks. Shared creative souls.

A long lost friendship retrieved from the mists of time and misunderstandings. Elder bonus.

## Friday, February 21, 2014

### She's wearin' right thin.

Somewhere along the way, winter, most often embraced, the odd time humorously tolerated, sometimes escaped from, became an abscess on the arse this year.

Normally, the photo above, taken yesterday, would enchant me.

But the grey blurry line beyond the trees? Yeah, that's the snow/ice covered bay. Seriously.

If things would stay that way, like the photo? Well, yeah, it would be lovely, like.

But they don't. And there's the rub.

It all melts into a puddle within a day or two. The puddle ices up. Then yer freezing rain falls on top of that.

And then the snow piles on again.

And then 100k/hour gale force winds howl around tearing the snow and running it into six foot drifts. And the temperature drops to minus double digit Celsius.

And these endless cycles repeated ad nauseum from November on through to now.

Every journey planned has to be plotted out carefully in conjunction with forecasts. One could get dangerously trapped in a blizzard/sleet/wind storm. Or worse yet, black ice.

Worst. Winter. Ever.

/whingey whiny rant.

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## Tuesday, February 18, 2014

### "Thrift"y Me

.

I don't like shopping, despise malls, fashion houses, fashion shows, salons. But I can't run around naked so I have to compromise.

My reduced financial circumstances combined with a fixed measly pension, shopping-drool adversary, "retail therapy" challenger that I am, environmentalist, reuser, repurposer and recycler (AKA "crazy hippie broad") I go for what needs to cover me to my local thrift shop. There are so many benefits to this. Not least of which are others' castoffs are my treasures. And I get to meet people like myself. And we share our triumphs and disappointments (too big, too small, wrong colour, here's a scarf that goes with the stuff in your cart) and ask each others' advice. No one is pushing me into decisions, or lying to me. Here, honesty prevails.

So last week. I needed another top and pants. A warm top. A cosy top. That looked good. I've been a wee bit in the national news here. (I know, fun eh?) And this has been a very cold winter.

So I ran the outfit shown above by my fleeting and very fair-weather friends at the local thrift and they loved it. I trust their judgement more than friends and sales clerks who would never wish to hurt the old feelings. These caring strangers are always brutally honest.

I'm delighted with the result.

Here's the full cost breakdown:

Pants (deepest grey with a goldy thin french seam stitching on the sides- I like them slender and matchy to my sweaters: $2.99 Sweater (brand new - Jones New York), mohair, silk and wool in shades of deep grey and a light gold:$3.99
Scarf - in goldy-grey mix - $2.99 Bonus: Grey cargo pants for the summer hikes:$3.99

And it was buy 3 clothing items and get 1 free day so for a total of less than \$11.00 I get some glammed up. And no tax.

I am only delighted with myself and my new clobber. Hassle free shopping at its best. With very little footprint on the planet.

Recommend.

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## Sunday, February 16, 2014

### Contrary

Life is like that. Time is like that - always contrary to expectations, if you have some. I don't anymore. Too many surprises. No expectations on others sees me happy most of the time.

Life has taught me these lessons:

The family you might hope to have holding your hands through elder years are a no-show. Estrangement, distance, disregard, shunning and silence is de rigeur, their new modus operandi. Even though you were there for them in their times of greatest need.

The family you thought would vanish like the first snowfall of the season? They are there through thick and thin, checking on you, asking about Daughter's health and missing daughter - any news?, sending you little gifts, texts.

Lifelong, or just about lifelong, friends seeing you through to the bitter end? Gone. Never to return. It truly begs the question: were they ever really there?

Short-term friends? They call you out of the blue, making sure you're OK, cooking you dinner.

What brought all this deep thinking on top of me?

An acquaintance that truly irritated me. A friend of a friend. And one day she called me out of the blue. When I still had call display. And she shared her surname with another (good) friend. And I thought it was the good friend. And thus I was extraordinarily chatty and friendly with her. Asking her how she and her family were. And I could hear the surprise in her voice that I was so effing kind. Which should be the norm for me. And obviously isn't if you breach whatever standards I am holding you to.

And ever since then? We have a totally different relationship. We let each other into our lives. We're even considering doing a joint art project.

Go figure.

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## Friday, February 14, 2014

### On Acting Like a Grown-up.

Avoidance.

One of my defects.

I'm not good at confrontation, I do not express anger well (running and hiding), I write better than I speak - though lately some would dispute that. I've been on teevee, and on radio in the past week. People come to me, say: you were so articulate. I am pleased, having been advised years ago never to watch or listen to one's self on media. I am wordy, but only in my head, on paper, on my laptop, in my texts where I reign myself in, who wants to read, on a tiny screen, my endless priceless prose?

You see, I was avoiding something inevitable.

My own demise.

And putting measures in place so my daughter, who has MS, is not over-burdened with my managerial ineptitude and, well, pre-mortem avoidance.

So I see a lawyer, and explain things. My last will was written, oh, well over twenty five years ago. Circumstances change. And I mention the unmentionable too:

"What happens if my daughter predeceases me?"

And he was pleased, I could tell, that he didn't have to inject such an unspeakable into our conversation.

And he advised me on the other major concern I had: my missing child, who may, oh lord, show her face upon my death, and cause even more incredible pain and havoc for the child who has already seen far too much of it herself.

"Write a lengthy and utterly clear codicil," he added,"Outline the reasons she has no say in the distribution of your estate or in your living will. Make it uncontestable."

"The thing is," he added, "We need to make this bullet-proof, and I must say, more people should do this. It eases the pain of what is extraordinarily stressful for the survivors, you are very mature in your thinking."

Mature!

The first time in my life I've ever heard this word applied to me.

Now, something else ~ has anyone out there planned a green funeral?

What? You're not going to die, ever?

Alrighty then.

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