when it all becomes too much…

Make art.

DSC05676It’s a good day when you find a door on the sidewalk.

DSC05677 And the door has feelings.DSC05679This actually reads: “chalk art is meant…”

DSC05680 “to be destroyed.”

An artist statement that makes the artist all the more remarkable in my view. DSC05690 DSC05689 DSC05688 DSC05687 DSC05686 DSC05685 DSC05682 DSC05681 DSC05678 DSC05674 DSC05673DSC05691A couple of lads walked by as I was taking these shots and they were swaggering in that way that suggests they’re just too sexy for their shoes. Or something. Attitude. But the chalk art got to them. They looked, slowed down, forgot the swagger for a moment, almost cracked a smile. I caught their eye, said nifty noodles, eh? Or along those lines, small talk. Unable to speak in sentences perhaps, they made a sound, nodded, and kept going, with a bit less swagger in their step I thought.

Art has this effect.

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red and black leggings

A girl of maybe eight, dark blonde hair, almost wavy, almost thick, in a loose pony tail with strands unbound around her face. Red and black leggings in geometric pattern and a grey tee shirt that reads: LOVE. She twirls in the hallway, in the basement of the gallery, outside the room where I sit reading and writing, outside the room where her art class is going on. For just a few moments she dances oblivious and alone in the hallway between these two rooms, dances and twirls and twirls, to music that doesn’t play…

And then just like that, she’s gone.


i feel like juan du fuca (but in ontario and on land)

I discovered a beautiful thing today.


A library in a town I’ve been to three thousand times. I don’t know how
I ever missed it other than to say I was likely distracted by the bakery.


It’s in a house built in 1882 for $450. Originally owned by the Waddell family, local furniture magnates. They also owned a hotel in town and had some doings with a cheese factory. Big money in cheese.


No official library in those days but there was a makeshift sort of lending service using 34 books the townsfolk gathered up and kept in various shop basements where, on various days, you could take out the latest best seller.


One of the Waddell children, a lad, tried to start a flax business. I like his style. Sorry it didn’t work out.


And, this is interesting… the Waddell daughter, in 1903, became the first Canadian woman to join the American Mathematics Association, which included women from not only the U.S. but the U.K., Canada and Europe.


In 1969, the house was purchased by the Township Library Board and voila, presto bongo, the library opened in 1970, looking very much like a house with many books.


I love how they’ve kept it authentic in feel. The ceilings are high. The floors are original.


And it’s so, so, so… quiet.  Which is something I miss in libraries. (Whatever happened to stern women with buns shushing everyone??)


I’m told there was talk some years ago of closing it down because it doesn’t meet somebody’s idea of “adequate usage” or whatever, and the town went ape shit and, long story short, the adequate usage people decided to keep it open.

Going ape shit for a good cause is not to be under-rated.


And because this gorgeous bit of brick and mortar history—and the slice of sanity it provides—isn’t enough on its own… you’ll be happy to know it happens to sit on an acre or so of treed land with oodles of parking and a large gazebo that begs to be read on.


As in aloud.

As in what a great space for a literary event.

The Juan du Fuca Literary Event we could call it.

An ocean of flax would be our logo.

And something with cheese.

tiny parcels of pleasantness

Walking through the neighbourhood I pass a house where a young child runs out the front door and, as if thrilled by the sight of me, points to her mouth and says “I’ve got a loose tooth!” I tell her that’s exciting news. And that, apparently, is about the size of it. We’re done. She waves and goes back inside. A sort of unusual town crier.


Around a corner, a voice. I think it says hello. I’m not sure who it is or to whom it’s speaking. I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, like when she’s walking through the forest, or passing the scarecrow or the tin man or one of those things that isn’t supposed to talk… but it does. I look around at parked cars, there’s no one. Then to my left I notice a boy, maybe nine, ten years old, half way up a tree. I laugh, tell him that he surprised me. I don’t think he meant to, he’s a lovely, earnest little boy. There’s a large wasp’s nest very close to where he’s standing and I ask him if he knows it’s there. He does. “I’m going to knock it down,” he says. He doesn’t think there’s any wasps in it. I say to be careful anyway and I continue on my way. He says he’ll be careful. “Thank you,” he says. “Goodbye.”

Arborial Ambassador?


And then a wee tot on the other side of the street, not yet two years old, still a bit wobbly on her legs and holding on to her mum’s hand. She’s dressed in mint green and as I pass I turn my head, catch her eye and in that moment, just a second really, I see her bright face, mouth, eyes, cheeks, all of it so wide open and smiling as if to say isn’t this just such a wonderful thing to be not yet two and dressed in mint green and walking with your mum in the sunshine… I mean isn’t it just??? 

A pastel shot of B12, a tonic, that lingers.


why are we here?

In the parking lot at the beach, I mean.
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Because there are never no cars here.

But not everyone gets out, not everyone walks, not even along the pier. Most people don’t, in fact. They choose, instead, to sit in their cars. Most are alone, some eat, some read, others might be listening to music. (Surprisingly few appear to being staring at devices.) I suppose some talk, on the phone, to themselves. There’s a kind of unwritten code that you don’t look at someone in their car, that they’re here not to be seen, but for some other purpose, something private, if only to contemplate the universe in the shape of a seagull.
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I try to follow the code but notice the man to my left smiles as he stares out his window. It’s a grey day, nowhere near sunrise or sunset and I wonder what he’s watching, thinking.
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I wonder why he’s in this parking lot at almost noon on a Sunday. Is he a widower, a bachelor, recently tiffed and needing to get out of the house to cool off or is there a happy partner at home glazing a ham?

An Asian man walks past toward the pier. Grey hair, slightly stooped; something about the way he grimaces against an only slight and not very cold breeze, pleasure mixed with something else, reminds me of my dad who was at no time Asian.

But then our looks are always the least of things, and yet…

Maybe it’s this: maybe we’re simply here to watch each other, to catch a glimpse of something that’s real, to be reminded.


what i saw

A young Bob Dylan, carrying a backpack and wearing winter boots on a summer day in October.

A girl in a Halloween costume though I don’t know what she was supposed to be.

A girl with purple hair, but that’s nothing.

I saw a guy in a yellow X’d, orange city-worker jacket driving a brand new silver Cougar convertible.

And a  woman of about sixty wearing all lime green who sat herself down on the sidewalk of a downtown street, back against a brick wall, big smile as if she was about to open a picnic basket, and just along a bit, a young lad with lip piercings minding a baby in a stroller. He held his phone in one hand but was transfixed by the woman in green.

I saw a woman of thirty-something in a pink sweatshirt, and a beautiful girl child, maybe five or six years old, with curly yellow hair and a pink toy stroller that kept getting caught in the wind and being blown about whenever the girl let go, which she found so funny. “Look, mummy!” she yelled, laughing as the stroller kept moving by itself on the sidewalk. But the mummy was looking at her phone. For a good five minutes she stared at her phone while the beautiful girl child played with her stroller and the wind. Finally, mummy stopped looking at her phone and took a picture of the girl child before herding her into the car (minivan). That photo is probably up on FB or Twitter by now, looking for all the world like she spent even a moment with the kid.

A line of people waiting for the soup kitchen to open.

I saw a guy in a long fur coat like something out of the 60’s.

And a young woman with shaking hands and unfocussed eyes who asked politely for some change. I said yes. She said thank you.

And that was that.

More things I saw.


a day at the beach

Anne Morrow Lindbergh says the beach is not the place to work or read or even think. I’d gladly argue with her but for the fact that she adds something like ‘initially’, as in first you need to find the rhythm of things, of yourself, the words you take in or mull over or put out.

I notice how right she is when I arrive and set down my bag containing water, lunch, notebook, pen, reading glasses, hat, camera, and before unpacking it all… just sit for a while. I’m hungry. I want to eat and read and make notes, take photos but all that To Do can wait. To reach into that bag too soon defeats the purpose of being here.

Instinct says sit. And just breathe.
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It’s not difficult.

There is the sky.
And two women, both in red and white striped tee shirts; one is elderly, the other in her forties maybe, a daughter? They’re collecting something as they walk, reaching down every few moments and picking things up. Beach glass? Are they scooping up ALL the beach glass before I can get any?? I panic a little at the thought and consider racing out in front of them. It occurs to me that in all the hundreds and thousands of times I’ve been here I’ve never once noticed anyone else collecting beach glass. People skip stones and there’s the guy who has a metal detector who showed me the old silver Tiffany locket he found. People carve initials into picnic tables and have BBQs and recently I saw a margarine container filled with really beautiful glass that someone left behind in the playground… but I’ve never seen anyone do the actual collecting.

The red and white stripes are so far along by now that to rush ahead of them would be a spectacle, not to mention tiring in the heat. I decide to let it go, that whatever glass they find is meant for them. I’ll find my own. There’s always more…

Just then two more women, up on the boardwalk this time, an elderly one in a wheelchair and another, younger, pushing. The younger smiles, maybe thinking how lovely this choice of venue but the one being pushed looks sad and I wonder if this is, in fact, the worst possible venue because it reminds her of all those days and years when she was able to walk barefoot in the water… and then I think: with some things, there’s not always more.
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Long before I open my bag for lunch company arrives.
We watch each other a while.
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Then back to people. The guy on the jet-ski demanding attention, thundering about the lake doing doughnuts who zooms close to shore, stops, bobs on the water for fifteen minutes… checking his phone… perhaps firing off a few tweets about the thrills and chills of solitary circles at top speed.

Two boys and a girl named Lily settle down a few feet away and begin digging among the tiny stones at the edge of the water… for beach glass. They shriek when then find some and one of them walks right in front of me and smiles and I smile back but at the same time I send a strongly worded telepathic message that he not even think about digging on my turf. And he doesn’t. Never under-estimate the power of the mind.

Lily soon gets bored and leaves and the boys follow.

The bird has also moved on.

I consider having lunch but on the pier a teenaged boy in plaid shirt and work boots, picks up a teenaged girl in a brightly coloured muu-muu, and pretends he’s about to throw her into the lake. She laughs and then they walk along the shore not holding hands.

And then another couple follows a few minutes later, like a fast forward of fifty years.

Only eventually… very very eventually… do I reach for my sandwich and my book…