Countess Diaries

Apr 23

Is the #wordoftheday#growingailsa

Is the #wordoftheday#growingailsa

Sandy love notes - eyeloveyou #growingailsa

Sandy love notes - eyeloveyou #growingailsa

Apr 16

Every morning my daughter puts her two favourite ‘stuffies’ on the couch before she leaves for school. Why? “Because that’s their school, mama!” #growingailsa

Every morning my daughter puts her two favourite ‘stuffies’ on the couch before she leaves for school. Why? “Because that’s their school, mama!” #growingailsa

Apr 11


Apr 07

“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” —

Alain de Botton, who knows a thing or two about doing what you love, quoted by Megan McArdle, author of The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success

Pair with Debbie Millman’s indispensable Fail Safe

(via explore-blog)

Apr 05

These images are of Rwandans who have hurt, hacked, killed each other’s loved ones. They’re incredible: “The people who agreed to be photographed are part of a continuing national effort toward reconciliation and worked closely with AMI (Association Modeste et Innocent), a nonprofit organization…These people can’t go anywhere else — they have to make peace…Forgiveness is not born out of some airy-fairy sense of benevolence. It’s more out of a survival instinct.” Yet the practical necessity of reconciliation does not detract from the emotional strength required of these Rwandans to forge it — or to be photographed, for that matter, side by side. For more, click here


MUDAHERANWA: “I burned her house. I attacked her in order to kill her and her children, but God protected them, and they escaped. When I was released from jail, if I saw her, I would run and hide. Then AMI started to provide us with trainings. I decided to ask her for forgiveness. To have good relationships with the person to whom you did evil deeds — we thank God.”

MUKANYANDWI: “I used to hate him. When he came to my house and knelt down before me and asked for forgiveness, I was moved by his sincerity. Now, if I cry for help, he comes to rescue me. When I face any issue, I call him.”


Definitely one of the most powerful photographic projects I’ve laid eyes on. Kudos to Pieter Hugo, whose work this is. 

Apr 04

Mostly. Happy Friday!

Mostly. Happy Friday!

Mar 28

Mar 26

Many of you know that it’s been a rough few months for my wonderful 92 year old grandmother. She walked out of her lovely Connecticut home one day last September and went to the village to have lunch, and never went home again. The house has since been sold, and my Abwe now lives in an assisted living facility in Vermont.

If it were me, I’d have done my best to overdose on Ensure, but she is braver and more resilient than I am, and somehow finds a reason to get up every day, put on her pearls, and continue. 

My daughter and I decided that it might help if she had a cat to keep her company. My grandmother sometimes forgets what she has agreed to in the past, but she has always been clear that yes, she would really love a cat. She was excited at the thought, and we were happy to give her a pet to care for and be loved by more regularly than we can. 

Two weekends ago, I took my daughter to the SPCA to find the perfect companion: a loving, older (less hyper), fatter (slower) cat that simply wanted some peace and Cat Chow on a regular basis. It proved harder than expected, because finding a good cat is like online dating: an anxiety-inducing exercise in knowing too much (really, 5’5”?) and not knowing enough, but at least with cats, the picture matches the animal. Yes, that cat’s file says she miaows a lot. What is a lot? And what triggers it? And do I really want to bother with a guy who thinks the Lord of the Rings is a religion? 

In the end, we chose Chanelle, a purring 10-year old tabby who had the advantage of being declawed (I know it is a sin, but it was a selling point for my grandmother’s furniture). We picked her up from the SPCA, paid the adoption fee, swore under all religions to treat her with kindness and care, waited for a microchip to be inserted into her body so that even Nasa could track her progress, bought cat food that costs more than my posh face cream, and drove it to Vermont.

Abwe was thrilled, even though the cat hid under her bed almost from the moment she arrived, coming out only occasionally to eat and use the litter. After a few days, the staff began to worry, but I had been told that declawed cats are extra anxious. I was sure that Chanelle would eventually bond with my grandmother, even though Abwe regularly forgot her name. 

And then yesterday I received an email from my mother, with this subject line:

My relationship with her is so bad that I assumed that she was being sarcastic, or lying, or had run the cat over herself. I called my grandmother, “I have some very bad news,” she said. “The cat died in my arms this afternoon”. 

She sounded so sad. My daughter burst into tears. She told me that Chanelle had died of massive kidney failure at the vet’s office, sedated and without pain.

In cat terms, we call this a tragedy. In car terms, I believe it’s called a lemon. I call it the cat that lasted 10 days, and I hope it felt loved, because I know my grandmother did. Chanelle kept her busy: even worrying about something made my Abwe feel useful and needed, so she has earned her place in the great kitty litter in the sky.

I’m officially the worst chooser of adoptive cats - the ones I fall for are as sweet as they terminal. The last cat I adopted had such major health issues that the left side of her head would squirt horror movie amounts of blood and pus once a year. 

But we will try again, for the sake of an older cat that deserves a loving home, and for the sake of a grandmother who deserves to feel she is at home.

Am I wrong to suspect that this doesn’t bode well for online dating?  

Mar 18