Posts Tagged ‘life’


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,


“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?

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.

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.