Hope1Forest fires had crisped the mountains on the long drive across British Columbia. Ashes blessed the car as they drove through scorched hills quilled with trees that looked like blackened toothpicks. A funeral pyre of their former lives.

The town of Hope sprung up under sharp blue skies irrigated by a bustling river, so they stopped. Lawns were green and Douglas Firs tickled the clouds. They could have lived in Hope, but then they saw the dogs. Continue reading

The C-word

The table wobbled while Harry doodled. He shoved a folded piece of paper under the off-kilter leg but it refused his help. He saw no solution to their homeless situation. An amateur gardener gifted with hoes, and a poet who wrote about flowers was not likely to find work in a world run by Google gods and Zucker-burghers. Continue reading

Lady listed

“Ants can-canning into the kitchen all day long,
water stained plaster ceilings from overflowing toilets,
pots with no lids, mismatched cutlery, chipped dinner plates,
strings of old Christmas lights with broken bulbs twisted and stuck inside the sockets …

“I’m sure I can fix the lights!!”

Lady continued:” …wheelbarrows, spades, hedge trimmers, a casket, an MGB hiding under canvas, rusted drill bits and pieces that look like dentist paraphernalia…

“Don’t throw them out! They’ll come in handy to fix the Christmas lights. And the garage isn’t THAT big a mess. And I WILL turn the casket into a flower-box.”

“STOP interrupting me, Harry!”

Lungs renewed, she continued her litany: “A laundry tub so filthy it looks like the inside of a coal-miner’s lungs,
mouse poop polka dots in the pantry and the trapped bodies of mice to dispose of,
cat pee perfuming the basement,
dripping faucets that drip-drop on my heart at 2:00 a.m.,
a willful furnace with seasonal affective disorder,
doors that stick and doors that open by themselves,
a paint colour palette from 1942,
frayed seat cushions – Don’t tell me to turn them over because I can’t turn them over, because the other side is stained, too, because SOME people eat their dinner on the settee –

“You cavil, luv.”

“Cavil emptor, Harry, cavil emptor.”

On she went: “Mushrooms sprouting from the molding bathroom grout,
a four burner range with only two burners working and an oven that switches off half way through banana loaf,
linoleum floors lifting in the corners,
a stained enamel kitchen sink that looks like a tie-died t-shirt,
shabby sheer curtains that didn’t used to be sheer,
floor boards that creak during a thunderstorm,
a crumbling chimney and a chipped hearth.”

Harry, sighed. Life had been good in the manor but the gatehouse…

Lady looked at her down-in-the-dumps sweetheart, his bald spot visible as he blinked into his mug of tea, blowing on the already cool drink.

“But Harry?, she added, “The garden is perfect.”

What to pair?


Her polished and manicured nails tapped, gestured, and pointed like laser beams as she chatted. His eyes followed their movements. They were mauve, like the tulips marching up the sides of the gravel driveway, with rounded tips, paler underneath, slivered crescents of colour that she dug her thumb nail under, flicking and clicking as she read her women’s magazine. She licked her index finger to turn the page. Watching her made him hungry.

He picked up the Easter issue of Chatelaine. The cynosure of food photography teased him. Maybe they should try something new, get the juices flowing. “Creamy Turkey Penne with Brussel Sprouts” would jump-start the conversation – although the recipe didn’t match her nails. Or he could try the “Roast Lamb Turkish Pizzas”, a little Kasbah Italienne Alfresco with a nice Merlot. (Does one dine Alfresco or Alfredo?) Or should it be white wine with lamb pizza – a nice fidgety Pinot Grigio? He didn’t know. A beer would be good.

He was such a bum. It was a mystery what she saw in him, except he could cook. Recipes were like architectural drawings or landscape plans. Step by step and – voila – romance on a plate!

“Harry, I feel like Italian sausages on the grill tonight.”

Thank god, the pressure was off, but he still didn’t know what wine to buy.

Sark Snark

Holding the bucket of vomit, Harry watched Lady Smock leave. The compromise weekend on Sark made neither of them happy. To top it off, he knew he should have fixed the sconce in the kitchen before they left. He could see it was gnawing her. Aggravated and angry he booted the bucket and watched it rocket off the dock and over the swelling water, trailing his bile.

Lady Smock heard the clatter and saw the volitant vomit ribbon through the air then heard it splatter across the waves. She marched up the hill, through the village with Harry, light-headed and empty from the channel crossing, following behind, bumping their wheeled suitcases along the cobbled road.

They checked into Sue’s B & B and Tea Garden. The proprietress, Nancy, gabbled on about the touchy shower which only produced enough warm water between 8:00 and 8:11 precisely, so be quick about it. They were. Afterwards they lay on the bed thinking about England.

Harry knew

It was a lie and Harry knew it. The truth was theoretical to Lady Smock, like a science experiment, an idea to float, see how he took it, and then conduct herself on the basis of her theory.

For instance, today she told him she appreciated his making all their holiday arrangements without confirming the details. Yes, yes, they talked, talked, talked about what to do and when to go but he knew she wanted to do it herself. After all, it was her money. He averred she had every right to be upset but as usual she tried to cover her feelings with a theory. In theory, she would accept his decision with grace. In theory.

“Thank you, Harry. I’m tickled pink you chose Guernsey instead of Mont St-Michel! Yes, it would be fun to tour the hedge veg culture on Guernsey. Lovely. Just lovely. Toast and marmite for breakfast is lovely, too. Who wants fresh croissants and local brie with café au lait for breakfast? Yes, you’re right, of course you are. Travel can be so upsetting to the tummy.”

Her wet shoes squeaked as she came up the path returning from her morning beach-walk and Harry knew the truth was going to come out. He and the shoes would be hung out to dry.

(Frankly, I, Windy Mama, would rather go to Guernsey but Lady Smock can be very stubborn. After I read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, this island is right up there on my list of places to go. However, the question today is where would YOU rather go?)

Pernod et Poirot

Image result for pernod posterHarry wasn’t usually maudlin, but when he read Agatha Christie he craved Pernod. Poirot’s postulations made him reach for “The Green Beast” and once started down that path he was well on his way to a sappy night. Lady Smock had banned the books from the house but Harry had a library card and she couldn’t watch him every second, could she?

“Darling, I’m off to town to do a few errands”, Harry hollered.

Later, the scent of anise and the dregs of green in the tea cup beside the sink told her she was in for a long night.

Propped up in bed, Murder on the Orient Express open on his chest, Harry bemoaned trampled gardens, wormwood run amok, and ex-wife Melissa’s (the bitch) theft of his beloved collection of vintage custard crockery.

The next day, fur-tongued and contrite, Harry relinquished his library card. Lady Smock made salmon with fennel and Pernod for dinner, and the trustees of the Balthazar Herbert Hyssop-Smock Memorial Library were delighted to welcome her to the board of directors.

Gardening without gloves

From the first sip of tea on the second date, he knew Lady Smock was a gift from the heavens, the way she blew on the rouged surface as though extinguishing a bolide. His mind wandered to a conjugal bed where sleeping would be an afterthought. Well, a man can dream, can’t he? He blamed it on the invitation to dine on sausage rolls on their first date. Who could resist a woman who ate rich sausages hidden in buttery pastry and didn’t fret about the calorie consequences?

“What do you know about amending acidic soil, Harry?” Lady Smock’s left eyebrow rose, following her voice into a question mark.

Harry knew squat about gardening. He hated getting his hands dirty, afterwards scraping his nails clean, scrubbing grime from his dried finger pads. Gardening was a penance. Yes, he loved flowers but that’s why florists exist. But he’d read – “Poultry droppings are just the ticket”, he replied, not knowing her hen-house needed a good mucking out.

They left together, discussing pH balance and the risks of gardening without gloves.


He stank like asafetida and no one said “Take a bath.” They approved. They knew, too, on Parliament Hill, in the Boy Scouts, the police force, among celibacy’s who’s who. Oh ya. They knew. Feet stuck in it. Hands clapped on mouths and noses wretching so bad Assad would be glad to add it to his arsenal. No wintergreen gum or solvent could cut or dissolve it, he got away with it. Put the gum on his shoe and see what he’d do. Let it stick a while.

Sue vs. the argot

The word stared – a gang tag,
telling in so many ways.

Itchy, like eczema or scabies
or maybe a tic.

I am outside the word. Pissed.
Hurt. How dare it!

Cults and old boys and cliques.
Tennis clubs and decades long pals

and forever marriages
and new lovers.

Long conversations and
seven veiled words.

Pedagogues not teachers.
Damn the argot.