summer postcards: treasures

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When I was a kid my dad’s answer to questions he didn’t know the answer to was either: get the atlas, or call the library.

The atlas was The Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas, which we’d open on the kitchen table, the two of us elbow to elbow, turning pages not only of maps and places but a double page spread of gemstones, the solar system, constellations, migratory routes of birds, the spread of mammals across continents, the evolution of man across those same continents; it had charts called What the World is Eating, Religions of the World, Patterns of Climate, Life in the Sea, The Vertical Distribution of Clouds, showed the distance between cities and countries, how hot, how cold, how wet, here or there, pages and pages of answers to every question anyone could possibly come up with. We easily spent hours forgetting what my original question was.

That said, it wasn’t infallible. For instance, neither my dad nor the atlas knew if I really had to make THIRTY copies of the chain letter I’d been sent. Could I not just make two or three, I asked. He didn’t know. The atlas didn’t know. Call the library! he said. And I did. And they (am I imagining a stunned pause at their end) answered. Yes, they said, they were pretty sure I could make just a few copies and not be struck down with a plague of locusts. I still feel a certain relief and gratitude for that (official library) advice, not to mention a sense of lifelong preparedness against a threat of locusts.

I still rely on them.

And I still have the atlas, which still conjures up a special kind of wonder.

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summer postcards: fine dining

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Semi-distant view from an umbrella’d table on the cool lawn outside a harbourside resto in an old house whose spicy fish wraps with extra jalapeno sauce I’m quickly becoming addicted to and where our server is Charlotte two days running, whose mother works in a lighthouse and where on another occasion and with another server we are told of Arthur the resto’s friendly ghost and the woman who lived her whole long life alone in only a few rooms of the enormous house across the street.

The blueberry bread pudding is also quite heavenly.

summer postcards: greetings from toad point

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Unpacking more or less done and now at that place where we are naming the new ‘hood in the event we ever have to call in a location, as in “out of mustard at Toad Point, bring reinforcements, mayo is not necessarily a substitute”, that kind of thing.

So far we have the above plus First Point, Little Point, Far Point, Around the Bend, and What’s the Point.

summer postcards: use the good bowl

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When you are a kid in yellow jeans eating popcorn out of an orange Fire King bowl in the basement watching Hitchcock’s The Birds while your mother entertains a friend in the kitchen who has just had herself fitted for dentures and has arrived (without them, as her gums are still settling) toothless and somehow generally diminished but oddly happy and you wonder: should you be eating popcorn? Is this the road to diminished toothlessness? You decide that no, that Cracker Jack may pose a danger but not buttered and salted in your Fire King bowl and so you continue eating, but with more care, not biting the kernels, for example.

And when decades later you no longer favour yellow jeans and have traded popcorn for pretzels as number one comfort food and which are best eaten directly out of the bag and when you realize the precious Fire King bowl had for… decades… been ‘preserved’ at the back of a cupboard in the house where you no longer live you give it a place of honour on the counter of your new house and let it dazzle you in the light as it collects vegetable peelings you will later dig into the garden.

wordless wednesday postcard

What did we do before google?

Who else in a the snap of a finger could tell us the history of why we call piggy banks piggy banks?

Turns out it comes from the word pygg, which (according to Wikipedia), “is an orange… clay commonly used during the Middle Ages as a cheap material for pots to store money, called pygg pots or pygg jars.”

Somewhere down the road the jars took on the shape of the animal.

I don’t remember ever having a piggy bank until a friend made me a pink one with gold wings in papier mache. I was an adult by then but I took pleasure filling the flying pink pig with coins. Then one day, I don’t know why, I gave it an appendectomy and took the contents to the bank.

I have the pig still, a gaping hole in its side (too sad to show in a pic) and still toss in loose change… but it’s so much easier now to get them out when I’m short for the pizza guy.

(Also… WHY ARE THERE SO MANY AT THE SALLY ANNE???)

Who gives away their piggy banks???

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

wordless wednesday (postcard to the past)

Dear Past,

Remember our favourite halloween (or anytime, EVER) costume?

The hobo? Remember?

Dad’s work pants and shirt, a pillow stuffed underneath to look like a chubby tummy, though why a homeless person would be characterized as chubby is a bit odd now, in retrospect. But then so much is. Odd.  In retrospect.

Mum’s kerchief bundled with something and tied onto a stick, which I carried over my shoulder.

I loved being a hobo.

But what I’ve learned since then is that I could easily have been taken for a tramp, or even a bum.

The difference, I’ve learned, is that a hobo is constantly on the move, working odd jobs along the way, while a tramp works ONLY when they have to, and a bum doesn’t work at all. The thing that unites them is that they’re all homeless. But the thing that makes them different again is that some of them are okay with that.

Or course as with any groups, no matter how bohemian, there are arguments among them as to which are superior.

The word ‘tramp’ comes from Middle English and means “to walk with heavy footsteps”, while ‘bum’ comes from the German bummeln, meaning to stroll about, doing not much of consequence. A low level kind of strolling.

No one knows for sure where the word ‘hobo’ comes from.

What I’ve discovered since I was that happy hobo for halloween, is that…

a) I continue to have tremendous respect for a certain bohemian way of life, especially one that includes occasionally working for one’s keep, and b) the band Supertramp took its name from the title of a book by William Henry Davies, a Welshman, who wrote The Autobiography of a Super Tramp in 1908.

Davies also wrote a poem called ‘Violet and Oak’, which I found a thousand years ago in an old schoolbook belonging to my sister. It was the first poem that I remember being in love with….  about a violet next to a fallen acorn and how that acorn grows into a tree and remembers “when [it was] weak and small [and its] sweetheart was a little violet in the grass.”

When I was that eight or nine or ten year old hobo I had no idea of any of this.

And yet…

…here we are.

Isn’t life just the craziest thing?

(oh, and p.s., Past… in 19somethingsomething we SAW Supertramp… remember???)

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

not so wordless wednesday postcard

Dear Newfoundland Crafters Guild Women:

You may not remember me. I stopped by one of your places on the side of the road about a decade or so ago, wandered the few aisles in a sort of barn-like building with folding tables laden with homemade this and thats. A few of you sat in chairs drinking tea and knitting, chatting amongst yourselves, asking me if I was alright my dear… and if I needed any help to just give you a nudge. I bought this tea cosy for I haven’t a clue now how much… probably not nearly enough. A few dollars. I’ve used it goodness knows how many times since then. (How many times is almost every day for a decade?)

This was also the holiday of invading fog as we sat happily enough (and innocently) on the shoreline rocks with a glass of wine, possibly bread and cheese too, and then, looking up over the water the fog coming in at a pace and thickness like I’ve never seen before. A vast platoon of cold grey air that obliterated everything as it went, and us sitting there mouths full of cheese like targets. Soon it would be all around us and we’d never be able to get off the rocks safely, we’d never find our footing, never know what was land or water. So we scrambled like crazy while we could still see. Ran to the B&B we were staying at and no sooner landed on the porch than the fog was on us and you couldn’t see a metre in front of you. That we survived makes it one of the best memories ever.

Also the same holiday when I sat on a hillside at Petty Harbour, watched a few boats coming in and wrote a poem about the women who waited in those little outports; I wondered how many times they’d held their breath until they saw their chap’s boat return while at the same time enjoying a certain temporary freedom and community with each other.

Petty Harbour

They hide in square wooden houses
the women of the boatmen, leaning
on each other’s shadows, thighs
pressed together against the fog
until—all but one returns; thighs
loosen for a moment before they’re
alone, immersed in salt and gravy,
hiking cloud paths for berries to send
with him next time; yet for the one
whose boatman doesn’t return—
thighs loosen and life begins.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, dear crafter women, somebody made a pretty incredible tea cosy. And thank you. And I want you to know that I think of you often, your knitting and your chatting and willingness to be nudged in that barn with its hot beverages and cookies on offer and I am grateful for you and for women everywhere who work at these seemingly simple tasks to raise funds for hospitals and schools and families in need and how I”m not sure you realize what an enormous chunk of the planet you hold up…

I just want you to know this is what I sometimes think when I have my tea.

 

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

I have so much to say about the joys and benefits of hanging laundry… the memories of the line between two pear trees in the backyard where I grew up, the way my mum would hang tea towels and shirts and sheets a certain way that seemed ridiculous to me at the time and how I now do it exactly as she did. How there are ever fewer lines in the world and where did they all go and why, and how delightful and healthy it seems whenever you see one, whenever you see a tiny slice of someone’s life on display… that sense of connection… if only by knickers and tee shirts.

Worth mentioning — the blankets in the pic were hung dry, simply to air. Another art form entirely.

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Cheryl Andrews
Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Allyson Latta
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (summer postcards)

I was going to write about sweetpeas.

About the ones a friend grows and how she lights up when she tells me she’s grown them forever, in every place she’s ever lived, and that she will continue to grow them. Forever, she says. She recently lost her husband and doesn’t grow a single other thing anymore except sweetpeas. I don’t ask why.

Or the ones that were always such a surprise, brought to me as a handpicked bouquet each week one summer when I lived in England under difficult circumstances and wondered if I’d ever get away — not from England, which I loved, but from the difficult circumstances — and how this sweet posy on a table in the middle of my difficult circumstances cheered me and somehow made me believe things would change for the better. And they did.

Or the ones I tried to grow, which didn’t take and I never planted them again.

I was going to write about those and more.

But then I went for an early morning paddle…

 

… and I forgot all about sweetpeas.