Do you reside or live?

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French Canadian woman looks down on symbol of English oppression – the Bank of Montréal.

Reside as a word to describe where you live sounds forensic to me, like something you’d read in a police report. “The victim, a 59 year old female with two gold fillings, resides at 123 Dull Street, in Ottawa East. It rings of resignation and victim-hood.

Montréalers do not reside, baby, they live, Live, LIVE! Don’t bore me with that old joie de vivre bullshit. Montréalers are way past that borrowed colonial French cliché. They’re on a whole different planet of life. Continue reading

How to be less cranky when turning 60

  • Buy a coffin.
  • Put the coffin in your living room.
  • Fill the coffin with clothes that don’t fit, books you’ll never read, lists of people you don’t talk to anymore, every regret you’ve ever had, all your lost dreams. Add a picture of you at 28.
  • Stop plucking the hairs on your chin. For fun, see how long they’ll grow.
  • Stop gluing down the three hairs on your left eyebrow that poke out like past sins.
  • Burn your 36 DD bras. Fly free.
  • Stop buying self-help books. If you own any, add them to the coffin.
  • Do 10 squats a day so you can get up and down off the toilet when you’re 70.
  • Eat bread and pasta and potatoes and white sugar and milk chocolate if you want.
  • Walk outside, not on a treadmill. The treadmill is a symbol. So is being outside.
  • Give your better angels a voice and tell the bitter bitches who talk over everyone to fuck off. Better yet, throw the bitches in the coffin.
  • Obsess about now.
  • Practice listening to your dog, your cat, your budgie, your goldfish and then go listen to your best friend.
  • Talk to people the way you talk to your pet. Chances are if you say “Who’s a good friend?” they’ll beam with pleasure.
  • Look up at the sky and not your feet. The view is better.
  • Practice what you preach.

 

 

Memory map

Map1963

Map of Canada – 1963

When the Canadian Oxford Desk Atlas of the World dated 1963 was published, I was six years old.  The first map in the book shows the land mass of Canada and the scale is one inch to 300 miles.  In this atlas the islands and inlets spattering the west coast of my childhood are, like my memories, unnamed. I know now those islands grew from cataclysms and it makes sense that the route through them – the way home – is dangerous. Continue reading

Mexican horses

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Untethered

 

1968
We moved to Vancouver Island when I was ten. One of the selling features for the new location offered by my dad was horses – I could learn how to ride. Lessons arranged, I showed up at the barn on Saturday morning. The group lessons had started the week before and so the trainer gave me the last horse available – a  16 hands tall beast named Jet. I needed a leg-up to get into the stirrups. Continue reading

Writing-Down-the-Baja-ha-ha

What could be better than going to Baja Mexico in February – from snow drifts to sand dunes; from tires spinning on ice to waves crashing on the beach; from white-out conditions to bougainvillea and cactus flowers in bloom? What could be better than all that? Going to Writing-down-the-Baja, a writers retreat led by author Ellen Waterston of The Writing Ranch, and attended by bra fitting expert and author Elisabeth Dale. Not that I knew the latter would be there or that there would be surreptitious glances at my breasts to determine did I know what I was doing  bra-wise. No, that was a double-barreled bonus. Continue reading

Elementary

Lopsided, I lug my tote bag and clomp into the change room of the community swimming pool half an hour late – because of work. The lane swim began at 11:30. I like to get there for the start,  be the first one to break the surface of the water, make the first wave, set the pace. I tiptoe through the heat-fogged room in winter boots, careful not to slip on the slick floors. I love the smell of chlorine at high noon. I’m in my element. Continue reading

For Cynthia*

Cynthia Jobin, a blogging friend, passed away last month. I knew her voice through her poetry and generous, insightful comments on my blog and many others. Her comments bit sometimes too, and made me mad but those comments got me to look at my writing from a different viewpoint. She was honest – unreservedly so. I miss her presence.

At 7:00 this morning, as black turned to grey the colour of old long johns, a trio of Continue reading

Silence and abandonment

Dear Ilya,

I read your poem “Town Watches Them Take Alfonso” this morning as I cradled a cup of coffee, caffeine infusing my bloodstream. My heart rate rose with each sip. Its bitter mouthwash browned my teeth, a consequence I live with because I like the ritual.

Some people practice morning writing but I start the day with a poem that is delivered to me from Poets.org which is how I found you. Afterwards, I sometimes write a poem inspired by lines read or sometimes I free-write based on the resulting brew in my head. Occasionally I read the daily poem aloud in the car as my husband drives me to work tunneling through the darkest winter months with high beams of beautiful words.  Continue reading