For sale: red dress

RedDress

Vintage. Size 8. Worn three times in 1992.

The reason
I wore the dress for the first time at a Meeting Planners International (Ottawa Chapter) Gala. I won “Planner of the Year”, for which I received a plaque. Now when I hear the word plaque I think gum disease and heart attack but back then it meant achievement. I was good at a job that, among other things, demanded good feet. Back then when scouting a location for a 1200 delegate conference and 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, I walked every inch of too many hotel function rooms and concrete floored trade show halls – in stilettos. I tromped service corridors and loading bays. I hoofed the cobblestone streets of old Montreal surrounding the Montreal Convention Centre. I pounded the paved cruise ship docks beside the Vancouver Convention Centre and marched up and down Halifax’s hills to and from the harbour and up to the Citadel because back then there was no Google Earth or Mapquest to help situate the convention site within a city. I had to see it for myself. In stilletos. Because. Fashion. Continue reading

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An Undrained Swamp

Greenest

We walk in a temple of green. If I was a perfumer I would describe the aroma as a blend of sawdust from mulched dead ash trees, blackened leaves dribbling at water’s edge warmed with pine needles and finished with a hint of irises and clover.

Night Crested Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron

The water birds are blase about our presence. Two common mergansers with their punk rock feathers streaming from the back of their heads sit placidly on the shore as we approach. Further in the green glow of underbrush a Black Crowned Night Heron holds his pose giving us his profile. A pair of Wood Ducks confidently ignore us as we tiptoe closer to take their photo.

Above us the birdsong is the sound of a tuning symphony. I can’t pick out a single note that I recognize.

BigPines

Mud Lake – an undrained swamp in the heart of Ottawa.

 

An American Goldfinch undulates from tree to tree. Five dive and swoop across a small clearing as though the sun released a few rays and turned them into birds

Irises

Imagine the smell.

Cedar Waxwings leap into the air in a weird see-saw flight from branch to branch. They reach up with their beaks to catch insects and then slap their wings together, which sound like fingers snapping, and then see-saw to the opposite tree whistling as they go. I’ve never heard their call before nor have I seen them feeding on anything other than seeds in our backyard feeder.

I feel like a birdwatcher again. It makes me happy to pay attention to something else other than work and worries.

IMG_20180617_083705

Swamp monster

 

 

 

 

 

Let me help you with that

A guest post from my husband, Chris.

Image result for Newspaper reports Juno Beach

Juno Beach, Normandy, France

Considering the rotten things Donald Trump has said about – and done to – his neighbours to the south, it seems almost churlish to complain about his latest insult to Canada. Hell, despite his patronizing tone he may even have been trying to be complimentary when he conceded that in the Second World War Canada “helped us out”.

But honest to God, for the benefit of the many thoughtful and fair-minded Americans who may not have the grasp of history that you would expect of a President, let me explain a few things.

Here’s a good one to start with: by an interesting trick of time travel we started helping America in September 1939, two years and three months before you joined the fight. During that time we helped you by flying in the Battle of Britain; escorting convoys across the North Atlantic; carrying out bombing raids over Europe; sending agents into Europe; and training thousands of American ex-pats to help us in the fight against fascism. Immediately following the disaster at Dunkirk and the fall of France, the First Canadian Division was the only large body of trained soldiers in England equipped to resist the expected invasion.

While you listened to “do-nothings” and quasi-fascist isolationists like Lindbergh, we got busy helping set up the Commonwealth Air Training Plan which put over 140,000 aircrew from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Norway and other countries through training in Canada. Included in this number were a pretty healthy crop of Americans who needed our help to get into the fight. By the end of the war about 10,000 Canadian air crew lost their lives.

Canada fought in China at Hong Kong, in North Africa, in Sicily and Italy, in North West Europe and in south-east Asia. We took one of five beaches on D-Day.

With a population of only 11 million at the time, Canada had over one million people in uniform during World War II. Virtually every industry was a war industry. And we were never attacked! We did this when we could have sat back and relied on geography to see us through. Instead we stepped up. About 60,000 Canadians died in the war. And if it happened again, we’d do it again.

I don’t begrudge the United States the pride it takes in its contribution to the fight in the Second World War. You were an indispensable ally. But let’s get this straight. When you joined the war late in 1941, you helped Britain and its allies. Even the USSR, which took a savage toll in casualties, can’t claim that we were just their helper. It’s not something they like to be reminded of, but they only joined Britain, Canada and others after two years of trade with Germany – including trade in war materials – bought them time to get a little readier to face the inevitable. So, thanks America for doing the right thing. But remember, while your track record on fighting fascism may be good, on identifying fascists for what they are – not great.

The space between

Dandy-dog

Dandy dog

When I opened the book I ordered on-line, the thing I noticed immediately was neither the beautiful photography and the carefully crafted knitting patterns nor the lyrical language of the stories accompanying the patterns. What I noticed was the lack of white space. Paragraphs bumped into each other like commuters in Toronto and margins were narrower than country roads.  Photos worthy of singular exposure were lost in a visual melange. There was no place for my eyes to linger or rest.

I felt like a Panini pressed between paragraphs. I wanted a moment to breathe and think. I needed space to digest what came before and what was coming next. Continue reading

Forgiving pink

Fifteen year old me said something like this: “Pink stinks.” I got extra marks in university for brevity from an exhausted professor probably worn down reading 300 term papers replete with rosy language hiding empty thoughts. Pink as a colour struck me this way. Pointless, pathetic fluff. Continue reading

Right, at Last, and Wide Open — Deborah J. Brasket

Deborah J. Brasket, writer and mother, posted thoughts on moving beyond motherhood and aging, words that lifted me out of Mondayness and made me feel good about this “in-between” stage of life.

Leon

 

 

I’m letting my hair grow out. Like a girl again. It’s past my shoulders already, still mostly brown with a few shimmers of light woven through. I don’t feel old. Few of us do, even while seeing the signs. When I was young, I always felt young. Too young. Young in a lost, vulnerable, deer-in-the-headlights […]

via Right, at Last, and Wide Open — Deborah J. Brasket

Zee end

Image result for Becca Courtice Modern brush calligraphy

The brush should be at a 45 degree angle as though bent into a strong wind. You want headway. Your pen takes orders from you, your hand its aegis. Never forget that.

Start at the left and trace your pen along an imaginary line. Keep your brush down and pull it steadily due right. Look straight ahead and don’t stop. Continue reading

Games I don’t play

It is a few evenings before Christmas and we’re in the living room of my brother’s house in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  A low fire winks behind the screen of the small coal burning fireplace and undernotes of coffee mixed with alcohol intermittently finds my nose. Continue reading

Crank

– For immediate release –

Crank, A New Literary Magazine Showcases Older Writers

Pensioners prose given preference

April 16, 2018, Ottawa, Ontario – A new literary journal for the 60+ writer launches here tomorrow. Crank will fill you with high fibre content from the sexti-septi and octogenarians you want to read. Look for age defying fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry to make you wish you were 60, 75 – even 89.

Susanne Fletcher, Crank’s well-seasoned editor, says “No one is too old for Crank but if I find out you’re a 20-something pretending to be 60 because you’re desperate to appear in this mag, I’ll send you a sack of used Depends.”

The inaugural issue features a cover design called “The Grand Damn Canyon”, by 93 year old Val Vielle, and takes you on a single wrinkle’s journey from big toe, through the arroyos of her knees to the crater around her right eye. It will stun you. Sit with ninety-nine year old Digger Jones at the edge of the abyss in his epic confessional poem examining his life as a gravedigger. “Died in Heaven” recalls Mercy Sakes five years in a tie-die commune in central British Columbia.

Crank promises post-menopausal, Viagra pumped prose with no periods. Period. Edgy in the way the young and optimistic don’t get. Real. Short. Limited time offer. Nonfungible.

Fletcher earned her snark working in underfunded non-profits for 40 years. Bitter but not beaten, she feels her experience in this sector notorious for unreasonable expectations and low pay has prepared her to lead Crank.

Got a story, poem, or art to send us? You must be 60 at the time of submission. We charge $50 Canadian ($5.00 US). All funds go to the Crank-in-Chief’s bank account. We promise to reply within two years.  We love horror. Send us your stories.

Contact: sfletcher@crank.ca

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