Monday, July 24, 2006

Never too thin or too rich?

I seem to recall someone amending the Duchess of Windsor's quote so it said, "You can never be too thin or own too many books." As far as the too-thin part goes, I don't have any worries. But I think I'm starting to wonder about the too many books. Is it possible?

This is the pile I lugged home with me on Saturday. Good thing I didn't have to walk far to any bus stops, or my arms might have been dragging on the sidewalk.

Luckily, I'd come prepared and brought a sturdy cloth bag. Still, I'm beginning to wonder about this maybe-compulsion.

Five of the books were a bonus that came along with SFU's Annual Symposium on the Novel. Another, Dead Man in the Orchestra Pit, came from a book launch in the evening. But in between these two events, what did I do? Spent time trolling bookstores and second-hand shops. What did I buy? You already know: more books.

I'm not sure there'll ever be time to read half of the books that surround me. Still, I'd really hate it if a day came along when there wasn't something at hand that I really, really wanted to read.

Considering this latest pile, that shouldn't happen any time soon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Historically speaking

Today, July 16th, is quite the day!

Not only is it the day that Catcher in the Rye was first published, it's the day they tested the first atomic bomb. How's that for two acts in one day that would change the world forever!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The story of a poem

Some while ago, I wrote a poem called "Change Room" -- a piece that was inspired by the women who attend the water-walking and water-running classes at my local pool. It started as a bunch of words that Liz Philips helped me shape into something resembling a poem, back when I was at Banff.

Last winter, I submitted the poem to Quills, a Canadian literary magazine. Yesterday, my letter carrier brought me a copy of the magazine. To my surprise, it contained my poem. But even more surprisingly, tucked into the first page was a cheque with my name on it. "Change Room" had won the magazine's First Prize.

Here's a picture of the fabulous prize.
I'll admit, it's not all that often I get to see a cheque (especially for a poem) with that many digits in it. Pretty sweet, eh?

Anyway, if you're still with me, here's the poem.

Change room

I have come to recognize
the shape of old incisions

learned to read the lines of scars
appendix, open-heart

the zigzag left on thighs
where metal hips go in

the long frown where a kidney
used to hang.

I understand the petalled scrolls
of stretch marks on breasts

indigo scribbles of varicose veins
meandering past a knee

the puckered line on an abdomen
where a doctor once reached in

pulled out the baby coiled inside
that child since grown to a man.

These women in the change room
sit down to tie their shoes

use clothes pegs to pull up their socks
have devised ingenious ways

of levering on their underwear,
outsmarting the reach of their arms.

They take balance from the strength of walls
lean into them, like lovers, with grace.

I do my best to follow the steps, mime
their cautious techniques, learn

from them, these subtle

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More fireworks

I'm just home from having spent nearly an hour down at the beach in White Rock, watching at least eight different displays of 4th of July fireworks. All those little border towns sure know how to do up a show.

The ones from Blaine were near enough to reflect on the water -- double-value for every explosion.

Nature even put on a bit of competition, with a few dramatic lightning bolts as if to remind us who's in charge. And not to be outdone, the moon shone through a hole in the clouds, a white road extending across the bay.

One of the best parts of the fireworks show is always the booming effects, especially the way they echo off the water, rolling up onto the beach.

But then on my way home, I heard the radio news. Israeli jet pilots have been told to stop flying so fast over the Gaza -- to stop breaking the sound barrier. It seems that sonic booms are part of the fear tactics designed to terrorize the people there. As I pull into the driveway, my thoughts about all those booming fireworks shifts.

I think context must make all the difference when it comes to big noises from the sky. Lucky me for living in a place where my experience of explosions is something that's exciting -- a celebration, not a part of war.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Chez Hoser, Canada Day

Welcome. This is the front door of our house today. Looks pretty calm, doesn't it. But if you could see the kitchen, you might shake your head. The sink's piled high with colanders, pots, containers, and spoons, but the first ten jars of raspberry jam are cooling down, ready to become gifts or breakfast treats in winter.

This morning, Brenna and Sharon and I went out to Aldergrove and each picked the most beautiful raspberries. Big as the top joint of your thumb, they were so perfectly ripe they pretty much rolled off into our hands. The sun on my back, the sounds of birds, quiet chatter from the people picking in the next row -- what better way to spend a Canada Day morning.

Sure, the afternoon's been a bit messy. But besides the jam, there are already berries in the freezer. What a treat they will be, come November.

And tonight, of course, the real reward: fireworks down at the beach. Once again, another Happy Canada Day, eh.