How to be important…

June 22, 2016

Oh, you are so busy, you tell everyone just how busy you are and insert the complaint of how exhausted you are.  There are so many demands on your time. Your presence is always required. You must not miss a meeting, a lunch date, a happening.  What if you are not present to make the right connection with an unknown but desirable someone who might push your interests farther forward? People admire just how much you accomplish, what efficient ways in which you use the time allotted you. Your list of engagements burgeons, so many obligations must be fulfilled.

But then it must be admitted that you are a force  of will over time, situations, and other people.  Do you even realize that once this life of yours ends so does all your importance?

Flash fiction. 2016

What do you want from me?

January 29, 2016

The heading above was the teaser line in my inmail box this morning.  It originated from the author of an ‘environmental memoir’ blog from @2006 -07”,which blog he morphed into a published book and then into a documentary which was shown at a Sundance Film Festival.  Out of curiosity I had followed his blog and had expressed to Rumpole then “Just wait, me dear one, here’s a fellow who plans to gain monetarily from his writing this stuff.” Well, reading between the lines, and of possible sub-text of potential intentions isn’t exactly as demanding as, say, brain surgery or understanding quantum physics, but I think I was quite right in my prediction.

Now, he asks, nicely, what it is I, and other persons whose virtual mail-boxes he regularly fills with news of his latest efforts to save the world, want from him. It appears he has written yet another book  ( he hopes a best-seller?) which he thinks an unthinking public with an unquenched thirst for yet another feel-good-or-better self help book eagerly hangs awaiting. He wants to form facebook  support groups, and is planning an eight week online course, complete with work book to accompany the new tome. The worst part of his solicitation letter is how he plays to the reader’s emotions with a fake candour, just-us-folks tone and appeals (subtle) to be crowd-funded. Ah, snake oil by any other name.  I suspect he must have close relatives in Nigeria.

It is pretty obvious there is a long history of soft-sell being a success in separating people from their hard earned resources, and for their often insightful ‘spidey sense’. I have, for years and unsuccessfully tried to have my contact information removed from his mailing list.  And, that is the only thing I want from him And, no, I have not paid for his first book, nor do I intend to read a library copy of it, ever.  As to crowd fund his endeavours, or to take him for any source of learning, thanks, but no thanks, not because I need not learn any more, but because I do, indeed, but not from the likes of such a smug, fake and glib source.

Seasonal abundance

December 25, 2015

I sit here, in early afternoon on Christmas day, still in my fuzzy flannels and cozy indoor socks, thinking of the ongoing abundance in my life, of loved ones, old friends and new  and wish for every one of you who read this to enjoy the same sensations of satisfaction of what your life has been, is and continues to be.

Untitled…

March 31, 2014

She sits , becalmed,

at first roll call.

One of expectant

recruits moored on hard stools.

 

“Ah, you have a dancer’s name!”

pronounces the teacher.

Her blood courses,

repeats,

“we’ll see…we’ll see”

steady laps on the shores

of possibility.

“There are many ways to dance.

Your purpose is to find the right

one for you.”

The teacher pauses

hands gently grasped,

sweeps beacon eyes

over a pulsing, breathing

eager flotilla –

first year dance students.

This koan, a bright beam to

summon while

the shoals of self-doubt

threaten a dancer’s purpose.

 

Her parents want

her to forget her need

to flow, surge, strain

to unite like water to shore,

bone, muscle and brain.

Yes, her Dad once said

in a fit of sarcasm

she could waltz about waiting

on tables, slinging hash, or

do a stately gavotte with a mop.

Mom weighed in with

the worst option.

“What if you end up a stripper?”

Memories like these need

bailing out like so much

nasty bilge water.

 

Isn’t a maiden voyage

meant to be a journey of

adventure, mishap, and surprise?

And, maybe disappointment?

Fussy, ingrate elderly…

March 16, 2014

Oh Joy! Some odd combination of words appear on my blog search terms.  “Fussy, ingrate elderly” can be plugged into Google and one is directed to my blog. This is downright weird, because I don’t like to think of myself as either fussy or ungrateful. Elderly yes, that designation is impossible to not accept. The evidence does not allow this.  The hair is shot through with white, the skin shows elephantine creasing and sagging, the voice emits wash-board harmonies, the cervical vertebrae squeak and scrape with bad horror-show door sound effects and the diminishing eyesight  helps me view the world, as if through a badly fogged wind-shield.

But fussy? Nah! Or, Maybe? Systematic in behaviour, perhaps.  We old people tend to be more careful in how we manoeuvre through the world. Step off a curb carefully – check. Always leave glasses within arm’s reach – check. Make sure dentures are in before going out – check. Look repeatedly in all directions before daring to cross a street – check. Read labels over carefully in the grocery store – check. In restaurants, read over menu  with an eye out for food easy to chew, not cause excessive flatulence or constipation – check. This cautiousness only demonstrates we are not in a terrific hurry, unlike younger folk.  There is a lot of tooth-gnashing and eye-rolling exasperation from witnesses who have not yet reached our advanced state of decrepitude. Think about this; what is there to be gained in rushing about? Oh, yes – a hum-dinger memorial service, and then, the Grave.

On the other hand, this extreme caution may have some elements of fussy  about it.  I mean, just because aged, one does not simply have diminished likes and dislikes, nor are these necessarily magnified. The only time we will cease to be not particular is when we no longer draw conscious breath. This condition is not age-related, but rather  universal with everyone equally afflicted. Why lob pot-shots at only the elderly.  We have not invented gluten intolerance, dislike of beans and broccoli, irritating loud sounds and long line-ups.

And what is this business about having to be grateful, constantly. Old people are just so thrilled to open their eyes one more morning, see the daylight, hear ambient sounds, be able to move about unassisted, have occasion to laugh, complain, assent, celebrate, regret, admire, touch and be touched. Permit us to be grateful and to be ingrates when occasions require, to be moody and be demanding if need be. After all the weather is, just is, in all its variability, as is being human.

Post-Apocalypse cooking…

March 6, 2014

Yesterday friend Bev and I traipsed downtown – she with her cane, and me with my rolling shopping cart – to partake of a celebratory lunch on occasion of her 76th birthday. Bev’s choice of restaurant was the newly opened Mongolian Grill at a local Mall. In our little municipality, currently in the throes of debating whether or not it might declare city status, there is a surfeit of Chinese, Sushi, Pizza and Burger restaurants, so dining out can be predictably boring, and less interesting than slinging the pots and pans at home concocting some unexpected meals. Thus the lure of novelty caused us some anticipation and promised a lift on an otherwise grey and dreary, overcast March day.

The restaurant was a typical mall frontage hole-in-the-wall, with bold signage outside and prosaic diner arrangement inside; a long counter holding a variety of food-stuffs to be selected from separated the food prep and eating areas. Not particularly redolent of a Mongolian experience, I thought, rather fancifully. The cooking arrangement fascinated me. It was a large round griddle, around which the “chef” ambled, stirring and turning over separate mounds of raw ingredients. It reminded me of sanitized indoor camp-fire cooking, free of the pesky odours of dried dung or wood fire, free of the bits of ash and cinders which inevitably land on food during outdoor cooking. So rather doubting that fermented mare’s milk might be on offer as drink of choice, I settled for a cup of hot water, and Bev, for a cup of tea.

The food portions seemed appropriate to the theme of Mongolian vittles, of what might be available to travellers on the Mongolian steppes – shaved meats, bits of a variety of vegetables, small clump of gluey rice.  Just the sort of stuff that the weary Mongol hordes might expect to prepare and eat whenever they rested in camp after their raids on far-flung villages, where, perhaps they were able to capture a stray sheep or goat, or a chicken or two, which had to be apportioned to feed a largish group. Of course, at the end of winter, they may not have had fresh cilantro, green onions or chile peppers with which to spice their daily rations. But here in North America, we can be pretend Mongol diners without fear of lacking any ingredients with which to tempt our palate. And, as an older women, we were grateful at not having to gather fuel, start and keep going a fire, kill, gut and clean a ptarmigan or goat, glean about the prairie for available green stuff to augment the meal. A fantasy, such as this is lovely to sustain, even briefly.

After lunch, Bev and I said our goodbyes, and I dragged my cart off to the supermarket to fill it with provisions. Standing among the array of vegetables displayed I had a flash of fancy that all of this bounty is illusory. What if those vegetable bins were suddenly empty? What could I glean on the way home with which to sustain myself? And if I were able to find the errant day-lily bulb in one of the municipal plantings, dig it up and proudly take home, how would I be able to process it via cooking if there was no fuel for my magical electric range? Would I resort to using a metal garbage can lid for a griddle, fuelled by twigs from my neighbour’s ornamental shrubs?

Of course, where I live, in a ten-story apartment block, neighbours are obsessed with pigeon populations roosting on the balconies. There is much neighbourly palaver and problem solving around the question of how to make the balconies unattractive to the pigeons.

Maybe there is another way to consider these birds. They are a post apocalyptic source of protein. The ingenuity people expend in trying to rid themselves of this nuisance, might well be turned to innovations on how to catch and cook them in the urban jungle.

I rather think this has been a good, if unexpected outcome of my Mongolian Grill feast with Bev.

No Mars trip for me, thank you…

January 14, 2014

Ah1 The lure of the exotic, the different.  Canadians want to travel to Mars, already. But why Mars?  Just because it is there? Why not the adventure down the nearby block, or alley, or path? There is enough strangeness, exoticism, difference close by. Why, the other day, as I was dragging my groceries home, my left elbow cramping, I stopped on the sidewalk and looked up, just because. The tree girdled by sidewalk concrete rose in its spiky wintery brushiness. Dark green-black speckled bark glistened with rain. A winter bleak sky as is only possible on the West coast of BC. A sleek crow busily fastened twigs into a rough area which on closer consideration appeared to be a rudimentary nest. It was joined by its mate, landing with economy and proffering another twig. The crows deliberated upon the placement of this fragment, seemed to be engaged in a telepathic discussion. The twig was added to the bristling mass, and they moved around in tandem inspecting. What a new and strange treat for me. A promise of spring continuity, of maybe a nestling soon to be observed.  Perhaps an occasion of observing flight lessons, of the cajoling that all parents implement in motivating their young. An opportunity to hear the sounds of crowish language, encouraging, prompting, cautioning.

Daily, I am reminded of the ubiquity of the uncanny, the novel, the never-before-experienced… and of joy in the present place.

New Year…

January 2, 2014

Di – di – daw, Dee Daw,

called the chickadee today.

A fine beginning.

The last occurrence…

December 30, 2013

Firsts are always to be celebrated.  Why is this so? The first time tasting an orange. Do you remember when this was for you? I do. It was in Genoa in 1956, at a dock market.  My anyu bought an orange which smelled of an improbable perfume. The skin was pebbly with pores, and smelled… unlike any other smell before encountered. Once opened, it tasted acid and sweet – a lovely taste to accompany a delicious scent. Fingers were sticky and tasty for a long time afterward. The scent lingered and I still remember it every time I open an orange.

This morning I selected an orange from my fruit bowl and looked it over carefully. It is a beautiful fruit, in season, perfect in its orangeness, its colour brightening an otherwise dreary winter morning. I scored it four times with my black paring knife, one which I obtained at little cost from a local hardware store, and which does daily yeoman service. I opened the skin in sections with my squared fingernails. The oil in the skin as it stretched spritzed onto my hands and made them both sticky and oily, releasing that smell of citrus which brings back old memories. After all, it was precisely on this day, fifty-seven years ago in Genoa I had experienced my first orange. How odd, how strange and fortuitous that the last occurrence mirrored the first. I sat on my couch and savoured each segment of today’s orange. Time collapsed, it ceased to have linear quality, as so often erroneously I consider it. This is very comforting. 

Ageing…

November 23, 2013

Brown eyes faded now,

The seen world obscured with age.

My green memories…

 

GM, November 2013


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