Szabolcs Tosh, via Unsplash
We grabbed the bikes provided by our hosts and headed down the paved part of Pritchard Road in the rolling terrain of the Gatineau Hills, north of Ottawa, in Quebec. My bike was a heavy, three-speed with coaster brakes. Remember those? You pedal backwards to make your bike stop. A quaint old thing. Like me.
No sooner did we turn onto Lac Bernard Road when the first hill rose, and halfway up, my legs shuddering, I dismounted and pushed that MOFO to the top. My heart was going nuts and I was panting like a sheepdog in the desert, all tongue and sweat. Ahead was brief plateau, a welcome downhill and then, bien sur, another incline. Continue reading
Lake Huron, summer, 2018
I met my Waterloo in the loo of a Waterloo, Ontario Shopper’s Drug Mart.
“It’s Senior’s Day,” I said to my husband and daughter. Presciently, on my list was a large bottle of Extra-strength Advil. Lured by the 20% discount and bonus points on my loyalty card, we stopped en route to Point Pelee National Park.
For years, I’ve wanted to visit Point Pelee in early May to witness the massive annual spring migration of song birds heading north for the summer. Our Air BnB waited for us in Kingsville. We’d signed up for tours and workshops offered by Friends of Point Pelee. Binoculars and journals were packed. We were ready. Continue reading
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
Christmas morning – Authentic dog and snow
“If I brought my authentic self to work, I’d be fired.” This was the most authentic thing I said in the 2.5 hour long discussion my employer held on the new corporate values. My authentic self is quick-tempered, opinionated, potty-mouthed, and arrogant. These are not highly prized attributes for an underling and certainly, during a corporate group-think values session, I was not about to expose my true self. Continue reading
In 1981, I owned two pairs of corduroy pants, four hand-knit sweaters made by my mother, a pair of Adidas running shoes with a loose heel that slapped my foot as I walked, and two dresses I sewed using material found in remnant bins of fabric stores. That year, I shifted my job hunt from the careers section of the Ottawa Citizen to the classifieds. An English Literature degree had not guaranteed entry into any work I aspired to and I needed a job. I borrowed a jacket, a blouse, and a pair of shoes that blistered my baby toes for interviews. I landed a job as a secretary with the Canadian Construction Association. At 24, my real education began. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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