Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

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

On listening to Rimsky-Korsakov…

September 14, 2012

Yesterday, Martha, who is disassembling her life here and moving to London, brought me a plasti-bag full of music CDs she is de-accessioning. “Keep what you want,” she said.  “Most of these are from a time when I was trying to develop a taste for classical music, but no longer play regularly.” In spite my promise to myself to acquire no more possessions, on studying the labels of each CD, and what composer and piece of music was exampled on the different discs, these gifts from Martha seemed appropriate to where my head and heart are these days, reveling in memory, revisiting long-assumed to be dormant pleasures of sensory nature. Perhaps because it is September, a treasured time of the year for me, when memory causes me to anticipate the joys of this season, that aides memoires such as the sound of winds in the late afternoons, and specific passages of sound make me revel in being alive.

So, I popped onto my player the Scheherezade of Rimsky-Korsakov as I prepared hot water and vinegar with which to wash the tile floors in my apartment. I should know myself better by now, because, all of my life I have been unable to multi-task, especially when music is a component of what must compete for attention. After hearing about the fourth bar of the overture, I collapsed into a heap on the couch, dripping scrubbing cloth clutched in my hand – and all ears.

Memories arose, unbidden.  Of kneeling on the floor in my childhood home, right next to the radio, of a late September dusk, Anyu and Apu sitting close-by in the scuffed leather chairs, Idiko perched on the piano bench, all of us silent as Scheherazade piped through the cloth covering the radio speaker.  A few years later, coming home alone  in the afternoon from Catholic school in Kingston, after parting from Ildiko at the church where she had her daily piano practice session, letting myself into the empty brownstone parlour and for company putting on the Rimsky-Korsakov record which had arrived as donation in a box of household goods from our church. On hearing the second movement, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude in the memory of how that music had helped me then assuage feelings of nostalgia for my lost homeland, and how it had kept me wonderful company when I was feeling particularly alone.

After an unexpected lassitude overcame me, my thoughts strayed to doing guided meditation sessions while recovering from Leukemia treatment, which involved the therapist verbalizing a scenario in a soothing voice – so sound and meaning implied by word content and context was able to transport one beyond quotidian concerns into a place of respite. That fleeting moment of puzzlement was replaced by a sense memory of holding my new-born son and a reminder of the special place of safety and oneness a mother and infant shared moment can be.

At some points in the music the sound made me experience temperature change, taste sensations, colour variations and the texture of varied fabrics.  Sinewy arabesque threads wound along the lines of melody Instrument sounds implied tapestries woven of different weight and colours of fibres. A taste of fresh figs, honey, acrid sweetness of plums vied with pungently spiced  taste tidbits, the texture of roasted almonds. I was awash in sensations.

Sudden silence when the music stopped brought me back to the clammy touch of the cool washrag in my hand, the sunlight streaming through the windows, the sound of wind teasing through the aspens outside. The noises of nearby construction re-asserted itself. My tile floors remained uncleaned, but after relaxing in my newfound sense of comfort and pleasure, I tackled that chore with a vigour which surprised me.

I do wonder though, do creators of works of art ever comprehend the effect of their creations, because they are ever varied, and largely unpredictable. But the riches bestowed on the individual appreciator are thousand-fold.  Was Scheherezade an artist? She of the Thousand and One tales, the one Rimsky-Korsakov references as muse, to aid us in reviewing tales of our own, read about, told to us, or directly experienced. Hmmm…

Sprain therapy – frozen peas and Montmorency cherries…

August 23, 2012

Two weeks ago, I travelled to Vancouver Island to stay with Ardent Feminazi at her Saanichton acreage and to kick around exploring the city of Victoria with a vague idea of relocating me and my goods there. Since becoming an official senior with a Gold Card, the only vaguely golden item I possess, it is now possible for me to sail to the Island via ferry, as foot passenger, GRATIS, but only if travelling between Monday and Thursday.  This is quite the perk for canned pet-food eating seniors in B.C.  Naturally, I took advantage of this.

After disembarking and dragging my wheelie suitcase across the sweltering tar-mac of the passenger pick-up zone, I spied Ardent Feminazi’s ratty red Toyota pick up truck, but no AF in sight anywhere. We had a bit of mix-up with the time of arrival, and she is not one to sit idle, but had gone off to the bottom of the ferry dock to see if in my heat-addled daze I had perhaps disembarked with vehicles rather than foot passengers.  After all I was piloting a wheeled bag, and may have taken too literally the advice for wheeled appliances to leve the ferry via the car deck. Since I have been known to make such errors in judgement on previous occasions, it made sense to me that eventually AF would return to her parked vehicle if she didn’t see me labouring along down below.  Meanwhile I wandered around from one shady bit to another and gathered a decent amount of melted buble gum on the bottom of my sandal soles, and then whiled away some more time trying to scrape that off at the edges of sidewalk.

At AF’s acreage, under the shadow of tall cedars, we sat quaffing cold coffee and plotting my searches of Victoria area to find just the right apartment for me. We made lists, looked at maps, looked up nearness of grocery stores and medical offices, considered nearness of neighbourhoods to the University, the Art gallery, parks and beaches.  I settled for Fairfield/Cook Street Village area as most meeting my diverse needs, and we made an apartment search list for the next several days.

During non-search times on the following days I played with Ardent Feminazi’s wonderful Malemute/Wolf cross, Sheena, inspected AF’s studio with the gorgeous huge etching press and wonderful light, made phone calls to Property Management agencies to view desired apartments, and ate fresh organic produce grown in Saanich.

As luck would have it, I did find a great little apartment a few blocks from the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion, the art gallery, Beacon Hill Park and Cook Street Village, and decided to come home and look after the deposits, etc..  The morning before I was to come home via ferry, I was up early, enjoying the cool of the morning while boiling water for a pot of tea.  AF’s house is situated among tall trees and  blessedly cool on a hot day. I walked from room to room in the quiet enjoying the green views from various windows and decided to go to my room to collect my morning medications.  Meanwhile, Sheena had, unheard by me, arrived in the computer room to continue her early-morning lie-in, thus as I was passing through that room I tripped over her recumbent body and lofted over her back, landing in a pile of freshly washed, unfolded laundry.

Thankg God for AF’s tendency to be casual with laundry – at least the pile made my landing a bit softer.  Sheena was surprised, but unharmed. My right foot however had folded under much in the same way as 19th Century Chinese folded a young girl’s arch and bound it tight to deform the foot to an ideal standard of beauty. Boy, did that hurt! Sweet Sheena gazed into my eyes and licked my face to let me know she would look after me.  I hopped off to retrieve my pills, then limped back into the kitchen to make the pot of tea and put my sore foot up on Sheena’s back. The foot looked all right, but hurt like the Dickens. I sat quietly sipping tea and applying cold wet cloths.

When AF woke up, she chastized me for not calling her to help.  But why should someone be disturbed just because I am such a Klutz? After breakfast she drove into Sidney to buy me a sturdy cane. Afterward she tried to convince me to go into Saanich Emergency and get my foot X-Rayed.  I refused to spend my last day on the island by sitting for many hours in a hospital waiting room, and figured that could as easily be done when I got back home. I figured since I could put weight on my right heel, but not the arch and bottom of the whole foot, things may not have been broken.

So, the following noon Ardent Feminazi borrowed a wheel-chair at the ferry, where thus ensconced, and in true Crippled Klutz style I was deposited on board into the care of a kind stewardess who actually brought me a sandwich and a cup of decent coffee and then wheeled me off at Tsawassen to pass me into the care of my sister, Margaret.

On the way home to my place, Margaret said. “you know what will make you feel a whole lot  better, G? I found a wonderful Hungarian deli in Vancouver where they actually carry canned Montmorency cherries and other goodies. I know how you often whine plaintively for sour cherry soup.”

“Okay” I said, ” but they better have Dios Beigli (Walnut Roll), Toportyu (deep fried pork rinds) and Majos Hurka (spicy liver sausage) as well. I feel the need to be totally self-indulgent.”

So, on the way home, we stopped at this deli, and I went wild, purchasing all of the above, as well as my beloved Montmorency cherries. As well, we stopped at a Save-On where Margaret nipped in to buy a large pack of frozen peas to serve as renewable cold-pack for my darn foot.

The frozen peas came in handy for the regular application of cold to my swollen and colourful foot.  I did go to local emergency the next morning and lucky as I tend to be, found no breaks, but chipped tarsal bones, and sprained tendons.

So the past two weeks, while regularly icing my foot, I also foraged my way through the Hungarian delicacies and frugally doled out tiny portions of Montmorency cherries – on youghurt, with sliced peaches, on oatmeal, spoonfuls by themselves.  No Sour Cherry soup, but simply delicious sour cherries.  Now I know where to get more of these cherries, and now that the frozen peas have eased my foot so I can freely hobble around, I think a bus ride is in order to the Vancouver deli, bring home several bottles of the Montmorency cherries and make the soup before the end of August.

Cell phone nightmare…

March 11, 2012

The perky dental assistant has just finished installing the nasty dental dam in my open mouth, which has me stuck in what might look like a frozen scream a la Munch with polished hardware and rubber bits escaping at the edges of the rictus. “Dr. Toothsome will be right with you,”says she, patting my arm, then leaving me sweating on the reclined plastic chair. Ah, the joys of a root canal!
Dr. Toothsome enters the room. “Hi, Mrs. Stepford. This won’t take too long. We’ll have you out of here in no time.” From behind me, he starts by revving up the grinding tool. Suddenly he looms over, his eyes huge behind goggles as he peers at the offending tooth about to receive his ministrations. Next, the needle advances and makes little pricks along the gumline way back inside my mouth. “Let’s wait a few minutes for the freezing to take,” says Dr Toothsome. He disappears from view and the sounds of moving metal implements tinkles ever so musically accompanied by a few revvings of the grinder from beside and behind me. Meanwhile sweat has glued me to the plastic chair and drool is emerging from behind the rubber sheating at my gaping jaw and dripping ever so slowly down my chin and neck.
“Well, I think we are ready to proceed,” says Dr Toothsome. (He might be, but I am definitely not!) He pokes the metal tool into my mouth and revs it up. Grinding sounds interspersed by swishing rinsing sounds from the suction siphon are interrupted by the rousing melody of the beginning bars of the William Tell Overture. The music seems to be emanating from somewhere on the person of Dr. Toothsome. He stops grinding, pulls the implement from my mouth, hands it to me and says “Hold this for a second.” Then he proceeds to pat himself down to find the source of music and stop the interruption. In his best Captain Kirk impersonation, he glances at his communicator and says, “I’ve got to take this!” I am incredulous this is actually happening! Naturally, my mouth is gaping, and would do so even if it was not artificially made to do so by the dental dam. Dr. Toothsome moves behind me, which is good as I feel like giving him a swift kick.
“Hello?… Yes Mavis, this is not a very good time…….Yes…I can pick Madison up after soccer practice…Yes… The casserole is on the top shelf of the fridge?…Set the oven at what?… For how long?…No, I won’t be late picking her up…Yes, I think I can manage that… Okay…Bye”

The Punisher learns the Rumba…

April 25, 2011

I am a camera, a one-eyed one at that with poor depth of field and inability to focus adequately, but still able to make out images although fuzzy, still full of information enough to extrapolate some observations. So during the last Friday Night Social and practice session decided to use the fact that I sat out so many dances and took a look at the crowd who populate these sessions. Incidentally, this opportunity made it possible for me to vicariously learn, in a half-assed fashion, some new dance steps.
The one -hour lesson this evening was beginners rumba. Unusual for this evening was the fact that many more people attended the lession portion of the evening, and they were mostly people of my vintage or older, as well as the usual obsessive dance aficionados who dance up to five nights a week. So this was a good sign, in my estimation. It does not feel so great to be the oldest woman at these occasions.
Robin’s method of doing the lessons is to line the men up in drill fashion and showing them the basic steps upon which variations of the dance are based. Then she corrals all the women and gives us the female versions of the basic steps. Next, she tells us to pair with our partners and has us shuffle around doing the basic stuff together. Having no regular dance partner I was left for “Lounge Lizard” as the only option for a partner. He seemed somewhat reluctant to partner me, so I told him it was my special role as the “Punisher” in dance classes to make men have to do a dancing form of penance. He smiled ever so smoothly and lied through his pearly whites that I was a fast learner and he was happy to partner me.
Of course, I looked around to see how Monique, the attractive librarian who presents herself as mutton dressed as lamb, complete with clinging clothes that show no panty or bra line, and with lush long dyed brown hair she flips flirtatiously at every opportunity, managed to pair herself up. She had limpeted onto Raoul, a handsome Martial Arts instructor, who always looks hot and dances even better than he looks. Need I add, that Raoul looked dashing in matte black, like a dressed down matador. He certainly is a sight for failing old eyes. I am fanning myself as I write this!
Farouk, and early middleaged Iranian man was there struggling to learn the dance with Maura, my artist friend. Poor Farouk is very much in the same position as I am at these dances – we are both mercy partners for others, and the last ones to be selected as practice partners for other dancers, so we often end up dancing together, and we do have a great time schlepping our way around the dance floor alternating with leading each other around. Farouk has the most incandescent face when he smiles and he evinces a pleasure in partnering any woman. Oddly enough, where he seems to have trouble keeping in rhythm with the music with other women, whenever he dances with me he has a certain relaxed flair as we struggle together in some arcane moves on the dance floor. He is relaxed in the same manner with Maura; she and I have decided that this is because he has adopted us as older sister types with whom he needs not be shy or awkward.
Ron and Linda, a lovely Chinese couple in their early seventies, danced up a storm. They both look like delicate wizened children, and are so obviously delighted to be learning to dance together. Linda is always gracious to send Ron over to take his punishment with me on the dance floor. He is sweet and willing, but tends to argue with me over what I am supposed to do with my feet. Mind you, I have noted that he and Linda do get into some rather heated exchanges during lessons where they end up hissing at each other while gesticulating wildly at the floor and demonstrating in turn how each of their steps are to be performed. I strongly suspect that the reason why Linda is willing to lend out her husband to another woman for a turn is so that she can have a reprieve dance with a man who shuts up and just dances!
I did learn basic rumba with “Lounge Lizard” who is much taller than me and takes big steps and has long arms to fling me out far in a turn so that I was left scrambling to get back into the proper clinch position with him. He seemed to relish flinging me around like some sandbag and then dragging me back into the clinch with flair. Oh, well. Guess both of us were getting punished.
It appeared that many of the older couples didn’t seem to enjoy dancing all that much. The deadly serious, earnest, unsmiling expressions hinted at a perhaps enforced presence at this dance. They might have had more fun playing darts at home. However, there was one older couple who were endearing. he is much more fit and healthy than his wife, and dances regularly without her. But here they were at this dance together and he took care that she was dancing at a comfortable pace, rested when she had to, and while they were dancing he gazed and smiled at her with such pleasure. When they didn’t dance, they watched other couples and made little comments to each other as if discussing the finer points of dance as demonstrated by others.
Maura did a great turn with “Lounge Lizard” at a swing number. They looked really great together. Wade, Maura’s boyfriend, put me through the Tango paces without either dropping me onto the floor or being flattened by me whilst doing “La Carpa” which always makes me feel like the Queen Mary being manoeuvred into dock by a pipsqueak tugboat. Farouk’s older brother, a fabulous dancer, undertook to practice a Rumba with me, and I felt good, as if finally I was beginning to catch on. But then, that is what dancing with a strong male lead does so well – it makes the woman into an instantly better dancer.
Before the evening was over, “Lounge Lizard” summoned me to do a Tango with him. We did quite well in spite of our height difference, for several turns around the dance floor, but when he dragged me into the initial “La Carpa” position, I stiffened and announced “No, you, don’t…don’t you dare try this with me…we look silly doing this step together.” So he punished me be making me go through several variations of a weird move where the man nudges the left foot of his partner so she moves in a circle around him, and then finishes with a flourish of Ochos and leg-rubs. It kind of looks like someone nudging their dog’s foot to make him pee on the correctly appointed post. Maybe this move looks sexy when skilled dancers perform it. We must just have looked plainly weird. Not to be daunted, and not particularly caring as to whether I look elegant or skilled ( but looking Okay might do) I took my punishment in good grace and laughed during the essays. “Lounge Lizard” does not like a laughing partner. Too bad.
The Rumba is a most forgiving dance to learn. it is not particularly grueling, nor does it require athleticism or great stamine, or major memorizing of steps to perform at an adequate competence. It was a great lesson for this night’s dance to reintroduce couples who have not danced frequently in recent time to the pleasures of moving to music.

Yenta is “touched”, or has lost her “touch”…

November 3, 2009

Rumpole has ordered me to take down my matchmaking shingle. That latest foray into connecting single souls has been an utter failure. Sparks, Nada! Entertainment for all of the four of us… yes, in a queer sort of way. It has taken me four weeks to come to grips with horrible reality of it all.

Luck would have it, Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis still talks to me and visits chez nous. However, she has said that I am hapless and not very good at this matchmaking business. She did say that she enjoyed the evening dinner with us and Rob, and that the food was delicious and the conversation…surprisingly entertaining. But she made pointed comments about Rob’s sartorial elegance, comparing his attire a cross between Don Ho and one of the Darryl Brothers (as in, “Howdy, My name is Darryl, and this here is my other brother, Darryl”).

Picky, picky OLPC. What did she expect, someone out of Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine? But then, should I take her comments about stylishness to heart? She, who breezed in looking a bit like a dominatrix, all form-fitting black with what looked like chains strong enough to restrain a 100 pound Rottweiler hefting up her lush triple-Ds and snaking around her shoulders? I had to keep kicking Rumpole under the table to prevent him from gazing at her prominent poitrine. Poor Rob, he with the quaint old-fashioned mannerisms and attitudes, didn’t seem to know where to look.

But mercifully, they did get along well enough to make fine conversation. Whilst choking back the schnitzel, the flatulence inducing cabbage, roast potatoes and pickled beets OLPC did manage to put questions to Rob about his life, his grown children, his confirmed and adamant solitary state. Oddly enough, Rob, shy generally and not a man of many words, opened up and went into considerable detail about his life and experiences. The torrent of interesting information had the effect of open-mouthed fascination on Rumpole. OLPC didn’t miss a trick.
She would be a smooth and clever interrogator in Gauntanamo. And all that without the aid of extremely bright lights and water-torture devices. Under her subtle questioning Ron revealed things about himself, as pertaining to his most recent relationship, that should not be even mentioned in a session with a relationship counsellor, let alone at a matchmaking dinner. I was aghast at what my well-intentioned soiree had unleashed.

During dinner, we discussed politics, religion, the arts, the new Conservativism, the environment, economics and yes, modern sexual behaviour. As a case study, OLPC, brought up her friend, Cowtown Donna’s difficulties at negotiating the relational quagmire prevailing among middle-aged divorced singles. As she asked all of our opinions as to what was proper etiquette among dating senior singles, Rob nervously wrapped the linen table napkin around his left hand, much like a bandage, and punctuated his comments by tugging the ends closed to choke his fist. That sure was an indication of his extreme discomfort with the conversational vein.

As hostess, I tried to steer the conversation to less discomforting topics – like Municipal shenanigans and “what about our dorky Mayor saying…”. Mercifully, the time passed quickly, although neither OLPC nor Rob showed the slightest indication of wanting to take their leave. Were they having that much fun? Certainly they laughed a lot. Rob tugged on his napkin bandage a lot… but was that in fun, or just out of sheer nervousness? It was really weird!

Because it was a Sunday evening, and everyone had to be up early the next morning, Rumpole did last call. He said. “All right all of you. Tomorrow is a workday. We have 15 minutes before I kick you guys out. Because I am 65 years old I need my sleep.”

I poured more tea for us all. OLPC and Rob left afterward, both at the same time. I looked out the back window and watched them exchange a few words before they hopped in their vehicles and drove off.

Rumpole’s comment to me as he went off to “dusterize” was. “Well, that was a bust as far as those two matching up. But by God! It was a most enjoyable evening.”

All I can say now, is that even though I am a failure at matching people up romantically, at least I have the wherewithal to pull disparate characters together for an evening of lively exchange and some stimulating conversation. And although OLPC and Rob did not form a firm friendship or demonstrate romantic chemistry toward each other, whenever they meet casually in our little town, they will at least have the basis for polite casual conversation with each other.
And, most amazingly, they both still are talking with me, even if it is to mention that I should give up trying to match them up with anyone, ever again. Yeah! I’m a failed Hungarian Yenta.

Collector…

October 22, 2009

The other morning, while I was quaffing my first cup of joe, Rumpole was struggling to open the pantry door, and swearing profusely and rather colourfully.
“For God’s Sake, G,” he growled, “why are there so many x^7*3# rubber bands on this door-handle? What are you saving these bloody things for?” Exasperated, he gave up the struggle and sat down across from me. But he was not finished yet. The rant continued after he cast his eyes in the direction of a corner of the kitchen counter where, teetering, rows of my sour cream, yoghurt and cottage cream containers were stacked, seeming to multiply and take over the rest of the counter space. A crafty expression on his countenance, he commented. “I think you are beginning to lose it, go into a decline or are starting to show some unfortunate aspects of advancing age.”

“But, dear, all those items are useful and I know will come in handy…soon.” I retorted.
“For what?” he demanded to know.
“Well, just think. I have been collecting rubber bands for about ten years now. And was I ever glad to have a handy stash of them on hand then Game Boy visited and asked me to do a hairdo of mini pony-tails all over his head so he could look cool and punky. You just never know what purpose rubber bands may be put to.”
“Oh, crap! You have a rejoinder for everything I say to you. What about that mess of plastic containers? What do you intend to do with them?”
“well, …er…, oh yes! Lucky, Barb and I are doing a series of mixed media experiments, for which these containers will come in very handy – you know, … for mixing acrylic media, sand, glue, recycled house paint.”
“Yeah. So there will be a passel of these containers full of weird concoctions lying around your studio for…well, forever, or for whenever you go on one of your jags to throw stuff out. Usually when I force you to.”
Man, he was really on a roll this morning. How could I lob back some clever comment to shut down all this kvetching? Aha! My ultimate statement! “Dear, aren’t you the least bit happy that I am not one of those women who shop daily for useless things and pile them up, unwrapped, all over the house. All this little tiny bit of collecting seems rather harmless by comparison.”
That stopped him in his building diatribe. Ha!
“Grrrr,” he growled as he brought his coffee cup up to his clenched jaw. “Point taken. But please, get them out of my sight at least.” He took a swig of coffee. His face lit up as if he had just got a brilliant idea. “You know, Just before Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she had made some rather bizarre collections…need I point out, plastic containers, rubber bands… and it seems to me you have started a rubber band collection on the linen closet door handle, on your bedroom’s as well besides the back spindles of the kitchen chairs and the pantry door-knob. Do you think you may have a problem?”
I was aghast. Was he really suggesting I was losing it, ready to be prevented from living a relaitvely normal life and sequestered in the company of other forgetful and eccentric seniors?

“Oh yeah!” I countered, “before you start to diagnose me, diagnose yourself. I am not the one who loses her pants after taking them off and hanging them up. Nor am I one who cannot see her car keys right in front of her eyes. Frankly, my dear, some days you worry me.” I fixed him with my best snotty stare as I tapped my fingers impatiently on the tabletop.

“Point well taken,” he retorted, ” but I want all that stuff gone, hidden… and I don’t care where, when I return from work tonight.”
“Yes, Bwana,” I humbly assented, ” your wish is but a command. As a dutiful Stepford Wife, I shall, however begrudgingly, comply.”

So it’s off to remove said rubber bands and plastic collections from their offending places. Out of sight, maybe out of Rumpole’s mind, but ready to hand should their utility suddenly come into my conscious ken. I shall spend the morning brainstorming as to the various purposes to which rubber bands may be put.

Previously published?…

September 10, 2009

I am in the throes of entering literary competitions. All of these state that manuscripts submitted must be previously unpublished. Even posting on a blog is considered publication.

I do realize that much of what I have posted on this blog site have been sketches, or rough drafts of ideas. Of interest to me therefore, is finding an entry of mine altered by someone else in their blog, not profoundly, but enough to be veering on the cusp of plagiarism.

While much of the rewriting I have been doing significantly changes the work I have been recently struggling with, it is obvious their very basis has come from some entries on my blog. Much more polished and extended, much edited, they feel right about now. I have no intention to post any of these on my blog. However, I feel that I am flirting too closely with acceptable and uncategorically stated limits of publication. So with this in mind, I will no longer publish poetry or prose pieces in any form. Lesson, hard learned!

At what point is posting a written sketch, or unformed and inchoate study a straying into the grey area of publication? This is a much debated question on-line and in writers’ circles. Better to err on the side of conservatism until this debate is resolved once and for all?

I’d like to know your considered opinion on all of this! G

Writers retreat…

August 20, 2009

S, H, D and I, members of a writing group comprised only of our four selves, decided to spend last weekend, hole up in luxurious comfort and write, work on manuscripts, share meals and leisure in the late evening hours.

It was the most revivifying getaway; just what I needed to get down to polishing a piece of creative non-fiction weighing on me for the last several months. Rumpole bought us a new to us laptop. He felt I should have ease in editing my work. I decided to wing the process long-hand; a way which always helps me attain the meditative focus I need when working.

We stayed at D’s Mom’s waterfront Belcarra home. It perched up-hill from a rocky shore. The vista from my room was of Deep Cove across the inlet and of the tip of Belcarra at the end of the little bay where the house was situated. Ravens called; water lapped the shore with hypnotic regularity. The resident cats perched on lawnchairs next to me where I wrote at a patio table overlooking a delightful garden.
My writer friends were tremendous companions for a weekend of self-imposed silence and labour.

After dinner, we gathered in the comfortable lounge, shared progress reports and played “dictionary”. Inventive wordsmiths come up with some truly hilarious word definitions. “lanuginous” was one word for which invented definitions caused us to laugh hysterically and for me, to roll on the floor in helpless abandon. Some of the definitions cannot be told in decorous company, they were so risque.

I feel rather pleased with my progress last weekend. I rewrote and edited for submission an @1500 word non-fiction piece. It took about 12 or so rewrites, edits and continuous polishing. I received some excellent advice from my retreat companions and acted on them to arrive at a (for now) finished bit of writing I am not ashamed of submitting. It is as clean and spare as I could make it. And I feel more confident of the editing process.

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Rats! There go the Brussels Sprouts…

June 19, 2009

My family loves Brussels Sprouts – those perfect little piquant globes of green goodness in the wintertime. So, there had to be a row of these plants in my new vegie garden. Of course, if there were going to grow Brussels Sprouts, there also had to be had a supply of Kale and Kohlrabi, two cruciferous vegetables I associate with my early life in Hungary. There were already three burgeoning Zucchini plants taking over one end of my little plot, promising enough produce to satisfy our Zucchini-loving Scottie, my tendency to hide shredded Zucchini in all sorts of dishes (Rumpole hates Zucchini! – so it has to masquerade as something else) and to provide ammunition for my planned late-summer stealth Zucchini bombings by night of our neighbours front stoops.

So there we were, outside by the rows to be planted – Jessica, Lookingforbeauty and me. Seedlings at the ready we busied ourselves planting before nightfall. Lookingforbeauty was placing onion seedlings into available unplanted spots in the rows. I was fluffing up Kale fronds and admiring them, when all of a sudden Lookingforbeauty uttered “Shoo, dog!” I looked up from my admiration of new green seedlings to spot Jessica sprawled, nonchalant among the Brussels Sprouts rows, working her jaws over a healthy bit of growth. I leaped up and made to chase her away, at which threatening gesture she merely hopped to her feet, threw herself onto the grass verge and began to roll around luxuriously, meanwhile keeping a beady eye open should I reach her to give her a swat on the bum.

I made like a shreaking scarecrow, but she simply sprinted around in the garden, making spectacular leaps over the vegetable rows. I looked at the damage she had done to the Brussels Sprouts. Four plants chewed down to their roots in the ground! By this time, Jessica was hiding behind the already planted Kohlrabi on the other side of the row. She was starting in on the Kohlrabi leaves, meanwhile peering out at me from under her awning-like eyebrows. I chased her around some more. She is short and fat, but boy can she move when motivated!

“You’re going to have to keep her out of this garden,” commented Lookingforbeauty. “It’s your own fault, G, for giving her all kinds of vegetables as treats. You spoil that dog!”

“But, just look at that little mug – those saucy eyes, that gooofy clowning she does. I can’t resist her in the slightest.” I said. “At least vegetables are good for her – the vitamins, you know?”

But, I have decided. Those remaining Brussels Sprouts will be in the forefront of my vigilance against the depredations of my vegetarian pooch. So will the Kohlrabi, Kale and Zucchini. If she behaves herself for the rest of the growing season, I promise to let her sample the produce come harvest time. I’m sure Rumpole will not be heart-broken to share the Zucchini bounty with her. Hah!