Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Full circle

Sitting in the coffee shop at 10:30 this morning, I realized I was coming full circle.

About this time a year ago, the smaller plane from Vancouver to Victoria was curving over the Strait of Georgia.

I remember very little of the journey from Ottawa, begun at an insanely early hour; this is probably an indication that it was a mercifully uneventful trip.  However, I do remember craning to see my first glimpse of Vancouver Island, because, this time, we were finally returning for good.

Much like this morning, the mist was clumping like meringue in the inlets below.

When we flew into Victoria airport twelve months ago, it had been eighteen years since our last October 24th in the city, but the days between September 5th and October 23rd this year were the first of these dates that I had spent in Victoria since 1999 -- nineteen years.  We left for Ottawa on August 31st, 2000, and the longest summer house-sit I'd obtained in Victoria ended September 4th, 2004.

Today, I feel that, to a degree, I have reclaimed my hometown.  As much as I miss elder daughter, Hades has no pull on me.

I feel triumphant and defeated.  Persephone is home.  So much has been lost.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Slow vote to Fernwood

The Resident Fan Boy and I voted in one of the advanced polls in the recent municipal election for Victoria, partly to avoid the crowds and partly to plough the path for younger daughter, as this is her first election in British Columbia.

Good thing we did!  A civic election has to be the toughest of the three levels of elections; municipal politics get less press coverage than provincial and federal politics on the whole, and there's usually a huge selection of candidates, for more positions, so it's not a simple matter of ticking one square for an MLA or MP.

This election, for example, was for mayor, plus (up to) nine city councillors, (up to) eight school board trustees, and, to really complicate matters, a choice of which councillor to send to the Capital Region District, and a referendum.

On top of this, we had a number of hurdles to overcome.  Despite registering online, we were not yet on the voters' list, because that had been released to the elections officials over a month ago.  This meant registering in person at the polls.

When I showed up at City Hall for the advanced poll, I noted the other hurdles - particularly tough for younger daughter's autism spectrum challenges.

Four line-ups:  1) To enter the voting area.
2) To  register, which included answering some questions, and providing the correct ID.  The fellow registering me decided, on principle, to accept my library card (which I had mentioned, but not offered) as ID.  I'd already presented my passport, along with my provincial health card, which confirms my address.  "Library cards are on the list, and -- we can!" he declared.
"Great," I replied.  "I'm a literate voter.  Also well-read."

3) Another line-up to take one's turn in the voting booth.

4) Most daunting of all, a long curving line to "cast the ballot", that is, in this case, feed it carefully and singly, into the sole "ballot reader", a machine resembling a printer.  You had to wait for the confirming click, then they'd hand you your "I Voted" sticker.

The machine, which, I suppose, eliminates hand counting and sorting, takes waaaaaay longer than slipping one's folded ballot into a ballot box.  You can't fold your ballot for one thing; you have to conceal it from prying eyes in a yellow folder, although it wouldn't be hard to guess how you voted in the several seconds which elapse between taking it out of the damned folder and feeding it into the damned ballot reader.

Oh, yes, and the ballot itself had to be filled out by meticulously shading into an oval next to your choice(s) with, and only with, the provided pen, much like the dreaded provincial high school exams for university qualification that I remember with little relish.

On Election Day itself, I searched for illustrating photos on the internet to assist younger daughter with visualizing the process to come, because despite being a veteran of all three levels of elections in Hades, this would be a whole new procedure for her.

You can imagine that part of me was rather hoping she'd give this election a miss, and I did explain, more than once that voting in a municipal election in Victoria would involve four long line-ups and a complicated ballot.

However, even after a long day that included a practice session with her accompanist for an upcoming singing competition, and a trip to Pic-a-Flic to renew her DVDs, she was insistent.  Of course she wanted to vote.  It was Election Day, and she's twenty-two.

Far be it from me to disenfranchise anyone, let alone my own daughter.

We set off to the nearest polling place, the high school, at 6:30 in the gathering darkness, reasoning that we were bound to finish long before the polls' closure at 8 pm.

It took some time to locate the entrance and we were directed to the other side of the building -- where an enormous line snaked out into the parking lot.

After chatting companionably to our fellow queue occupants for - I dunno - twenty to twenty-five minutes, we were finally in the gymnasium, where younger daughter still had to be looked up on the voters' list, even though we told them she wasn't on it.

We joined the queue for registration.  At the advanced polls, this had been quick, but, even with four people at work, it was clear that the filling-out of the form took out an inordinate amount of time.  When younger daughter sat down, one of the questions put to her was if she knew the final three digits of her social insurance number.  This was after she presented her health card, passport, and birth certificate.  The Resident Fan Boy deflected some of the sillier questions.

We had told younger daughter that she need only to vote for mayor.  We were talking to someone on the spectrum.  She took several minutes filling out every part of the ballot.  I took some comfort in noting that others were also taking a long time, and somewhat less comfort in watching the line for the ballot reader grow longer and longer.  By the time the RFB and younger daughter joined this final queue, it had been over an hour since our arrival.

Worn out, I went to sit on the concrete steps leading out of the gymnasium.  In the hall behind me, a long line-up of people still waiting to enter had been brought inside so the outer doors of the school could be shut and locked.  The polls had closed - it was now 8 pm - but those inside would still be permitted to vote.

From my perch, I watched the long line of voters approaching the lone ballet-reading machine.  I marvelled at how different this population of the electorate was from those coming to the advanced poll.  When I voted, I was surrounded by mainly middle-aged and elderly, mostly smartly dressed people.  Tonight, it was a Fernwood crowd:  parents with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and primary graders; people with dogs;  people who looked like they rode motorcycles,  many, many young voters evidently casting a ballot for the first time.

Despite my weariness, I was touched by the faces as each person waited for the confirming click, then slapped their "I Voted" sticker into place, beaming.

One last heart-clutching moment when a young woman attempted the machine, then was directed back.  Evidently, her ballot was not quite correctly filled out.

Oh gawd,  I thought.  Will younger daughter's ballot be okay?  It's been over an hour and a half...

It was.  I gave her a thumbs-up, and we walked out under a night sky with planets glowing in it.

We got home two hours after we had left.

Somehow, we feel affirmed and confirmed as residents of this city.

Monday, 22 October 2018

If the dew should rise in the web

This morning, I looked out at a sea of fog.

As I sat on the edge of my bed, and applied my face, I saw vague figures emerge from the mist, getting clearer and more distinct - although still shadowy - as they approached the chain-link fence that surrounds the middle school across the street.

Then, just as suddenly, they retreated in a raggedy line strung out across the school yard, running, chasing and racing like the edge of the ebbing tide. They vanished, one by one, into the off-white.
And I saw spiderwebs everywhere, edged in moisture.
There's a web-wreath in this picture!  Click to enlarge and see if you find it!
When I had dressed, and was heading down the street that faces my balcony, on the way to my morning coffee, I got a closer look at the wreaths and doilies, so retrieved my camera from my knapsack.
As I snapped, a woman called to me.
"Have you seen these?" she asked, and I joined her to gaze open-mouthed at a shrub festooned with dripping webs, rather like a Christmas tree draped with spooky lace.
"It's like an infestation," she said. "There hasn't been rain or wind to destroy them."
I pointed out that spiders are actually a pretty good weapon against far nastier infestations, and told her how all this put me in mind of my favourite play. (You can say such things to a stranger in Fernwood.)
In The Lady's Not for Burning by Christopher Fry, Jennet Jourdemayne, an accused witch facing the prospect of immolation at dawn, describes how approaching death has brought her into a sharp awareness of life and time:

I've only one small silver night to spend
So show me no luxuries.  It will be enough
If you spare me one spider, and when it spins I'll see
The six days of Creation in a web
And a fly caught on the seventh.  And if the dew
Should rise in the web, I may well die a Christian.

Saturday, 20 October 2018


On this day, last year, we left our house in Ottawa for the final time, moving into a hotel for our final days in Hades.

Younger daughter and I have discovered that, if you make your way to the Sunken Garden at Butchart's in late October, you can have a taste of an Ontarian fall -- without the rest of the Ontarian year.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Artist and artisan

So I was heading up Cook Street this morning, and was startled to see this mural on the side of the dry-cleaners next to Wong Grocery.

How have I missed this? I asked myself, before noticing the painter on the scaffold.

I walked to the foot of the structure, and called up to the lovely young lady at work: "Was this always here, or have you just put it there?"

She gave me a dazzling smile. "I've just put it here! It's not done yet; I'll be adding to it!"

"Wow! And I'll be watching out for that!" I said, before marching on, as she wishes me a good day.

I think the figure is meant to be Chinese Canadian, although the hat that she's wearing looks a little like a Coast Salish cedar hat.

October in Victoria. I love it.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Look at those cavemen go

In this days when singers do auto-tuned eardrum-splitting calisthenics, I especially appreciate a vocalist who demonstrates beautiful dynamic control, to say nothing of a convincing muted trumpet imitation.

And yes, you can get off my lawn.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Wha' Who?

Sorry, gotta go to bed, but I found this -- which will only appeal to Doctor Who fans....

....although it's not an inaccurate intro for someone who has never seen the series. Might be a bit off-putting though.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Not so much a gallop as a trot

When I was a youngish girl, not quite a teenager, it was my almost daily habit to walk a long length of railway track behind my house. I was young, vigorous, and unafraid, and I would cross the middle of a unsided trestle high above Helmcken Road, and then stepping on the ancient railway ties, go for miles, although it probably wasn't much more than a kilometre or so. Did this for three years, and although I met with a handful of adventures, only met one creepy guy and got one tick - not at the same time.
That's the Bay Street Bridge through the berries

Some years later, they transformed the old unused line into a network of paved trails, leading from Vic West all the way to Sooke - easy for walkers to do sections, and safe cycling, as well.
A few years before we left Victoria for Hades, they rebuilt the old Selkirk Trestle, which links Vic West with the neighbourhood of Burnside across the Gorge Waterway.
Southern half of the Selkirk Trellis, taken from the middle hump
And yet, despite returning to Victoria for seventeen summers, I never made it over to the Selkirk Trestle, although I'd seen many beguiling pictures of it.

I was determined to right that omission today. CBC Radio informed me that it was "perfect autumn weather", and I had carefully checked my route, because Vic West is one of a handful of Victoria neighbourhoods that is unfamiliar to me, even though I lived in Esquimalt for years.

For the first time, I made my way over the new, silver Johnson Street Bridge, which, amid much controversy, has replaced the blue one. I turned right on Harbour Road and six minutes of trotting past industrial areas brought me to the winding path that hugs the shore looking out over the Upper Harbour, just below the Bay Street Bridge.
Harbour taxi
Pick-up points for the tiny Harbour Taxis double up as look-outs; they seemed to be doing a reasonable business taking Japanese tourists to and fro.
And kayakers were having a lovely time, ignoring the roar of machinery near Rock Bay and a pile of crushed cars sparkling in the clear October air.
I noted the locations of restaurants for future reference, and was grateful for a clearly indicated and well-timed public washroom, but on the whole, I was startled at how residential this leg of the Galloping Goose is. It's lined with colourful condominiums and apartments. Every picture I've seen of "the Goose" is quite rural-looking, and there have been a few news reports over the years of muggings and sexual assaults in the quieter areas.
I, however, was surrounded: by dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, cyclists, young families, snow-haired seniors, tourists and, of course, joggers. It wasn't crowded, y'understand - just not isolated.
Northern half of the Selkirk Trellis, taken from the middle hump
I reached the Selkirk Trestle much sooner than I'd expected. It's a long foot-bridge which curves across the Gorge, and has a hump in the middle to permit boats to pass underneath. You do have to watch out for the bikes - just as on any shared pathway. The bicycles do come zooming through, including one gentleman, who was old enough to know better, with his eyes glued to what I swear was his cell-phone in a special holder. He seemed to be swerving toward me, and he sort of glanced up casually, and frowned slightly, as I flattened myself against the railing.
The Gorge Waterway stretches way into the west
From the south end of the trestle, I could peer west into my own past. As a nine-year-old newly arrived in Victoria, I lived a couple of bridges down the Gorge, in the Craigflower area. (You can't quite see that from the Selkirk Trestle, but I know the Gorge quite well.)
From other angles I could gaze back to towards Victoria itself, shining behind a dazzling reflections of the sun in the water, or I could simply look down at the odd scales created by the shadow of the chain-link sides of the bridge.
Ancient arbutus

I had resolved to return home via Gorge Road, and had used Google Maps Street View to find the off-shoot from the trail on the Burnside side.
You can click on this to enlarge it.
As I climbed the rather steep path past yet more apartments and condos, I was confronted with this whimsical mural. (It wasn't until I got home that it occurred to me: Oh, yeah! A galloping goose!)
Take a closer look at it, yourself. One of the crows is real.

Monday, 15 October 2018


I must apologize to the bots scanning this - I'm pretty sure no one reads this blog anymore - for the inclusion of a video that is remarkably similar to one I posted a couple of weeks ago. The fact is, this one had me doubled over laughing and actually fist-pumping toward the end.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Midterminal illness

This sunny October Sunday morning, two blond Amazons have set up a study station looking out westward from Moka House. When they stand next to their high stools, they need to position themselves to avoid hitting the hanging lamps.

Their textbooks, blazing with multi-coloured tabs at the edges, are propped against the window. Their laptops (or tablets with keyboards, who knows these days?) are open to even more scanned pages. Their work-area is cluttered with thermoses, cups of various sizes, and glasses of water. They're clearly here for the long haul.

Along the south wall, a quartet of young men, each at a table of scrubbed wood, seated on a long bench that can accommodate plug-ins. Three stare fixedly at their respective laptops; one is hunched over his phone. One huddles in a grey hoody, and one blocks out the world with headphones.

Ah, mid-October in a town with a university and a community college. There is tension and concentration in the air, which I remember comfortably from a distance. I leave them to it.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

An unlucky day for rabbits

My Friend of the Right Hand learned that younger daughter (her goddaughter) had never been to the top of Mount Tolmie, so she drove us up there. I marvelled at the 360° view, which I haven't seen for years, and clutched a bit as I spotted my late in-laws' house below my feet -- something else I haven't seen for years and haven't missed one bit.

Younger daughter seemed somehow reluctant to get out of the car, but once she had, walked the perimeter of the viewpoint and snapped pictures. A hawk floated by the look-out, and spiralled down the south side of the drop. Younger daughter captured it as it began its descent.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Daze of morning

I have dealt with floods in my time, mostly connected with washing machines.

In our old house in Collinson Street, our machine was in the kitchen, one step down from the living room. The hose had to be settled and anchored into the kitchen sink, and on more than one occasion, one of us, in muddy-brained early-parental sleep deprivation, would forget and it took a matter of seconds for the east end of the kitchen to be awash.

I don't think it happened that frequently, but often enough for us to resignedly strip off socks and shoes, roll up our trouser-legs and wade in to begin damage control.

One of my favourite memories is of elder daughter, then about two or three, appearing on the living room step, barefooted and trousers rolled, declaring, "I weddy!"

There's no washing machine in our current apartment - which can't be helped - and no plug in our kitchen sink - which can. I took pictures, and procured a replacement from the hardware store.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

I was in bed just after dawn, keeping out of the way of my husband's Virgoan rituals of washing and dressing and preparing to go to work.

I may have been dozing when I heard a high pitched moan from beyond the bedroom door.

"Oh no! Oh, noooooooooooooo...."

No response to my inquiries, so I peered out into the hall and took in the slightly-less-than-alluring sight of the Resident Fan Boy in his half-pulled-on underwear. He continued his strange morning wail, gazing into the kitchen. I stepped up and peered over his shoulder.

There was about a quarter inch of water covering the floor and soaking into both ends of the wall-to-wall carpet, courtesy of the overflowing kitchen sink.

"Perhaps you could turn off the tap," I suggested. Years of teaching, hospice volunteering, home support work, and parenthood have taught me that panic only feeds panic.

He hesitated momentarily, no doubt loathe to soak his socks, and waded in.

He had decided to fill the sink, then absent-mindedly gone to get dressed, only realizing his predicament when he heard the water. He figured it had been running for about ten minutes.

"What do you want me to do? How can I help?" he pleaded.

"Just get dressed and go to work," I replied grimly, setting to mopping up with every towel in the house. The water had gotten into pretty well every drawer and lower cupboard on the east side of the kitchen, and had trickled into the stove. I tossed saturated towels into the now empty sink, and turned out the drawers, reasoning that it was a great opportunity to clean.

In between deposits and wringings, I slowly got dressed, in case someone came banging at the door.

Instead the phone rang, about an hour or so into my labours. It was the fellow filling in for the building manager, courteously inquiring if there had been a plumbing problem.

The dining room in the apartment downstairs had flooded.

The RFB, being a lawyer, checked our insurance, but nothing has been said, aside from arrangements to clean the wet parts of the carpets upstairs and downstairs.

I suspect our damage deposit has been washed away.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Sidewalk rage

Thursdays have become sacrosanct in our household -- a household with someone living on the autistic spectrum has many holy days from which it is perilous to deviate.

Thursday is Pic-a-Flic Day, when we make the pilgrimage to select the week's DVDs.

We usually walk back, but sometimes, the slow, upward incline is daunting, particularly if the weather isn't pleasant or if there are extra bags to carry, and we catch the bus to a stop a block or so from our apartment building.

It's taken me some months to have sufficient courage to describe the afternoon in question, when I alighted from the bus, and made the quick diagonal cut to the busy corner near the traffic light. Younger daughter, like Eurydice, was a few steps behind as usual, so I didn't see what happened.

The first indication of trouble was the outraged bellowing of a little old man, yelling at me about younger daughter.

"She stepped right in front of me!"

I was caught off-guard by his fury, but gazing at his contorted face, shouting at me about how he had to stop suddenly to avoid bumping into her - I should point out that he, like us, was on foot - it occurred to me that he was barking at me.

Not at younger daughter.

Which meant that he had figured out that I was in charge of her.

Any wish to placate him vanished with this realization.

"My daughter is on the autistic spectrum," I told him firmly. "What's your excuse?"
"That doesn't matter!" he shouts.  "She should know better!"

Mothers have an extra limbic layer.  Mothers of neurologically different people probably have several.

He stood by the curb, waiting for the cross signal, still sniping at me.  I was carrying a book bag.  I swung it back about six inches, then bopped him on his arm.

It didn't even unbalance him, but he was probably a bit unbalanced to begin with, and now really enraged. His voice jumped several decibels, but I was no longer listening.  I strode away from him, not looking back, and flipping a bird over my shoulder at the direction of his roars.

Younger daughter apologized all the way up the hill.

When I got home, I was in a cold sweat of shock and shame.

I knew I hadn't injured him, but my actions taught him nothing, and were a poor example to my daughter.  This isn't how grown-ups respond to insults, particularly childish and petty ones.

On top of this, Victoria is a small city, and I was clad in a distinctive, hot pink raincoat.

I didn't wear it for months.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Sea serpent

When I first came to Victoria, I was nine years old and not familiar with the sea. I'd come upon the kelp floating ominously in the water, or lying lifeless and stinky amid the driftwood, and I'd give it wide berth.

This was swimming threateningly in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Ogden Point Breakwater on a breath-taking and flawless autumn day. Today, as a matter of fact.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Choral comprehension

The point has been made - many, many times - that the chord structure in Pachelbel's Canon is in the chord structure of many popular songs.  (Actually, back in my Prairie-Home-Companion-listening days, the very same point was made about Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".)

However, it's still great fun, and I ran across this video this week.

Incidentally, the choir here is the rather famous Crouch End Chorus, from North London.  I have a copy of the album they recorded with Ray Davies of a selection of classic Kinks songs.

However the earliest pot-shot at Pachelbel that I can recall is this YouTube classic from about ten years ago.  It was viral then, and perhaps enough time has elapsed that I can share it here:

Between these two offerings, there are well over a dozen songs -- although, frankly, I think they're stretching a bit with "Let It Be"...

Monday, 8 October 2018

Thanks a bunch, guys

Today was our first Thanksgiving in Victoria in nineteen years.

So I was really glad I didn't see this until bedtime, although whether I'm going to sleep now is debatable.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Get thee to a nunnery

I'm looking forward to the upcoming television version of Good Omens.

God knows when I'll actually see it, because, once again, they're releasing it on some channel I don't get.

In the meantime, here's a treat, delivered, inexplicably, by a woman who has dyed her hair to match her shoes. With fellows who really don't understand what schizophrenia is.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Brought up short

As we head into the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, our first in Victoria for nineteen years, it's occurred to elder daughter that this is her first Thanksgiving without her family ever.

Damn. I wish she hadn't reminded me...

Am I Demeter now?
The RFB and daughters - October 2005 - Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario

Friday, 5 October 2018

Please don't give me house plants as gifts....

I found this cartoon on the floor a few weeks ago. It must have fallen out of a file-folder or keep-sake box. It used to live on the refrigerator, and is a gentle rebuke to the lovely, generous, well-meaning people who think that a house-plant is a good gift for me.

Particularly those misguided benefactors who gave me plants just after I'd brought a newborn home.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Behind, as usual

Another song I heard in a coffee shop.

Apparently, it's four years old.

I'm so on top of things.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Junior hierarchy

Earlier this week, I lay in bed, trying to drift off to sleep, disturbed by the coverage I'd seen of Christine Blasey Ford testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, thinking of the courage this takes, a woman speaking out against an influential man, and, as a result, being exposed to accusations, ridicule, and threats.

I wondered if I'd have the courage. I doubt it. I can remember incidents in my girlhood and early womanhood, none as egregious as that failed rape Dr Ford was talking about, but disturbing enough.

Then, unbidden, the incident of Sam the Soccer Ball floated into my consciousness. I was either fifteen, or about to turn fifteen, so roughly the same age as Christine Blasey was when she was attacked. (And yes, I believe she was attacked.)

Our junior high was small, and thus not as clearly "cliqued" as the enormous high schools of the United States, but there was a vague sort of hierarchy, based mostly on looks, grooming, and economic standing.

Near the top, you'd find someone like Dylan.

I wouldn't describe him as popular exactly, but he was athletic, intelligent, and musically adept. He lacked the clumsy, thoughtless cruelty of the average adolescent boy. His brand of unkindness was sly and calculated, usually conducted where there were no witnesses, or only those he wished to impress.

He also had the gift of charm and flattery - which he turned on and off like a tap. I had been on the receiving end of both the charm and the meanness, mostly the latter. Through the sting, I couldn't help but notice his skill.

Somewhere in the bottom layer of the hierarchy was Sam.

Sam was relatively new to the school, unlike Dylan and me, and like Dylan and me, was in the school band, as about a quarter of the students were -- it was a small school of about 450 students.

Within a very short time, Sam was completely isolated. Within our tiny school, word got around that he had made a pass at someone in the mostly-male trumpet section where Dylan, of course played one of the first positions. From then on, Sam was a pariah. To this day, I don't know if he was actually gay, but homophobia was a predominant feature of this early adolescent bunch: a mild aversion amongst the girls, and a visceral hatred amongst the boys - a cover for the abiding terror of being treated the way schoolgirls were, and are, treated daily. They didn't view it that way, naturally.

One morning in late winter or early spring, I was packing up my instrument at the close of band period. As a clarinet, I sat in the lower tiers of the band-room. The trumpets were higher up, in the centre, in front of the percussion section. The room was emptying out, but there were still a dozen or so stragglers, chatting and getting ready to go. Our teacher had left.

I heard a sudden racket, and looked up into a surreal scene taking place just above my eye level.

Dylan was kicking Sam like a soccer ball from one side of the room to the other. Sam was curled up and rolling like a hedgehog.

It took me several seconds to register what I was seeing. I was frozen in shock, not only by the violence, but by the fact that Dylan was doing something so violent and so out in the open, which was not his style at all. His attacks were usually verbal, and on the quiet.

Peering down through the dim corridor of the years, I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I remember shouting, almost involuntarily and certainly without thinking, something like: "Cut it out! What are you doing???"

And Dylan stopped. He glanced at me blankly, and, as far as I can recall, simply walked away. I don't even know what Sam did next, or even what I did next.

I have no recollection of triumph, just of disbelief.

Dylan became a doctor. I have no idea of what became of Sam.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The days when her ball wasn't working

From my journals of 21 years ago:

"Elder daughter (age 5 1/2) talking to herself as she knocks toys around the living room: 'No one knows how she could do the world's greatest hockey goal . . . . Maybe it was because she practised a lot at home . . . . Her sister was always chasing her around . . . . Now she sat on her ball, thinking about the days when her ball wasn't working . . . . Then she hit the ball . . . .'

"This morning, she climbs into the bed and whispers to me, pointing at the ceiling: 'I can see my dream up there . . . . A person is putting out fruit . . . . It's gold, so it must be my dream . . . .There's another of my dreams next to it . . . . Can you see it?'"

Monday, 1 October 2018

You just don't understand

I'm either reading or writing in a cafe, where I can get a nice bowl of cinnamon and raisin oatmeal on this cool Scots-misty first morning of October. That's why I don't really pick up on the topic of conversation when the voices are raised.

It's the man at the other end, who has been chatting genially enough with whomever wanders within range. However, now he's declaiming angrily about the occupants of the latest tent village that has sprung up nearby.

The guy who runs this cafe, a gentle and easy-going bearded young father, suggests that the declaimer try offering the homeless campers someplace to stay. The man sits back in his seat and glowers.

"You just don't understand!"

"Try to make me understand," replies the cafe-owner reasonably.

"None of them want to work!" he growls. "They don't want to do anything to help themselves."

He seems to sink further down. "I didn't come here to argue; I'll just finish my cup of tea, and go," he says, and adds: "You just don't understand."

I return to whatever it was I was doing, thinking how children and teenagers often say, "You just don't understand." The underlying message is: If you understood, you wouldn't be disagreeing with me.

A few minutes later, the declaimer is happily chatting with anyone who will shoot the breeze, including the cafe owner, as if nothing happened.