Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poetic feet

Iambs? Dactyls? Not that kind of poetic feet. The feet with the beautiful blue toenails belong to poet Sandy Shreve.

She's just released a new book of poems, Waiting for the Albatross. The book, which she calls a collection of found poems, is based on words her father wrote in 1936 when he was 21, working as a deckhand on a freighter.

It becomes clear that 80 years ago, when Jack Shreve kept those journals, there was time to observe life more closely. He notes clouds, sea birds, a shark swimming belly-up. But maybe that was just who he was -- a careful observer. I can't help but wonder whether some of that might be because he didn't have television or all the other screens we devote so much of our attention to -- screens that so often seem to keep us from the real world, from things that matter.

But back to the book. It's enhanced by black-and-white photos. Many of them are of her father and his fellow labourers on the freighter where he worked during those days when he was keeping that diary which Sandy used as source material.

So what have her feet got to do with anything?

While she was sharing some of the poems with a group of us, the day was hot and she'd kicked off her shoes. While she sat straight in her chair, holding the book and reading to us, her feet were gesticulating to the words -- every bit as eloquently as hands might have been.

I suppose it would have been more fun to have a video of those expressive feet in action, but somehow it would have been too intrusive on the gathering. You'll just have to buy the book and imagine those feet in action, swinging to the sounds of Sandy's (and her dad's) poetry.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Revisiting the (almost) 100 foot diet

Back when I used to keep my supper blog, there was a night I did an experiment in eating food that had grown in our yard. I called it the 100-foot diet.

While that wasn't quite the case with last night's meal -- the bit of couscous was from the other night, as was the eggplant spread (though it was full of onions from the yard). The bread was a cheat as well, though from a bakery not so very far away.

Still, the beans (two kinds), little tomatoes and all of the berries (blackberries, raspberries and one humongous strawberry) were all just freshly picked in time for supper.

Ah, summertime!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The House that Birdie Built

We have a bird living with us this summer. Earlier, she tried building a nest on a ledge in the gazebo, but that one didn't work out. This time she's taken up lodging in behind a potted begonia.

Where the last posting here featured the front door of our house, it seems only fair to give the same treatment to the back door. And really, this nest (hidden) is not even a metre from where we go in and out to the back yard.

I can only surmise that Birdie must have been watching decorator shows on tv, as really, this spot seems more about looks than practicality. Not only does she have pink begonia blossoms, every now and then she has waterfall sound effects, as there's a shower just inside the bathroom (nearest) window.

The little mother seems to have grown used to us, though we do try to be quiet when we pass by her
home. And watering the plant has become an exercise in precision so as not to flood her home while keeping the plant alive.

Not exactly something that should show up on Dress My Nest, but Birdie has certainly made herself a a very pretty home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Painted Door, revisited

If you’ve never read the wonderful story, "The Painted Door" by Sinclair Ross, the next time you have 15 or 20 spare minutes, you might want to click on this link to it.

Or, if you’re more into video-watching, here’s a link to a short adaptation of the piece that gives you a very good interpretation of the story.

But really, this posting isn’t about a great short story; it’s just an account of one of those jobs we leave for the days of mid-summer.

This year our house is badly in need of paint – especially all the trim, so that means the doors too. 

Because we only have one ladder (great excuse, sez I), the Dear Man is the one doing all the sanding and painting of roof-edge trim. That leaves me with the job that at least requires no climbing – the doors.

As with just about any paint job, the masking took me longer than the actual painting. I not only taped the doorknob and lock, but the top and all the edges, as those are supposed to remain white. Only a bit of jumping up onto a chair for the tippy-top. Otherwise, all was on the level.

One problem that did crop up during the job was the fact that my ‘painting shoes’ decided to choose this afternoon to almost completely disintegrate. 

Good thing this paint job isn’t going to go on for very long!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

How early is too early?

Not long ago, I noticed that the blackberries were starting to ripen. It was just an isolated few, but whoa -- that's no longer the case.

They're over a month early, but try telling that to them. They just keep ripening and ripening, so I just keep picking.

Today's berries were so plentiful, I decided I had to make some of them into jam.

One more batch of Christmas gifts, I guess, but this early feels almost scary.

No wonder even the pope is talking climate change.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

O Canada (on Canada Day)

If you're not sure who Louis Riel was, click on his name for a one-minute history lesson. Sadly, a lot of those words -- especially the ones about government -- are just as true now as they were then.

Although I'm one who considers him a hero, not everyone does (nor obviously, considering his end, did).

For several years while I was attending Simon Fraser University, I was lucky enough to live in what was called the 'married residence' even though few of us were actually married. The other, more important name for that building was Louis Riel House.

Because the university didn't look after the building as well as it might have, conditions there have made the place uninhabitable. It will be closing at the end of August. What this means is yet another chapter of affordable housing closing.

Many of us who lived there were single parents, trying to raise our kids and complete a degree. We found the building a place that enabled us to fulfill both roles.

With closure of the Louis Riel House, education will become just that much more difficult for the students (and their families) who have been living there.

It's more than a little ironic to consider these words from the man himself, Louis Riel, about the battle being "...for homes and human rights."

He understood the importance of access to housing.

If only our politicians did.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Way of the Raspberry (and other berries)

Picking raspberries allows one the time to do nothing more than look and move one's hand. Such simple, repetitive motions -- hand to berry, to bucket, to bush again -- allow time for contemplation, almost meditation.

The berries reveal themselves, each in their own way. To the picker, to the sun, to the bumblebee in search of flowers to visit. It's as if they understand the purpose of their existence -- that they were made to be eaten and enjoyed.

The darkest, deepest red of the berries let go of their branches at the slightest touch. Those paler or slightly orange cling tightly and won't allow themselves to be plucked, teaching perhaps that resistance is not, as the Borg would say, futile.

Some lie hidden, gathered in a clutch beneath a canopy of green leaves, as if in wait for the one who will seek them out, perhaps the one who will best appreciate them.

Still others push forward -- higher, higher on the branch -- standing tallest at the top of the spindliest part of the cane, maybe as if to be nearer the sun.

Already, so many berries have gone into my bucket this year. So many of those have in turn gone into bags now filling the freezer. Others have gone into jars of jam that will in turn become gifts at Christmastime.

The strawberries have come and been. Blueberries are next (tomorrow, first pick for me).

But wait a minute, what's that already ripening even though it's still June? Blackberries aren't supposed to ripen until August, are they?