To be or not to be

I felt something soft under my foot and thought I’d stepped in dog shit. We were outside the door of Ottawa’s newest fancy donut joint, Maverick’s, where we planned to buy a ½ dozen of the pricey treats and bring them home to the children for all of us to enjoy. We’d spent the last 2 hours hiking in Gatineau Park, tromping up and down hills aglow in fall foliage – maples, aspens, birches, fanned out like a male turkey’s tail feather display. The bear warning signs had not deterred us. Continue reading

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That Doesn’t Happen Here

The sky the morning after the storm was bright blue with charming white clouds, now harmless, arranged across the sky like teeth in the grin of a psychopath post-knife plunge. A gang of red, black and grey squirrels emerged from their safe havens and skittered along branches of damaged trees, pulling together new nests. They make it look easy. Continue reading

Morning Prayer

5:50 a.m. In dark just lighter than pitch, the dog and I venture out for his morning relief. The spilled streak of stars we call the Milky Way fades as I glance up, as though my eyes mop heavens’ mess. The dog lifts his leg and anoints the road sign pole and I hear the splash of contact. He kicks his hind legs, rubs his paws on the grass making sure every bit of his scent graces his small patch of turf. Continue reading

Words Never Fail Me

BotanicalGardenBench

Montreal Botanical Gardens – August 2018

Silky morning breeze
sidles
around my neck
murmurs through
sun-scrubbed leaves.

Startled by tranquility
I lift my coffee cup,
taste bitter
wrapped in bliss,
and discover
syzygy.*

___

*What the heck, Susanne, you say, is syzygy? Sub i for y and the word is pronounced siz-i-jee. In the context of this poem it means “any two related things, either alike or opposite”.

It also means inspiration because as I sat pondering a piece of personal non-fiction I’m struggling to get just right (and write) and nothing worked, I found this word accidentally on Dictionary.com. The other implacable draft dropped away and off I went on this poem. One word changed the morning from self-flagellating defeat to a small victory.

Words never fail to inspire me.

“Tracking Happiness”

If Agatha Christie were alive she might have written “Tracking Happiness” in collaboration with P.G. Wodehouse but this cosy mystery is by Ellen Morris Prewitt. Ellen is a 21st century writer whose use of comic dialogue reminds me of Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories and who handles plot and red herring infusions like Agatha Christie. Think “Murder on the Orient Express” meets “My Man Jeeves”. Continue reading

The 42nd

PointPeleeSign

Mainland Canada’s southernmost tip is parallel to Rome and although there are no ancient monuments, the ecosystem is as old as the last ice age when glaciers slid into Lake Erie 11,000 years ago. Point Pelee National Park (pelée being a French word that means “bald”) is on the 42nd parallel and it pokes into the shallowest of the Great Lakes like Pinocchio’s nose. Varieties of plants, animals, insects and birds found within its bounds are unique in the country. It’s a complex ecosystem.

CarolinianForest

Walking through the Carolinian forest of Point Pelee

To reach the Point you drive to a little town called Leamington, Ontario. Leamington is known as the tomato capital of Canada and the tourist office on the main street is housed in an enormous tomato replica – undoubtedly a beefsteak. It comfortably holds two people who peer out of its window and greet you, offer advice on what to see, where to go and how to get there. Continue reading

The Dog Shakes

Nearly three years ago I wrote a flash fiction story about a dog with “issues” and sent it around to a few journals. It was rejected many times. Then in June this year I attended a small press trade show in an Ottawa community centre and found Common Deer Press.  Their submission guidelines for the Short Tail section of their website said this,

We tend to prefer work that might be literary if it weren’t so genre….

and I thought “Hmm. Maybe Nelson would like to live here.”

Without further ado, here it is – The Dog Shakes

edited by Emily Stewart. Thank you, Common Deer Press for giving Nelson a home.

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Cheers!

 

 

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