Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sequel

One thing at a time, what?

My book club met yesterday, I wasn't too happy with the book we read . In fact I downright disliked its plotting, characters and resolution - if one could call it that as there was no conflict. I was pleasantly surprised that most of us present (17 out of about 28 members) felt the same, as I was first to go with my review. We're all sure it will be a movie as it reads like a bad film script and would be right up the more simplistic Hollywood's alley.

For an update on my reading this year, please go to my 2017 Books Read and Rated Link on the sidebar.

There have been more wonders than duds and for that I am pleased.

I'm also riveted on the Netflix series "Narcos" which is an extraordinarily well produced, written and directed history of the drug trade in Colombia interspersed with news footage of the actual personae involved. The one downside for me is that I can't knit throughout for the dialogue is mainly in Spanish with subtitles and subtitles and knitting don't mix, I'd need another pair of eyes.

My real estate agent and I are in sync on the sale of the house. I've now dropped the price substantially, fire sale bargain really, just what the builder of The Cathedral next door had planned. But I need to move with a sale under my belt and supporting the house through the winter is beyond my financial capabilities. And reality is reality.

Daughter had a unique Mothers & Daughters Luncheon for a bunch of us women with middle aged daughters. It was lovely and lasted five hours. Great conversation and delicious Indian vegetarian cuisine.

I was asked to join a major choir in the city once I move but I think my voice fled with a really bad resistant-to-super-antibiotic ear infection I had a few years ago. Things have never been the same with my hearing or my voice since.
I have other plans for my new city life though, all good, and interesting.

As I mentioned in one of my responses to comments on my last post, this time next year, this will all be far behind me. both the good and the worrisome.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Prequel

Yeah, my last post. In the way of enlightenment for you, my faithful readers, a lot went down prior to writing it and in that way of mine, I take inordinately long to process things, to say "whoa, this is too much right now!"

It's life, I know that, and life sucks the bag sometimes.

OK so the list prior to my black discing was, and I should mention, not in any order of priority:

(1)With all the interest in my house, once the Cathedral next door hoves into view, even though they've seen pictures and they've raved about my house, inside and outside, they can't bear how the Cathedral cuts off the western light and towers, threateningly, over my driveway. There is no way of knowing the noise and/or traffic to yet be endured once it's complete.

(2)Meanwhile, the nail pounding on its interminable and unpredictable construction goes on and on. A lovely chorus when you're already feeling low.

(3)I came back to the news that my friend/worker/general factotum for lugging of wood and heavy objects around, had been banging on my door for days not understanding that I was away in Daughter's car. He had something quite awful happen to him and wanted to talk to me about it. Long story short, he wound up in an ambulance having attempted suicide. Nobody went with him and the hospital believed his bending of the truth that he didn't know pills and alcohol are a deadly mix.

(4)I was surprised when my friend D called to tell me my friend L had asked for my telephone number as L and I talk frequently. L and I connected and I didn't address this, I was too scared, I guess. My fear was borne out in the shape our conversation took. There were huge gaps in her memory, serious gaps, of our last conversations when she was reviewing some legal matters with me and a policy had been put in place for going forward. She had no recollection of this and was startled when I went over everything in point form with her. She then referred to a friend's daughter by my daughter's name. Terror hit me full on. Her mother, a darling woman, had Alzheimer's at my dear friend's age. I cried after the call. I feel so helpless as she's in another province and truly, there is no one looking out for her.

(5)It's Ansa's one year anniversary. More than that, it's the way the year has gone and galloped underneath me and I think: I've cried every day for her, how foolish is that?

(6)My legs were bad in St. Pierre, the shooting pains, the lack of ongoing mobility. I had to take far too many breaks. Daughter is a saint, so patient and kind. I am lucky. But worried about the deterioration which is magnified by the rest of the stress.

(7) Absolutely no B&B bookings for September, zero. So no income.

So there you have it.

My sorry little tale.

I reflect on how little we can do to change things. I think I'll abandon all the horrific news from around the world. It's not just Irma and Harvey, it's Tibet and Mexico and Montana and B.C., et al.

End of Days indeed. Am I exaggerating?

You?

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Black Disc


I wish there was one.

To hang on one's door. Or on one's Twitter or Facebook account or give an automatic email response. When one is incommunicado, please don't bother.

Like for today.

Feeling scowly and sad and a mite worried and physically challenged and super-tired.
And you know, this is when everybody decides to call, bang on the knocker, phone, message. Want to visit, want to make social interaction with me. And frankly? I don't. Not at all. I feel like one long week of rain. Miserable. So I ignore. And hide.

What makes it worse is the gorgeous weather outside, the blue of the ocean.

And yes, thoughts of Irma and the dreadful happenings of climactic weather conditions for our neighbour down below and to the left of where I am. And they have a guy in charge, so I hear, who doesn't believe in climate change and the warming oceans that cause this and that it's going to get a whole lot worse.

So I should feel grateful and safe.

And that makes me feel small and selfish and self-centred and even more miserable.

Bootstraps don't work.

Sleep is the antidote to misery.

I curl up and sleep and assure myself, like Scarlett, that tomorrow is another day.

Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Rising Up


Thanks for all the comments on my last post. My realtor had called on me after the turnarounds of potential clients. I should mention my realtor's wife is dying of cancer and my concern was more for him than for the unimportance of my house when real-life horrors visit. They had thought she could abandon her chemo (6 years of it) as the quality of her life had deteriorated so badly but she had been rushed to emergency after a week. She is stabilized now and had insisted he leave her bedside and visit me.

We were both in agreement that we deal with the Cathedral head on in any publicity and also that I write an essay on what the house means to me and my story while I lived here. All that I had accomplished and fostered and enjoyed and improved upon and preserved.

Meanwhile I had spoken at length to a dear and wise and old friend in Ontario. He is one of these steady people, hand firm on the tiller of life, no room for the wild and crazy and unpredictables. I value his take on life, very different to my own and over the years we have just enjoyed each other's differences and valued each other's advice.

So he said why don't you crunch through the numbers and see what is the very minimum you would take for the house to keep you floating financially until you, well, snuff, and then if you get anything above that it will be a bonus. So I took the time to do this.

I felt so much better after the meeting with my realtor and my long conversation with R.

It is rare you meet a realtor who sings from the same page and I feel so fortunate with C.

So he had a call yesterday from a young couple and he mentioned the Cathedral and they were untroubled and enthused about the B&B and the cabin and all the positives so they're visiting tomorrow afternoon.

Fingers crossed but my thinking has shifted after the initial shock and horror. So yeah, onward and upward.

But my knees have taken a beating, I can tell ya.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

On My Knees


I call it The Cathedral. On the day my house was offered for sale, the neighbouring landowner put up this eyesore, it is much higher than it looks as it is taller than my two storey house. There are no zoning bylaws in this town, no town plan (though I did put up a fight for one). So if you buy land in my town, you can literally throw any structure your heart desires on it. This is what happened next door to me. Vlad bought up the two parcels of forested land, left them fallow for years and then stripped them and built one enormous warehouse, and now encored with this monstrosity. It overshadows my house and all seven acres of my land offer a view.

On the second day of my house listing, the day it was publicized, there was tremendous interest in my house, agents and their clients drove out of town to inspect, clients eager to make an offer. But as soon as The Cathedral hove into view they quickly changed their minds as it is smack dab up against the right side of my property, blocking the beautiful light from the west.

I was devastated. This is not the first time Vlad the Destroyer has done this. When I went away for a week last year this greeted me on my return:

I sat in my driveway and cried, there were about 500 trees torn down and clear cut to leave these wounds on the land.

But, he is perfectly within his rights to do it as there are no zoning regulations and this is not the first time Vlad has torn down old heritage homes to replace them with monstrous and ugly warehouses dug into the once fertile and forested land in residential areas.

The Vlad plan is to then buy up the adjacent properties of the disgruntled and dismayed and devastated owners at a bargain basement price.

Vlad and his cathedrals to wanton ugliness. This is what happens with no town regulations. Barbarians climb the gates and plunder and pillage and destroy.

I'm on my knees.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Downsizing Part XV or Dither and You're Done.


The more I work on this, the more I love it.

Catch up Day.

Well, the dump is open all day, limited hours in my wee town out on the Edge of the Atlantic.

So I look around me and my eyes fasten on my enormous collection of VCR tapes. Enormous, you say? You have no idea. I have maybe 2,000 movies scattered on these bulky (often 4 movies on a tape)suckers, all labelled and indexed carefully.

And now I shamefully report these have all been unwatched for something like 14 years now. I think I taped every episode of Saturday Night at the Movies when Elwy Yost was doing his gentle, professional interviews of all these old timers (performers, directors, technicians) before they died off. The only one who was doing so. I had planned to have a periodic movie night with a feast of these old classics. Alas, that never happened. When you're an aficionado, it's hard to find your equal nutbar twin. Most have no time for the old black and whites. And "restored" to colour? Oh please.

So I tackled the deep green shelves today. These held a triple layer of these tapes. Times 4 shelves.

I knew the only way to do it was to take out a row of garbage bags and start pitching without looking. If I lingered, it would be game over. Ah, you're definitely going to want to see this again, oh look, another Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart. See? So seven full garbage bags later I think, I could donate these, oh someone would love these, I should Kijiji these as a freebie.

You catch my drift. Stall tactics. I slapped myself. Hard.

I loaded all 7 bags in my car and drove to the dump. I told Brian, the dump-man, what was in the bags (You have to do this, they don't want household waste) and he said, hang on a minute, there's a real old fellow I know living in the back hills, he's a right old movie buff, do you mind if I take all these for him? With the winter coming on he'll be thrilled!

I mentioned I may have 7 or 8 or 10 more bags to follow and Pete says, even better for the old fellah, he'll love them all. Bring 'em over when you can!

And oh, yes, as I drove my empty car home I realized the "old fellow in the backwoods" was a year younger than me.

Letting go is not easy but it can be done if you don't stare.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lurch


What would you like to be doing, wouldn't you like to be auditing and software training?

No.

So what's next. You just had a birthday.

What I'd like to be doing is writing. And knitting when I'm not writing. And going to movies in the afternoon. Daughter gave me a loaded movie card.

There's not much money in writing.

Yeah, I know. Or knitting for that matter. That's why I need to sell my house. Then I can write.

So what are you doing to facilitate that?

I listed my house for sale. I took stress leave from my municipal time-consuming, enraging position. I backed away completely from stifling, drunken massive social events. I spaced my PGs a little better, gapped out some time for myself.
And yeah, I forgot to mention, I'm lying down for an hour in the afternoon. It's a brilliant revitalizer.

But you're not happy?

No. I'm easily irritated. I'm impatient. I'm snarky. I can't believe the world is not going along with my intention for a peaceful, blissful, last few years: Nazism? Ku Klux Klan without the masks? Anti Fa? (aren't most decent human beings?) In your face racism. Worst forest fires ever in BC? Domestic terrorism in the U.S.? And need I mention the occasional occupier of the White House?

I wish this lonely wee planet would get its act together and its useless and vile janitors thrown off it.

Maybe then I might be happy.

As if.






Sunday, August 06, 2017

Treasury

Latest creative project

As I age, I endeavour to look at the additions in my life rather than the subtractions. Subtractions are so many,I can overlook the additions.

I have renewed contact with a family member which is enhancing my life once again. (No, not Missing Daughter). This shared history, the aging process and family news catchup means a lot to me. I can gnaw at those absent ones, but that does not serve me well. I celebrate this renewal, this rebirth, and put no expectations on it, for I stay in the moment with each conversation.

I get so absorbed in my needlework that I forget to eat. I'm working on this artist's palette and a burst of stars on a new shawl (see above) and being absorbed in the creative process drenches my soul in light and gratitude.

Forgiveness and understanding come easily as I age. A good friend had shut me out for several months, much to my bafflement and hurt. A few nights ago she texted me to come over if I was available. I did, with some trepidation. (Was I going to be accused of something, anything? Was the chill going to be reinforced?). Her husband hugged me as I came in and she lurked in a corner looking at me nervously. I didn't hold back. I held out my arms and said: give me a hug. She did, quite teary. I don't know what the estrangement was all about and I don't want to know. It may happen again. Or not. But I'm not wasting any more speculation on it.

I love the Irish expression of: "he/she had notions there for a while." It sometimes explains a whole pile of unexplainables. We all get them. Off with the fairies nursing slights or hurts. Real or imagined. Finding words for such behaviour can be difficult without sounding insane or unhinged.

I'm dealing with such a scenario with my young friend at the moment. Helping her label her feelings. As she can't. I was there once, in another lifetime, a frightening place to be. And someone dear took the time with me to walk me through the emotions and help me label them and understand the turmoil. I'm passing it on.

So yes, there is much in my treasury right now. It may look like slim pickings to some, but it is abundantly rich to me.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sadness


I'm sharing bits of the books I've read in the last while, little phrases that had me sitting back and taking stock, so to speak.

Take this: "How do you get old without letting sadness become everything."

Page 62. Lost and Found. By Brooke Davis.

I've wrestled with that, tried to block it, let it seep through me, let the tears flow freely, tried to stop the tears, talk to myself, overcome it, become overcome.

I feel guilty for living with so many dear ones dead. I constantly feel a part of me is missing without my dog by my side, in the car, on my bed, sitting on my feet when strangers came so she could keep a close eye on them, the breakfast routine, the morning and evening walks on the shore, talking to her, hiding from each other in an elaborate game of hide and seek - god, she was clever.

Yes, there's joy in playing with a friend's young grandchildren, having a laugh with Daughter, the whales, the whales. The flowers and herbs in my community garden, the way the water is right now, denim blue with underwear of white lace, the clarity of the houses and trees across the bay in this blinding afternoon rage of sunlight.

But this feeling of underlying sadness doesn't leave me for any great length of time.

I'm putting it out there to others, is this normal for old age?

I remember my dad telling me, he was then in his healthy early eighties, that with all his friends dead he knew loneliness in a brand new way (he was a long time widower). I remember suggesting to him he should make new friends. The ridiculousness of that remark appals me now. For the shared memories are what one misses.

It's difficult to keep one's head out of the past.

And I feel like such a bore.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Taking Stock

I've been fortunate enough in the past week to have a trickle of extra income land in the bank account. One cheque was for a project I worked on for an old client, the other was a long sought after backpay of an Irish pension - an ongoing battle since 2008 which many have helped me with. I had given up and then got a letter saying they had reviewed my case and I was entitled to a few crusts, not much in the overall scheme of things but I was happy to get even this tiny acknowledgement of what was rightfully mine.

All that to say that with my two guests leaving tomorrow after breakfast, I have blocked every day for further bookings until Monday next. My doctor called me in today to check on a few health items. One being my blood pressure which is still alarming. He stopped me from taking my own readings as I was becoming obsessed with it. He was also concerned with how stressful my life is with having to earn a living by hard work along with a projected move and my demanding municipal position. At my age, he said, I should be smelling roses and relaxing and planning some trips. I allowed my hollow laugh.

Out walking with my young friend, she had mentioned in light of my vascular pain that I should see about pain medication. I have a dismal level of tolerance to pain. A low threshold has plagued me for ever. I always feel like a wuss when I'm with those who are stoic and tearless along with being much worse off than I. Example: I kicked the delivery room nurse when delivering my first daughter. I apologised later for being so far out of my mind.

Doc reviewed my meds and said to try low dose Tylenol and see if that would help with exercising. The obvious solutions (such as pain medication) often elude me. My brain is strange uncharted territory.

I'm going to use the next few days to take stock of health: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual and play with the plans for the new place and draft out the next few months and concentrate on the huge amount of interest by potential purchasers for my house.

The whales of St. Vincent's have been magnificent this year. Hundreds of them "in" in this magnificent weather.

Daughter has booked us a 5 day trip to St. Pierre & Miquelon, long on our bucket list, for the end of August. I'll have to dust off my rusty French. Luckily, I've had a few PGS who were just there and have passed on some amazing hints to me from their recently being on the ground, so to speak. The best restaurants, Josephine's for tea, and the best museum and tours.

So yes, off to France we go. Ooh la-la.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Unashamedly Geezer


I was talking to a very old friend on the phone today, she's in another province so we tend to catch up with each other every odd month or so and get caught up in our doings and in those of the slender little mound of joint friendships remaining from the random scythe-swipes of Mr. Reaper.

I've noted something in myself lately: an increased crotchetiness accompanied by far less time for fools and eejits, all doused with a spicy mix of darkest cynicism.

Youngsters (under 60s) don't understand this so I don't mention it, though I'm sure my Resting Bitch Face gives them a clue from time to time.

I have to put on Nice Face a lot, and it's looking rather worn and tired from overuse during this PG (tourist season).

D asked me if my house was listed for sale yet and I said no, it was all too much for me at the moment.

She asked me to parse that for her.

And I said, like Eleanor Rigby, I had to put on Nice Face so much lately - public events, hosting, library volunteering and on, that there was hardly any time for RBF (see above) and she needed to come out more or my head would explode. My nice quota had maxed out. And potential purchasers traipsing through here would finish me off.

She totally got it. Her tolerance level for life's stupidities and the appalling state of our planet matches mine. Our sorry future along with Stephen Hawking's predictions in light of the Orange Nightmare's disbelief in the science of climate change is giving us elders the freedom to be as cranky and crotchety as we want and expound on this rancid world of endless war as we see it: a hopeless, boiling mess, lurking for the final shove off of its pestilential fleas - the human race.

We agreed we need to turn off the news and the newsfeeds and the Twitters and Facebook updates, treating all of it in a Kardashian kind of way as if 45 is a joke and oh let's impeach him. Soon. As if. When the real problem is those who put him there, those who keep him there and the Fourth Estate who refuse to do their jobs and leave it to very few unread non-MSMs who do it for them.

Enough jokes from the John Olivers and the Stephen Colberts. This is not satire or humour or what's he tweeting now, the toddler.

Very few MSMs are taking the current global status with any seriousness or offering realistic solutions. Because they are mostly all bought and paid for.

Which leave us elders muttering together, feeling all rather hopeless for our grandchildren. But without the physical vigour to placard and march.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Humans and boundaries


My PG (tourist) season has been full. Which is all to the good.

I've observed something over the years with our fellow creatures. If one concedes even a tiny bit, they continue to pound away at the boundaries until one cries uncle. Or not.

I had one such recently. My breakfast schedule is between 8 and 9 a.m. After she checked in she wheedled her way into making it 7.30 - a very early rise for me. When she did come down for breakfast she announced she was celiac. No gluten. I asked her why she hadn't shared that information with me before her arrival and she confessed I mightn't have taken her. So here I am pantry scrambling and freezer digging. On Day 2 she asked could she do her laundry even though on my profile I say no laundry privileges. I conceded ( I need my head examined!) to take her laundry and do it for her and later folded it and put it on her bed. On Day 3 I asked if she found her laundry on the bed and received the casual: "oh yeah, I guess, thanks". she never moved a plate off the table which nearly all guests do and left her bedroom tossed. And never purchased even a token in my wee shop. A forty something privileged white woman with a healthy bank account (she had shared that much).

Thankfully, she's in a tiny minority of humans who believe that I host for fun and pleasure and am there to fulfil any need they express.

She also helped me considerably to firm up my own boundaries and tell guests that early breakfasts don't work for me, I can't accommodate special dietary requirements unless given at least one week's notice and there's absolutely no laundry.

So I still learn from those who are in my path to teach me what to do but also what not to do.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Energy


I shepherd my energy carefully these days as I feel I'm falling behind. So the blog gets shoved aside for another day.

Tourism is a huge benefit to my life. Both the engagement with my PGs (guests) which feeds my intellect and the financial benefit which I rather desperately need.

Many ask me how I keep going with my health challenges and the demands of still having to make a living in my seventies.

My answer is: carefully (see first sentence). It would be fairly catastrophic if my health worsened now, as inevitably it will. I need to keep chugging until September when my load will lighten considerably, fingers crossed.

Therefore I prioritize. We just finished the Living with Chronic Disease series of workshops yesterday and I can't praise it enough. I've been asked to be a facilitator in the future but I've shelved that for now. I'm becoming more skilled at the art of saying NO.

I learned so much about accepting where I am and dealing a fresh deck of cards which encompasses my heath challenges, not focussing on what I used to do, but focussing on the now and making Action Plans for each day that are manageable and achievable. I had been thinking in the light of what I used to be able to accomplish but recognise now that I was doing far too much as a result and burdening myself with unrealistic expectations of what my day should be packed with and beating myself up for failure to do so.

The art of pulling back and the power of both Now and No are my new best buddies.

One of the incredible results of the workshop was our youngest participant (in his mid thirties) shared yesterday that his last hope was committing to the workshops for all 6 weeks. If nothing changed for him, he had planned suicide. We were all crying after he spoke. He has many challenges including his young spouse in a wheelchair (boy, perspective!) and he had absolutely no hope. Now he's attempting to live within his limitations and try one new thing every week and list his achievable goals.

I feel I've turned some kind of corner too, not clear on what it is yet. But more will be revealed, I'm sure.

I just know I feel so much more alive now.

And ready.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Local politics and knitting.

I'm still learning at my age and with, at times, my challenging health. None of us gets a free pass at life, do we? Roll with the punches, etc. Importances shift and swirl and change. Observations become keener and sharper. Letting go of toxic people becomes easier. Personal growth takes on a new meaning as I learn into the grave.


I recently persisted with a form of knitting that I didn't have the patience for all my life - or, you know, adapting the instructions for it which never worked and resulted in awkward bulges and then I would toss the results. So I sat down and wound all these bobbins to hang off the back of the work and persisted in learning and finally mastered intarsia a couple of weeks ago. It felt good and satisfying and fulfilling.


I've had my battles at the local political level too. I've been up against some old guards, bleeding deacons, buzzards, in my efforts to create outdoor community spaces that are used daily. I was drowning in negativity and mockery. Frankly, it wore me down. I've only 3 months left on my municipal term and I'm trying to push through some more town enhancing changes and it was endless, soul destroying battles one after the other at our monthly meetings.

I gave up. I've got too much other stuff on the go which is sapping me until I move and I thought: conserve your energy, f*** them all. I'm just too tired and each battle is chewing another bite out of my soul.

I mentioned how dispirited I was to my clerk (who is quitting at the end of my term, he is equally disillusioned) and he said: "Go down fighting, don't let the bastards grind you down."

And I thought to myself: there in one sentence is the difference between men and women and our cultural conditioning (I don't believe in the concept of 'gender'). Women are taught to be subservient peace makers, men to assert and dominate.

I've worked in so-called male positions all my life, starting with my first job in Ireland. And too many times to count, I subside at meetings as the men talk/yell/shout over me. As the men talk/yell/shout over me today at meetings even though I'm technically their boss, until I bang the table loudly and tell them to stop. I dread these confrontations, not so much as before, but yelling shouty men have the power to make my heart pound, as in my experience it was always a prelude to violence.

So I took his words to heart and thought: No, I won't shut up, I will continue to speak my truth and whether they adapt my ideas or not, I'll leave "unground".

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Leopard, spots, death


Never speak ill of the dead.

She did her best.

She didn't mean to be nasty, did she?

Words soaring in my head after an older cousin died. A cousin I tried to like but couldn't. She was an only child of a "widowed" and cold mother to give you a little background. The widowed aspect was always under a cloud as our granny would always "humph" nastily when her daughter's status was mentioned. Only one picture of her father existed and it looked like it was cut out of a magazine. I remember he wore a uniform of some kind but no one could answer how he died.

She was enormously cruel to me when we were younger and even when we were older too, come to think of it.

When I was 4 and she 10, she threatened to hang me by my nose off the church railings if I didn't give her the bracelet my granny gave me. Needless to mention.....

When I was 8 and she 14, I was staying at an aunt's in the country while my mother was giving birth in the city. I felt very important as my father had written down his work number on a piece of paper so I could telephone him from the post office up the main street and he would tell me if my mother was OK and if it was a boy or girl.

She dropped by my aunt's (this aunt was a maternal aunt and no relation to her) and I proudly shared with her how I was going to make my first phone-call all by myself at the post office. She snatched the piece of paper from me and raced away only to come back about 10 minutes later and tell me I had another brother. I was inconsolable that she had stolen even this from me.

Frankly, I was always a little afraid of her. This was enforced by my mother who barely tolerated her due to her constant lies and demands on my father who was her only uncle. A parade of "suitable" men were paraded through our home when she hit 20 to be vetted by my father. She always insisted, privately to me, that she was closer to my father than I could ever hope to be. And there were other cruel little interplays with her, particularly when my mother was dying which still has the power to upset me all these years later.

Yeah, I get that she was needy and sad and alone and over compensated with braggadocio. I truly tried to like her in later years, being aware of all of this. But the last social interactions I had with her left me feeling so empty and baffled. There had been no personal growth, her conversation circled around herself, her skills, her beauty, her wardrobe, how all in her path adored her. And her remarkable lack of curiosity or compassion for others was breathtaking.

I'm left reflecting how bereft of feeling I am for her, this strange leopard and her spots that never changed.

Not even a whit of guilt.

And for that I'm glad.


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Update

Strong coffee, a good book, fresh design on the needles....what more, seriously?


My friend T had his surgery on Thursday, a quadruple bypass, and is astonishing everyone with his speedy recovery, even his surgeon. He's sitting around for a few hours, all the tubes are out and he wants to go home. So next Wednesday is his release into the real world.

The Living with Chronic Disease series of workshops is marvellous. I was resistant to getting a handicap sticker for my car (only really, really challenged people get those!)and was encouraged to bite the bullet. Often I have to park a distance away from my destination and my legs seize after a few minutes walking and the pain, m'dears. So yeah, I agreed to taking my walking pole when out walking, requesting the handicap registration from my doctor (done and mailed) and checking out a folding walking stick from a local shop which another participant recommends. You just never know, she says, when you might need it.

One of the important things I noted in this workshop is that participants with hobbies are the happiest. Those with no passion or have retirement thrust upon them with nothing to fill the time apart from chores and TV are the most anxious. Gardeners, knitters, fishers, quilters, wood-workers are the most fulfilled.


We commit to certain things each week (this week mine is 1,000 steps a day and finishing a shawl and continue to toss excess from my house)plus some exercises we are all attempting, even finger exercises which can be painful. My knitting keeps my hands fairly flexible but my legs and back seem to be worsening so I am attempting more.

New York and Quebec tourists are arriving tomorrow, both holiday rooms in my house are booked which is good news.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Denial

A friend was taken to the hospital with severe breathing difficulties.

We do this, as he did, when we're older: we pretend severe symptoms are:
(1)Passing
(2)Imagination
(3)A nuisance, but let's not tell anyone because, you know, they might over-react and worry and insist on stupid stuff like ambulances.

He's been hospitalized a week now and all sorts of nuisancy eye-rolling tests have occurred which he has shared with some of his closest friends.

It turns out there are four blockages in the veins leading to his heart, pretty severe blockages, which is going to necessitate by-pass surgeries as stents are considered too risky as he's 76. So he's in line for major surgery and it might be today.

Like myself, he was a heavy smoker and we quit about the same time, around thirty years ago.

BUT the lifelong effects are with us both. And when doctors and technicians informed me about MY smoking and the now disastrous effects on my legs and arms, my internal dialogue tells me they haven't a clue, look at the running races, the half-marathons, etc., how could a long ago habit affect me now?

My friend T has reinforced all this ridiculous denial for me. And I do so wish the young would quit while there is time. I quit in my forties after only 24 years of it but it was enough to do untold damage to my vascular system which has now aged and is unable to cope anymore. Much like my friend T's.

We've been led to believe it's lung cancer we should be worried about. But I, for one, ignored the fine print of it's other long-term effects. T has brought it all home to me, and now I really believe that yes, it was the stupid smoking that I'm paying for now.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Label


Labelling, self-labelling I mean, can be extraordinarily useful. I was struggling with the Black Dog - and thank you so much to all those who commented in support. It is remarkable how the ether world and caring others in the real world can offer so much comfort and understanding.

A man I worked with said to me he was going to this six part workshop on chronic conditions.

chron·ic

/ˈkränik/

adjective
adjective: chronic
(of an illness) persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"chronic bronchitis"
synonyms: persistent, long-standing, long-term; More
incurable;
immedicable
"a chronic illness"
antonyms: acute
•(of a person) having an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring.
"a chronic asthmatic"
•(of a problem) long-lasting and difficult to eradicate.
"the school suffers from chronic overcrowding"

synonyms: constant, continuing, ceaseless, unabating, unending, persistent, long-lasting;

I asked him what his condition was if he felt comfortable telling me and he said "Anxiety" - he's had this basically non-stop since brutal orphanage days (Five years old at incarceration - Sweet Jaysus).

I thought for a minute and said: I have a chronic condition too.

And then: I think I'll go too.

So there. Just affixing the label to myself I felt a load lift off me. And the workshop? I can't say enough about it. 2-3 hours each. All of us (Including the two facilitators) have chronic conditions. All of us suffer periodic depression. All of us had difficulty labelling ourselves.

There is such solace in just saying it out loud to a bunch who totally understand. And boy, are there degrees of "chronic".

I got off lightly.

More on this in the next few weeks as I learn more.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hello Darkness, my old friend....


I was wondering when you'd show up.

It's been a while and you're way overdue.

Yeah, there's been changes. It seems to me you always sense these life altering corners I have to turn. You give me a few days, maybe a week, to feel confident and secure and then, without a knock on the door, in you walk bringing your cold breath and that murky miasma that clings to everything you touch.

I ran. Upstairs. And into bed. I couldn't face work, and there was a bit of it, not much, but I knew you'd take that weird position on my desk and shoot those thoughts into my head, the why bother ones, the life is hopeless ones, the lonely ones, the nobody really cares ones.

Bed is safe, though not as safe as with Ansa in it, I have to admit. It gives you free reign really when I'm this vulernable. Though you haven't stolen sleep from me yet. Maybe that will come.

My analytical mind just about destroys me after you show up. I think: what attracted you back. The Handicapped sticker the doctor suggested? My young friend saying to me yesterday she was having a hard time seeing me taking up residence in the apartment as we sat in it drinking coffee? The suggestion made by a facilitator-friend of taking the Living with Chronic Diseases series of workshops? Finding so much poignancy in every aspect of my life at the moment? Losing interest in cooking for myself?

Yeah, none of it mattered to you. You saw the opportunity and you rushed through the door.

I don't know if I can summon the energy to shove you out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Melange a Trois

(1)I can't imagine what life is like without some creativity or passion in it. Any creativity. One of my dear buddies now since gone, would make log cabins out of those flat icecream sticks, with a working fireplace of pebbles and the chimney lined with tinfoil and a porch with rocking chairs on the front.

Me? Well I write and knit. And yesterday I finished this massive knitting project. It took me months but now it's winging its way to Massachussets to a sweet young friend whom I wrote about here. She sent me this incredible yarnbowl, right out of the blue, when Ansa died and signed it "Sunset for Ansa".

We had one of those rare instant connections at her father's wake. The kind that sees into each other's souls. Rare enough to be treasured.

(2)Since I moved here I've had the chance to explore my personality in ways I couldn't even dream of when I lived in the metropolis. Time, the gift of time and beauty all around me frees up the mind and imagination like nothing else does. The timelessness of the ocean at my door, the salt-laden walks on the shores or in the pine drenched woods invigorates, wakes up dormant brain cells.

(3)I continue to whittle away at "stuff". Discarding 5 items a day. Should be more like 10. Attaching the words precious or important or valuable to pieces of it is dangerous. A burn barrel is where much of it is going. And the dump. I don't want any kind of clutter in my new home. I'm listing what's coming with me. And so far it's not much. Clutter is weighty and murky and has a stranglehold on the psyche. I lived that in a marital home way back and remember feeling so overwhelmed as we conducted a 3 day sale around and in the property. Given space, I will fill it. Time to let go. Of inner and outer stuff.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Goosebumps


So I was at the car dealership this Monday past. It necessitated a long wait of 6 hours. In walking days I'd go off for a walk or run, there are some interesting shops around and a giant mall across the street and a beautiful lake with boardwalk nearby. Or if I had anywhere to go without spending 6 hours in the one spot, I would have taken one of their numerous shuttles all over the city.

So there I was, ensconced one might say. Or incarcerated as another might. I never mind as I come equipped with both book and device but the knitting was too enormous to drag, I'm in the final stages of a vast shawl.

So I read and try and tune out the endless large screen TV which broadcasts non-stop sports to the slack-jawed men in the front row. I wouldn't dare touch that channel and click it to Discovery (would you?). The coffee is good, there is fresh popcorn and a few boxes of Timbits.

A woman a few rows up gets up to look at a notice board on the wall. My heart stops. She looks just like my Helen who died in December 2014. I feel tears bounce into my eyes and a golfball hit my throat, the loss can be so keen at times. She was closer than a sister, there was nothing we wouldn't tell each other. I so miss that and Stranger Woman brings the loss into such sharp focus.

I pretend to read as she sits down again, now in the row in front of me but to the side. Her hair, her profile, her slender attractive body, even her eyes with that half-moon shape, so unusual (I'm so glad one of Helen's granddaughters inherited those extraordinary eyes).

As if she senses I'm looking at her, she turns and I smile at her, urging myself not to go weird, not to say anything about Helen.

We chat, we're the same age, we uncover life stories, children. Daisy lost her husband 22 years before but as he was an only child, she stepped up to the plate and took care of his mother who died at 94 this past December. She admitted the sacrifice, but had created a separate apartment for her mother-in-law (referred to as Missus) and had a helper come in once a day to do what was necessary in personal care. But Missus insisted that it was only Daisy who could cook for her. It tied her down terribly. I mentioned my favourite Aunt Daisy to her, who was the only other Daisy I'd known personally. We talked of our daughters and their opportunities and moved on to our singular granddaughters. Daisy'd been an entrepreneur up north but moved to the Avalon when her children needed more educational opportunities. She was as fascinated with my journey as I was with hers. We were together about 90 minutes.

Now here's the zinger.

She got up with many goodbyes and desires to see me again some time just as they were paging her one more time.

Her last name was Cassidy*.

As was Helen's.

*changed at last minute for protection of her privacy as a quick FB search found her so very easily.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Car


Dateline: Monday May 8th, 2017, St, John's

It's like this. Everything happens at once. My car lease is up next month, my tourist season has started, word got out my forte is filing delinquent tax returns and some are dribbling in, and I'm busy minimalising and bagging and donating excess, and oh yeah, my domain went down and new owners of same could not be traced through multiple sales of the domain holding company so I lost my address book and my domain name and the website I've had for 20+ years. And it's like the Irish pension I tried to get, I just don't have the energy anymore to keep chasing down my rights. Whatever they are - do we still have any? Do exhausted elders?

Daughter came for dinner yesterday. Her main purpose, apart from dinner, was to get me up to the Tigeen to survey what I was taking from there and to tidy up after the winter. I was terrified of the climb up. But I took one of my sticks and paused many times, the pain can be mind-numbing, but I made it. It was very emotional as I love it so much up there and Ansa and I spent so much time in this wee paradise as did some very interesting artist guests. Ansa'd go off up back and explore the woods. I'd write or just soak in the entire bay and the birds down below. But I am always mindful of attachment and hope the next person to inhabit this space will take as much pleasure in it as I did.

Speaking of, I was approached by a local who is interested in purchasing my little estate and batted not an eye at the price I'm asking. He needs to convince his wife, as he's in love with the place.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Scrutiny


This morning, I read in my Tao meditation book (always fortuitous these readings) that problems are never solved in a small room but rather on a mountaintop looking down. Yay I say unto thee and all that.

Looking at my life from a mountain top I see the beach stones are many, the rocks overwhelming and the trees overgrown.

Whittling is a frightening thought indeed. So I look at what my needs are. Not my wants. I want far too much for a small space. Now that I'm scrutinizing and evaluating and sometimes tearing up a little, I began to bag up possibly a 100 journals of my life to date. A friend will burn them in his burn barrel. We may have a small ceremony, that would be fitting. My collection of silver and old china is another story. We can all get sentimental about old stuff, long dead relatives presenting the Waterford crystal, the country auctions of acquisition when the kids were small and fascinated with the bidding. (I had to fill a four story century home - I don't use "fill" lightly, I knew auctioneers by name and could nod briefly to show I was still in the game). Stuff that has trailed me around.

I thought the times of 12 around the dining room table at brunch are gone, ditto dinners for 8. So dishes? 4 mugs, 4 small plates, 4 large plates and 4 bowls. Notice the absence of cups and saucers, passé, my dears. Ditto for cutlery. I graduated to all matching only 4 years ago when I opened my little B&B. Before then it was quirky.

Candles, candle holders, I look down from the mountain top and say: choose 2 out of the collection of 20+ and make sure you have a place for these two, I recommend small but beautiful. You must visualize them in use and where.

I have decided I am taking this narrow in depth but tall and wide bookcase, handmade and gifted to me by a carpenter many years ago. It will fit in the hallway from the front door. There I will lodge movies I love, books I love (mainly reference)And that's it. Everything has to fit in this bookcase. Right now I've spread everything out over 4 large bookcases.

So that's it for now. I'm being firm with myself.

And yeah, life is very busy and full which I enjoy, though the mind is willing and the flesh lets me down more than I'd like. I tire very easily. This does not suit me but I do pay attention.

I'm hoping to get approval for a beautiful hiking trail in the town tonight. It's a long held dream of mine. And the spot is magnificent.

So fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Key

Possible concept for a minimalist desk.

I hope it's not a foreboding of bad luck but when I laid claim to my new dwelling, all suited up with preliminary baggage: the important stuff like the small French press, mug, dark roast coffee, cream, some basic pantry stock, a small table, chair, layouts, suggestions, wouldn't you know it the key wouldn't work.

Because it didn't I met two of my neighbours, Elizabeth and Carol, who endeavoured mightily to help me. No luck. Not even a twitch out of the lock. I called the administrator (not a super, no, he's an administrator) no answer, left a message. Schlepped (with difficulty) my stuff back down again to the car (the ladies offered to host my bits in their apartments but I declined) and waited. I don't know about you but as I age I find the Type A personality has not being paying attention to meditation and OM practices whatsoever. So frustration and a small pity party ensued. He called me within 10 minutes. He'd been at the hospital and left his phone in his car. Upside was he found another key in the office and told me there were trolleys and roll-y carts to assist residents in hauling stuff around. He took my baggage up and we did the transfer of keys.

So I made myself a cup of La Java Française and sat down at the wee table and pondered my new space. And pondered. And thought: cripes what have I done. And thought: this is all good. And once again, I forgot to take pics for Grandgirl. She is the space expert. Seriously. At twelve she was organizing my car. At fourteen organizing my storage space in Toronto. At 20 she travelled Europe for the summer with a small backpack. At 21 she taught in India for months with a ditto. A genius with space and minimum necessities.

As a boost I watched The Minimalist. Recommend. Seriously. I love the 333 concept too. Though I've been adhering to minimum clothes for a while. And shoes. I was comforted by both. Yes, I'm doing the right thing.

I set up an area in the garage today with a table and loads of boxes of all sorts of stuff for me to go through. I set it up out there as my tourist season starts soon. Leo is an amazing help for the lugging as I am no longer able. I've recycled so much paper, cards and letters already but there's still more. Frighteningly more. But not as intimidating as I feared. The movies and books are the next go-through, though I've donated a lot already.

So yeah, I'll get there.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Purge

I never tire of the sunsets here

I've started the purge. Not that there's much enough. Sentimental stuff hauled all the way here from Toronto. Letters, photos, cards. And the journals I need to burn. Tripe as my father would have called such "rubbish". He burned and dumped all his own stuff about 6 months before he died. "The Evidence" as I like to mentally call it. Cartons of papers and gawd knows what else.

I found lovely photos of my Helen. Cards from Missing Daughter loving me forever. Forever is always negotiable, isn't it. At the time we mean it. Can never imagine forever being over and done with. I philosophize as I work my way through stuff. A lot of thank you cards extolling my kindness, etc. Many from people whose names do not stir any remembrance at all. Weird that. Many items from people long dead. I am being ruthless. I don't need these memento mori anymore in my life. We change. We evolve. We devolve. We move on.

I had to make two hard decisions in the week. One was not to attend Grandgirl's Convocation in Ontario. She was limited to inviting three people only. Her father, her mother and I were her choices. The health thing. I am bockety, unsteady on the pins. I thought about this. Being a constant worry to my loved ones. Because worry they would. And distract. There is endless walking and grounds and halls and parking lots. I'm good for about three minutes and then kazoom. And a fresh worry, legitimate, deep vein thrombosis on the flight. I shouldn't say worry as I sound a mite obsessed. I'm not. At all. This was a carefully thought through decision with no regrets. I'll see the pictures and the fact she included me in her three beloveds meant the world to me.

I'm putting a small stayover bag for my apartment together. I'm quite excited about this. And then I walk across to my iceberg in this sparkling shine of a day and I feel the tears. Leaving here, leaving this magical place where I finally found myself. I still have a busy final tourist season happening ahead of me.

That's all good. I'm going out with a bang.

I keep reminding myself: This is all so good. So very good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Da Week Dat Was

Painting by Maud Lewis "Covered Bridge"

It was one of those weeks, non-stop gallop. I don't particularly like those but they can be fun too. I planned a surprise birthday dinner for Daughter who turned, gasp, fifty.

I am the mother of a 50 year old. I don't feel adequate or mature enough. She is thoroughly basted in middle age now, isn't she. Feel so very fortunate for living this long when of my friends more are now dead than alive.

The birthday was held at a local restaurant which closes during the week in non-tourist season but opens for large groups.

They especially made huge platters of Jiggs Dinner which included lashings of roasted turkey, masses of veggies cooked with salt beef, pease pudding, dressing, turnip, cabbage and mounds of potatoes and gravy. Man oh man, we were all groaning. There was hardly any room for the cake which was especially made by a friend who designed and made this gluten free number, complete with mathematical symbols which is Daughter's forte.

We all had a jolly good time.

We had a Book Club Meet thrown in during the week too. I was on duty for the dessert.

Then Car developed weird lights on the dash which alarmed me and I had to take it into the dealer, a long haul in freezing rain, you know it's bad when the trees are exquisitely ice-draped along with the power lines. But I made it in. Parts ordered.

Then it was off to see "Maudie" with a friend who texted on the off chance I was in town and would like to see it. Oh, I recommend. It left me spellbound. What I love about living in a small province is that I run into people I know at the movies all the time. So instant discussions on the quality of the film. And I know one of the producers too, she had the grace to see my play when it was on its run and expressed an interest in filming it at some point.

So there you have it.

All is well.

Overnight it seems, I have an elderly daughter.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Peopled Out, Iceberged In

Because I'm a gregarious loner, I like a lot of downtime, away from the maddings. This week was a rough one, an ongoing intense quality and quantity to human exposure for me. Drop ins. Don't like them. But I foolishly hung out the tax services shingle and I figure all told, with the drops and convos about life stories and Uncle Ned, great fellah you should have met him, I'm making about $5.00 an hour if I factor in the social aspect. Big Mistake.

I'm very fussy as to friends. Loads of acquaintances but friends I can count on one hand. So I have to wear my nice for these tax clients and engage with them reluctantly but smilily. I am sensitive to social cues but most people are not, I find. I say I'm sorry but I'm busy but I imagine they think that applies to others and not them as they ramble on about Auntie Mildred and Grandfather Jack and just who are in these photos around my living room.

Meanwhile some ancient ice has been hanging around outside my front door. Pictures, yes. And this is after a couple of weeks as the weather has been glorious and most of the ice has melted, it covered the bay at one point and there were mini-mountains bobbing along.

I can't imagine what this gigantic ice melt has done to the glaciers of Greenland and to the planet's health. And they are here far too soon this year. And apparently are only the precursors of more yet to come.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Measuring a Life

I officially took possession of Tiny. I use the word Tiny as a comparative to Sprawl which is my existing dwelling. I am sprawled out over:

(1) A saltbox house
(2) An off the grid cabin.
(3) A large garage
(4) A barn
(5) A baby barn shed.

I take measurements of Tiny. And then took them again, blinking in disbelief. Nothing from Sprawl quite fits, I think. And then I think: Help!

I look at the freshly painted walls, a lovely lemony shade. And fresh carpet, kind of grey-blue. And then I look out at the southern exposure view, lashings of sunshine. I look up at Signal Hill in the distance. And think: this is truly perfect. You won't need drapes, says the Administrator, as nothing overlooks you. There are lovely white opaque blinds on the windows, you can keep these if you want, he says, they're brand new from the previous tenant who never quite moved in as he had a heart attack and stayed in Ontario.

He tells me I should be around next weekend as there is Easter Dinner for all the residents in the community recreation centre downstairs. Free. What? I ask. Oh, all festivals throughout the year have a free dinner for the residents, he responds. Bonus.

I texted my friend who introduced me to this building a few years back and we met for coffee. I'd forgotten how much we laugh together. How alike we are in many ways.

Her place, similar in layout to my apartment is zen like in its simplicity. I aspire, I tell her. Tips, please.

In this new age of digital access, physical books and movies become redundant, we agree. What are my treasures? Pictures, my writing life and its accoutrements.

What defines me? How do I measure my life without the extras?



PS As I write this there's a film crew, cast and extras of 12 around my house. Filming a wedding scene. Using two of the bedrooms and my living room and many outside shots. They're all so young. Well, yeah. I don't see too many elders making movies, do you? Shame, really.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Blog Jam


This is a joke I posted on Facebook. I love jokes that are clever and clean and have a surprise at the end.


Laugh of the day~~~

"You're both in your nineties," said the judge to the elderly couple, "Married 70 years! Why would you want a divorce now?"

Said the old woman: " We were waiting for the children to die."

I have a film crew coming on Sunday to make a short film in my house as it is old and hasn't been drastically renovated but has the original exterior and interior. Interesting, I think. Now I'm thinking it's a huge disruption. Then again......

I had two rejection letters. How do you deal with rejection? I had loved these two submitted pieces, and so did others, so I felt rather very crushed and then got so busy later that I forgot to feel sad but now that I'm here at the end of the day I've got time to brood and flay and tell myself give up, I'm useless. So I'm writing here instead for the 4 or 5 that do read me and appreciate. Thanks guys.

Yesterday, I visited my friends whose daughter died and actually made them laugh helplessly about the first marriage proposal I received out here in the Far East. Have I told you I've had hilarious marriage proposals? I will some day. It could be a book. I always cry in my car when I leave my friends, I can't imagine their suffering. Now they are putting their daughter's Jeep and house on the market. She was only 40 and death stalked in, in the middle of the night, and grabbed her. A congenital heart defect. I discuss books with him, he's an avid reader of all things Newfoundland - he was a coast guard in his time - and make them both laugh. I don't plan it that way but I'm glad it works out that way when I visit. Getting out of bed is their enormous act of courage for the day.

I had this friend, well, she's more of an acquaintance. When I moved here she'd phone me about once a month. Strange conversations. She'd never a ask a question but would launch into a sort of list of people who'd let her down by not phoning/dropping in/not picking her up/not letting her know about events, etc. She had a stroke many years ago, I remember visiting her every day in the hospital, not an easy thing as the location of her hospital was both a subway and streetcar ride away from where I was headquartered then in downtown Toronto. But I knew visits to her would be minimal or zero from others during the day as she lived way out in the outlying suburbs and the hospital was in the west end. And there were other occasions too when I filled in as her caretaker on weekends away. All this to say, I was up against myself in dealing with her. I never felt close to her but I would still feel guilty, the stroke for one, and the fact she didn't establish deep friendships with anyone mainly because her demands never stop when you're with her. There are always extras you have to do and there is no acknowledgement of driving out of your way or picking up extra stuff along the route. And then guilt again for feeling like that. It's a vicious cycle. I dropped my landline months back and now I'm just on mobile. And of course she doesn't have that number. But lawdie, now she's phoned many of my friends to demand my mobile number but none feel they want to give it to her. So today she calls a buddy in Florida and he immediately puts her request for me to phone her right away on my FB wall. She is tenacious. And truthfully, normally I don't think about her at all. Guilt again.

So yes, I will call her. If I don't forget yet again. I need to brace myself. I don't wish for more friends to get harassed by her. There's none as queer as folks. If it were me, I would have given up long ago and put it down to disinterest and move on. But not J.

I take official possession of my home in the city tomorrow. Exciting times. Though I won't be moving there full time until the fall for there's a lot to wind down here over the next few months.

So new pastures, new opportunities await. Sadness too at leaving this little paradise behind.

But I'm ready.






Saturday, April 01, 2017

Away

In light of the horrific recent events unfolding in Holy Ireland, with babies starved, tossed into septic tanks and sold to the highest bidders by demonic clergy, please read here and here for further clarification. Bessborough is where I would have been interred like a few of my friends who were abandoned by their boyfriends or raped by relatives or priests.

If you need further enlightenment on these horrific crimes against humanity I thought to bring to light my own narrow escape story that I still grapple with emotionally. I'm trying to set my story all down and come to terms with it, but it still festers in my heart, it is still so difficult to speak of. And I don't. Because I cry. Writing is what I do best.

And in case you're wondering, everyone knew about these institutions. We girls lived in fear of them and pitied the poor creatures within them when we would visit - as privileged private school girls - to entertain them. But never speak to them. Contamination, you see. and looking back, us girls must have been obliviously rubbing further salt into their scalded souls.

And yes I've had the therapy and tried to establish an understanding of my past with the male members of my birth family, to no avail.

For seriously, how can any Irish man, no matter the age, understand the Ireland of 1966 when a frightened, pregnant young woman, not more than a girl, together with her young husband, made life changing decisions to protect themselves and their families from the cult that was the RC church in Ireland? And make no mistake, it was (and still is) a patriarchal, hypocritical cult, steeped in misogyny, condemning so-called "unmarried mothers" to a life time of slavery, their babies stolen and sold, or killed or starved. Or horrifically raped by the parish priests who had unlimited access to these vulnerable girls and children.


I was secretly five months pregnant at my wedding. A very tight girdle.

Away

A wedding ring away from a workhouse, a lifetime of indentured slavery.

A wedding ring away from a child kidnapped and sold.

A papal blessing away from tribal condemnation on a secret side altar of the parish church.

An emigration away from family disgrace and pursed lip judgement

A lonely birthing away from family joy and support, among strangers in a strange land

A frightened young couple away from all they knew dear, alone and terrified.

A baby born away, questioning the whys and wheres and hows of the banishment of her parents.

A lifetime away in a country which beckoned when Ireland closed its doors.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Things


Small things. Big things.

Every week I make my own yogurt and my own Irish whole wheat soda bread which I cut into quarters and then put 3 in the freezer, I set aside a quarter and then extract from the freezer as I need. Irish soda bread has to be eaten fresh. It was usually made every day in Ireland using up the sour milk pre-refrigeration. My yogurt's starter must be years and years old now. I just save a tablespoon from the last batch and use in the fresh one. And if I'm going away for a while I freeze a tablespoon of it.

There is something validating about taking care of one's basic needs. I think if pushed I could survive for a while on soda bread and yogurt. If I have interesting seeds and dried fruits and nuts I throw into the soda bread pre-baking, but it's not necessary. With the yogurt I use bottled fruit or sugar free home made preserves. I've tossed around making home-made country butter. I despised it as a child ("you can taste the grass, ew Mum!") but now what I wouldn't give for a pot of it! The high processing of food has made imbeciles of us all. Bleached white bread, chemical-laden yogurt with artificial thickeners, chemical-laden spreadable concoctions called margarine (low cal, light).

Even cheese. What have they done to cheese? I shop the stores that carry Irish cheeses. All the good Canadian brands are now rubbishy plasticized homogenous florescent orange slabs. Inedible. and yet they go flying off the shelves. There is no comparison in taste. Thank you Ireland for keeping cheese cheesy and sausages herby and edible.

I'm waiting for the pump man. I have no water. Again. The freezing cold attacked my pump-house and throttled the water pump. Winter continues on. Storm is expected tonight or tomorrow. 30cm of snow. Seriously.

At least my woodstove was fixed yesterday after a month without. Thanks to a couple of townsmen who refused even to take a cup of coffee and were horrified when I tried to pay them.

I am grateful for small things today, like wood, and homemade bread and yogurt. And heat. Blessed heat.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Whatcha At?


My blog friend Tom has a great post on retirement.

Which got me thinking about successful retirement. Redefining oneself.

There are many retired teachers and some retired professors in my community. And truth tell they "do" a lot of TV and shopping. By "Shopping" I mean driving in and out of town, which here is the capital city of St. John's about 1-1/2 hours one way on the "Old Road", maybe an hour on the highway. And it always involves many carts rattling out of Costco.

Shed life is big here. The Boys gather in sheds and work on "stuff" like trucks and snowmobiles and boats and generators and ATVs which are used for hunting. Hunting and fishing are huge and there's no retirement age from either.

Women volunteer in church: cleaning and altar fixing and choir committees and parish committees and church fundraising. If they have spare time (church volunteering becoming a dead art, so to speak) they community volunteer in card games for seniors, exercise class and library duty and 50+ club events.

Whatcha at? Is an all purpose catchphrase here. Used when you pick up the phone. I've adopted it as it is quick to the chase. "Whatcha at?" they say to me. "Oh, I'm knitting," I say, or "Getting ready for a walk", "watching Netflix", etc. And you're off and running with a conversation.

I hung out a small tax service shingle, metaphorically speaking, this year. I had basically terminated my tax business a few years back, apart from a few diehards, but felt a little financial need due to power bills being so enormous in NL. You can be freezing your arse off and the bill can be $400 for the month. Full heat would be close to a $1,000. And that's with a wood burning stove. As I type this, I'm cold. And I have had a huge cold tolerance. No more. I'm looking forward to moving in the fall so that next winter won't be a financial worry. I will be warm and the bill will be less than a quarter of what I pay now!

My time is always full. I had 3 clients drop in this morning. I have my volunteer municipal job that I love. I'm building a data base for the town library. I continue to write. I am taking bookings for my hospitality Airbnb and that will keep me busy from Spring on to late September. Needs must. And yes, knitting products for sale. Thinking of getting an Etsy account to sell on line perhaps. And cards. I sell my own cards too.
I'm a wearer of many hats.

Bored? What's that?

So - Whatcha At my friends?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Books of 2016


I'm late with this annual post. No excuse apart from a life that I always seem to be running behind but not in a good way. I make great plans, go to the trouble of writing them down in number and point form and then lose hopeless track of my good intentions. I know I'm the only one on planet earth with this problem. Any helpful hints? I should abandon my lists but it's similar to my collection of "useless artifacts" which I will write about some day too. The dark underbelly of my life.

So here goes with the 2016 list.

(1)Puccini's Ghosts - Morag Joss****
(2)Dead Simple - Peter Robinson. dropped could not engage 0
(3)Plain Song - Nancy Huston***
(4)All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr*****
(5)The Mistress - Philippe Tapon*
(6)A Sudden Sun - Trudy Morgan-Coles****
(7)Eventide - Kent Haruf*****
(8)Burning Down The House - Russell Wangersky {BC}***
(9)The Night Following - Morag Joss*****
(10)England, England - Julian Barnes 0
(11)The Birdcage - Marcia Willett***
(12)Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova***
(13)And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini*****
(14)My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout*****
(15)The Girl in the Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold {BC}**
(16)Among the Missing - Morag Joss****
(17)The Dipper - Marcia Willett**
(18)The Corrigan Women - M.T. Doheney
(19)Eve - Iris Johansen*
(20)A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway 5th(?)re-read*****
(21)A Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans*****
(22)The Piano Tuner - Daniel Mason (I'm struggling with this one 100 pages in)
(23)Settlers of the Marsh - Frederick Philip Grove ****
(24)Baggage - Jill Sooley ***
(25)Moments of Being - Virginia Woolf***
(26)The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner***
(27)Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler *****
(28)The Old Jest - Jennifer Johnston *****
(29)The Illusionist - Jennifer Johnston ****
(30)A Sixpenny Song - Jennifer Johnston
(31)The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor {BC} a re-read for me*****
(32)How Many Miles to Babylon? - Jennifer Johnston*****
(33)What We Want - Trudy J. Morgan-Cole**
(34)This is Not a Novel - Jennifer Johnston*****
(35)The Captain and the Kings - Jennifer Johnston*****
(36)The Railway Station Man - Jennifer Johnston*****
(37)By the Lake - John McGahern*****
(38)Closer Home - Karen Anne King**
(39)Shadows on our Skin - Jennifer Johnston*****
(40)Love & Summer - William Trevor****
(41)Fool's Sanctuary - Jennifer Johnston****
(42)I Let You Go - Claire Mackintosh****
(43)The Lake House - Kate Morton (500 pages, 200 too much)***
(44)The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence - 3rd re-read*****
(45)Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey - poor construction**
(46)A Badly Misunderstood Dog - Paul Rowe - *****
(47)The First Bad Man - Miranda July - she literally lost the plot - *
(48)The End of Your Life Bookclub - William Schwalbe*****
(49)Everyone Hates a Beauty Queen - Kenneth Harvey - Awful bilge, will not read him again*
(50)Save Me - Lisa Scottoline - cliché driven ***
(51)The Distant Hours - Kate Morton - challenging size, unsure
(52)The Ocean at My Door - Ken Pollett
(53)Perfect - Rachel Joyce*****
(54)Still Alice - Lisa Genova*****
(55)My Father's Tears - John Updike*****
(56)La Rose - Louise Erdrich****
(57)The Doctor's Wife - Brian Moore*****
(58)Thrice the Brindled Cat Had Mew'd - Alan Bradley***
(another Flavia De Luce but not so compelling)
(59)The Good Doctor - Paul Butler
(a few pages in and I'm tripping over edit-goofs and holy metaphors, batman!)
(60)People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks*** {BC}
(61)Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen*****
(62)Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger
(63)The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein***** {BC}
(64)The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick****
(65)The Roncesvalles Pass - Paul Bowdring
(66)The Lizard Cage - Karen Connolly*****
(67)Lost and Found - Brooke Davis*****
(68)A Sport of Nature - Nadine Gortimer - dropped, couldn't.
(69)Continental Drift - Russell Banks - dropped, couldn't.
(70)My Secret Sister - Edmonds & Smith***
(71)Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore {BC}***

TOTAL TO DATE: 71{BC}=Book Club}
Ratings:0(awful) *(poor)**(fair)***(good)****(very good)*****(excellent)

Those I loved:
4
7
9
14
20 (about 6th or 7th reading, annual event!)
27
28
31
All of Jennifer Johnston I adore.
37
44
48
61
66

A good year of reading. I won't work at reading a boggy book anymore. My life's too short. I like immersion, good editing and grammar, engaging characters, thoughtful prose. I'm not asking too much, am I?

Monday, March 20, 2017

In the Beginning....Part 2


And I use the word "beginning" for it truly feels like another one. I've had many, I've been blessed. And in my last two homes they reflected me, solo me, my décor, my artifacts, my friends, my colours.

And so will this new one that my spirit will enter on April 1st, but through circumstances of my hospitality business and my municipal position, my body won't enter fully until September.

It's a one bedroom apartment in an independent senior living complex. A friend already lives there. A friend after my own heart as we value privacy and abhor unexpected dropping around. The complex is small and charming and includes a gym on each floor, a free laundry on each floor, an outside patio with barbecues, an enormous communal two storey recreation room with library and kitchen and piano, it's overlooking a lake and is a short hop to the city of St. John's.

A few things, of many, that impressed me were it was so quiet, I loved how some of the artists living there had hung their artwork in the hallways, I was also impressed with some of the residents being in their nineties and having home care help coming in for a few hours a day if needed thus deferring the day when an assisted living home might be rquired. And twice a week there's a free bus that takes everyone out to shop if they are beyond driving.

My friend tells me we are the two "babies" in the complex being the youngest. I find that very amusing but also highly educational in that I hope to learn more about ageing in place and an ease and familiarity with the process.

The complex is close to the East Coast Trail and some gorgeous trails in the city itself.

Simmering down to a one bedroom is going to be challenging. I am hoping to market my current dwelling as a turnkey hospitality heritage home, all furnishings and appliances included. My plan is to take very little from here.

So yes, I am excited. But daunted too by the task of downsizing my existing lifestyle into one more manageable and easy.
But I am also blessed with an attitude that once I make up my mind, I don't look back. I don't want a life of regrets.

Looking ahead and with anticipation is where I'm at.