Popping Off

According to my daughter, we’ve been “popping off” these last four days.

I could not face another weekend in front of the television streaming more best of the BBC, CBC, and Netflix. We needed to escape the rut we’ve been stuck in since mid-January when the pain in my ass began.

My spouse and I turn to food when searching for bonding adventures. His need for quantity took us to a Ahora, a cheap and cheerful basement Mexican joint that boasted an all you can eat salsa bar. Continue reading

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The Ol’ Ball and Chain

Leon

Winter, which drags on like a ball and chain in Ottawa despite the good cheer of robins and red wing blackbirds, has been a pain in my hips. Prolonged sitting – or even brief sitting – brings sharp hot jabs to my derriere. Concentration is difficult so writing has been sporadic and targeted. Blogging, in case you hadn’t noticed my absence, has been difficult.

Look. I’m not complaining. I still have my teeth, all my limbs, and most of my faculties. Those I’m missing are bolstered by my long suffering spouse. Together we are one. Occasionally gas erupts unexpectedly but I have a dog at home and at work my chair has a squeaky wheel to blame. Plus, a well-timed loud toe-tap can sound remarkably like a fart.

Evenings, which formerly were devoted to you, your concerns and interests, I spend on a yoga mat attending to the lengthy physio exercises and stretching routine that will render me as limber and pain free as a puppy. I must persist. But overall, really, I’m fine. Just fine.

I’m telling you this not for your pity (though I’m not above that), but because I miss you, think of you often, and wish I could be with you more. Time, they say, heals all wounds. The pain in my ass will pass and I’ll be back.

In the meantime, meet Crystal Anderson. She’s new to blogosphere and is an enormously talented storyteller. Please drop into Crystal’s blog and say hello.

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The dirty dog in dirty snow demands his due, despite my dragging derriere. 

Life is a Beach

“When can we go to the beach? When, Mom?”

We’d just moved to Vancouver Island from our former home in rainy Prince Rupert on the northern coast of British Columbia, Canada. There were no beaches in Prince Rupert, just the docks at Royal Fisheries where my Dad worked. Commercial fishermen berthed and off-loaded their catches at the docks and this was where my friends and I jumped into the frigid fish-gutted water. The temperature was always blue-lip cold. Continue reading

Weed It Out*

A mound of grey lay in Vee’s lap, growing with each row of the cardigan she ripped out. She would wind the wool with some of the spun llama yarn and design a new jumper – sweater, she corrected herself – for sale in the shop.

The room went dark. Harry stood in the entrance of the refurbished barn that was now headquarters of “Twist of Fate”, their llama farm and wool business. The wool almost disappeared in the fuzzy unfolding morning. Vee liked working without the help of artificial yellow light or the buzz of flickering blue fluorescent bulbs. She liked the neither here, nor there of early morning, the darkness behind her and the full light of day to come. She felt hopeful. Continue reading

Numbered Days

 

02/26/2019, 0600, -22 Celsius or Fahrenheit
matters naught, either way the mathematical
conversion equals ice.

I push my tootsies into felt lined “Joan of Arctic”
boots temperature rated to -32 C (-25 F)
and squint into the morning’s sub-zero blast,

dream of the day spring brings a new
numerology. We count on Pi Day to celebrate,
defrosting last summer’s cherries sweetened

beneath a warm crust. Until then, I trundle
past the Christmas tree the garbage men forgot
in January, still hidden under its snow sarcophagus.

pi

Wash That …Right out of My Hair

Bluesy opened the car door and peered inside, reaching to button my blouse, his cold fingers accidentally touching the already well-chilled skin above my sternum. I could have, indeed should have, batted him away but I was exhausted and just wanted him gone.

He fumbled with a pretty opalescent button as small as a sequin, and as thin, muttering “Lord almighty,” as he attempted to insert it into an equally small opening. The button edge weaseled into a minuscule fissure on the tip of his thumb. I closed my eyes pleased my blouse inflicted the pain I couldn’t. I held the image of it stuck in his thumb, hovering above my chest, blood rising warm from its travels from his heart, releasing a drop on the surface of my skin, where it sat, unable to go further. Maybe survival was possible if I just sat still until he left.

His hair dropped over my forehead and I smelled the factory of his body and his gut-recycled dinner, his mouth a smokestack and me an olfactory mistake. He’d smelled harmless fun – I think it was my shampoo. Herbal Essences would be happy when I wrote and told them I’d used their Passion Flower and Rice Milk product, a welcoming scent boosted by my pulse. The next thing I knew the likes of Bluesy had invited himself over for a steaming cup of tea and a few episodes of Breaking Bad , and before Jesse and Walt had finished cooking their first batch of meth I was flat on my back wondering how many kernels I could count in my popcorn ceiling before he’d leave. I cursed my mucous membranes, my lack of control, Bluesy’s intrusion.

We lasted 28 days. Thank God it wasn’t a leap year.

“It’s minus 30 out there, February, can you give me a lift home?”

Yes, my name is February. My parents thought it a romantic moniker, it being the month of my conception, an ovulatory cycle of snow bound cuddles and cozy fires – but I hated it. It is a bottomless well of cold, a dory adrift in the North Atlantic without an oar or a rudder or a bailing bucket. Here I was, February in February, like a frozen daiquiri on an Antarctic cruise, half dressed in my car trying to get rid of Bluesy.

He finished the job. I sniffed, sucked in the snot that drained from my nose and caught a whiff of Tide Clean.

“God, I love February,” he said as he kissed me goodbye.

I examined his work. He’d married the button to the wrong hole and my blouse was askew but it was over. Bluesy was gone, my heart buttoned up, safe for another year. No doubt he’d be back again to continue his work. On my way home, I stopped by WalMart to pick up some new shampoo and went with “Colour Me Happy”.

 

 

 

Ahab’s Mate

A cup, a sleeve, a siren song scent, I
pick her up, outbound, spend too much – a tall
extra-hot, double-shot made sufferable
“because we care about our planet”. We
sail on, addicted, believe in her tale,
and culpable, gulp her mythology.
With paper-thin desire, I stare into
green-haloed, star-crowned, green eyes, lips, hair. She
surfs lazy brown, bony, corrugated waves
environmentally aware. We skim
the sky, a flat white winter foams below,
a strawberry frappuccino dawn blooms.
Maybe “Time and tide flow wide” but I fear
this convenient relationship is doomed.

(Posted for Bjorn’s dVerse invitation for Handbook of Forms.  We were invited to write a sonnet.  Here is the link. Poetry Forms – The sonnet )

starbucks sleeve

Nuclear Power – by Melissa Ballard

 

Leon

A writing mentor, Richard Taylor, said recently “What do you do with the shit in your head if you don’t write? Hit a supersize bag of cheetos and a litre of Coke?”  So many reasons to write. Here’s one of my favourites –

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Joan Didion

 

Or how about this from a great Canadian writer:

I’m concerned about the unknowability of other people. – Carol Shields

I can guess why my friend, Melissa Ballard, wrote this story. See if you can, too. Whatever drives Melissa, I’m grateful for her beautiful non-fiction stories and exploration of events and people in her life. She finds the universal in the particular as you’ll read in her latest story in Belt Magazine. I hope you like it as much as I did.

 

 

A Shot at Redemption

I wake to my mother’s black and white image every day. Her photo hangs over my dresser and she stares directly at me. Its one of those photos where the eyes follow you. My husband has never objected to the location of the photo or that her gaze is focused on our bed. Perhaps its because she is very beautiful and serene.

Judging from the hairstyle and clothes, the photo was probably taken around 1940. She looks like a big city gal which belies her rural Midwest roots. I wonder if it was taken while she lived in Chicago where she finally settled down after years trailing her Dad in the Dirty Thirties as he looked for work.

Propped in my bed with the dog snoring beside me, cozy in a nest of pillows and books, we loll in soft grey light. A squirrel skitters across the roof and I tense, hoping he doesn’t fall down the chimney as happened to one of his brethren on Boxing Day. As I hold my breath, I hear my mother’s voice. Continue reading