Friday, December 31, 2010

Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise Daoibh (Have an Abundant New Year)!

{Ansa sends you her best wishes: she mastered block printing in 2010 and is hoping to master cursive by the end of 2011)

I just love the following note from The Universe (I receive one daily via email) that was in my inbox this morning so I eagerly share the thoughts for you all out there: my dear blogmates and those who read me but don't comment. You are all treasured, more than you know.

WWW, soon the new year starts, so now's a great time to:

1. Wipe the slate clean.
2. Focus upon what you really want.
3. Chart your course.


Well... only if you want to risk having to repeat these steps for the same wishes next year! Maybe this is splitting hairs, but here's an adventurous alternative:

1. Give thanks that life is... just as it is (and that it's been... just as it's been). Because of it, you're now "READY."

2. Define what you want in terms of the end result. Don't worry about the hows, or even the course. KNOW that what you want is ALREADY yours in spirit, by universal LAW, just focus on the certainty of this ownership, understand it, claim it, and "it will be in reality, as it is in spirit."

3. LET THE UNIVERSE show you the way via your impulses and instincts that appear as you take inspired action. Don't worry that your first steps seem silly or futile. And if you don't know what to do, do anything! Go! Get busy! Do not insist on intermediary successes, only upon the end result.

2011 is going to be your year (it already is),
Love, The Universe

Peace on our tiny planet and goodwill to all its peoples.

Let this be the year we are the change we all wish to see.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gregarious Loner

I caught this self-description by a commenter on Friko's blog the other day and I thought: that's me.

This wonderful world of blogging gathers us kindred spirits from around the globe and pulls us all together in virtual conversations and we click with each other, no matter the age, no matter the gender. And blog meets, (though I have an affinity for the term Blog Meats, ha-ha, get it?) where one meets another blogger in the flesh so to speak, prove just as interesting as the virtual connection and are even more enhanced by the fresh non-blogged information exchanged.

Maybe the virtual circle of friends I connect with fairly regularly are all gregarious loners whether in partnered relationships or not.

I love my solitude, cherish it, defend it, embrace it.

And I'm one of the most gregarious people you'll ever meet!

And on that note, I am so looking forward to my Blog Meat with Conor. Soon. Yes, he of the recent trip around the world fame. And when I do, ye all can be assured I will shut up and be quiet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Purpose & Meaning

Picture taken a few minutes ago from my front deck of some of the many walkers on the beach today in this glorious weather.

It is nearing the end of the year as I write this. I am struck by how many friends out there are looking or searching for a purpose as the new year approaches.

Now, I am of the belief that the purpose will find us, often unexpectedly and it will always be a surprise.

Years ago, I was told by an old shaman to always look for the surprise, the gift, in every day. It will always be there. And how true her advice was.

Yesterday, there were a few. One was the movie "The King's Speech", a brilliant film, I highly recommend it. I had the thought when it was all over and I was left wanting more, that a defect in one's life, like a speech impediment, can be transformed into such a powerful metaphor: overcoming whatever obstacle - whether real of imagined - there is to one's maximizing one's life.

Over dinner, I was challenged, in the nicest possible way, by my two dear friends as to why I haven't moved on to another publisher with my inedita - my unpublished work. And I had to admit it was fear. Fear of another editor slashing and trashing. Fear of myself, really. I need to open that window wide and trust. Not so much that everything will be rosy with a new publisher, but that I am living my life to the fullest extent possible, come what may.

In other words, we will never know until we put it out there, will we?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Those Bloody Foreigners, Illegals and Aliens

Conversation with Ex-Torontonian yesterday.

Me: Where do you live now?

She: St. John's.

Me: Why did you move here?

She: The foreigners took over Toronto.

Me: Seriously?

She: Completely, you wouldn't recognise Cabbagetown (a very ritzy area in TO).

Me: You lived in Cabbagetown?

She: Well, no. But I heard the foreigners took it over with their guns.

Me: What do you mean by foreigners?

She: Illegals

Me: What's an illegal?

She: People who have no right to be in our country.

Me: Who says?

She: Me and other real Canadians.

Me: What's a real Canadian?

She: People who are born here like me and you.

Me: I wasn't born here.

She: No?

Me: I was born in Ireland, so I'm not a real Canadian by your standards.

She: Oh I didn't mean people like you.

Me: People like me?

She: Well you know, people who speak properly and look like the rest of us.

Me: So when you say foreigners you mean people who are visible minorities?

She: That's a fancy way of saying illegals and aliens, isn't it?

Me: Well no, actually. I was thinking of landed emigrants, refugees, Canada's First Nations People and non-whites who were born here.

She: Oh, you mean all those Indian types and natives?

Me: Well technically 'Indian' is a misnomer. They were in this country first and the white Europeans stole it from them.

She: Good job too. They were savages. Like the illegals.

Me: Excuse me. I must leave you now.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


How on earth do people do it?

The maximum crowd I ever had to cook for was 36, a daunting task about 15 years ago for my annual Ladies' Brunch/Women's Christmas.

Today, at the Hash, food was prepared for ninety people. 90! And mainly by one person.

And yes, it was all hash. Hash turkey, hash ham, hash beef, hash beans, hash potatoes. All piping hot set upon the outside BBQ, portable electric roasting tins, oven, stove top and hot plates. At one point I could almost see the sides of the house bulge with all the guests wandering about.

The old folk have passed on now but their adult children use the house for parties and get-togethers and summer and winter stays and hunting (the menfolk all went out to hunt a moose early this morning, and yes, they were successful).

All ages were in attendance and there must have been forty different kinds of dessert all homemade. The walls were covered in the paintings of the deceased matriarch whom I knew for a few years before she died. A well-known artist.

The history of the family has been written by a professor out of Boston. Massachusetts and Newfoundland are so well connected through the centuries by the intermingled fishing grounds that Massachusetts is still called “The Boston States” here. The family is still very active in fishing and now it is a daughter, recently certified as a master mariner, who is set to take it over.

I met many interesting people including the family chaplain, a couple of lawyers, a media consultant, a police chief, a politician and a judge. Before I left, I was presented with a copy of the aforementioned book which I can hardly wait to get into it as it reads like a novel. I can't imagine fishing in these tiny dories out in the rough ocean. Countless fishermen died in them, including the direct ancestor of the host family who left a wife and seven young children who were all successful in spite of their incredible poverty.

Along the way over the holidays, a friend gave me this gorgeous handmade driftwood/drift glass piece to hang in my window.

It says:

“How Sweet The Salty Air”.

But as “Alone at Sea” reminds me, the sea can be deadly too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Music and Friends

I was invited to a Christmas Eve "Ham & Lamb" last night at the home of dear friends. "Your appetite and chat" was what I was told when I asked what I could bring.

Two of the triplets (the two girls) - now 36 - were home and there was a large assortment of others including some 'come from aways' visiting for the holidays.

This Ham & Lamb dinner is a custom they've had forever. Dinner starts at around 11 p.m. and finished, in our case, at 4 in the morning.

Their house is incredibly decorated, a miniature village cast upon the stone hearth of the fireplace, a bunch of alders caught in a corner with pictures of their triplet grandchildren hanging from it. A huge Christmas tree selected and cut by the husband and his daughters a few days before and decorated with all their school hand-crafts. Gifts stacked so high they could just about swallow the tree.

One of the guests, a judge out of Toronto with a passion for Michael Collins that we sunk our teeth into for an hour or so, was celebrating his birthday Christmas Day so a little cake was presented to him on the cusp of midnight and we all sang "Happy Birthday" as one of the girls played her guitar.

I wanted to pinch myself a few times, the conversation and the talk of the old times was so perfectly marvellous. Most people there had traced their roots way, way back for centuries and could knit together all the delicate webs of family connections of their founding Irish forefathers and foremothers and the years of their arrival in Newfoundland from Ireland and on down through the years to present day.

The pile of us squeezed around that large dining room table and the laughter and the talk never ever stopped. I felt so privileged to be included amongst all these family members and old friends. When I mentioned this at one point, I felt tears spring to my eyes when the host said:

"We'll have none of that now. Ah, sure you're one of us!"

Yes I am.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


What an interesting season this is turning out to be for me.

I read one of my stories to a wonderfully captive audience at a steak BBQ (you read that correctly!) in a town not too far from here yesterday. What an honour it is to be asked to share one's words with others. I never plan to "get over" that feeling. It is humbling and wondrous all at the same time.

My original holiday season plans have been scattered to the high winds so for now I have settled down with my beloved canine in my lovely little home on the bay.

I am continually astonished at the number of invitations that have come to my house via email, phonelines and snail mail.

One I will not miss is an invitation to a "Hash Party" on Boxing Day.

On the invitation itself, several definitions of the word were helpfully researched and offered:

"A large number of people gathered in small places to consume various types of hash and to reminisce, socialize and enjoy family and friends."

"A reworking of old and familiar material, food, music, relationships."

I can hardly wait.

PS And the "resin" definition was covered also, thanks!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grianstad an Gheimhridh (Winter Solstice)

Winter Solstice in Newgrange.

If there is any place else I'd rather be in the world tomorrow it is at Newgrange in Ireland. The light of the sun and the moon will appear in the chamber together for the first time in the 5,200 years since it was built. Yes, Newgrange is older than the pyramids of Egypt and if you haven't visited there, you must. It is one of those places that stays with you forever.

For the first time in 450 years the sun will flood through the chambers at Newgrange as the moon passes out of a rare total lunar eclipse.

Astronomer Prof Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies told the Irish Times that the last time the Winter Solstice and a full lunar eclipse coincided the Tudors were in power in England.

What is even most magical is that the light from the sun and moon will appear in the chamber at Newgrange together.

Prof Ray said “That will happen at exactly eight minutes to nine. The two happen to coincide to within a minute.”

Newgrange was built 5,200 years ago making them older that the Pyramids in Egypt. Prof Ray said this is the first time moon and sun light would have entered Newgrange’s chambers together since the monument was built.

The Irish Times questioned him as to whether this could have some special significance or messages. He said “I don’t do astrology”.

Hundreds will travel to Meath tomorrow to see the solstice event at Newgrange but only a handful, chosen by lottery, will be in the chamber at sunrise. The light enters the chamber due to very fine alignment, through a shoebox-sized gap about the entrance.

Total lunar eclipses are not very rare but only occur every couple of year. Astronomy Ireland Association said the next will not be visible in Ireland until 2015.

Astronomy Ireland have explained the lunar eclipse as follows: “Just before sunrise on the Winter Solstice 2010, a Full Moon will turn red as it rests just above the western horizon. This event is known as a total lunar eclipse, as the Moon will move into Earth’s shadow. From 6:32am, you will be able to see the Moon gradually get darker as Earth’s shadow is cast upon it, and at 7:40am the Moon will have entered totality

And a happy, magical Solstice to all you pagans out there!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Annual Trek to Granny's

At Christmas time each year, the layer of unhappiness lying over our childhood home in Ireland was more tangible with each year that passed.

After they got married, my mother went to live with my father and his widowed mother. My father was the only son in a family of six - all the girls were older than him and all these women he grew up with literally adored him. He never had to lift a finger. After about six months, when my mother was pregnant with me, she and her mother-in-law had a huge fight and my mother left, towing the beloved and forever worshipped son behind her.

From then on, she refused to have anything to do with her mother-in-law but parcels would arrive occasionally for me in the post, containing dolls or games.

On Christmas Day, the unspoken hovered around the turkey and the tree. Because my mother refused to have her mother-in-law in her home, her own mother was banned as well, thus absenting both grannies from our table.

On St. Stephen's Day (Boxing Day), pre-car ownership, my father would pack up a few of the older children and take us by way of train but when that service was cancelled on a bus all the way down to his mother's house which was in a small town in east Cork. I remember it as always raining, with steaming windows and smelly wool coats on everyone.

My grandmother would be overjoyed to see us. I was always a little afraid of her, she was thin as a rail and wore her hair in a tight silver bun and called my father by his diminutive "Jimmy" which I found very amusing. Her table groaned with goodies, endless tins of biscuits, another turkey, fruit cakes, sweets in boxes, and extravagant presents for the children. We were on our best behaviour because we knew what was coming.

Her beloved Jimmy and herself would get caught up on all the news. Even then, I noticed a tightness to her lips when my mother's name was mentioned. I would study the odd British type pictures on her walls and she had the only chaise lounge I had ever seen in a house prior to then. It lay in glory by the front window, upholstered in red damask with a shawl draped carefully across the back of it. And I remember wondering if Granny ever fainted on it when we left and did she have smelling salts to revive herself.

She asked me about my "books". Books in those days were an old-fashioned term for the class (grade) you were in.

"What book are you in?"

"Two, Granny".

"Ah," she'd say,nodding, "You'll be writing them soon enough. Now who does she look like Jimmy? Not like our side at all."

I never could take a conversation with her anywhere. I never could respond beyond her first question as with her next one she'd always involve my father who would always turn the question back on her.

"Mother," he'd say, "Sure I think she's got a great look of you, myself."

Which I knew to be a great white lie, as everyone said I looked like my other granny.

When we left, stuffed to the point where we all should have been mounted on her parlour wall, she'd catch the wrist of each child in a strong grip and lay on the coin. Huge amounts for those days. I would get a whole half-crown and the boys would get a shilling each. In farewell, she would never kiss us or hug us and she'd shake my father's hand and watch us all as we traipsed slowly down the hill from her house.

Daddy was always irritable on the endless, steamy bus-ride back to the city. We'd be complaining we'd missed the Wren Boys, we always missed the Wren Boys every year because of the trek to Granny's.

But fondling the magical possibilities of the coins in our pockets made up for a lot.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Soft Day

A soft day, thank God!
A wind from the south
With a honey'd mouth;
A scent of drenching leaves,
Briar and beech and lime,
White elderflower and thyme,
And the soaking grass smells sweet,
Crushed by my two bare feet,
While the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the eaves.

A soft day, thank God!
The hills wear a shroud
Of silver cloud;
The web the spider weaves
Is a glittering net;
The woodland path is wet,
And the soaking earth smells sweet
Under my two bare feet,
And the rain drips,
Drips, drips, drips from the leaves.

Winifred Mary Letts (1882 - 1972)
Anglo-Irish (but mainly Irish) poet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We're finding it hard not to gloat out here at the edge of the Atlantic. The weather is gorgeous, most days sunny, little cardigans or sweaters on us just for show. No hats yet.

The rest of Canada, just about, drowns in the white stuff or hellish, pounding, galey rain. A friend from New Brunswick phoned yesterday asking me to confirm that we haven't had any snow yet. He described floods and swollen rivers and we chatted about Ontario and the deep freeze and like, well, winter.

Work continues apace on the lovely writer's cabin, An Teachín, though we are held back a little by the absence of the French doors which were ordered three months ago.

So I present recent pictures which also shows off the weather here.

The covered porch is now on, as you can see. I was up there yesterday to test drive the incredible wraparound deck and found it difficult to tear myself away. I said to Gordon-The-Gift I might want to move right in. The cabin has been wired and tested for the solar panel which will be installed on the roof. The solar panel is adequate for the requirements which are minimal - few plugs and lights.

We are currently investigating composting toilets. If anyone out there can offer advice/suggestions/hints on this it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bah, humbug

I'm not very good at dealing with rudeness and inconsideration. Particularly from the male species. I think about 75% of them live on a different planet and are emotionally stunted to an incredible degree.

But dichotomy: I also find I am more tolerant of rudeness in men than in women but not in the way you're thinking. More like: “What can you expect, they are so unevolved?” A stance I am not proud of.

On the times I've called them on their behaviour, they are puzzled, and become more rude and tell me I am making a mountain out of a molehill or I'm being a typical woman. Impasse for each of us. Deemed a waste of energy by me.

There have been more than a few instances of such ignorance lately and I remind myself I do know a few men who are respectful and listen and have more sensitivity than your average turnip. But for the most part, my inner cynic is constantly affirmed in her belief that men are smug in the privilege of their own unrecognized patriarchy.

And really do rule the world.

And what a f***ing awful mess it is.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eternal Mothers

4 generations - my grandmother, my mother (not too long before she died), myself and my daughter.

My elder daughter has been posting some gorgeous stuff on Facebook about mothers and daughters complete with photos (some of which I had taken, years ago)of mothers and daughters and grandmothers too.

It got me to thinking of mothers, spiritual mothers, sister mothers, friend mothers. The ones who've mothered me, the ones I try to mother.

For most of us, we never get over the loss of our mothers, the one who either birthed us or adopted us. We especially grieve when our own mothers die young, like mine did, and thus miss out on their own grandchildren. A sadness that never leaves us, try as we might.

Last night I caught my mother's tenderness in a black and white portrait of my daughter and her baby daughter I had taken many years ago. I had never noticed this before. Tears sprung to my eyes. Tears of joy. She lives on.

Apart from my two birth daughters, I have another daughter - a precious niece - who lost her mother while still a child. She now has her own daughter. This young niece is a delightful combination of her own mother, my deceased quick-witted sister-in-law, and my own fiery little mother. I am happy to see her own daughter is the head off her, as we say back home.

And most times I look in the mirror I see my maternal grandmother's face.

There's a powerful connection to the past in the faces of the young.

Eternal life is no lie.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanks Interpol!

This is so predictable and so tiresome. Just as the liberation of women was used in defence of the invasion of Afghanistan, now we have Interpol chasing down Julian Assange, he of Wikileaks, with accusations of what? Cheating? Double-timing? Leaky condoms?

Thank you again, Interpol. I know you will now prioritize the global manhunt for 1.3 million guys I have heard similar complaints about personally in the US alone -- there is an entire fraternity at the University of Texas you need to arrest immediately. I also have firsthand information that John Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, went to a stag party -- with strippers! -- that his girlfriend wanted him to skip, and that Mark Levinson in Corvallis, Oregon, did not notice that his girlfriend got a really cute new haircut -- even though it was THREE INCHES SHORTER.

Terrorists. Go get 'em, Interpol!

Read more here.

The world is now a safer place for women.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Relentless. This day. Her birthday.

It rolls around every year. And every year it is the same. My younger daughter is still out there. Estranged from her entire family. Living in Europe. Happy, I hope.

I never get used to it.

Happy birthday, darling.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Was there ever such a painful, unhelpful word? I have detested it since it was first used on me and there were times when I would use it constantly on myself.

You should do this.

You shouldn't do that.

I have a saying on my bathroom mirror that I look at it every morning:
Please, Gaia, don't let me should on myself today.
It is a word of failure. Of heartbreak.

'I should have done this to keep him, make her happy, played with the children more, spent more time with my mother' and on.

Sometimes I count the number of times people say it to me or about themselves during the day.

"You should walk more."

"I should go on a diet."

What a waste of breath those shoulds are.

For, you know, we all do things when we are good and ready and not because we were shoulded into it.


My doctor tells me I am diabetic, I should control my blood sugars for my own good before I have to take injections. I should take better care of my health. I should make a plan. I should make sure I live a valuable and productive life and for this I should start with my own health.

I tune out on all the shoulds. Shrug on my shawl of denial, heave the helpful pamplets and books under something and carry on as before.

But guess what gets my attention?

I've always taken a foolish vanity in my full head of hair, enough for two heads as one of my aunts would say. And guess what, I've been losing it in handfuls this past year. I must have lost, oh, 3/4 of my hair.

And finally, finally, last week I check on the web about hair loss. And yup, diabetes affects both the hormones and the auto-immune system and yup, this results in dramatic hair loss.

This gets my attention more than any shoulding in the world would and jump starts me out of denial and into, yup, action.

A bald WWW is just not in the cards.

But please, never, ever should me.

And I'll do the same for you.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Advantage of Being Older

I love the fact that the angst of being young and dithery and should I or shouldn't I stuff has evaporated. The clarity of certainty is a true gift.


The annual village dinner/dance is on tonight and I had two tickets, for a dear old friend of mine and myself. My friend is quite sick so had to opt out.

Now in my younger years I would have forced myself to go it alone. Attached myself perhaps to other couples. Suffered the approach of alcohol-fortified dance partners and their left feet and surreptiously checked nearby watches to time my escape. Which was never soon enough.

Not anymore. I called the dance committee first thing this morning and expressed my regrets with a suggestion they give my tickets to someone on the waiting list. Over pleas of "You have to come, you will be missed!" I said gently and firmly, "No, I'm sorry. I will not be attending alone".

Which begs the question: Why on earth don't these events set up tables for singles like me? And then tell us loners about it?

There is nothing lonelier in my mind than the holiday season banquets full of couples and the solitary man or woman sitting at a table while everyone around them dances.

I'll pass, thanks.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

December Blues

I know. I'm a crashing bore. But as a lot of the world drowns in snow and cold weather and ice and other challenges, I can sit on my front deck and look out over this. A few minutes ago.

Blue you can taste. Blue you can smell. Blue you can hear.

Oh, and Nina Simone with her magical "Love me or Leave me" on the Ipod.....can that woman work those jazzy blues with her voice and her piano.....

Bluesy bliss.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Driving Inertia

An Teachin's Progress to yesterday. Skylight was installed. Roof nearly finished.

Or is it inertia?

Two days in a row I've tried to leave here. Go to town, visit some friends, stock up my dwindling larder/freezer shelves. I get the fire going in the morning. Gordon-the-Gift arrives to work on "An Teachin" and I wander about the house doing some work, some annual tasks like sorting winter and summer clothing, then baking in readiness for my gluten-free daughter's arrival in mid-December, knitting some Solstice gifts, exchanging writing pieces with a friend for critique, playing Lexulous, reading.

I love being inside, cosy, it seems like just too much to leave here and drive 200km in total to town and back.

And I revel in the fact I don't have to do anything.

So there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Birdhouse

A goodly walk today with the dog prior to going to a friend's for supper.

This is a picture of the last vestiges of sunset that laced our way back to the car.

I was struck by the birdhouse attached to the shabby old shed as we walked by. So I came back with the camera just as the light was fading.

The house beside it was totally neglected, the lace curtains exhausted, the paint just about gone. The whole building was beginning to seep back into the earth.

And I pondered on the people who must have lived here. Who cared enough to put the bird feeder up. Right in line with the kitchen window.

So I asked my friend about them. And she told me they had gotten the property all fixed up about twenty years ago. And then she died soon after. And he couldn't come out there anymore because of the memories.

And then he died and left the property to the son when he should have left it to the daughter as she cared more about the place.

And no one has bothered with it since.

Friday, November 26, 2010


The lumber delivery truck pulls up the driveway as I'm on the phone with a client. It is loaded with additional bits and bobs for An Teachin - the Artist's/Writer's Cabin I'm building on the hill behind the house.

Ansa starts to bark with some degree of urgency so I fold down the conversation on the phone. Something is up.

I go out back. All this lumber, stone and cedar is piled up in front of the garage door.



"My car's in there!"


"In the garage!" (note: I don't say a**h***)


"That's where she lives, b'y!" (injecting a bit of Newfoundlandese here, notice?)

He continues stockpiling in front of the garage.

"I'll need to get my car out."




"I have to go to town - look never mind, move the stuff to the meadow. OK?"

"Are you sure?"

"Seriously. Positively. I swear on my firstborn's head."

"Well, only if you're sure now." (reluctantly)

"Oh, why would you think I wouldn't be?" (humour me)

"I wouldn't like the look of it on the meadow."

"It's not going to stay there. It's for the cabin up yonder, see?"

"Whatever you say then." Huge, sad sigh, headshake thrown in for good measure.

Ansa = 1. Delivery person = 0.

PS: Yes, picture taken today, yes, grass still green. Weather gobsmackingly gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Climate Refugees

I met my first such people on Sunday.

Sunday afternoons are the rehearsal times for my new play, "Spancel". This wonderful gentleman showed up as a volunteer to paint scenery. He is an incredible artist. His wife will be acting/singing in the play.

He was roped in to reading a timing runthrough of Act 1. And thoroughly enjoyed himself.

He and his wife wound up here four years ago and started an art gallery and coffee shop across the bay. She is multi-talented as well, I had briefly met her in the past and am looking forward to getting to know her a lot better.

As is the way, we traded life stories. They had investigated impending catstrophic climate change and resolved, before it was too late, to come to a cooler climate. They proceeded to check out all the northern states of the USA and followed this with the provinces of Canada.

Newfoundland blew them away, so they applied for landed emigrant status and achieved this a year later.

It will take a further three years for them to attain Canadian Citizenship. They are like me, totally in love with Newfoundland and its people and they are contributing greatly to the bay communities in which we live and the further enhancement of same.

They are originally from Oklahoma and have encountered other Americans who have moved way out here to the edge of the Atlantic, for a variety of reasons.


You feel good, fully of energy, there are many errands but you are in charge today. You hold a software training session in the morning and then proceed outwards to pick up medicine, a now fixed laptop, your special coffee, fruits and vegetables.

You feel particularly chatty, upbeat, all's right with the world. Dressed in one of your favourite outfits too. Black pants and turtleneck, sparkling white puffy vest. A cold enough day that keeps drying your lips so you keep applying that nice lipstick that rests in its little niche in the dashboard in between the errands.

In and out merrilly you go. It is only when you get to Timmy's and take a break for a newspaper read and your cafe mocha that you realize that there was something about your face that had the cashier smirking a little. So you haul out the little face mirror and spotcheck for something hanging off your nose or your chin.

And horror percolates through your entire body when you realize you had walted around to all these ports of call with your front teeth covered in bright pink lipstick.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peel or Feel

How's everyone feeling about this latest invasion of our civic rights, this one the most invasive yet by a long shot.

Now we get a choice of a full body scan which reveals everything there is to know about our bodies down to mastectomies, circumcisions, surgical scars, etc. Or the probing fingers or other blunt implements into our bodily orifices.

All to protect our "freedoms". Oxymoron much?

The most interesting and informed critique I read of this is at The Smirking Chimp

He writes:

I encourage nudity, but I also believe it should be voluntary. And despite assertions to the contrary, the machines that make the images are designed to store and transmit them. Besides, anyone can take a picture of the screen with a cell phone or camera and the image can be distributed that way. It has already happened. In our modern world of pervasive titillation, how long will it be before a public figure finds his or her naked image, captured at an airport security checkpoint, all over the internet? How about a small child?

Sickened, yet?


If you are a survivor of rape or other sexual abuse, this procedure is no less a nightmare than the naked pictures. If you have deformities, injuries, or your body doesn't look or feel as expected, you will be singled out for further attention. What about transsexuals? They have little of this, a little of that, and I'm going to guess the screeners will have a hard time figuring out how to respond to it. What gender should the fondler be? How do we ensure the screeners looking at the nude pictures focuses on the job, not the equipment?

And the damage done by these X-Rays have not been assessed either.

Are we being numbed like sheeple into complete submission to Demz Wot Rulez? I, for one, am really, really happy I don't have to fly on business anymore. I am totally sympathetic with the frequent flyers who do.

Isn't there something horrific about being assaulted like this and then further demeaned by being squashed into a tiny seat with your kneecaps around your ears while the attendant shows you the vomit bags and the oxygen mask?


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Benny and Maggie

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On one hand I give you Margaret Atwood, esteemed author, who today suggested that Canada should set up a dictat-o-meter.

While Atwood delivered her dictat-o-meter suggestion with humour, it was only after she warned: “The tools for repression and control are multiplying very quickly. Our government: What happened to ‘open and accountable?’ … What happened to democracy?”


And she did not spare the current government any pointed criticism, saying they had turned into one that’s all about “airplanes and jails. “The airplanes are useless against the real foes we face, which are scarcity and inequality.”

As for the jails, who will fill them? she asked. “Is it a case of build it and they will come?”

She suspects what they’ll do to fill those jails is just lower the criminal bar so they will have enough people to fill the jails. And then they can say, we told you so.

“Is the big idea really to bankrupt the social welfare system … by spending all of our money on planes and jails?”

Read more here.

And then we have wee Benny. Ah Benny. Dealing with the really serious issues of our time.
Finally, finally, endorsing, OMG, condoms. CONDOMS!!!

Oh. But only for male hookers? Male hookers.

Pope Benedict says condom use may be justified in some specific cases, such as when a male prostitute is trying to prevent HIV infection, in a new interview that has the pontiff deviating from the Catholic Church's line on contraception.

There is such a richness of comedy in this proclamation that I simply can't add any more.

Oh the humanity.

And who would you rather have dinner with?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Ones Who Got Away (or the might have beens)

Reminiscent fond thoughts of old loves coast through our minds as we reach the so-called declining years.

We drench these lost loves in a golden hue of iridescence, the dream of the possibility surely out-romancing the hard practicalities of the shared domesticity that would have ensued.

I was reminded of this as I did my round of blog updates this morning. One of my favourites is my friend Twilight's over at Learning Curve on the Ecliptic where she wrote about Princess Margaret (sister to the queen) and her doomed love affair with Peter Townsend, her father's equerry.

I've had a few of these in my time.

I remember Tony, tall handsome Tony, who came upon me one day as I played piano in my aunt's house. He was the first cousin of my first cousin on the other side. Home from English boarding school for the summer. Talking like a toff. We were both sixteen. I fell in love with the lock of blond hair falling down his forehead and the way he spoke as if marbles were in his mouth. I can still see the cravat (a paisley pattern) he affected at the throat of his cream coloured shirt and the jodhpurs he wore (though I never did see a horse underneath them).

He was intense, was Tony, talked of Greek and Latin and "Lit" and Oxford aspirations. He gripped my hand so tightly in his before he kissed it. Bemoaned the fact that his fellow townspeople, a hotbed of Irish republicanism, now mocked him for becoming a "West Briton". He was misunderstood, he was isolated. I thought of Byron when I listened to him, of Childe Harold. I thought of a wedding in June when we were eighteen and his family's wealth giving me my very own horse along with matching jodhpurs.

And then his family and my family put a stop to all of it. No more picking flowers in meadows and him reading now forgotten "Lit" to me.

Enough, they said. Quite enough. He's your cousin. Sort of.

I mourned him for a solid month when I was banished back to the city of Cork. A whole month is a lifetime when you're sixteen.

He wrote me care of a friend. Twice, I think. I wrote him back, I think. And polished his memory a little brighter whenever I thought of him, infrequently, over the years. He had an unfortunate marriage in London they told me and had never made anything of himself. He wound up as a London cabbie.

I didn't want to hear that, of course. I wanted to think of him as an Oxford Don, spouting "Lit" from a podium to his enraptured pupils. His blond locks still tumbling attractively on his forehead as he emphasized a point.

These long lost loves, never grow old or bald or have prostate problems or bad breath.

They lie burnished in satin lined boxes, glowing in the bloom of everlasting youth.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The View from Here

I feel cast out in an alternative universe. Observing the ants running around on earth. Scrabbling to (or pretending to) fix the unfixable.

Ireland's economic woes being what they are, billions are now being offered by the IMF to inject some more coin into the broken piggy bank.

Is anybody else struck by the irony of the old man begging beside the bankers on their important, oblivious walk through the streets of Dublin?

The US warns Canada that we are facing the same housing bubble burst that they are continuing to deal with. Well, duh. We never knew.

I've been saying for oh, well over a year now, that Sarah Palin will be the next US President. It seems fitting. It seems right somehow. In that appalling, awful, doom-ridden pall of a nightmare that has descended upon the world. A fitting finale to all that has transpired.

And will Barrack Obama go down as one of the most ineffectual presidents ever?

Did anyone else want to barf as the Bushling ran around with his book launch (with 650,000 copies sold in the first few days) and strutted proudly on to talk shows, waving his breach of the Geneva Convention by authorising horrific torture like a flag?

And Stephen Harper, our prime minister, with the assistance of his appointed Senate (a pork barrel reward system that he promised to end to get elected and of course did not) terminated the climate change bill in another strike against democracy (see also proroguing parliament when things got too sticky for him) with another almighty f*** you to this broken planet.

The only good news I see is so very many people both here and elsewhere turning their backs on the whole sorry mess and striking out recreating their daily living from the ground on up.

Like I've said before, we, the downtrodden, are on our own. Self sustainability and off the grid living should be a priority with any thinking person.

We have just witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth from the peons to the wealthiest few in the history of mankind.

But stop all this nonsense. Don't we have the wedding of the decade to look forward to?

Thanks for cheering us all up there, Wills & Kate!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Need a Good Laugh?

It's not often I blog about another blog.

But this one: Catalog Living never fails to lift me on a daily basis.

The writer takes a marketing picture from a catalogue or website and writes her own description.

Go visit. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thunder and Lightening

My father had a term for it:

Thunder and lightening in the stomach.

He wasn't a particularly creative man but came up with these zingers now and again that are highly descriptive.

That descriptive is me now.

I had lovely plans for today, starting off with a routine doctor visit and ending up in my favourite wool store and then heading home for the weekly community card game. Well the doctor happened and then bingo the aforementioned storm broke out in the mid regions and I headed on home and straight to bed.

I'm obviously up now for a while and still feeling queasy. But any time something like this happens I always ponder on the people who are far worse off. I view my little ailments as a halt and reflect. And realize how lucky I am when many would exchange conditions with me in a heart beat.

I'm sure it's either stomach flu or something I ate. Either way I have the confidence that there is an ending in a day or so while others do not have that luxury of thought.

A blessing. Even a gift. Seriously.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things I have learned

Never place any kind of liquid whether in a bottle, glass or cup on the same surface area as a laptop (lesson learned twice).

The best your new man is ever going to be is on your very first date.

If a man isn't successful in life by the time he's forty, he never will be. (This has nothing to do with money.)

A woman is at her most creative and successful post-menopause.

The day your bathroom is at its messiest will be the day some fussypants will want to use it.

There is no deferring the resolution to change one's life for the better.

I've learned more about others by the way they treat servers and attendants than anything else they do.

People who unconsciously wear pet hair as an accessory are my favourite kind of people.

Whatever unconscious faults, defects, irritations and shortcomings are present in a person at thirty will be completely amplified by the time they are sixty.

Beneficial change is possible at any age.

If you want anything done in a hurry, give it to a busy woman.

Unconditional love is an impossibility. But we get closer the more we practice.

My rights end exactly where yours begin.

Freedom is an illusion.

Religion is legalized mind control of the worst kind.

There are no winners in wars.

There is more to be learned on the journey than in the destination.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dream (E) Scape

A scattering, a smattering:
Thoughts flying hither and yon.
Was it ever thus and always
In the sanctity of my dream lobe?

The only place within me
I could ever run to anytime
Safe. Warm. From tiny child
To elder child still exploring

All that surrounds me
And bring it inside me
To examine in wonder, in awe
Then take what I needed

To shore me up on days
That are bleak and sad
And thick with the ghosts
Of booby-trapped memories.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


I was a tagalong today on a visit to an Old Age Residential Facility. I was in the lobby when I remembered the woman who used to own the old house my daughter now owns here was a resident of this home so I went and visited her.

She is 96 years old and reminds me so strongly of my beloved Auntie Francie that my heart broke just a little when I greeted her.

She is as sharp as a tack. I told her we loved the house she had lived in and my daughter was slowly renovating it. She was delighted.

I know very little about her apart from the fact she got married very late in life to a long time bachelor and "they danced in their kitchen every night of their married lives."

I told her my daughter had put a lovely photo of herself and Benny her husband on the dining room wall. At the mention of Benny she started to cry and told me she missed him every day, he made her so happy. Late gifts were all the sweeter when you waited so long, she said.

To distract her a little I asked about her childhood.

Her mother died when she was 5 she said and for 14 years she was put in a Catholic orphanage in St. John's. The Belvedere, run by the Mercy sisters. And didn't get away from there until she was 18 when her father demanded she come home and take care of his aging mother and him which she did.

"You know," she whispered to me, "I can tell you the secret names of all the girls in the Belvedere".

"Secret names?" I said.

She began to list all the names, ordinary names, Annie O'Brien, Mabel Riordan and so on.

"They don't sound like they should be secret names," I said, smiling at her.

"Oh my darling, but they were, they were. We just had numbers there. I was 103."

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I got the hair 'done' yesterday. I don't know what happened. You know when something starts up outside of your control and like a runaway train you can't jump off, it is all going too fast?

That was me yesterday with a stylist I've used once before with pleasing results. This time it was different.

First it was the colour of the glop she foisted on my head and then it was all this hair cascading onto the floor. Masses of it. And then it was me with a black head and hair far too short in the back and a kind of curtain on each side of my ears.

I did express displeasure and was not assured with the words:

"Sure it'll all grow out and the black will fade to a really nice shade each time you wash it!".

Not yer standard reaction from a stylist surely? (Translated: This atrocious mess will fix itself when your hair decides to grow out but wash it a lot to overthrow this appalling colour that doesn't suit you one bit.)

I've never had black hair. It takes some getting used to.

Meantime every time I pass a mirror I jump. WTF? I say, Nasty little 'do on you!

I took it out today for an airing. I also packed my knitting to take my mind off it and distract others from focussing on my pale, pale face beneath my black, black hair.

Everyone was kind enough to just look at the knitting.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Saving the Good Stuff

It was lunchtime today and I was putting it together, I try and plan my meals a bit ahead so I don't go all slackjawed when gawping inside the fridge. A look that can be cute when you're 21 but certifiable when you're 60-mumble.

So there I am today thinking I should add some portobello mushrooms to the tomatoes and I had this thought: "No, save the mushrooms, they're gorgeous, you should share those."

Well there I go again. I live alone. Who am I sharing it with? And last week I had to throw out the leeks, I was 'saving' them too.

It's like I'm just not good enough to actually serve myself some lovely food, gourmet food.

And I thought I was all through with that kind of thinking with daily useage of the good china and glasses, etc.

This reminds me of a workshop I held on self-esteem for women and I asked everyone with lovely underwear on to put up their hands and out of 18, only 2 did. 16 were wearing decomposing underwear. A huge signal of low self-esteem. Now I've never held a workshop for men but would imagine the percentage of men with good underwear on when they don't expect to be flaunting it is a lot higher. No? Yes?

And yes my underwear has been quite lovely for the last 20 years. I actually throw out the tatty ratties or at least recycle them into rag mats. Thanks for asking.

But this food thing was an eyeopener and I wonder in what other aspects of my day-to-day living I unconsciously dishonour myself.

The portobellos were gorgeous.

Monday, November 01, 2010

An Open Letter to Stephen Fry

Dear Stephen:

I've been a fan of yours since God was an altar boy.

I've seen all your films, read your books, listened to your dulcet tones on radio.

I've been in love with you since you Tweeted from the inside of a stuck elevator.

I love your shaggy, craggy face, your intelligence and I went physically weak with devotion when I heard your thesis on atheism on CBC.

I actually modelled one of my characters in one of my inedita novels on you.

And now Stephen, you go and spoil it all by saying that women don't really like sex?

That sex for women is

"Only the price we're willing to pay for a relationship?"

I only have two things left to say to you, Stephen.

How the F*** would you know?


We're through.

Yours sadly,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Across A Crowded Room

See Part 1 HERE
See Part 2 HERE

Ah, isn't the journey always more interesting than the destination?

I knew in my heart this intermission was going to be one of those fragile floral tealights, the ones that float in a tub and last but an hour or so. There was going to be no wide ranging, long distance affair with him. And I surprised myself by being fine with that.

So remembering the words of my rebellious old Granny: we only regret the things we don't do, I made the snap decision to just enjoy the company of this gorgeous man for whatever kind of time he could offer me and throw all caution to the wind.

And what a time we had over the next few days! He was heading for New York early Tuesday so we set about just enjoying some touristy things and each other over the two days that were ours: Sunday and Monday.

He never talked about his fame – all the movies he'd been in, the plays he had done - I had not been aware of the extent of his roles until after he had gone. Instead, he shared his writing with me, his love of art, his desire to break free of familial restraints (aye, there's the rub for any woman seriously involved with him, I thought) and his desire to live globally. Scotland was just too insular a place to contain him.

We succeeded in creating a psychic haven for two in those incredible two days. The outside world did not encroach. I don't know what cell phones, blackberries and Ipads would have done to us if it were today.

I've watched some of his movies over the years and, yeah, okay, did a bit of bragging: Guess what? No, you didn't! Yes I did!

With the re-awakening of my memories I recently google-tracked him and found he is alive and extremely well and still performing and has added pages and pages to his life's work, including a fresh young wife, art exhibitions, additional movies, TV series and many books of both poems and memoirs. He is still marvellously handsome, still causes me a slight stoppage of the heart just looking at his gorgeously aged face and I would drop everything just to spend a wee bit of time with him.

And as to the rest of it?

He was a man who lived and breathed poetry and extolled and revelled in the beauty of the female form. Add that component to anything else you're imagining and you've got it.

Je ne regrette rien.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You May See a Stranger

See Part 1: Some Enchanted Evening here

There were many ovations for him that night. Once I tried to stand up and join in but didn't trust my knees so I remained seated as he bowed, slowly, graciously in his gorgeous jabotty shirt with its lace bottomed sleeves and his well turned ankles in their kneesocks with little tassles that matched his clan dress tartan kilt and shiney patenty silver-buckled shoes...l'd better stop already with the adjectives, it's all a bit too much for my aging heart.

Anyway, he eventually marched down off the stage and walked over to the table yet again and taking my right hand in both of his proceeded to escort me backstage from the theatre.

I'm very well brought up so I managed to stammer: “I must dance with those who brung me!”
So he gallantly went back, me in tow and bowed to my couple friends and invited them to join us – “for a wee dhram!”

They, of course, were over the moon at this turn of events, being in the Great Man's dressing room sipping on some priceless ancient Scottish malt. I kept looking at them with a cocked eyebrow and at one point, as he changed in the small adjoining bathroom I said:

“Gawd, guys, when you take a girl out, you attend to her every, and I mean every, need!” Loosened by the second wee dhram, we dissolved into gales of laughter.

After about a half hour of interesting chit-chat (the female of the couple was a Mackintosh devotee out of the Glasgow School of Art), he politely said to my friends:

“Ach ye'll ken this, but I need to be alone with mae wee lassie nae.”

His wee lassie.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Enchanted Evening

I hadn't forgotten about it. Of course not. It was just slightly submerged in the tide of other memories until I went over to Marcia's place yesterday and it bobbed to the surface.

It was like this. Thirty years ago. I was freshly separated. A little bruised and raw. Couple friends invited me to one of those dinner theatre "Evening With....." events. A Scottish night, focussing on Scottish literature. So I kilted myself and off I went with them. And the strangest thing happened. The well known star of the show kept looking at me during the first half of the performance. I admonished myself that I was surely just imagining this. How on earth? He was handsome, tall, kilted and his accent and intonation would buckle your knees out from under you.

To my utmost astonishment, he headed right to our table at intermission and asked to sit down, politely fending off the autograph seekers.

He leaned over to me. "Ach nay you, ma wee lassie, and me," he growls into my right ear, "We'll escape after this wee show and spend some time."

Did I pay attention at the second act? Could I hear the rich Scottish burr of his incredible voice over the pounding of my heart?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well, I knew that but now the rest of you know too!

Photo taken a few minutes ago from my front garden.

National Geographic Magazine has declared the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland, where I live, the top coastal travel destination IN THE WORLD!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gone: One Red Brick Wall

Sometimes you have to take a good long run at the thing and kick it to the ground. I did. I gathered some thoughts I'd had on aging and what a total crock our perceptions of aging are, it being a 7 billion dollar a year industry to convince us to buy everything from anti-aging creams to sexual dysfunction products as we are falling apart at the seams doncha know and ewww so disgusting with our incontinence and bad teeth and saggy boobs and varicosey everything elses.

Re-pul-sive us olders are I tell ya.


So I exploded a few myths, read some of 98 year old "Dad's Tomato Garden", and put the thing to bed. On time.

And FACT. Did you know that MOST(80%)seniors go directly from independent living to the grave?

See what bullshit crocks of brainwashing we've had?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Red Brick Wall

I'm one of those people. I never run out of stuff to talk about or to write about or to read about. The inside of my skull has been a very busy place since I was toddling around. I can never remember a time I've been bored. I would look forward to being banished to my room when I was growing up. Delighted in fact. Books, writing, drawing, gazing out the window at the neighbours, watching the birds or the neighbourhood kids or what the missus next door was doing to her clothesline or her roses. Without interruption or correction.

And here I am stuck for a column for the newspaper that is due in a day. I'm at the point where I'm refusing to think about it; as the brick wall, which began building itself a day or so ago, is rising brick by brick the more I ponder this dilemma. I can even visualize this wall. Red bricks, white mortar. Very plain. I'd prefer if it was a dry stone wall of the Irish countryside, but I gather one can't be choosy in such matters. So it's very Canadian - red clay bricks and pristine white mortar and I'd love a bit of ivy planted at the base to give it a bit of interest but that's not allowed either. Even some nice cast iron railings at the top. But no. Just this symmetrical red brick monstrosity getting bigger and bigger and more boring each time my brain jumps to the column.

So, I share it. In the hope the muse strikes soon. It always does.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Modern US President.

Being an uber-fan of Gilbert & Sullivan and their incisive operettas about the political shenanigans of their time, I was thrilled to see the Pirates of Penzance lyrics updated for President Barrack Obama.

H/T Time Goes By

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Skid Row is Everywhere

The news was already there when I got up this morning.

Harry* set out to drink himself to death when he was only thirty after the wife and daughter left him and the only one who could put up with him was his mother.

And then she died five years ago. And the family home started to fold in around him. A light fell off the ceiling, a toilet leaked. Furniture collapsed. Newfoundland Power cut off his electricity and the wainscotting hung off the walls. Floorboards went missing - used for firewood, more than likely. From the outside of the house you'd never guess of the devastation within.

It got so bad that someone lent him a camper and he moved into this, parked on his own driveway, with his dog and a kerosene heater. Things worsened and Health Services were called and they moved him into a unit in a senior residence which he proceeded to destroy. His dog was taken by kind neighbours and is a playmate of Ansa's.

Health Services tried to get him admitted to a detox and rehab programme but he would get belligerent. They called the wife and daughter to try and force the issue to no avail, they had washed their hands of him.

He weighed 300lbs and was completely yellow in appearance when he had a stroke 5 weeks ago. They managed to dry him out in the hospital during his month's stay and his residence was fumigated and cleaned out while he was gone. He was told if he wanted to go home to his government housing unit it would be under the condition that he have a full time personal home care assistant provided by health services .

The assistant started yesterday and brought healthy groceries into the unit. When he left at the end of the day Harry was seen getting into his van and went missing for 4 hours.

He finally showed up around 9 last night, looking the happiest he'd ever been seen, they tell me.

It was the assistant who found him. On the second day of his job. Harry was sprawled on the floor in his living room with his arms open wide, looking like some kind of angel, my friend said. It wasn't long before the police came with forensics and yellow tape and cameras and abrupt words to tell the specators to leave the scene.

Speculation has it it might have been murder.

My take is suicide.

He was 49 years old and had been trying to do just that for the past twenty years.

*not his real name, but all other details are actual.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I woke up this morning to brilliant sunshine and fluffy white puffs of cloud in the azure sky.

I've often said the weather predictors don't know their elbows from an overcast and here my theory is proven one more time.

I know there are far more serious issues in the world than my little weather tantrum. But there are so many I'm afraid my head would explode if I got started.

Meanwhile the chicken-innard examiners at the Met. Office still predict an endless deluge of rain for these parts.

They should take a walk outside.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


It doesn't often get to me. I love the variety, the occasional wet day, even snow to the boot tops and the sunstroke warning stuff. But this is today's weather - destined to continue forever.

Depressing? Yeah.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I've always hated the phrase (and usually from girls and women) "I just hate math!" or " Math is so not a female thing!"

When on earth did that perception start? Women have always being doing math. Try making a cake and measuring out the ingredients, or even eye-balling them or calculating how many to feed with the recipe. Math.

Try embroidery, measuring out the floss, counting the stitches, calculating the design, the hem. Math.

Try knitting. I started some gift scarves for Solstice today using an old pattern of my paternal grandmother whose portrait shows her wearing this pattern in a jumper. If that's not counting and calculating what is? The quantity of wool, the repeats of the pattern, the border of the design, divided, multiplied, don't forget seam allowance, both sides, mind you. Measure and repeat. Size of needle to get the required swatch in inches and stitches. And I'm not even mentioning the complex arithmetic of old Irish aran patterns. Math.

Dressmaking. I would design clothes, even made my husband's suits at one point. All measuring and calculating. Fabric is expensive. Measurements save money. I made my own wedding dress. And all my daughter's bridesmaids' dresses. Math.

I could go on.

Amazing what thoughts go through one's head as one sits in front of the fire, the only sound that of the crackling logs, the dog's even breathing and the whisper of the needles.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breaking into Bliss

What a lovely sentence I heard on the radio driving home tonight.

"Breaking into Bliss". Freeman Patterson was being interviewed at length on CBC and this is what he said when he described moments of acute observation and feeling joyful with one's world. He has survived many challenges and pain.

And it got me to thinking of when we reach that other side of pain, we earn those stripes of bliss. I truly believe we can only break into bliss if we know what deep dark pain is.

Tonight, I was at Easy Down Easy, a play by Gordon Pinsent when I broke into bliss myself.

Thinking: by gum, I'll be joining Gordon soon in this playwriting thing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Laundry Observations

What is it with me and laundry anyway? And here too.

I have two very fancy machines here for taking care of the dirties. Frontloading beauties.

With portholes for observation if you are so inclined.

When they were new I was so inclined. I spent a good month or two singing the praises of a deceased beloved aunt for leaving me a small but rather tidy inheritance in her will a couple of years ago. So I beamed beatifically and gratefully at the machines in their efficiency. Prior to then I had gone all primitive with a pair of manual elbow-grease intensive little guys.

This windfall has eased my life considerably by providing the funds to buy such swish and environmentally green machines and the services of an electrician (several actually, long story) to wire them up. Along with some other necessary but formerly unaffordable life enhancing items.

I like to hang my clothes outdoors in the stiff sea breezes but wonder why in Maude's green earth we still haven't invented a proper clothes pin. My spring loaded ones break and drop off the line at an alarming rate, so I use the old fashioned wood kind which can be hard to wield and a challenge to buy in our disposable society.

Whatever happened to washing soda? It would do a powerful job on cleaning clothes but I can't find it anywhere.

Like wise bluing – anyone remember bluing?

I remember my grandmother's ceiling clothes-drying rack that could be lowered or lifted in front of her big open fire by means of a complicated pulley on the wall. She would fit a huge amount of clothes on the long wooden dowels and then raise it up so you wouldn't run into it.

Whatever happened to airing cupboards? We had one in our house when I was growing up and each shelf had a label thumb tacked to the shelves identifying what was in there (it was very deep). I would love taking out my warm clothes in the morning.

Waxing a little nostalgic for the way things were today. In spite of all the labour - not to mention the downside of the soot and steam from the fires.

On second thoughts, we've never had it better. I just remembered my mother boiling my father's handkerchiefs. Ew.