Fireworks

5 08 2017

I’m feeling a little misty-eyed lately over my ratbag children. It’s the season of fireworks and where I’m living we’ve already had four nights of them, and another one tonight. It’s Natal Day weekend in Nova Scotia, an event celebrated with even more enthusiasm than Canada Day. This surprised me the first year I was here, but I’m getting used to it, dropping my central Canada snobbery.

But tonight I wandered across the street to the harbour, and was immediately swamped with kids all waving those hugely expensive light wand things (these ones use hearing aid batteries so will cause even more damage and expense as time goes on, but they were WAY COOL. Especially when rapidly swung around.) And it brought me back to all the times we’d driven to see fireworks with our kids, all the different places we’d seen fireworks at together, and well, it made me a bit nostalgic….

 

DSC01564a

This girl is nowhere near cold enough

The fireworks in Ottawa, in winter, on Spark Street. Freezing cold, as Ottawa is. The display for children was held in the dark evening so the little ones could a. get to bed early and b. not be run over in the later melee. Some of the fireworks didn’t explode immediately, and the kids, as one wave, raced towards the snow hill where they were placed. The parents, shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOO(N)” leaped after the kids and fortunately, no one was exploded. I nearly lost my sight though as little knee biters were all waving sparklers at the fullest extent of their arms…my eye height…

 

Then there were the fireworks when we lived in Kansas, on the Leavenworth Army Base.12502224-12502224 Those fireworks went on and on and on and ON. It was astonishing. HOURS passed. In between, there were bands and flag parades and a whole bunch of patriotic stuff we simply don’t do up here. I remember trying to make things sound exciting for the kids, who were actually bored at the lengthy display.

 

1090130_10153091744140114_912608411_o

Photo credit: Matthew Guy

The next year we were in Annapolis Royal, a tiny but very serious town (has a huge entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia, bigger than Toronto’s). We raced down to see the fireworks that had been funded through cans on store counters, a quarter at a time. They were over in five minutes if that – we almost missed them. I was expecting a holler of protest from the kids – they were still little and had seen the equivalent of the Canadian Armed Forces budget blown up the year before, but there wasn’t anything. My middle son, a thoughtful bloke, said, “It’s actually better this way, mommy – this way you can appreciate every single one!” The other two agreed. I think it helped that we had fallen in love with our new town.

 

But at every fireworks display, except the Annapolis Royal one, there was the dragging the kids early so we’d get good seats, the long traffic laden drive home, the calls for expensive light things. My ex and I used to argue about them – I thought we may as well get them, to make it more of an occasion; he ground his teeth at the expense.

It gladdened my heart to see how easy it was for most people to get down to the harbour to watch them here. It reinforced my feelings that living in the Maritimes is the equivalent of living in heaven, even including the fog as it rolled in, Clouds for angels to sit on…

I’ve been feeling a bit mawkish over the kids lately, too, as I am writing/editing/beating to death a young adult novel that has kids in their pre-teens in it. So I’ve been casting back for memories, language, relative surliness.

It WAS a surly time, filled with negotiations that rivaled the G-20 over even the desire to go for a walk. Sometimes the argument wasn’t worth it and I gave up and threw my hands in the air wildly. But most of the time, at that age, the kids were still up for an adventure.

It didn’t have to be a big adventure, either. It could be a simple walk down an old train track, or as complicated as a train drive to Montreal. They didn’t all like the same things. Or the same things as me. We all whined at times. But I was blessed to have curious children, and I am grateful, and I know that they will be alright.

Why? Because I sat through all those fireworks displays with them, and they found something different about each one and enjoyed them all.

It made me wish they were all here with me tonight, though we’d probably have watched the show from a patio, with beers in our hands. The two youngest would have spent the time arguing over some point in philosophy. They would both be right. And I’d, as always, be listening, my heart bursting with delight as the fireworks burst overhead.

Advertisements




Am I ignorant? Dim? Or why can’t I enjoy prize-winning books?

2 12 2016
4c8517fe6b5d0030bd46bce6a3163c5e

heaven

I read. A lot. I have authors I love, I have ones I can’t dig through. Colm Toibin is impenetrable. Jane Urquhart makes me want to weep, and not in a good way. Even Tom Hardy gets into the story faster than these two. I need a long time in the quiet of a soundproofed cabin with lots of wine, a self-maintaining fire, and an IV infusion so I never hunger just to focus on their stories.

I am often reminded of the wail of the actor in “the Complete Works of Wm Shakespeare, abridged” when asked to perform Hamlet in the second half. “So many WORDS!”

I’m reading an award-winning book right now (author’s name withheld) and I can barely stand it. I can’t keep track of the story because of all the words blowing through the pages like gently frost-enclosed leaves from the mountain that existed behind my house and that we walked every seventh day when the sun climbed into the sky like a weak thing only to brighten to shimmering coin gold by the time we reached the windy granite-strewn rounded summit and turned, gardenia-like, to face it.

3720871

kindergarten rules

I understand the desire for concrete descriptors. Showing instead of telling, yes, I get it. Saying something is nice doesn’t cut it.

But I can’t help but think that describing a cup in all of its form cuts it, either, especially if it happens with every &*&(^^ object in the story and every time the object or person reappears, it is described differently, by new and extended names or nicknames, or a novel piece of backstory that rumbles on for paragraphs.

Don’t authors know we read these things before bed???

images

now find the little man on the sixth level…

 

This book that I’m reading has so much description it has the effect of distancing me from involvement. I feel as if I am looking down at a very confusing miniature trainset where the tracks frequently move, trains vanish or change appearance every few pages, and that somehow I am going to be tested on remembering the schedules of each one.

As someone who attempts to write, I’ve taken more classes than I care to remember that emphasized the need to be simple. To put the story forward, to involve the reader, to create empathy with the characters. It’s almost impossible to care one whit about these characters, smothered as they are in the fluffy cotton and silk and ribbons and wool and paper corsages and tiny hidden diaries and bits of recipes and hints of music and some offal. And yet, the story could be fascinating. I WANT to read it. I want to know about the things that happen, but characters disappear and pages are spent wafting about some past encounter. Time changes; half is in memory, half is in distant past, half is in present.

Yes, I know that equals more than one.

I feel buffeted by time zones, tossed about like a Caesar salad and as lost as a fallen sales receipt from that little craft store on the corner just up past the schoolyard that I go to with my aunt Mary, who never likes the crafts but knows the owner’s mother, on the blue-green silk sea of descriptors.

I have to take breaks from reading this book, because the urge to throw it becomes too strong. I feel a bit like Dorothy Parker:

I’m much better now, in fact, than I was when we started. I wish you could have heard that pretty crash “Beauty and the Beast” made when, with one sweeping, liquid gesture, I tossed it out of my twelfth-story window.

7066766269_8e6c38ed2a_b

not Bendicks

(I have skipped any reference to throwing books at cats (of which there are many) as Bendicks is watching and will stomp on my keyboard when I’m not looking and readjust my investments.)

The thing is, I feel like a failure. I continually read award-winning books and am so often frustrated by them. I must be lacking something.

There are exceptions. Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs was wonderful, miraculous, and a real treasure. I WALLOWED in it. Anakana Shofield’s Martin John was intensely interesting and gripping. And those two are from the 2016 Giller List.

So you see, I can read. I can decipher difficult texts. So why, oh why, can’t I find the gold in some of these gems?

big-book-feature

the risk of reading big books

Sigh. Time for a good mystery or thriller to cleanse the palate and the brain. Or maybe some Proust. With madeleines.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.[5]

 





Single and over sixty: solitude or sorrow?

5 11 2016

solitudeI’ve recently had the chance to speak with several over-60-year-old men, and women, about relationships, being single, loneliness.

Well, okay, some of these were dates. Some were laughter over dates. Some were thought provoking, others broke my heart.

We all handle being alone differently. Many of the women I know who are single seem happy to stay that way, at least for now. They are tired from years of sharing their lives with children or family members and are still craving the gentle solitude of a solo cup of coffee in the morning, or a cuddle with their pet in the evening, when they are weary and don’t want to talk.

north-coast-nosh-capper-coffee

coffee. peace. quiet.

Or they want to take off on women-only trips around the world where they can just go and be without the need to perform.

But they are a self-selected group. I hang out with independent (some may say too independent) women.

I also know so many women whose lives are destroyed by solitude, who must have companionship, preferably male and human, to survive. These women are shattered by divorce and find it intolerable to live alone. They, too, break my heart. No one should be alone who doesn’t want to be…but on the other hand…part of being a good partner is learning to be good on your own, I think.

For me, I may more be one of those independent women who prefers to live in MY space, to invite friends to visit, but never ever to stay. Not to say I don’t like the visitors…

axe-man_zpsmfukqwlb

not a real man in a cabin, though the axe might be real.

I know a few independent men, too. But they seem smaller in number, perhaps because they are out in the woods somewhere living in a cabin and so I don’t meet them often.

Most of the older men I meet are painfully lonely. It breaks my heart. I seriously think men find it harder to be alone, struggle more with their sense of self-worth than women do, on average. They seem driven more by the need to make love/have sex/fornicate than women let show. They wake in the mornings dreaming of sex, they go to bed thinking of it. Without it, a huge part of their inner selves seems to wither.

So what does an aging man have to offer a woman? They don’t seem to know. Instead of seeking companionship, shared interests, etc, they look for younger and younger partners, hoping their flagging sexuality can be enlivened by a more active lass. They tell themselves lies about their fitness, desirability, general selves. And so they doom themselves to failure and loneliness. They aren’t used to hanging out with guys, most of them, so they end up isolated. It’s terribly sad.

Oh, and they judge women, by scores they don’t apply to themselves. In happy delusion,

judge_weird

One of my recent dates, examining my height

they seek tens, when they themselves are 4s or 5s, or on a good day, a 7. I had a 400 pound man tell me that he didn’t think I looked THAT overweight (in tones of condescension). I’ve had people suffering bankruptcy tell me I was getting a good catch who would look after me. Riiiiiiiiight.

They don’t think about evolving themselves to fit the needs of women in their age group, to read, to learn, to cook, to be responsible, to be independent and self-supporting. To have let go of anger. That is unutterably sexy. Women who have spent years looking after people don’t want to meet someone who, on first acquaintance, obviously needs looking after. And so many men have interesting lives, if only they would share them in a non-self-aggrandizing way.

So women are stuck in a bind if we want companionship. No one our age wants us – men seem to want women ten to twenty years younger. The ones twenty years older than us want us, but they are often looking for someone of their porn dreams, someone to care for them, someone to adore them, as they were adored when they were young and fit and had their future ahead of them. Oh, and someone who wants to make love all the time.(One chubby fellow I dated showed me his sticky little book of sexual positions, many of them life-endangering. When I laughed out loud at one contortion, he said, sure, we could do that. No, I said. I’m not standing on my head for anyone. Sorry. That was that. I washed my hands and left.)

518ldvbqs-l-_ul1200_Or they want a nurse, preferably one who would wear that sexy nurse outfit while massaging their feet.

Dating is perilous in this age group. If you meet and decide he isn’t for you, and you try to let him down gently, you run the risk of being stalked, as you try to peel his tentacles off of you.

lead_960

If you are clear with them, you are a bitch who only values money. (or healthy teeth or someone who lives responsibly or someone who doesn’t spend every spare minute looking at porn on a 60 inch tv set). They get furious at you.

Either way, dating feels more dangerous than it should.

Other men are so sad and hopeful you want to be kind, you err in kindness, you give mixed messages to try not to hurt, you hope they will break up with you so you don’t have to deal the crushing blow. They, understandably, get confused, and you end up hurting them anyway. Or vice versa.

So for those women who want male companionship with a little naughty icing, they have a challenge.

But thank heavens, we seem better suited to solitude. And as for me, male friends rock. More than that, I dunno.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are into crafting with our friends. js23831350

Off to needle felting I go….

 

 





Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

18 07 2014

41yP7zqWI8L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_I know I am by no means the first to cheer this wonderful book about writing and life and joy and jealousy and competitiveness and outgrowing that and love and loss. It’s one of the MUST READ books in any writer’s (or person’s) collection.

But I had it out last night for some inspiration and came across the lines below and they made me laugh out loud. She’s commenting about how she takes index cards with her everywhere to note down things since she (like me and many of us) forgets them unless she does. I know I travel with piles of little notebooks to write down little phrases and such. (I hear you can also do it on Evernote but my battery runs down with astonishing regularity and there’s nothing to beat a pencil and paper in the rain.) She’s figured out how to fold the cards and her pencil so she doesn’t look bulky, even.

But here’s what she says about this need to write things down:

I think that if you have the kind of mind that retains important and creative thoughts – that is, if your mind still works – you’re very lucky and you should not be surprised if the rest of us do not want to be around you. I actually have one writer friend – whom I think I will probably be getting rid of soon – who said to me recently that if you don’t remember it when you get home, it probably wasn’t that important. And I felt eight years old again, with something important to say that had suddenly hopped down one of the rabbit holes in my mind…

Emphasis mine. How wonderfully witchy of her!

That’s the thing about writing. Because no one really KNOWS how it’s done, we’re all out here in the wilderness stumbling along, and the slightest little thing can make us feel eight again and hushed up again and told to stop that talking and shouldn’t you be doing something constructive? again.

Reading Anne Lamott brings me back. I may be only eight with little to say, but at least I have a friend here, and perhaps we can play with our word blocks together.

Come join us, if you haven’t already. Anne Lamott also writes great books on faith and life and so forth – depending on your religious stance, these may or may not be for you – but in all things she comes across as a gal I’d love to have a lemonade with and laugh til our stomachs ached.

And then we’d write. And write. And write.





The humour connection, or the life of the party

11 07 2013

I think when I was born, I was designed to be comic relief.
Smaller than I shoulda been, breech, I was the only birth for which my mother required laughing gas.
I think I’ve felt the need to bring laughter to others since then.
In my family, I was the one who could be counted on to see the funny side of everything, to tease people out of bad moods, to say the right thing to give others a different view on things.
My dad would ensure he gave me his little bad news items first – his need for bifocals, his requirement for a “uni dent” tooth replacement, his other life trifles.
My job was to make him laugh about these things.
Though he hid the bad things from me, until much later, I still had that job, trying to find something funny in his collapsing spine, his ongoing cancer.
It was my job.
Later, with friends, I got the same role. I’d tell them tales about MY life, instead, making it funny til,they could laugh and forget about their problems, relieved that there was indeed someone who had a stranger life than they did. I’d exaggerate, poke fun at myself, make wild faces and gestures.
I see the same thing in my firstborn, the storyteller gene, come by it honestly through the Brown side of the family, however hard he may deny it.
It’s a life skill, this being able to turn the humour onto yourself and make yourself the chosen entertainment for the evening.
It’s also a protective device – a smokescreen of ha ha moments means you never have to actually connect about things.
I have one friend who doesn’t let me get away with it. She turns her eagle eyes on me and soon has me speaking the truth.
In a way, it’s a relief to let down my guard and share what it really going on with me. Cos it ain’t all sunshine and lollypops in there…
In another, it’s uncomfortable. I feel naked without my silly mask. So soon enough I pull it up again, pop on my sunglasses, make a foolish face, laugh it off.
It is, after all, my life job. And vacation days are few and far between.





Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and Sex

2 07 2013

Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and SexPosted on July 2, 2013 by PRISM internationalDear writers,We are now accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and translation for our Love and Sex theme issue. By love we mean romantic love, unromantic love, familial love, unrequited love, lost love, love of a friend, love of a friend with benefits, love of a geographic place, love of an imagined place, love of a pet, love of a possession, love of an idea, love of a memory, love of just about anything you can dream up. There are also many different kinds of sex. We’ll let you innumerate those in your own mind, but suffice to say, we welcome a variety of interpretations.We are NOT looking for pornography, which, for our purposes, is defined as graphic depictions of sexuality devoid of literary merit. Keep it hot and spicy, but keep it close to the human condition: vivid characterization, conflict resolution, provocative narration, etc.Theme issue submissions will be accepted from July 2 to November 10. If you are submitting for the theme issue, please make of a note of it in your cover letter. Theme issue submissions may also be considered for publication in future, non-theme issues.Next week Prose Editor Jane Campbell and Poetry Editor Zach Matteson will give the inside scoop on what they’re looking for in theme issue submissions. Stay tuned!Share this:

via Now Accepting Submissions for our 2013-2014 Theme Issue: Love and Sex.





Fresh Ideas in Dating and Writing

3 04 2013
Image

What IS that thing?

Those of you who know me well know that I’ve been having my adventures in the over 50 dating circuit. It’s madness out there.

Seriously.

If your marriage has even a whisper of hope, and there’s no abuse going on, take it from me and do what you can to stick out the dry spells.

Totally worth it. Dating stinks and if you ask anyone they’ll tell you true. All there is out here are people with bundles of unknown neuroses, and in that I include myself. At least with my ex, the neuroses were known quantities.

I used to believe I was having a good time. I blame excessive medication. Now the shades have fallen from my eyes, and I’m cool with the chum thing. Though I know I’ll miss kissing. I like kissing. And some other things…

Not to say I haven’t had some laughs enroute – some sad sighs, some giggles, some outright guffaws (and those of you who know what I mean when I say PCE know I’m not referring to you). The other morning I woke up and started laughing out loud, all by myself, in my packed up bedroom. Took me five minutes to stop.

Image

And you say you know how this contraption works?

I have a good friend who thinks there’s a sitcom in my adventures. I’d probably title it something to do with The Wizard of Oz, me being named Dorothy and all, and the fact that most, if not all, of these men who make me laugh think they are wizards in the bedroom.

It’s so tempting.

I would have to write under a pseudonym, of course, or I’d never date again. Although at this point, that might be okay…

Or be allowed to see my kids. Hahahahahah. By them.

But it’s such a fun idea…I have met all the characters from the movie already, even the door guard in the Emerald City (and yeah, I know he was really the Wizard but that’s kindof the point, no?)

Honestly, you couldn’t make some of this stuff up. And the visuals! I’m still rinsing out my eyes after the last ones. While snickering. Seinfeld and I could relate.

And, if nothing else, if I wrote it all down I could remember it all, and regale my friends in the home with my stories. Or shock the grandkids, if I ever have any. And if I’m allowed within 50 yards of them…

So, you like a little weed?








Multiple Sclerosis Research Blog

A blog for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis. Interpreting good, bad and other research news

Destination Humanity

Chasing big dreams one photo at a time

Ingridphilipp's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

*UNBREAKABLE QUEEN'S LIFE LESSONS DIARY*

Breaking Free From The Past, In Hope For A Bigger & Brighter Future

Christ a poet

one word at a time

%d bloggers like this: