wordless wednesday

October 15, 2014 § 16 Comments


Other Wordless Friends—

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

bikeless in ontario

October 14, 2014 § 6 Comments

I’ve been thinking about bikes more than usual lately. I haven’t had one in over a year and everywhere I look it seems there are places to cycle or things to gather and bring home in a basket between handlebars. I love my old car and where it takes me that I would never go by pedal power alone but there are just so many places between walkable and driveable that perfectly suit two wheels.

And maybe because I’ve been thinking about them, I happen to see more of them, and not just the usual sort either. The other day I saw a tricycle built for two; this large three-wheeler with two seats and two sets of handle-bars, one behind the other. The couple driving were seniors and it was just the most wonderful thing.

I saw a teen-aged lad on a unicycle a few weeks ago. I wanted so much to stop (my car) and take a picture but I felt it might unsettle him and I didn’t like how that possibility played out in my mind. (How does one even stop a unicycle?)

And there’s a guy, maybe in his fifties, maybe older, who rides/pedals/powers a bike that has steps rather than pedals. Like a step machine in a gym. It’s a standing bike that the rider/pedlar powers by stepping one foot at a time, so that one’s whole body moves up and down. I love this thing. The idea of standing instead of sitting seems vastly more comfortable and, given how much sitting we already do, maybe better for the hip joints.

I think about hip joints more and more every year.

The bikes I’ve had in the past are not the bike I want now. For instance, I do not want the red and white tricycle I loved at age six or seven or eight, which I drove at top speeds, fancying myself the envy of both peers and adults. I’m no longer interested in speed or style.

The one after that was green and huge and originally belonged to my much older and much, much taller sister. I don’t remember ever being able to sit on the seat and pedal at the same time.

Then there was the gift of a brand new golden three speed during my teen years. I rode it but never loved it. I didn’t like the colour and instead of a funky banana seat it had the standard issue kind, seriously uncomfortable. And only three speeds? It served me well though. Spent lots of time riding along country roads looking for places to steal fruit and trees under which to read. It had a utilitarian pack above the rear wheel which I could stuff with peaches and paperbacks.

When I moved to Toronto I bought a rust-coloured bike at Canadian Tire, called it Rusty. When I moved to Edmonton, I took Rusty with me. We had some good times and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there without her. But then I moved to England and left Rusty behind. Sold her, gave her away, I can’t remember and if you don’t mind I’d rather not talk about it… [sniff]

In England I had a big black Oxford bike that I rode through a field to get to Waitrose, and down a cobbled hill to get to the corner shop.

Back in Toronto I had a bike that I can barely remember and when I first moved to the town where I now live I had a ten-speed that was entirely wrong. Ergonomically wrong. For me anyway. For one thing it required me to sit hunched forward, grasping those twisted-under handlebars, which I don’t like. I like normal handlebars and to sit upright like old schoolmarms.

The last bike I had,  a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law, was sky blue and had the right kind of handlebars. I got a wicker basket for it and quite liked it, but the dear old thing was ancient and eventually toast.

All of this to say: I’m in the market for an addition to my list.

Suggestions, anyone?

Makes, models, testimonials welcome…

WikiCommons knows bikes.



the hypnotic quality of squirrels

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.
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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.DSC01374
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.



wordless wednesday

October 8, 2014 § 18 Comments


Other Wordless Friends—

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

this is not a review: are you ready to be lucky?, by rosemary nixon

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.Are-You-Ready-to-Be-Lucky-Cover

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)




wordless wednesday

October 1, 2014 § 18 Comments



Other Wordless Friends—

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman



sunday worship

September 28, 2014 § 6 Comments

The beach of course.
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I read somewhere that as little as 20 minutes of morning sunshine (somehow different than afternoon) boosts metabolism into magnificence. I’m not here for metabolism boosting but these little bonuses never hurt.
There is a lad in an orange worker’s vest with its fluorescent X, he’s picking up litter. On a Sunday morning. This, I think, is noble work and I want to tell him so. I start with Good Morning as I pass and he, without looking up, without making eye contact, mumbles most miserably: morning. He keeps walking and I do too and the whole idea of nobility has gone right out the window. I’m not sure he’d understand my meaning anyhow, might even think it was a negative.


The lake today is a cliché.

Cool and perfect and I want to swim out to a pair of resting gulls.
But I collect glass instead. Only the tiniest bits of green. And then I sit on a picnic table and the picture I snap makes it look as if I have a fox’s tail. I take this as an excellent sign. As well as a compliment.
An old hippie with toned down Roger Daltry hair, a tan and tie-dyed tee-shirt walking a baby bulldog. The dog stops, rolls onto his back among the lake lap and pebbles, stands and shakes himself off. The old hippie doesn’t rush him.
And then a dad and a very young child, maybe three or four. The child in navy pants and a grey and blue striped top, possibly meant to advertise that it’s a boy. His dad on the phone, seemingly unsure of how to have childish fun; he eyes a pretty woman in leggings walking past. Now he skips stones with a vengeance and looks to see who’s watching and when the child picks up a stone and throws it, the dad doesn’t watch. Soon the child no longer watches the dad, but walks away instead. I’d like to think this is a lesson in independence, in not caring if anyone’s watching, but I strongly suspect this isn’t what the boy is learning. Eventually the dad realizes the boy is gone and goes after him, shouting, checking his phone, then he spits as if to assert himself in the absence of stones to throw. They walk away from the lake, metres apart. The child is sullen and the dad asks loudly what he wants, accusing, angry—does he want to go home??
The child doesn’t answer, keeps walking.

Remember, he is three, maybe four.

And I want to answer for him:

how about some warmth? some engagement? a sliver of joy in the pleasure of this day, in your kid’s company… how about just holding his tiny hand…DSC01293 - Copy


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