There goes the neighbourhood

“Mamaaa! Maaa-maaa! Maaaaa!” his thin, sharp cry carried through the screen door, sieved into mosquito sized pieces and scattered through twelve back yards. Deck doors clunked closed, but I was in my back garden listening to wind chimes, which I swear his sound waves agitated, and I wanted to be outside.chimes

“Darius!” his mother yelled. “Stop whining! Do you hear anyone else behaving like you? Just stop!”

I went inside and closed the door. I could still hear the caterwauling.  I wanted to invite them both over to listen to the chimes but I didn’t. Continue reading

All grown up



Miraculously, the May-June-July  monsoons did not prevent the cherries from ripening. Somehow they gleaned enough light and energy from the milky sun to turn into hundreds of juicy blisters ready to burst. They reddened within days and the annual race to pick and pit before the starlings and squirrels reaped the bounty was on.  Continue reading

Memory map


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


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


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

Profoundly seeing


National Gallery of Canada’s Grand Hall

This is our tradition on New Year’s Eve: Make a fancy dinner, drink wine, and watch a movie together. It started in 2008, when the best paying contract I’ve ever had came to the end and we decided to eat like January 1st was the start of the zombie apocalypse. No matter that I’d be collecting unemployment insurance until I found another job and the future was as murky as a snow filled sky. We would what-the-hell it up, mouths brimming with bonhomie. Continue reading

Nine hours and fifteen minutes*


The rejected hat

No one in the family likes this hat. Composed of odds and ends of yarn leftover from other projects, it flops at the back halfheartedly, neither all the way down nor pointing straight out. No one has a coat that matches it either. Its awkward, like the sad uncle who shows up at Christmas and slumps in the plaid wing chair, sending out waves of malaise along with a faint aroma of wet wool, coffee breath, and an under note of evergreen air freshener. Continue reading

The Walking Dead meet The Apprentice

We climbed. The path was steep and right away my heart rate rose. For ten minutes we plodded uphill along a trail through naked trees. Wind came straight at us throwing an angry crowd of leathery leaves in our faces. I couldn’t look up so I watched my feet and my pink Adidas pick out safe places to tread between loose twigs and scree and rocks.

My legs felt removed from my head and I watched them work their way along the path, wondering how they could function so well without me. Branches rattled in the wind, more leaves tackled each other in a mass disordered scrimmage. A small stream fumbled over boulders, falling over itself to tumble into Meech Lake below, sloshing like a disinhibited drunk stumbling out of a tavern, slurring invitations to passing women. Continue reading

None of my business

My dear American neighbours*,, a job search site, has seen a 50% spike in the number of you looking for jobs in Canada this year. There’s no wall to stop you, of course, because long before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we had a porous border and folks from both sides flowed like Great Lake waters back and forth. But as the Great Pumpkin rises in America, I’d like you who are considering jumping the 49th parallel to move from Tribeca to Toronto or Vero Beach to Vancouver to bear in mind a few things. You might not notice it right away, but we are different from you. For instance: Continue reading