lundi, décembre 31, 2007

flight dream

It always happens in the last hour of a flight away from BC. That patch of time after I have to put away my computer and the inflight movie is turned off, and I am maybe filling out a customs declaration card or flipping through the airline magazine and lazily reading the feature article in french.

Relatively unoccupied, my mind drifts toward what will happen when I get off the plane. I'll wrestle with carry-on bags (when will I come to my senses and get civilized luggage with wheels? Only 16 year old soccer team members fly with duffel bags), hike through airport tunnels that smell vaguely of bleach and sweat, and will walk through frosted-glass sliding doors into a sea of expectant people.

I'll wind my way to the exit en route to the bus or train or taxi that will zip me anonymously to wherever home is.

Having thought my movements through, I'll scramble around for transit fare, put my shoes back on, and return my chair-back and tray-table to the upright position.

And for a second I'll let my mind flit to the recurring fantasy:

I'm not sweaty or dehydrated. I've thought to retouch my subtle makeup and brush my hair in the airplane bathroom before the seatbelt sigh flicked on. My luggage is neatly packed in a chic rolling suitcase which I negotiate perfectly. And when I walk through the sliding doors, I scan the waiting faces for the one that lights up when we see each other. And then I'm wrapped in a tight hug and a voice in my ear says "I've missed you."

Left unchecked, I can spin the whole daydream out to include flowers, a quick drive into the city and dinner reservations somewhere warm and quiet.

Regardless of how far it is from reality, on my way out to the taxi stand I allow myself a quick scan of waiting faces, just in case.

mardi, décembre 11, 2007


Last night I read the first two chapters of Anne of Green Gables to the children I babysit. And I was entranced by LMM's writing. So much description, such enticing vocabulary. The intricate sentence constructions. So many references to knitting.

Again, I am surprised by that which I thought I knew intimately.

lundi, novembre 19, 2007

ten things that happened this weekend. (Not a complete list)

1. A tv show got shot. Blind Date is actually pretty staged.

2. I Deduced that my taxi driver was probably high.

3. Poached eggs.

4. Ikea!

5. An extreme rush of happiness produced purely by the confluence of scarlet sheets and an orange duvet.

6. The experience of walking against the crowd leaving the Santa Claus parade.

7. I quaked: No Country for Old Men is suspense-filled. Eek!

9. Estonian beer was consumed. (Also Ukranian, Kenyan, Latvian, Lithuanian, Canadian, Sri Lankan, and German.)

10. Road rash: my bike fell over. While was on it. (This has nothing to do with #9.)

mardi, novembre 13, 2007

These days...

have been difficult. Explaining would swerve dangerously close to clotting self-pity, suffice to say the real world is kicking my ass.

Days like Sunday are the worst: when I have nothing pressing to do and nobody I want to talk to is in this city and in the silence that is my current stereo-less existence, my mind jerks around the salmon that I reeled in last New Years Day. It jerked around in a frenzy for fifteen minutes, pulling my shoulders out of joint and demanding my numb fingers function. Then it settled down for about five minutes and I caught my breath and methodically reeled it in as the boat trolled back and forth in front of the wall of cloud that sat on the hills of Sooke. We repeated the saga, my salmon and I, for about four cycles, before I got it close enough to the boat for someone to scoop it up in the net and deposit it, writing and gasping on the aluminum floorboards of the boat.

Reeling my mind in took until four in the afternoon when I gave up. Let 'er spool out behind me as I walked down Bloor street into the wind.

lundi, novembre 05, 2007

the cheese shop

I look forward to shopping for cheese the way some women look forward to a pedicure.

My particular favourite cheese shop is nestled in Kensington Market - Toronto's answer to Camden - around the corner from the fish markets and just up the street from the shop that sells I-don't-know-what but that always has reggae music blasting out the doorway.

The first thing that hits you when you walk through the door (glass, covered in cheese posters) is the smell. Cheese. Fermenting, aging, delicious cheese. On my inaugural visit I was so unprepared for the smell that my eyes watered. I may have stumbled, blinded by cheese fumes.

The shop isn't small, but it seems to be. Along the right hand wall is the service counter, with dockets helpfully numbered. Like going to the bank, cheese shoppers wait in a queue and wait for a free teller. When I am at the front of the line, I walk up to place my order with the cheese-teller. Except I can't see who I am talking to. The entire service counter is covered in a wall of cheese. Massive rounds and block are stacked taller than my head, and the window through which I am talking is above my eye level. I'm actually staring at the label of a jalapeño spiced Gouda.

I ask for Parmesan, and a few seconds later a sliver balanced precariously on a slicer descends over the Gouda. I pop it in my mouth and pronounce it delicious. The disembodied voice of my cheese-teller asks me how much I want and I hold my hands above my head in what I hope is a rough approximation of my weekly cheese consumption.

The voice tells me to pay down at the last docket, and I wind my way through other cheese buyers and head for the door. Ten dollars disappears and I'm shoving a healthy slab of Italy into my bag.

When I get home and open the package, a blast of smell rushes out of the wax paper.

The perfect excuse to make lasagna.

mercredi, octobre 10, 2007

Through a glass dimly...

I spent last week in San Francisco:

Sunshine and a view of the bay every morning. Striding up hills through pine trees - I miss that smell - to emerge at the top of the world. Sand in my hair. Olives and rose (accent acute) under THE bridge. Cafes and more cafes(more accenting). A pirate shop with real glass eyes and a literacy tutoring mandate. Banjos in the park. A mad dash to the Cliff House and an almost perfect sunset. Micro-brewed bitter. Domesticity. The Sunday New York Times. Naps. Drag queens and 11 am beers. Smelly bus people. Dancing in the kitchen. Sorting out our lives while sitting on a rooftop overlooking the skyline. Laughing at cliches (last damn invisible accent). Five old cinemas on Mission St, now used as warehouse shops.Corned Beef Hash.

vendredi, septembre 14, 2007

On Power...

My placid morning walks to work have been usurped by a small asian woman armed with a hand held stop sign and a reflective vest.

I came of age as a pedestrian in Lebanon and Montreal where walk signals were advisory and a charming sense of carpe pavementum prevailed.

The reticence of Torontonians to step off the curb before the little white man appears bemuses me.

However, to the crossing guard stationed at the first intersection I cross in the mornings, the little white man is LAW. (Which, come to think of it, it actually is.)

Traffic or no traffic, all wheel-less commuters must wait for his elusive appearance. We then must continue to wait until the crossing guard has stalked to the middle of the road, held up her stop sign and tapped it with a businesslike briskness, and beckoned the waiting sheep to pass the danger.

Never one to kowtow to toad-stool tyrants, and quite happy to take my safety into my own caffeine-deprived hands, I often walk against the light. If there are no cars, cyclists or moving things that may hit me, I stride forth with purpose.

The crossing guard doesn't like this. The first time I pulled my daredevil stunt she stared me down from across the road. As I passed - still in one piece - she muttered, "Be careful!" in a tone not unlike that of my mother when I left for a date with an unsavory boyfriend.

The judgment of strangers, that's what I live for.

Some variant of the scene has played out most weekday mornings since school began. But I'm not an irresponsible cautionary tale, nor do I set a bad example. If there are children waiting to cross, I wait with them patiently. But if it's just me and the crossing guard and an empty street... Let's just say, danger is my middle name.

Today, she saw me coming and turned her back. I was pointedly being ignored. In a decidedly karmic moment, the usually placid street was filled with whizzing vehicles. I assessed my options, punched the button, and waited for the light to turn.

lundi, septembre 10, 2007

I work all day with words...

... and I find that when I leave the office I no longer think in words or have the ability to form sentences.

and there has been no time for writing:
revolving housemates
a second job

and friends. there are starting to be friends.

samedi, août 25, 2007


So I've learned that Toronto is really big. Things are far away from each other. For example: despite living 'downtown-ish' I actually live 4.25 km from work. My under-exercised body is still in shock that I expect it to traverse that distance twice a day on foot.

But the walk is lovely. Setting off southwards on my street, I admire the well tended front gardens of the Italian families, and compare architecture styles. No Montreal walk-ups here, Toronto is all about the front porches where people relax on easy chairs and watch the goings on of the sidewalk.

I cross College street at the heart of little Italy. The Sicilian Ice Cream Cafe is to my right and a sausage shop to my left. Instead of banners hanging from streetlights there are outlines of Italy in white chrismas lights. Complete with the islands. They look sweet and only mildly kitchy at night, but at 8 in the morning I barely notice them.

Further south is Dundas St, nominally Little Portugal. Crossing Dundas, I wend my way through a park and end up on Queen West. The park is usually quiet in the morning - some runners, pedestrian commuters like me, and occasionally an old man doing tai chi on the tennis courts. On my way home in the evening, the park is full of baseball teams, tennis players of varying caliber, and people walking their dogs.
Every day I ache for a dog. (Perhaps this is the overture of my hitherto non-existent maternal instinct...)

The final stretch is Queen St West. Slightly grotty shops selling clothing I can neither afford nor pull off - I was born without a hipster gene - are interspersed with restaurants, fabric and bead shops and the ubiquitous corner stores, their front steps festooned with buckets of cut flowers. Though I love the flowers, I carry an irrational grudge against the shops for not selling beer and cheap, bad wine.

(I think the archaic alcohol selling system could be ultimate reason I will never fully fall in love with Toronto. The provincial liquor stores are terribly stocked, the beer emporium bears a strong resemblance to Lordco auto parts stores, and the hours of opening are bizarre.)

As I continue east on Queen, the street gradually cleans itself up, such that, by the time I reach Spadina, I've passed a series of chain shops and at least two starbucks outlets.

And then it's into the featureless office buildings and the blacked out windows and heavy double doors that signal clubland. A quick turn south and I can see my office building, the neighbouring Corona bottle gently waving in the breeze.

dimanche, août 19, 2007

City: snapshot 1

Through the window of my new office I can see a two story high inflatable corona bottle on the roof of the next building.

mardi, août 14, 2007

the departure: moments of zen

#1. having coffee after pilates class on friday.

mum to the table of pilates ladies: "well, it's been remarkably un-fraught this time, probably because she isn't breaking up or hooking up with some boy..."

#2. having lunch with dear friend R (dfR) today.

R, after I briefly whined about my hatred of packing: "for someone who hates packing as much as you do, you certainly seem to put yourself in a lot of situations that require it."

#3. as I descend, yet again, to the basement of doom (aka: the packing HQ).

frere to moi: "Is that my wine you're drinking?"

samedi, août 11, 2007

Prague - a photo essay

May 22

Prague’s light this afternoon reminded me of Santiago’s haze and a lot of the buildings seem to have similar colours and styles. Also many churches.

Tomorrow we’re checking out the communist museum and finding a café with 60 types of tea.

May 23

Lots of walking today…

The Museum of Communism is housed in a large grand building between the casino and McDonalds – typical?! Lovely high ceilings and moldings. I think the rooms used to be an apartment, but they are now a very well curated chronology of the Czech communist experience. There is a lot of Soviet Realist art – all the workers and peasants had to be hearty and smiling – and a great explanation of the process of building a massive statue to honour Stalin’s legacy. First step: lengthy consultation of the ideological framework for the piece.

When it was eventually erected and unveiled in 1955, Stalin had been dead for 2 years and a few weeks (months?) later Brezhnev made his speech detailing Stalin’s atrocities. Rather embarrassing for the Czechs. It was finally (and expensively) blown up in 1961. Also interesting were the examples of anti-American propaganda. Firstly because it was all aimed at the US, Europe didn’t even figure, and secondly b/c it is so close to the rhetoric of imperialism leveled at the USA today. We got some lovely subversive postcards.

Now we’re sitting at a sidewalk table drinking beer (yet again).

He’s reading Borges – another one I don’t know – and getting excited about the good bits, reading them to me. I think he’s on page 20 and I am already plotting to steal it when he’s done.

Prague is immensely beautiful. The streets are all cobbled and the facades of buildings are decorated with purposeful purposelessness. Other than to bring smiles to the residents, I can’t comprehend the outlay of such design and construction energy. Mamet says the purpose of art is to delight us…

The city swarms with tourists, this café is in a stylish neighbourhood and most of our sidewalk-mates are speaking Czech, but mostly I catch snippets of English, German, Spanish, Cantonese…

I also feel I should have read Kafka, but I have read, an will re-read, Rilke. ~Live the questions now.~ Good advice.

jeudi, août 09, 2007

The most important thing I learned at university...

... was how to assemble ikea furniture.

I can't get a job in my field, but I can whip a set of shelves together in no time.

And they're level too.*

*(see previous post re: garage. The shelves are level because I can find the bloody levels. All six of them.)

vendredi, août 03, 2007

Summer: an gastronomic tour


These are not fish.



Marakesh tea.

Prague picnic.

moving forward, re-arranging

One of the conditions of my gainful unemployment this summer is that I 'lend a hand around the house.'

Before I arrived, mum sent me a list of projects she would like completed in and around the family farm. Most of it involved de-cluttering, and organizing. We are a family of packrats, chronic hoarders, and we are aided and abetted by the house itself which is extremely large with lots of little places to stash stuff that you don't need now but might need one day in the next 25 years. By which time you'll have forgotten where you put those welding canisters (if not forgotten that you had them in the first place) and you'll probably end up replacing them.

Over the past week I've been mired in the garage. A passing glance reveals that it contains two cars, 4 bicycles, two motorcycles, and a random engine on blocks in the corner. And about two tonnes of stuff I can't identify.

It is strange, this situation with my dad. Now, over a year after his death, I do not expect to hear the sound of his keys dropping into the drawer in the back hall, or hear his voice starting answering machine messages with 'hello family...' He is absent, he is away.

But, then again, he isn't. Pockets of the house and yard are so physically imprinted with my father, that they leave me short of breath. The garage is one such place. I'm pretty sure that a visual representation of my father's brain would look like the inside of our garage: the corners of military orderliness, the cupboards overflowing with screwdrivers and ratchet sets, the bits and pieces of projects, a battered but eminently useful radio.

It's tidier now. We can see the back corner by the vacuum tank, and I know exactly how many wire spoke MGB wheels we have.* The screwdrivers are all in a labeled jar, and most of the broken, unidentifiable, unusable in the foreseeable future stuff has been given a new home at the dump.

I guess now the garage has my brain's stamp - which could cause all sorts of problems - but, for the moment, my shoulders don't clench when I walk through, I can find a hammer if I need one, and I've got a new (ish) radio.

*Four on the car plus six extra. Thank you for asking.

mardi, juillet 31, 2007

I still knit

my hometown makes my brain melt

Things I did this weekend:

1. went to the dump. three times. the dump people now know me by name.
2. avoided being hit by stupid tourist drivers who don't know what they are doing or where they are going.
3. decided not to look at aforementioned drivers' license plates to see if they were from Alberta.
4. was the whitest person on the beach.
5. drank beer on a patio. was chatted up by a 39 year old guy in a blinding hawaiian shirt who thought I was 21. the mind boggles.

samedi, juillet 28, 2007


two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a waffle cone still warm from the waffle iron.

lundi, juillet 23, 2007

Fes tanneries

ancient history

So I am cleaning out my years of accumulated stuff from my mum's basement. And while I am most certainly display the least packrat-like tendencies of all our family members, I have managed to squirrel away* an alarming pile of photographs, letters, school assignments, yearbooks, and other random crap that must have meant something to me once.

But since I am flying the coop soon** it is time for a little consolidation if not an outright bonfire.

This morning I found my grade 7 year book. The one made especially for my class when we graduated from elementary school and stood on the cusp of 5 anxiety ridden, hormonal, years of high school. We all had two profiles: our kindergarten one and our grade seven one...

"Claire is five years old. She has blue eyes and brownish hair. She has a two year old brother. Her favourite colour is blue and her favourite food is cookies. At school she likes to play with her friends. When she is not at school she likes to play in her tree house. Claire likes the summer best because she likes to swim. She takes ballet lessons and wants to be a ballerina when she grows up."

"Claire likes dancing, shopping, volleyball, cross-country skiing, running, reading , swimming waterskiing and motorcycling, but dislikes people who only talk about one thing all the time, computers, boring science classes, tennis, football, coleslaw, and rice salad. Her pet peeves are people who think they are the best at everything and stupid guys. Her favourite saying is 'But that's ok.' Her goal is to get through college, move to New York and be on Broadway. Her favourite parts of being in grade seven are not having anyone ahead of you in school and the privileges. Being a graduate of the year 2000 means she will be able to wear a 'Class of '00' sweatshirt, but it's also a big responsibility because people will have high expectations of us."

I could analyse these to death, but this is self indulgent enough. Mostly they make me giggle.

*Monday is the official "day of bad animal similes/metaphors"
**It's true, I could keep this up forever...

dimanche, juillet 22, 2007


clearly "soon" is relative.

I left England a month ago, but it seems simultaneously like a moment and decades since I stepped on the plane.

I am not good at saying goodbye. I hate the implied permanence and the wrench in my sternum when we actually part and walk away from each other. The sudden absence of loved ones, when an hour ago we were laughing and drinking wine, throbs for days. And every encounter leading up to the appointed minute of waving through a train window borrows the upcoming sadness. Like paper towel absorbing spilled coffee.

While goodbyes are not my forte, being said goodbye to is even worse. I hate being left behind. I feel so futile, (is that even possible? for one's entire being to be futile?) whenever I am the one wishing safe travels and helping with luggage. Standing at Heathrow crying into my sleeves I remembered a teeshirt slogan: "If you leave me, I am coming with you." Except it was in French, so it sounded much more chic and less desperate. And, to be fair, when people leave me I don't always want to go off on their adventures with them, I just want to be going on my own and not right back out the whooshing airport doors and into a normal Saturday.

So then it was back to canadia: cupcakes, wild laughter, a drunken thursday, and manic conversation started the relocation off. Then another trip to the damn airport to put someone I love on a plane, and a few days of quiet before an orgy of landscaping and construction. When I am 87 I would like to be able to haul landscaping ties around in 30 degree heat. My grandfather did for the better part of a week, and now we have a nice retaining wall that is both level and not about to fall over.

The garden is planted with goodies: peppers, beans, tomatoes, and carrots. But since le frere used the carrot patch for theatrical pyrotechnics practice* we have seen no carrots. To be fair, I don't think he knew about the carrots because I didn't label them, but then, I wasn't expecting the symphony of fire in our back yard.

As promised, Morocco...

The Sahara, 15 km from the Algerian border...

(in an effort to force myself to actually write more regularly, the photos will be spread out over a bunch of posts. for all 2 of you who read this...)

*yes, my brother was setting of fireworks in our vegetable garden. No, I don't have pictures.

lundi, juin 11, 2007

Five Things

1. The best result of French colonialism in Morocco is killer espressos.
2. The worst is French keyboards.
3. Camel riding is not, and never will be, comfortable.
4. Vache Qui Rit cheese tastes just the same in Prague as in Marakesh
5. I have a job in Toronto, starting in August.

photos will be posted ... soon... inshallah

jeudi, mai 10, 2007


Damien Rice is singing about time. And, as per usual, I am wasting it. These aren't the procrastination diaries for nothing.

Unsurprisingly, after a seemingly unending series of unhappy days, as soon as I made the decision to leave the universe cranked up to warp speed. Now I am running on quicksand: writing articles, editing and re-writing other articles, pulling loose ends together, planning out the last month in minute detail.

The funny thing is, I still have no concrete plans. As of June 11, I have no itinerary, no job, no plane tickets.

Stuff is in the works, interviews are pending, and my bank balance is (for now) healthy. I am practicing deep zen breathing, because we all know how well I handle uncertainty.

What I have found interesting, as I search for future opportunities, is how much my perspectives have shifted. Jobs that a year and a half ago would have been first on my list, are relegated to the maybe list by virtue of what would have attracted me to them in the first place. Case in point: Uganda. A fantastic journalism job, opportunity to travel and work on human rights issues. The possibility to actually do good things in the world and change stuff.

And the thought of accepting (if in fact it is offered to me, which, to be accurate, hasn't happened yet) turns my stomach. Another instance of Claire running away from the chaos that is home. Immersing myself into a whole other type of chaos because I don't want to deal with the familiar stuff. Selfish. But also... angry with myself for caving, for giving up something that I would be good at and that I've always wanted.

It's not a fine balance. There is no balance.

lundi, avril 30, 2007

it's really only 100 words...

... but I've been staring at the computer screen all day, alternately trolling my bookmarked websites for updates or idly stalking people on facebook.

100 words. No big deal. In fact, I am pretty sure I will surpass that in the next three minutes of typing here, explaining to myself and the hinternets why I am incapable of finishing off what we all know is a task I am more than capable of.

I think that's the point. That I can do it. That I know I can do it. In fact, it is so abundantly clear to me that writing this damn paragraph is something THAT I CAN DO WELL, that I feel as though just calling up the potential employer and explaining what lovely paragraphs I write would be a better use of my time.

And also, if I don't write it, I can't screw it up.

That's the other side of my bi-polar literary paralysis: the numbing fear that somehow I won't be good enough, that my 100 words will suck so insanely much that I will hear the editors' guffaws all the way from Toronto. Because they are like that in Toronto: they guffaw.

I also know that I write best when I am so stressed that I secrete terror and exhaustion from my pores. Fear is my greatest motivator, and over the years I have learned that I will procrastinate until I am so wound up with anxiety that I am about to puke, and then I will sit down and write killer stuff. It's 8 pm now. The 100 words are due at 3pm tomorrow. I figure I've got another 2 hours before I really light on fire.

Maybe they'll see my hair burning from TO.


jeudi, avril 19, 2007

the coolest thing today:

is this

Also cool is calling up the designer and asking him "So, how did you come up with this idea...."

I've decided to haul myself out of Dodge. The unhappiness and insanity of the last few months don't seem to be abating and the job isn't worth it. I'll be somewhere else in June.

Not exactly sure where yet, but not in a house with 12 other people.

mardi, mars 27, 2007

living vicariously

It's official. I have no life. This isn't a terminal condition, and I'm planning my escape, but for the moment I really do not have a personal/private/social/cultural life.

The other day, I read an article which explained how, if one is ever kidnapped and held in isolation, one can retain one's sanity by thinking about doing a favourite hobby (for example building model boats)down to the most infinitesimally small details (imagining the tiny little nails and knots on the boat).

Not really into boats, I've been trying this technique with knitting. I've long ago given up hope of actually knitting- 3 inches on one sock in 3 months is embarrassing- but imaginary knitting just hops along during staff meetings.

Just last week I finished this and this and I'm almost done the sleeves for this.

Maybe next I'll teach myself to crochet...

lundi, mars 19, 2007

today I learned...

...that certain departments of international organizations do not understand the principles of basic punctuation. Show me a language in which a space between a word and the semicolon following it like this: "claire is slowly going out of her mind ; a process rapidly advanced by inane emails and questions." It is WRONG! So do not waste my time asking me to fix mistakes in a translation that YOU MADE that don't exist. annoyingly self-centered anorexic teenagers really are. I mean, even at my most neurotic and foodless I didn't steal 12 apples and 6 pears and a bunch of bananas from a communal kitchen and expect nobody to notice. I NOTICED. I NOTICED WHEN I WENT TO THE KITCHEN TO GRAB A SNACK AND ALL THE FRUIT THAT WE BOUGHT AT THE MARKET THIS MORNING WAS GONE. Since I've only seen you eat fruit in the three days that you have been here, I am pretty sure it was you. Honestly. If fruit is all you are going to eat, go buy your own damn pears. be careful when I send emails and to make sure not to accidentally include the address of an ex-girlfriend when I send an email to my dad. Because I'm pretty sure he'll feel stupid when I email him to point out that since we haven't spoken in a year, hearing from him via an email explaining to his father how to use skype and how his job sucks, is an odd way to get in touch.

...that I am a hellish procrastinator. I have one final article to write for the magazine. 250 words. I'm facing down the wrath of my editor in a big way. Yet somehow I can write angry, incoherent blog posts. Time management: a concept clearly lost on me.

dimanche, mars 04, 2007

I am a terrible photographer...

...but Maria is not.

check her out.

mardi, février 27, 2007

talking to the top of the world...

Mostly I really like what I do for work. Researching, writing and editing for a publication that is vaguely scientific forces me to expand my mind and learn about stuff that I'd otherwise be totally oblivious of. Like myoglobin and how it helps Weddell seals dive for up to an hour without breathing.

But. The last couple of months have felt less like rainbows and cotton candy and my little ponies, and more like a perpetual pine cone probe of my nether regions (sans Vaseline).

It's kind of my own fault, since I am bad at politely saying: "No, I can't help you with that project that you are totally capable of doing yourself, because I have other commitments-such as my own job description, my sanity, and self worth."

And the fun doesn't stop for another five weeks.

Anyways. This morning there was a small moment of zen.

Listening over a crackling satellite phone line as a warm New Zealand accented voice described what he could see out the window of his office. At 85,32N, 125,56E the sea ice stretches out in every direction. It's pretty flat, except for the pressure ridges that form where currents and wind grind ice slabs together, plate tectonics in miniature. Right now, nearing the end of the Arctic winter, the sky gets light between 4 am and noon, bathing the luminous landscape in weak twilight. Aside for the noise of wind and creaks of ice, it is quiet.

dimanche, février 25, 2007

I disappeared...

... because what with work, and life and the universe, it's been a tough couple of months.

I am really, really tired.

lundi, janvier 22, 2007

The best hour of the week

Yesterday four of us went tramping off into the Hertforshire countryside. Public footpaths and bridleways and rolling green hills bleeding into silver as the sun set. Puddles. Mud.

Because Sundays are for Pubs, we ended up at my favourite in the village: leaded windows, warm, buttery light, exposed beams and local ale on tap.

We entered hesitantly because our wellies were muddy and English Wellie Etiquette is ephemeral and we didn't want to screw it up and be forever known as "those fooking foreigners who tramped mud all over our carpets". The village is too small to take such risks.

The Irish barmaid told us to take off our wellies and put them on newspapers on the hearth of the fireplace. "Ahh sure, and it's a good thing to see wellies by the fire. It's the right place for them."

Sitting by a fire, drinking ale, in a pub, in one's stocking feet is the best use of a Sunday afternoon I have found yet.

dimanche, janvier 07, 2007

May grace and peace be with you...

... may your hearts be filled with joy.

No matter that God and I are on a hiatus. I still like benedictions. There are a lot of them swirling around at the end of December and I usually give them short shrift. They seem to be ironic, smug, cliches. All that peace and love and sanctity blaring out from speakers in frenzied shopping malls or in snowy, packed, parking lots.

I can't take their cloying happiness. Especially not this year. Escape came in too much sleep, mind numbing television (Q:how much csi can a person watch before her brains run out her ears? A: a lot), too much wine and the resultant rough mornings.

But it is January now. Everything is grey. And I can breathe more easily. So a benediction.

Personally, joy is too much to strive for. That'll take a while. But in the last three weeks there were moments of peace and more of grace. It's always grace, isn't it? And because I am not the sharpest needle in the haystack, it surprises me every time.

Laughing with le frere on the ferry deck. Wet cedar logs on a west coast beach that stained the tide pools crimson. Choosing my grandmother's diamonds, catching my earlobes sparkling in a shop window. Reeling in a fish. Walking Vancouver's downtown grid with splendid music in my ears-oh ipod, how did I ever live without you? Unexpected kindness. Being held in strong arms and resting my head on your sternum and ceasing-for five minutes-to be self sufficient.