Monday, April 25, 2016

hapless but eager gardener

I have no green thumb. If I thought I had a green toe, I would gladly stick my foot in the soil. My beans get blight. My cucumbers wilt. My tomatoes flower and that's about it. Eggplant will grow for me, but even when I shelter it inside chicken wire some beastie still manages to get inside and shred it to bits.

And yet I feel good about digging and sifting earth to make it soft enough for beets. I curl tendrils of snow pea vines around the teepee poles I've built to support them. I plant blue cornflowers to attract bees. I pick arugula to stuff into my sandwich at lunch. All winter I have pesto I've made from the basil I've grown.
Sometimes another gardener is stooped over the earth or watering plants. Birds chatter in the wooded area next to our plots. Every so often a train goes by on the embankment--actually so often that I associate the sound of shunting and wheel grinding with working in my garden.

Just now, my plot doesn't look like much--an 8' x 11' rectangle of earth among other rectangles of earth. Some people have small bushes of herbs, winter onions ready to be picked, pansies already blooming. Here's my rhubarb which wintered very well, thank you.

My soil should be good this year since last year we emptied our backyard composter in the garden. Yup, that was R trundling wheelbarrows of rich, shit-stinky compost through the Pointe. After a season of snow, the compost no longer smells, though I'll have to pick out the corncobs and avocado pits that haven't decomposed yet. Or leave them.

This week I hope to seed beets, lettuce, snow peas, radishes.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

travel notebooks

These are some of my travel notebooks, as described in this piece that was published in rob mclennan's ottawa poetry newsletter blog.
Indeed, I don't live in Ottawa and I don't write poetry, but I'm not the only hitchhiker on the site.

Monday, April 11, 2016

picking up the trail / writing

After two weeks away from my desk, I wanted to get back to my writing again today. I thought to get myself organized yesterday evening and looked on the shelf where I keep my notebooks.

Yeah, I still prefer to write first draft longhand. It's time-consuming because I don't enjoy the bouts of typing after I've written, but I write more efficiently when I write by hand. I move forward. On a keyboard I keep rereading and foozling with words.

There was nothing current on the shelf. No fat notebook full of words I remembered having written, though I couldn't remember what they were. Nor my notes to keep track of dates and names. No timelines. Nothing! Nothing!

I was about to start shrieking when I recalled this tiny anxiety I sometimes get about all my notes being destroyed by a fire when I'm away from home. It's not an entirely groundless fear. Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home, Your house is on fire, Your children will burn. I live in an old neighbourhood of row houses and often hear the fire truck roaring by. I knew a man who had all paintings destroyed in a house fire. When I still worked at the hospital, I used to store my notebooks and USB pens in my locker when I went away. This time I could have taken everything to a friend's house, but I hadn't thought of it in time.

I recalled that I'd done something neurotic and probably useless to make myself feel better. A sandbag technique. But what? I searched my office and found nothing. I had to look through the house before I saw a CAKE TIN under a pile of folded clothing.

Had there been a fire, what are the chances that a cake tin would have kept my notes intact? Not good, but at least I didn't worry about them while away.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

sand in my ears

There are a few ways of getting sand in your ears. Swimming in Pacific surf when you're used to quiet lake waters is one. I had a few somersault tumbles between the waves and the undertow.

Here's another way.

That's R keeping an eye on the boys.
My way of keeping an eye isn't as physical.

I'm teaching him how to do "Here's the church and here's the steeple. And here are all the people." Turn your hand and wiggle your fingers that should be tucked underneath.

The cliffs get the surf too. Once we figured out the tides, we had a few walks along the beach.

Only a week and we were en route to the airport again.

I knew we were back in Montreal when we got in the cab and a hockey game was blasting--because, hey, everyone wants to hear the hockey, right?

Five days later and I've still got fine white sand in my ears. With wet snow underfoot.