Monday, 1 July 2019

Gifts from the Maple Leaf Fairy

The Resident Fan Boy has resumed his custom of draping our dwelling with a flag for Canada Day. He had stopped during Stephen Harper's Reign of Middle Management. I awoke this morning and it was like the Maple Leaf Fairy had left a blessing for the homes of good little Canadians.

So how is one a good little Canadian? Well, there's this much-shared video, which has much that Canadians might recognize, although some things have changed in the three brief years since this was first produced. Note the outdated references to the Raptors, Donald Trump, and Stephen Harper himself.



I was wondering why some of the actors looked familiar, and realized I'd seen them in the YouTube series Convos with My Two-Year-Old, which operates on the strange conceit of a father recreating actual chats with his toddler daughter -- who is played by a grown man.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

June will change her tune in restless walks

Out at 9 am to walk down the long hill via Linden Avenue. I'll miss going by this route on a regular basis.

I'm brought to a standstill by these. I don't know what they are; Demeter would. They are buzzing with bees and fluttering with butterflies - none of which hang around for a photograph.

Never mind, I know that they're there, and, perhaps foolishly, they give me hope for the planet.

Please don't tell me differently.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Might have been the paint fumes (Write of passage number fifty)

The RFB and younger daughter elect to walk Demeter home after dinner at a Japanese restaurant to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

I'm exhausted after a long day of running errands, so I trot in the opposite direction to the bus stop, where an express bus is loading passengers. The express bus doesn't drop me off as close to our apartment as other buses do, but it's a Friday evening and I have no offhand idea about when the other buses might be coming, so I join the queue, and find myself an aisle seat, which is fine, because my destination is a few stops east.

"How are you this evening?" says a man sitting directly across the aisle, about two feet away. He is deeply tanned with grizzled stubble and dark brown eyes.

"Very well indeed," I respond automatically. It's Victoria, and this is a short ride.

"That's good! Where are you from?"

I'm a wee bit startled. "Pardon?"

"Where are you from? Are you anglaise?"

I'm even more nonplussed: a) because no one has asked if I'm English for years; and b) his accent sounds neither French nor Qu├ębecois to me.

"Well, I'm from here."

"Here?"

"Yes, I grew up here."

He launches into a description of his plans for the evening. He tells me he wants beer; he wants to bathe in beer.

"Well," I tell him, "fancy ladies use to wash themselves in beer."

"Ah, I paint all day," he says. (His clothes attest to this.) "I want the beer for my head; it will make me right."

I chuckle and rise. "Well, have a lovely evening!"

"Goodnight! I love you!" he calls after me as I step down on to the pavement.

Friday, 28 June 2019

The case against clairvoyance

The Resident Fan Boy and I are trembling on the brink of another major wedding anniversary -- but not this year. Next year.

I post a wedding photo on Facebook each June, in part to preserve photos on the internet, so I decided that this year, not being a major anniversary, but a sizeable one - they get bigger annually - I should skip the usual ones of bride and groom, and go for a shot of the guests.

I chose "before-and-after" shots of the moment that I, having been made to turn my back, threw my bouquet. In the first, the single ladies, all either born in the same year as me, or just a couple of years before or after, are standing in wait. In the second, Double Leo Sister is spiking the bouquet like a volleyball into the arms of a woman due to be married in a month.

And now, years later, I find myself gazing at the young women in their pretty summer dresses, remembering that, of the crowd, only one woman remains single. (She's school principal and a proud aunt.) Another died a dozen years ago. Of the others, about half divorced their eventual husbands; three married twice.

I look in the background, and see my aunt, and others who were middle-aged and older at the time -- all gone now; and a young man with his cup of coffee - years before losing a son to suicide.

Prescience would be such a burden, particularly at weddings.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Fear of watching

I've been trying to finish watching the second season of The Handmaid's Tale.

It's been on the PVR for months. I think I got something like two thirds of the way through.

The trouble is, I need three things in order to be able to watch The Handmaid's Tale:
1) I need to be alone because the Resident Fan Boy won't watch it, and younger daughter shouldn't watch it.
2) Because I have to be alone to watch The Handmaid's Tale, I need to be in a relatively sunny mood.
3) It has to be during the day, because no matter how cheerful I'm feeling, I'm not going to watch ritualized rape, tortures and executions at night.

Of course, now the third season's begun, and I'm really getting behind.

The thing about The Handmaid's Tale, it's well-written, well-acted, and way too damn plausible. Margaret Atwood always said there wasn't anything in the story that hadn't happened, or isn't happening to women.

While I'm trying to get my nerve up, I thought this 2017 parody, with the cast of Saturday Night plus guest host Chris Pine, might be bearable:



Well, I guess it is. It's still way too damn real.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Mapped out

About three years ago, I was trudging through a parking lot in the bleak landscape that is Hades in early May. Directly ahead of me, trundling down Loyer Street, was the Google Car with its tent-pole multi-directional camera perched on top.

It took some weeks, but the next time Street View was updated, there I was, looking a bit like a bear, carrying my cloth shopping bags filled with cake mix for younger daughter's approaching birthday. I screen-saved it, of course. It wasn't the most flattering view of me, but it's a memory, now long gone from Google Maps.

This morning, I walked past our future condo, and noticed the Sold sign from last week had disappeared. I guess it's pretty well ours now, although we can't go in until August. While I was thinking how glad I was that I'd taken a picture of the sign, a white car with a tent-pole multi-directional camera sailed by.

I checked the time. 9:48 on the morning of 26 June 2019. Persephone walking by her future condo on her way to Moka House.
I'll check Google Maps in a few weeks.

Unless it was an Apple Maps car. Or a Bing car. Or....

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

So swishy

With weekly excursions to Pic-a-Flic, I've been seeing a lot of films that I always meant to see. Last night, it was The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - a strange film, even for Wes Anderson. I had decided on it, because I showed Moonrise Kingdom to the Resident Fan Boy last week, and he had loved it.

Life Aquatic almost lost me in the first half, but things picked up. The film ends with a tribute to the march that finishes the 1984 flick The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which, frankly, is the only memorable thing about Buckaroo Banzai.

Anyway, at the close of The Life Aquatic, Bill Murray hoists a young boy on his shoulders as the credits roll. As he struts determinedly toward his cartoonish boat, he is joined, one by one, by the other cast members. The gentleman in the beige jacket joining the group at just past the two-minute-mark is none other than Bud Cort, the star of one of my all-time favourites Harold and Maude (1971)

I loved the song they were strutting to, but didn't recognize it. All through the film, a crew-member sings various David Bowie classics in Portuguese, sometimes to a bossa nova rhythm. However, this finale was accompanied by the original recording of Bowie himself singing "Queen Bitch", which is from one of his earlier albums Hunky Dory. Apparently, Bowie wrote "Queen Bitch" after going to see the Velvet Underground in New York on his first trip to the United States, not realizing that Lou Reed had left the band.

This made me realize why I was responding to the song - it's very much like the Underground's "Sweet Jane".


I'm up on the eleventh floor and I'm watching the cruisers below
He's down on the street and he's trying hard to pull sister Flo
Oh, my heart's in the basement, my weekend's at an all-time low
'Cause she's hoping to score, so I can't see her letting him go
Walk out of her heart, walk out of her mind, oh not her

She's so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat
Oh God, I could do better than that

She's an old-time ambassador of sweet-talking, night-walking games
And she's known in the darkest clubs for pushing ahead of the dames
If she says she can do it, then she can do it, she don't make false claims
But she's a queen and such are queens that your laughter is sucked in their brains
Now she's leading him on, and she'll lay him right down
Yes, she's leading him on, and she'll lay him right down
But it could have been me, yes, it could have been me
Why didn't I say, why didn't I say, no, no, no

So I lay down a while and I gaze at my hotel wall
Oh, the cot is so cold it don't feel like no bed at all
Yeah, I lay down a while and I look at my hotel wall
And he's down on the street, so I throw both his bags down the hall
And I'm phoning a cab 'cause my stomach feels small
There's a taste in my mouth and it's no taste at all

Bud Cort, incidentally, has a connection with the sort of arts scene that Bowie was witnessing on that trip. He was in a play, and living with someone whose name escapes me, who was either with Andy Warhol or the Velvet Underground (or both).

Monday, 24 June 2019

Moon moments

With our lives and living quarters on the brink of change, I find myself thinking of what I'll remember and miss about the apartment that has been our home for nearly two years.

Chief will be the view from windows and balcony, where we have a front row seat to the schoolyard, far more entertaining and less intimidating than we'd feared, and sightings of many of the celestial events on offer.

Six months ago, I had a cold and clear encounter with the eclipse of this year's Wolf Moon. First, the bottom was nibbled away and the orb seem to slowly vanish into its own cloud, leaving a pewter marble, with a hint of an orange glow,  hanging above the schoolyard.

As the earth's shadow finally engulfed it, the stars became clearer. There were two bright stars above it seeming to point to this globe that I could almost pluck out of the sky, and after a few minutes, I noticed the constellation of Orion twinkling to the right through the bare branches of the tree next door. Below, a group of men chatted as they passed around a telescope, and a woman strode down the sidewalk, not looking up at all.

I ventured out every twenty minutes or so, watching the dark disc rise higher and higher, and remembering another blood moon, maybe about ten years ago in Hades, when the dark red moon glowed between our house and our neighbours', and people trudged by. I wanted to shout at them: "Did you see it? Can you see it?" The Resident Fan Boy remembered another one in Victoria, when he couldn't convince four-year-old elder daughter to come see it. I was able to persuade younger daughter to come out on the balcony to see this one.

Six months later, a recent treat has been the Strawberry Moon, rising at the same time as an unusually close Jupiter, who glittered through the thick summer leaves, if you knew where to look.  Across the street, a rather grungy fellow had enthroned himself on someone's discarded armchair - it's also the season for our neighbours getting rid of unwanted furniture.  Not particularly wanted either, he grumbled to himself under the moon, and ignored the huge planet over his shoulder in the southeast.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Twenty-first century shopping

I was in quest of an appropriate gift for the daughter of Friend Who Sings and Gardens.  Having finished medical school, the daughter is off to my birthplace of Edmonton to do her internship.  This meant finding something that might help her through the winter, yet not take up space in her suitcase.

I decided on a Mountain Equipment Co-op gift card, since she might find something warm, or, barring that, something to ward off the summer mosquitoes.

The membership number on our MEC card had worn off twice over the course of seventeen Hadean winters, where Mountain Equipment Co-op is practically a matter of survival, either first or second-hand.  I was perfectly prepared to take out a new membership - even though you don't need one to purchase a gift card - but the cheerful young man at the till was game for some detective work.

I seemed to remember it was under the Resident Fan Boy's name, and the till-man found his name -- on the wrong street in Hades.  (The RFB has a rather popular name.)  After assuring him we'd lived nowhere else but in Hades and Victoria - at least since becoming MEC members, we tried my name.  No luck.  Did I remember my Ottawa phone number? 

Oh gawd.

I could remember the last four digits, then deliberately tried not actually thinking about it, to see if the full sequence came unbidden from the outer edges of my brain.

It did.  And there it was, on his database.  The RFB, for reasons known only to himself, had added some initials -- possibly due to that other guy in Hades bearing his name.

The cheerful young man scrawled the membership number across our ancient card in indelible ink, just as they had in Hades a dozen years ago.  It will probably wear off again.

Then I purchased a $25 gift card.

"She can get a nice pair of socks," he said.

Damn.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Writing a letter to myself

In the early days of the new summer, I find myself remembering this delightfully offbeat and aestival video from 1988, all shot in primary colours with people wandering and scampering in the fields in their socks.


Just write a letter and mail it to yourself
Read it out loud but to no one else
Pick your pocket a measure of time
And never leave these memories behind
 
You'll sing 'til tomorrow
And the days that will follow
But it's never the same
When you feel you're insane
On the bed where you lay
There's a plan that was made
But it's never the same
When your hopes go astray
 
Just write a memo, and hang it on your wall
A small reminder of why you're here at all
So look around, and groove to the sound
Let's see those feet rise up from the ground

Now the princess washes dishes
She's done more harm than any good
I am a witness of hugs and kisses
Loneliness is never understood
 
So paint a picture of things that aren't real
Remember shame when it's time to kneel
And don't forget the things that you say
Could all come back to you some other day