October 22, 2014 § 9 Comments
October 21, 2014 § 3 Comments
The instructions were simple. Describe—
My Ideal Dwelling:
Here is where I would not want to live: in a dark narrow tunnel or cave with small windows and doors, the kind you get stuck in in dreams. I would not want to live in a desert or on the side of a very tall mountain, as in the alps. I would not want to live on a distant island or in a place with broadloom wall to wall. I would not want to live where the inside smelled unfresh, stale, dog-like.
I’m on a beach and in the distance a boat has dropped anchor and with binoculars I see the skipper, alone, eating a sandwich made of pumpernickel bread. I sit on the sand and the tide comes in as the boat leaves and then, jeans sandy and feet wet, I stand and leave to find the nearest deli and on my way there is a dog.
No, it’s not a dog, but a bear. I meet a bear. Black. And as usual I can’t remember whether to play dead or run so I decide to do neither. Instead, I engage the bear in conversation. I say Hello. And the bear grunts, shuffles its feet. I say about the boat and the skipper and how I’m off to find a deli and would he or she like to come along? It’s a she I realize and when she agrees I think how safe I feel to have the company of a friendly bear because for all I know the deli may be in a dicey part of town.
At the river the bear wades across and then turns and stands on its hind legs and one paw reaches out toward me. I start swimming and the bear smiles and I notice that the river isn’t so very deep and this makes me feel at ease with the whole situation. Once on the other side the bear walks through a forest of aspens and into a town and I follow.
On the ground, red and chipped and stained with tea and blueberries.
Also on the ground. Under a clear plastic bag held down with a rock. I pick it up and wait for it to speak to me, to tell me what it unlocks. The bear, I notice, has found the deli, but the sign in the window says closed. Hmm….
The key opens the door but inside is another door that says Keep Out. An elk kicks it down and inside, a storage area where a party is being held. There are balloons and raccoon food. The walls are apple green and a guy—the guy from the boat—is there slicing bologna and rye and a line begins to form…
Written in Susan Musgrave’s workshop at the Kingston Lit Festival last month. The prompts were given one at a time, with a few minutes for writing, then the next prompt, and so on. According to Jung, done this way, each item represents a different aspect.
House = how we see ourselves
The Walk = direction in life
The Bear = how you react to trouble
The River = sex
The Cup = love
The Key = knowledge
The Door = death
October 15, 2014 § 18 Comments
October 10, 2014 § 8 Comments
Driving from point A to point B… I pass a body of water that sparkles a cliché in this autumnal way that can’t be ignored. I turn the car around, park, walk directly to it.
I’ve been here before but never noticed the ‘canoes only’ sign. I wonder if that means kayaks too. I would argue a kayak is a canoe made for people who would rather not tip over…
I’m immediately not sorry I allowed this diversion from point A to point B.
I meet a smiling man and woman with cameras and tripods, they ask if I saw him. Him who, I say and they tell me about an eagle, a baby bald eagle, swooping majestically… just there. They point. I point in the opposite direction and explain I was watching ducks and geese dunk their heads. They continue to smile, but I think a little less sincerely.
On the woodsy trail, a few children with parents. The kids squeal with pleasure at the squirrels, as if they’ve never seen one. A boy’s voice over the others: “These squirrels are mesmerizing…” and even though I agree (I’m a veteran squirrel watcher), I can’t help feel he’s just elevated their watchability cred even more.
I take the road less travelled that leads past open fields on one side and the forest on the other. About twenty or so metres ahead, a white-tailed deer leaps across, from field to woods.
There is no picture to document this, only milkweed and asters.
After that a gang of turkeys shows up.
Fortunately they shuffle off into the woods without incident.
This is tempting. I would only need to install bookshelves and a fridge.
Before I leave I run into a few more people: an older couple on a tricycle built for two. And a very young couple, she, chatty with long fire-hydrant-red hair and he, merely besotted, unassuming in his oh-so-thin-Goth look, walking beside her. They could be spending the day anywhere, but they chose here, and it pleases me when she cries out Oh, look, a chipmunk!
Another young couple, the dad in jeans and a top hat, the toddler being followed by a herd of ducks fresh out of the pond, the mum getting it all on film.
A swimming hole.
And then onward, to point B.
October 8, 2014 § 18 Comments
October 6, 2014 § 6 Comments
I began reading this book with the idea that it was a collection of short stories. And so, on finishing the first one, the title of which happens to be ‘Are You Ready to Be Lucky?’ I was sad. It was such a merry romp and I liked the characters so much and now they were gone. This was wrong, I thought. Just wrong. And terribly, terribly sad.
Then I began reading the next story. And I recognized the people. Stella and Roslyn and stupid Duncan the English twit, a personal favourite. Good lord, I thought. Good lord…. Could it be?? I flipped forward a few titles…. and, yes, Roslyn, still there! Linked stories!
Oh wot a pleasant surprise.
Trauma behind me, I read. And read and read and read.
I drank peppermint tea with fresh leaves from the garden and put my feet up on the patio table. And hours passed and then the weekend, and clouds scudded by and the tea turned to wine. And I read til I finished this absolute delight of a book.
I will tell you nothing about it because sometimes I’m like that.
I will, however, tell you this: the chances are good you’ll enjoy this merry romp.
“The girl’s husband, thirty-five years her senior, cracks his sixth beer. He too is reading the Sunday Times. But only the pages that say what he wants to hear. The girl tries to remember how this man came to be her husband. How she became the third wife of a man only months after he divorced his second. She makes a disorganized list. It had to do with expensive dinners, a second-hand clothing store in Salmon Arm, with rutting elk, Canadian immigration, telephone calls across crackling wires, tears (his), frightening dreams of attacking ostriches (hers), a domineering ex-wife in England (his first), a suet recipe (bird pudding) using Crisco instead of lard. She adds the man’s talk of foreign places… How when he stood naked he reminded her of the pet turtle she had as a child, of whom she was very fond.”
Are you Ready to be Lucky? (Freehand Books, 2013)