Monday, March 19, 2018


(1)I'm down with something. A bad cold, not quite ready to call it flu. I am susceptible to bronchitis so am keeping a close eye and ear on this thing. I did have the pneumonia shot earlier but not the flu shot. It's not that effective anyway. I'm about 5 days in, sleeping a lot when I'm not hacking a lot. A nuisance more than anything else.

(2)I'm sad about many blog friends either resigning from blogland or disappearing without notice. Far too many this year so far. Some leave in high dudgeon over slights and insults, others are ill and just about break my heart. Others grieve over losses and can't find the energy or inclination to post.

(3)Daughter is leaving the country tomorrow for nigh on 5 weeks. I'll miss her like mad. This digital age is useful for ongoing connections but the daily and physical contact can't be beaten.

(4)Missed my bookclub meeting today due to (1) and feel sad about that as I had thoroughly enjoyed the book and had made extensive notes on it. Remarkable Creatures A remarkable book about the discovery of fossils by two women and guess who got all the credit? According to the book reports posted online, all members loved it and had a great discussion. I know I'm extremely fortunate in my book club, we really stick to book discussions and host authors also.

(5)I keep close tabs on a friend with what looks like early dementia but I am feeling the strain. If I remind her of important facts of her life, the next time we talk she informs me of these same facts as if they just happened, forgetting I reminded her. She lives at a distance so it is challenging and sad. I'm unsure how to proceed if at all. Worried too in case she hurts herself. I gently suggested independent senior living to her and spoke of the advantages of not running a house anymore and getting things taken care of. She clenched on to that idea fiercely and I was so relieved. She kept repeating it to me and then wrote it down. I imagine she is very frightened but not sharing that with me, and who's to blame her. Her mother had early onset Alzheimer's so the gene pool is not favorable towards her. I reinforced that she is in charge of how she proceeds now. And no one else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Controversial Opinions.

I am occasionally surprised with how angrily some react to my Tweets or my Facebook posts. One this morning attacked my "smearing" of Stephen Hawking, RIP. I truly despise the abolition of reality checks when such heroes die. Stephen was a great, ground-breaking and incredible scientist but as a human being he fell far short of compassion and kindness. Especially to his wives and children.

I do not believe in whitewashing the dead. They are flawed like the rest of us. Sometimes more so. My opinions are my own, usually carefully thought out and based on my own reality, sometimes drawing on my own pain or enlightenment. But they are sincere and destined not to hurt as I "own" them. I try not to attack YOU, but to point you in the direction of my reality, my perception of events. And I truly respect yours. We learn so much from each other's journeys.

I find it hard to understand the removal of controversial or opposing comments from blogs. What are bloggers and commentators looking for? Constant approval? Adulation? Hits? Sycophantic spirits in the digital realm?

I have little time for ad hominem attacks - I've been a victim myself - but certainly time for genuine, critical, thoughtful thinking, even of a drastically opposing viewpoint - I will fight to the death for you to air whatever you feel.

I view my blog as a place for me to throw something out and then take time to savour the comments, much like a virtual dinner party. And believe me I've had dinner parties where a guest has displayed his hitherto masked racism or misogyny - but I do not eject him from my dinner table and banish him to the yard unfit for human company. For that is exactly the time to share our own beliefs without shaming or blaming but have a civilized conversation with indoor voices. Nothing vulgar, as my blog friend Nick would have it.

Careful consideration and respect for each other should be a given. And comments and opinions upheld and not censored unless personally attacking an individual rather than offering an opposing opinion.

Congenial and honest discourse.

Reasoned debate.

Or am I dreaming?

Monday, March 12, 2018


I have a friend who runs from pillar to post with money, always on the verge of bankruptcy, lurching from crisis to crisis. For years. I am extremely fond of her and I have always found that criticizing or being helpful without been asked is dynamite to meaningful relationships. So I listen for a while and ask if she has developed a method on improving on this and a rambling type of conversation ensues. Her sense of humour is immense and she could make a statue laugh.

Mark you, she has never asked for help in dealing with her money issues.

Her image to others is important, I think I am one of maybe 2 who know about her real financial situation which is heart breaking. Single mother, not a dime from deadbeat dad through the years, a gambling addiction she has licked with a likeness for weed and booze replacing it. She is my age now and has never gotten ahead even in good jobs with pensions. She cashed the balance of all such accounts out last year (she had me review the papers) due to "hardship" so now her hardship has returned and it's none of my business what she did with the money and she has never volunteered any information as to its disposal.

She got herself into an awful pickle at Xmas. She likes to impress her grandchildren with outrageous gifts ("they're all I have") and she runs around with them in her jalopy, picking them up and dropping them off and utilizing a lot of gas. She can't afford to get her car fixed so it roars off out of here with an ear-splitting decibel level like some mad teenager with a beater.

I, too, had many years of financial struggle, taking in boarders for years, taking in tourists, working two jobs, always behind the 8 ball financially. Always stressed about money.

My path could be Stella's*.

I feel mightily privileged that I have a bank account ergo with not too much in it, but enough to bury me, enough to buy me yarn, to give Grandgirl a small bonus now and again (she knows how impoverished I am)and to fund my car payments and my rent and my groceries and bi-weekly cleaning of my apartment. There won't be any travel in my future and I'm just fine with that. My joy is being in the here and now, cherishing those who are dear to me: my chosen tribe and Daughter and Grandgirl.

I don't imagine Stella is unusual at all. The crisis of single female elders is worldwide, some living in their cars or on the grace and favour of their children. She took out a payday loan** before Xmas, and, an intelligent woman, she did not realize what all the fine print said about fees and usurious interest rates and truly that one can never pay it off. These places are owned by Big Banks and the Canadian government refuses to regulate them. They prey on the hopeless and the poor and the old like Stella. She texted me during the week to tell me how hopeless she felt in the maws of this bloodsucking vulture. She didn't ask for help. Though my care-taking instinct kicked in, I suppressed it. She needs to figure it all out for herself.

And yes, I'm very aware that some lessons never get learned.

And lurching from crisis to crisis is just another addiction. An adrenaline high.

*not her real name
**In 2004, a Toronto Star investigation revealed payday loans carried annualized interest rates ranging from 390 to 891 per cent.

Friday, March 09, 2018


Or Mini-Meditations.

I do this regularly and almost subconsciously now. But it really helps me stay away from negative or worrisome thinking.

When I think: ooh I'm cold, I immediately think of when my chimney was no good for 3 months back in the old house and how every time I jacked the electric heat I'd worry about the ensuing power bills. And I smile. Gratefully.

I was moaning combing out my far too long hair this morning after showering, as it knotted and pulled and then thought: Others would kill for your hair, yes it's thinning, but imagine combing a sparseness, hairs you can literally count. Like so many I know. And I smile. Gratefully.

I was brooding over a friendship gone south (I thought) and feeling angry and upset and lost. And then I thought of all the happy, joyful times, and the kindnesses given and received during its long stretch and I smiled. Gratefully.

I had a long session with my young friend who is going through stuff no one should have to suffer. And I was raging for her and the ex-partner who treats her so badly and then I said: "You know I had a dreadful beginning to my sobriety, hell on wheels, everything went wrong that could. But you know what happened? I recognised it was my past catching up with me like a tsunami and now I also recognise that I had to go through all of that without picking up and my life never ever got that bad again because I learned some amazing lessons and made some marvellous life friends who support me through thick and thin, warts 'n all. And I promise you, it will never, ever be this bad again if you don't pick up." And she smiled. Shakily, gratefully.

I brood about Missing Daughter. Of course I do. I'm an expert brooder. I could give lessons. And then I focus on Daughter #1, present and accounted for. Who treats me so well and so honourably and respectfully. And I smile. Gratefully.

See what I mean?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Beginning of a Marriage

I had quite a hunt for a cleaning lady. I've rarely been without one in all my adult life. I'd put a good cleaning lady before food and drink and gas in my car.

I never thought this one was going to fly. I'd interviewed a few who made enormous demands with regard to products, allergies, refusing to do stove or windows, etc. I should start at the beginning and tell you I am clueless about housekeeping and am delighted that I am now of the age where it's too late to learn. I've been fortunate in that I've had long term cleaners for the past 50 years who stick to me like glue and I to them. We develop a lovely understanding of each other. They appreciate my baffled limits and I accept their expertise unquestionably. We're all happy.

Then I heard of this lady who cleans for a gentleman in my building and charges a laughable fee. I interviewed her and she seemed amenable and didn't stagger off screaming into the sunset after seeing my place which I've kept hygienic but nowhere near a Betty Crocker level. She talked a lot. But passed the test of no demands on her simpleton employer.

Today she started and we had to sort out some stuff together. I figured I'd impress her by getting a steam moppy thingie for the floor that is plugged in. It took us a while but we figured it out together and dear goddess, she was delighted. As was I with the kitchen and bathroom floors, effortless mopping with steam with no nasty cleaning products.

The place is now spotless and she did windows and baseboards and stove, bless her.

She talks. A lot. But works hard in between.

And we bond over knitting.

She hugged me when she left and assured me that now she knows where everything is, she'll take good care of me and I'm never to worry about housework again.

I know.

I have horsehoes up my arse.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

So I gave a class.......

Looking for a paying gig, I'd put an ad in a free magazine. A fishing expedition really, to see if anyone out there would hire me. And meanwhile I'd done my morning meditation: welcoming work, good work, meaningful work.

And out of the blue I heard from a theatre contact. And I worked for them on grant applications which I really enjoyed and then they asked me to give a workshop on accounting software and demonstrate as to how it had all gone so horribly wrong for them. I'd done these before but hadn't enjoyed them for a variety of reasons.

But this environment was a Women's Centre, where women are respected and honoured. And right away, the atmosphere from the elevator person to the welcome to the set up to the participants was just so refreshing and something I'd not encountered before in a business environment. Respectful attention, respectful questions, I found a different part of myself, gentler. I used different words, checking: tell me if I'm going too quickly, tell me if I'm reviewing stuff you already know, oh my, it's such a pleasure having a class like this.

Marvelous snacks were spread out at "break".

I felt enormously validated. I'd had some trepidation prior to (hello, an old lady teaching the 30 somethings accounting software?). But that all dispersed just about immediately. It's surprising what a supportive environment is created when respect and caring are present and loudness and assertion and yes, ignorance, and dare I say men? are not present.

I just loved the whole experience. And at the end of it all I was asked if I'd like a retainer for consulting work and to please give some consideration to joining their board of directors at the annual meeting in June.

How life is full of surprises.

All we have to do, as one old shaman once told me, is "suit up and show up."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Joy of Snail Mail

I love snail mail, both receiving and sending.

So does Daughter. I see her regularly and we talk many times a week, but she sends nuggets in the mail to me. One of her own postcards, addresses blocked to protect privacy:



And then 2 days ago, a postcard from a friend, "a woman of affairs, Greta Garbo":

And this is a treasure, received a week ago, a handmade booklet from a writer friend, full of hand-drawn pictures and beautifully scripted writing honouring my late lamented companion dog Ansa. This is called "O My Dogling."

So yesterday, I went to the post office and mailed the following, with joy:

(1)Two handknitted dishcloths +card to the winner of my dishcloth draw, Pauline.
(2)A "Thank You" card to Kathleen, my writer friend for her dogling gift.
(3)A "Thank You" card to the municipal people I worked with who sent me a card containing a $100 credit card and a lovely note.
(4)A "Thank You" card with a payment and a wee bonus to my plumbing/well genius/expert water man/defrosting of pipes expert, Calvin, who disconnected and reconnected water in the ongoing saga of my house, now sold, and who voluntarily dropped around to it every day monitoring the situation in my absence.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Things don't dust themselves, who knew?

It's only when I'm taking things apart to make room for something more efficient, more aesthetic, more utilitarian, that I nearly fall over from the dust that collects behind the books, the files, the cords, whathaveyous.

I can't tell you how many times this has happened in my life. I can't say I get embarrassed, housekeeping has never been my strong suit, but I find myself surreptitiously hauling out a dust-cloth and shoving the dust around. In the old house, the fire was always the distributor of such largesse. Here in the apartment? I could say I burn incense and candles. The problem with my brain is I wonder where the hell this stuff comes from in the absence of fire ash and dog (she was handy also as a dust instigator).

Today I had kinda built-ins arrive from the furniture maker. His photos looked wondrous, his prices excellent but the end product?

Dear gawd, a bit of a shocker as to quality. I was disturbed a bit when he showed up missing some important teeth from his upper jawbone. We talked different languages starting immediately. I questioned the non-finishing of the pieces, it went like this:

"I was under the impression that you would furniture finish the two pieces."

"Ah, you'll have to give them a bit of a wipe to get the sawdust off."

"I don't mean that, if you look at the table here and the chairs, you'll know what I mean."

"No, I don't."

"A reflective finish, fine sanded like this table."

"You don't want that, it destroys the look of the wood."

"I don't think so."

"And I see you didn't use wood filler in the screws or the mistaken screw holes (there were several aborted attempts in drilling for screws) either."

"You might want to take things apart and move screws and you can't do that if they're glued."

"And the side of the desk is the wrong measurement. I scanned you my design."

"It looks fine, I offer a lifetime guarantee on my work."

"I wasn't expecting plywood as a desktop."

"Nice and light to move around."

"But it's permanent in the corner, no moving around."

"Ah, but you might want to move it around."

I gave up. Sometimes you just cut your losses, you know?

I don't want to see him again and frankly, I was a little scared to tangle with him. And I've sucked up my disappointment and adapted my office space and the desk fits nicely in the corner and the pullout keyboard drawer works well, it was his piece de resistance. He couldn't stop demonstrating it.

And oh, yes. Bonus: I dusted.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dis 'n Dat

A lovely bunch of flowers from Daughter in a jug from my mother.

I'm starting this post, knowing I won't be completing it for a few days.

I entertained for the first time in my apartment. A brunch. With a brunch dish that I've made so many times I no longer need a recipe. It was fun making it. Daughter was here for the weekend and we made it together. It needs to sit overnight in the fridge for maximum fluff and effect.

I am very fortunate in that my interests and activism and support groups have me meeting the young. One of the guests on Saturday was the same age as my granddaughter and she was amazing, her breath of knowledge took my breath away. So well read and educated and on an artists' bursary programme here in Newfoundland. She had thought she was applying to Halifax and was shocked that "Atlantic Grants" included Newfoundland. But loving it here and surprised that our winter is so mild - it's the first time in anybody's recollection that boots have only been required once or twice this winter. Climate change having positive effects on this wild island, if we can call it positive. We bonded over textile work and she loved the prints of my work I have framed and hanging on the walls. The youth of today give me enormous hope. They clearly see where it all went so horribly wrong (capitalism and patriarchy run amok) with politicians and the 1% and their puppeteers valuing excessive stuff more than humanity. Most recent case in point being Florida and those young people massacred and their dreams trashed alongside their forever traumatized relatives and friends. No one ever recovers from these multiple massacres. An endless arsenal of machine guns de rigeur versus the lives of children.

I found a woodworker who is converting my designs into actuality. One is for a corner desk unit with an awkward shape to fit into the office corner of my bedroom. The other was for a mobile cart to match some bookshelves to hold my flat screen and the few precious DVDs I couldn't give away. His prices are a joke. Wait till you see. I will be supplying photos of the entire downsized place when complete. It is all coming together so nicely.

A follow-up to the theatre contract I received was more consulting which pleases me no end. Good to keep my hand in, particularly in the creative field. Other jobs came my way but I turned them down. I'm realizing my own limits, my energy is great in the morning but I can be unpredictably wiped in the afternoon which annoys me no end. I'm working on acceptance of this and planning accordingly. Sometimes.

I lost a 30 year friendship today. A good man who will be missed. A cancer that wouldn't leave him for the last few years. He had a cabin in Newfoundland and lived in Ontario and New Brunswick. He will be missed. The second loss this month. The real penalty of growing old, isn't it. The mixed blessing of survival.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Elder Musings

~~I am thrilled with a new project I was fortunate enough to get.

~~However, I am slower, do you guys of elder vintage find that tackling work that was formerly a kind of I-can-do-this-with-one-hand- tied-behind-my-back is now an-all-hands-on-deck situation? And speaking of all hands I find that a sporadic carpal tunnel problem I had returned and boy was it a challenge to heal, older tissues, repetitive strain injuries take triple the time to heal including an arm splint to bed, oh gawd was that awful. I digress, it is now healed with the odd twinge to remind me not to abuse it again.

~~I'm also aware that the the 30+age gap between my clients and myself has me faltering a lot with business language. It's not that I don't know it, it's that it is more difficult to retrieve out of my brain files, particularly in business conversations. This morning on a 3-way conference call I found myself fumbling mentally with what term I could use for my PC(personal computer rather than my smart phone), thinking: is PC still used? So I blurted "Main frame." Now there's a blast from the past. I've been 40 years using these suckers. They let it go, tho surely they must wonder what I meant or what decade of the ought-oughts I was in.

~~See what I mean?

~~My wee friend whom I've mentioned before (under 30) wants a coffee date late tonight and my mind immediately goes to bedtime interruptus now: my nightly routines of a bit of Netflix, my book, my games of online scrabble and I want to decline but hey, I know this stuff is good for me too. Break the old routines, get out there.

~~Daughter wants me to meet 2 of her friends and host them to brunch in my place next weekend and I'd thought: no more of these get-togethers when I moved here, just hermitize. And hermitizing has not been good as my inner slob takes over and things need to be put away rather than gaped at in puzzlement as to where to put them. There's very little excess, but photographs, binders of writing, old laptop, wools, crafting supplies, multiple unhung pictures, you get it. But I mulled and thought well: incentive. In the past friends and I always joked that the best housekeeping system is to entertain once a month and I've followed that for years and years now. So yes, I need to do this, there's nothing like new friends and seriously I'm quite proud that Daughter likes to air me and share me. The maternal age-gap has shrunk between us which is quite lovely. And rare. And I treasure it.

~~Impatience with myself - that internal voice. I must slow down as I drop things in my speedy old way of doing things. Spoons, pens, phone, blue tooth ear piece, papers and I find myself castigating myself. Slow down, honour the crone.

~~One thing at a time is important. I can't do everything in one day and mornings are the best. So I do one thing on the to do list every day, or more if I can manage it, and the current day's wee jobs too, but I list them all as I learned in that Living with Chronic Diseases Workshops so I know that I've accomplished something at the end of the day, even if it's self care.

PS Photo is not me, but hey, I can sometimes feel like that.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Dear Diary

Dear Diary:

I'm sure you're very bored with all this nonsense regarding my holdings of 7 acres and its numerous outbuildings, far too numerous to count, that is holding me and my future financial security hostage. I've practised much mindfulness and letting go and shifting importances. And it works, most of the time.

And that window thing? I started that again as we know D, that if the current permutation of this sale goes through I will have to supplement my sad pensions and OAS. So I restarted the window thing the other morning. I witness dawn every day. And right now it is magical as we know. No snow, glorious sun (casting climate change concerns away from me) so I threw out my arms as I used to do when 5 employees were depending on me for their livelihood and welcomed work, interesting work, a project, any non-physical work.

And lo and behold, D, there it was, a distant contact emailed me and asked if I was interested in cleaning up some theatre matters. A bit of a shambles on the books and with grant season coming up? Offered to pay me in advance too, the best kind of client. So yes, I'm started on that - it's all remote work too which is even better - and with many theatre companies in Newfoundland this could be a cottage industry, who knows. And D, did I mention comps? Free tickets for all performances.

So D tonight I'm walking along the gallery (to retrieve my (free) laundry) overlooking our gorgeous community room when the piano strains of The Parting Glass drifts upwards and I stop and lean over and start to sing the words, softly, and the pianist finishes and discussion ensued. My voice is sorta back after a long absence. She plays in a small band and was rehearsing. She's 80 I'd say. I mentioned I'd like to play, practice for a while, I played daily for my own pleasure for years but piano in absentia has been a hole since I moved to Newfoundland 14 years ago. So yes, I'm going to play again and, bonus D, I really liked her, I love seeing older-than-me folks thoroughly engaged with life.

Also I'm feeling better, don't know how this is. I still have 2 more tests to get by. But gift-horses and mouths come to mind D, so we'll just roll with that and play The Parting Glass, shall we?

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Garbage on a Finite Planet

My building doesn't have recycling.

I know. A bald statement of fact.

But seriously. Think about it. As I have.

Us residents? Well we range in age from 65-100+.

And there's also no garbage chute.

What we generate, rubbish wise, we have to cart forth to one of several commercial dumpsters scattered at the edges of many parking lots around our building which is a 2 storey sprawled hither and yon. A building from a former US army base plus its attendant buildings (school, hospital, houses, apartment buildings)was sprawled lavishly over many hills overlooking lake, harbour and nearby battlements in WW2.

For several decades now I've been used to recycling. Particularly in Toronto where even kitchen waste was separated along with glass, plastic, metal and paper.

I order online a lot, to prevent stress and strain from carting heavy and awkward cans and toilet paper and flour and oatmeal from parking lot to second floor apartment.

So my cardboard, packing material, boxes, empties, etc. all go to the dumpster, which in turn is emptied into landfills which makes me feel ill. It all feels so wrong.

Every week I generate a huge garbage bag, place it on a small luggage trolley, take it to my car and then drive the car around to one of the dumpsters and throw this bag into it. With effort. The lid is chained and heavy to lift. Not senior/disabled friendly by any means. Most older seniors here have home help. These helpers, mainly in their forties/fifties, cart their employers' garbage down and out.

I've asked management about this but receive a puzzled shrug. My lively friend on the first floor, my own age, has offered to take mine down if it's a problem for me but no, I don't want to burden her unnecessarily and it's not really about carting it down but the fact we don't have any recycling and no plans to implement it.

I can't to get used to it.

Living on an island as I do.


To be clear here: most of the island has recycling, including the small village where I lived. All of St. John's has recycling but not this apartment building. I'm not sure about others.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Bad Cess

I haven't posted in a while as I didn't want to jinx the sale of my house. But guess what, it was jinxed anyway so my juju didn't work now, did it.

The closing date was really early, January 31st but hey was I going to look a gift horse in the mouth? No siree Bob.

Anyway the Big Day came yesterday and two glitches, one of which was the well water not passing inspection, which was no surprise to me as the water had been shut off in the house for 3 months and only hooked up upon the offer of purchase so I don't imagine the inspector ran the water for too long. So now that process starts all over again. Another glitch was my former town clerk classifying my house as an "inn" which it wasn't and that caused legal repercussions. I was furious with him as I had gone to great lengths to explain to him how Airbnb operated and I was honest enough to pay municipal taxes on my earnings as an Airbnb host.

So jinxing be damned. Maybe I'll shine the light on this fresh challenge on my blog in hopes of this bad cess being turned around. I feel my life is on hold until all this is resolved and have felt this way for a while. I don't want to join the food vs heat brigade of which there are so many of us impoverished female single seniors. But I have utter sympathy for those, unlike myself, who don't have the luxury of waiting for a real estate sale. And seriously, I've thought of sponsoring a poor woman's heat in some meaningful and secret way if I have any funds at my disposal.

So yeah. Onward.

I'm not as stressed as I thought I might be, though a bit sleepless in St. John's last night.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Wee Giftie - The Winner!

So here it goes: the two dishcloths, 1 still on the needles, the bag full of "I'd like thats" and the moment of the draw.

And the winner is.....drum roll please!

Congratulations Pauline, please send your postal address to wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom and I will mail out to you this week along with one of my cards :)

Thank you all, my dear readers. You are truly special.

The Books of 2017

Late to the gate on this one. It was a year of illness, discombobulation and moving. All very stressful. But I managed 59 books of various interests and genres.

There were many goodies, some dreck, some re-reads, but over all some stellar reads. Now I must start on listing 2018 so far. You can click on the sidebar for updates.

Here's the list:

(1)Leaving Earth - Helen Humphries *****
(2)Commonwealth - Ann Patchett *****
(3)The Last Half of the Year - Paul Rowe *
(4)A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara *
(5)Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy - Anthology *****
(6)212 - Alafair Burke ****
(7)More than a Mountain - T.A. Loeffler **
(8)The Bridge Ladies - Betsy Lerner ****
(9)Vinegar Hill - Manette Ansay *****
(10)The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena ****
(11)Picture Perfect - JOdi Picoult ** done with Jodi.
(12)Booked to Die - John Dunning ****
(13)Did you Ever Have a Family - Bill Clegg ****
(14)A Complicated Kindness - Miriam Toews {BC} 2nd time reading. Fabulouos book.*****
(15)The End of the Line - Clayton D. Cook ***
(16)The Nest - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney *****
(17)The Bookman's Wake - John Dunning** (off him now)
(18)Things I overheard when talking to myself - Alan Alda***
(19)Unholy Orders - Michael Harris
(20)Saving Grace - Jane Green 0
(21)When the Moon is Low - Nadia Hashimi*****
(22)Red Bay Labrador - Tuck & Grenier *****
(23)Come Thou Tortoise - Jessica Grant ***** 3rd Re-read {BC}
(24)The Girls in the Garden - Lisa Jewel * {BC}
(24)The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Attwood *****(again)
(25)Racket - Anthology - Various *****
(26)The Condition - Jennifer Haigh*****
(27)The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway*****{BC}
(28)In the Cold Night Wind - Owen Hiscock**(terrible editing)
(29)Wolf - Mo Hayden*****
(30)The Humans - Matt Honig****
(31)The Necklace of Occasional Dreams - Kathleen Winter*****
(32)The Wonder - Emma Donoghue*****
(33)The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski (1/2 thru realized I'd read it before)***
(34)Poppet - Mo Hayden****
(35)Iron House - John Hart - Dropped at page 272, violence and predictability was too tiresome**
(36)Wild Life - Molly Gloss
(37)The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer*****
(38)The Labrador Fiasco - Margaret Attwood*****
(39) Song of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult
(40)The Gate to Women's Country - Sheri S. Tepper
(41)Annie Freeman's Fabulous Travelling Funeral - Kris Radish *{BC}
(42)Behind Closed Doors - B.A. Paris*****
(43)Baker Towers - Jennifer Haigh*****
(44)Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese*****
(45)The Day I died - Lore Rader-Day**
(45)Creaking in their Skins - Michael Winter **
(46)Swim Back to Me - Ann Packer*****
(47)Crying for the Moon - Mary Walsh*
(48)Don't Say we have Nothing - Madeleine Thien***{BC}
(49)Please Look After Mom - Kyung-Sook Shin****
(50)The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Attwood**
(51)First Snow, Last Light - Wayne Johnston*****
(52)Dear Everybody - Anne Budgell*****{BC}
(53)The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne*****
(54)Songs Without Words - Anne Packer*****
(55)Salt to the Sea - Rita Sepetys****
(56)Away From Everywhere - Chad Pelley**{BC}
(57)It Never Made Sense - Ross Morton - a friend, not rating.
(58)The Art of Mending - Elizabeth Berg*****
(59)On Dublin Street - Samantha Young 0

TOTAL TO DATE: 59 {BC}=Book Club}
Ratings:0(awful) *(poor)**(fair)***(good)****(very good)*****(excellent)

Friday, January 12, 2018

A wee giftie

If you'd like a pair of my hand-knitted wee wash/dishcloths just send me an "I'd like that!" in the comments and I will have a draw in the next few days and send a pair to the winner. They can be used in the kitchen or the bathroom or the shower and as one of the old folks around here says: no matter how damp and how long you leave them, they never smell. And they wash beautifully. 100% cotton.

I've been around here a while and I love your comments, concern and faithful readership.

So this is just a small token of my appreciation.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Strange World of Predawn

I haven't done this in a while. Write in the pre-dawn hours.

There's a good reason.


Intermittent and weird.

Tests are being conducted. Daily it seems. Various hospitals, clinics.

I've become a medi-bore overnight. Not about the symptoms. No. They're brief and troubling. But all these blood tests, scans, etc. My life is filled with medi-treks every day this week. Which exhaust me. And then I'm flooded with relief once they're behind me. Like I'm joining the real world again. I do these treks alone, by choice. I don't know what it feels like to have a partner/loved one journeying beside. I don't think I'd like it. I pursue my own thoughts in these waiting rooms.

"Ah, The Galway Shawl" I said to a pacing man yesterday in the nuclear medicine clinic. He'd been whistling it under his breath. Waiting for someone, I speculated.

"I don't know what else to do," he whispered, walking slowly around the pod-like room.

On top of that a friend of over 30 years has been diagnosed with liver cancer so he just recovered from surgery on Tuesday and another acquaintance messaged all of us yesterday that he is refusing any further treatment for cancer and is going to die with dignity in the next few days. He's 63.

So a fresh batch of pain strikes me before 5 in the morning most mornings. And I get up and take some meds but they take a while to kick in.

They say it's a good time for writing. Blank slate of a brain. So here I go.

I trek off to the doctor later on this morning.

I hope we get to the bottom of this.

I was waiting in a coffee shop yesterday to sign some papers for my real estate agent and I deliberately sat across from a man who was knitting a hat very similar to one I just finished for a friend (see above). And I showed him a pic of it.

We chatted and he let me feel the hat he was working on(silk and merino) and then he let me feel his hand-knitted scarf (muskox from the North West Territories) and then he admired my Kipling knapsack so I offered him a feel of it (parachute material, very light, very old) and he searched on line for one like it as he loved it. And he told me of a sealskin mitten workshop happening at the end of the month, and I told him about my story shawls that I create and we had such a lovely time. And then my realtor arrived and I never even found out what my new friend's name was.

Or maybe it was just one of those jewels of a connection and should lie where it is, you know?

I mean it's kinda special when you get to feel a stranger's clothes and can ooh and aah together over the sensuous nature of beautiful material, right?

Where do you take it from there?

Thursday, January 04, 2018


From my mother I inherited thick hair and good skin.

I also inherited her love of music, live theatre and reading along with a passion for needlework: sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery. She was skilled in all 4 of these disciplines, I in but 2 but she would tell you that I exceeded her ability in those two: knitting and sewing as I took them further into designing.

She was a woman of her time, born in rural Ireland in 1914, traumatized by the explosion of her village barracks ("it shook the ground I was playing on") in 1920 when she was 6 resulting in her becoming a life long Irish republican. She was self-educated and was managing a large grocery store when she married at 28, thus thwarting any further ambition of her own {"he wore me down"). It didn't kill her thirst for learning and she could converse readily on the novels of Charles Dickens. She took advanced cooking classes and singing lessons when she was in her forties.

She found it easy to make friendships, her outgoing personality and overall petite prettiness and "style" attracted even strangers drawn to share their confidences with her.

She knew quality from a mile away and would advocate owning only a little quality versus a lot of cheap trash. She loved roses and hydrangeas and field mushrooms and blackberries and the sea. No matter the temperature of the water, she'd take one sight of the sea and before we could blink, her ever-ready swimsuit was on her and she'd be diving in, breathless, waving her arms telling her shivering children: "it's lovely, you'll warm up in no time!"

She was a true gameball as we Irish say.

From my father I inherited bright blue eyes and one of those faces that shows visible displeasure when things are "not going our way."

I also inherited his love of words, new ones, old ones, complicated ones, words with multiple meanings and interpretations, words of obscure etymologies.

He gave me my first library card when I was 4 (he taught me to read) and our routine, every night after tea till I was at least 14, was that I'd sit on the arm of his easy chair and we'd complete the Evening Echo crossword together. I learned about newts and tors and bitterns. Later we played Scrabble and when we traveled together in later years we packed the Scrabble board for our after dinner game. Once, he bought a beautiful hand crafted turntable in a prison workshop in Maine which I still use for Scrabble.

He taught me knitting - he had 5 older sisters and had observed them. I remember his patience one time in a wool shop in Camden when I took hours poring over obscure old knitting patterns talking to him about Guernseys (ganseys) and Jersey fishermen sweaters and Aran patterns and Shetland wedding ring shawls and convent lacework.

I asked him once what he would have done with his life if he had the resources. He answered without hesitation: "I'd have created new varieties of roses."

I was gobsmacked.

And then I realized, for the very first time, how he and my mother were drawn to each other.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Rules

I saw this on a fellow writer's FB wall and thought, my gawd, I should have it painted, large, in black caps, in my walls. Seriously.

I can't believe how one simple task on my to do list today can expand to 4 hours, as I wander the corridors of the interwebz, slamming up against online Walmart, then into Ravelry for the perfect wool for an infant aran sweater, then pick up a piece of knitting for a friend and mull the shortage of yarn in the expensive wool she bought for this "slouch" hat she commissioned. There wouldn't be too much slouch so I dove into my wool stash for a kinda match and eureka, found it and test drove it a few rows. Then there was this picture needed framing so I played hunt the hammer for a while, studied the picture (I had several knitting pics enlarged and printed and oh my, are they gorgeous) to see where trimming could happen, abandoned that, picked up a marvelous book, a gift and I don't know from whom as s/didn't sign it and made notes for expansion on an existing novel.

Exhausted from all the activity, I had to go back to my list to see what the original task was:"send off self-potrait and short biography to Writers' Alliance.

Still not done.

But hey, look at my knitting, a gift of a lovely picture and my book bag, another gift.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hollywood vs Real Life

I've wanted to post about this topic for a while. Being weaned on movies (pictures) in my life, the black and white of character depiction by Hollywood was a belief I held for a long time. Bad guy/woman = no redeeming features. Good guy/woman = no dark side.

I remember seeing a play. The Steward of Christendom (in the Abbey in Dublin) that showed a bad guy ( a male nurse) mistreating an elderly patient in a psychiatric home. In the second act it showed the bad guy being superbly kind. No one, truly, is all bad or all good, in spite of Hollywood. That play has stuck with me over the years.

I took a workshop with an older woman in Toronto a few years ago. It was about exploring all of ourselves, loving the inner, exploring our own darkness. At one point she said: "There's a Paul Bernardo within all of us." It gave me a chill. Us participants looked around at each other and then slowly nodded. Of course there is. Most of us can squelch those murderous thoughts, but a very few act them out.

Which is all in the way of saying I had a problem with my unsold salt box box. There was a bad storm this past Sunday and a large branch broke off a tree and caught a wire which in turn was fastened to a corner of my house. The wire came down, taking with it a part of my roof.

I called the power company who were on it right away. They called me when they were on site to tell me it was a telephone wire that had downed. I called the telephone company who, fortunately, came the following day and disconnected the wire. I texted a good friend to request that he check out my property to ensure there were no further hazards. *Crickets*. That surprised me.

So nothing for it but to travel out to my old house to inspect things myself. There are other friends out there but for reasons I won't get into I didn't like to ask.

So I'm out back, loading my regular tires into the garage to await the spring, when who should appear on my meadow but Cathedral Man. all chatty and smiley.

My first reaction was to go sour and vinegary but then I thought, shyte, no. What a waste of anger and frustration. He asked me why the house wasn't selling and I mentioned the Cathedral. He looked genuinely surprised. Well. I then mentioned the wire and the corner of the roof. "We noticed that had come down," he said. Well. I responded I was upset about it.

"Let me go get a ladder and fix that all up for you, right as rain," he said. And he did.

And I thanked him. And thanked him again. And he said it was nothing.

See what I mean?