I know it’s trite and overdone, but this is pretty much how things are going today:
I know it’s trite and overdone, but this is pretty much how things are going today:
I know it’s trite and overdone, but this is pretty much how things are going today:
You always remembered :
One time, in passing, I told you
“Irises are my favourite flower”.
Every year on my birthday,
an Iris from your garden.
One year, a drawing of an eyeball.
“Here’s your birthday iris,” you’d written.
Sometimes – often – I hardly understood
what you were talking about.
You gave my meagre musical talent
far more credit
than anyone ought to have.
As a housewarming gift, you
visited, and brought an ice bucket
and a purple onion flower, and a clipping
from a green and purple vine from your house.
The bucket from the antiques mall you raved about
had penguins on it
and reminded you of me.
You said the onion flower would take root
if I planted it, but I murdered it.
The vine floundered.
Goddamn it, I’m going to miss you, David.
I could have done more for you
I should have done more for you
I would have done more for you.
The thing that the Mayans didn’t realize about this whole end of the world thing tomorrow is that today is my and His Nibs’ seven-year anniversary (N.B. We’ve been together for more like 12 years). So I decree that it is impossible for the world to end without my getting the chance to wear my anniversary gift *and* to show it off.
No, I won’t tell you what it is. But I will say that it’s awesome. And exactly what I wanted.
I am very, very happy to be married. Especially to His Nibs.
I’m not going to lie to you. His Nibs and I fight. Sometimes we don’t like each other very much. From time to time, we can’t even stand to be around one another. But here’s the thing about His Nibs: I know he always…ALWAYS has my back. Always.
You know that I’m a pretty stubborn, independent person. I’m not easy to get along with much of the time. There aren’t very many times when I ask for help.
A friend of mine – a good friend of mine – has an anxiety disorder. Possibly more than one. To be clear, possibly more than one friend has an anxiety disorder and at least one friend has possibly more than one anxiety disorder. There is even a possibility that more than one friend has more than one anxiety disorder. I have had minor anxiety from time to time, but nothing debilitating. Nothing that I couldn’t just kind of walk away from, and realise that what I was experiencing was not rational.
But when I had a major anxiety attack, I was alone. In a hotel. And I quite literally thought I was dying. His Nibs came back to the room, and took one look at me and knew something was Very Wrong. He sat on the bed with me and held my hand and listened to me rattle on about how fucking weird all the things were that were going on with my body. He was patient and calm, and I knew he was concerned about me.
I got over that panic attack, and a week later had another, much more minor one. His Nibs took the morning off work, time he couldn’t afford, to make sure I was okay. It was so good just to have him sit beside me and listen to me panic.
You hear so often that people say “I married my best friend”, and it’s all sappy and stupid and we don’t really believe it when we hear it. Personally, I think it *is* a load of crap. His Nibs certainly didn’t start out as my best friend. And now, he’s not my best friend. I have lots of best friends. They are people I am comfortable with (and you know who you are. I love you!); people I don’t have secrets from. They’re people who will help if they can, and who love me too. They are brilliant men and women with wicked intellects and good hearts. We share a sense of humour, we share stories, and we share history. There have been many close friends in my life who’ve helped shape who I am, and there will be more to help shape my life to come. And I love every one of you.
His Nibs is more than a best friend. He’s more than a lover. He is the one person on the *entire planet*…probably in the entire universe, who can hold me. His idiosyncrasies complement my idiosyncrasies. He is patient and thoughtful where I am impulsive. He is sanguine where I am volatile. He likes vacuuming.
Here’s part of your Anniversary gift, my love. I, um, apologise that it sucks. I am NOT good at sonnets. I’ve been working on this for a ridiculous amount of time, and sadly, I don’t think it’s going to get any better.
I love your face, becoming so weathered
by laughter etched and by small worries marked,
Your eyes that slowly grow creased still spark;
these lines our lives together will measure.
You are the rock to which I am tethered;
would I desire your lineaments unmarked?
Erasing stories told by time’s full arc?
Let us instead from Cronos draw censure.
We’ll gauge time’s lapse with passion, wrinkles, tears
and smiles; small battles lost, large battles won;
I love you most when words all lay undone.
All scattered and tousled, thoroughly clear.
I close my eyes, see you in summer sun,
Each line, each wrinkle in memory seared
One night, as I lay in bed…okay, actually, technically, I think it was one morning. But it was still dark. Because it’s frigging winter and the sun is being coquettish. So either it was night time or early morning, and I was lying in bed, and His Nibs was lying beside me, and please forgive my use of ‘lay’ and ‘lying’, as I’m sure I’ve used them incorrectly; it doesn’t matter how many times I learn which is transitive and which is intransitive, I still get them messed up. It was chilly, because I keep our house just barely above the temperature where a little crackle of ice forms across the water in the terlet bowl at night, and His Nibs said, “it’s cold in here.”
And I said, “I’ve been thinking of getting one of those electric fireplaces for our bedroom.”
And His Nibs said, “…that’s an interesting idea.”
And I said, “Note I did not ask you whether you thought it was a Good Plan.”
And then we went to sleep. Or else we got up.
Enter yesterday. Probably one or two days after the above noted dialogue took place. I checked out some websites and looked at the different kinds of electric fireplaces (which are really just glorified space heaters with fancy graphics) and decided that I was going to buy one.
I should explain how I shop.
I should also explain that I hate shopping with the burning rage of a thousand angry suns. Coquettish or not.
When I shop, I decide what I want, and then I go get it. I don’t fart around and browse and dilly-dally and ooh and aah over things. Even when I go to Costco (one of the shops into which I am not permitted without a grown-up), I don’t “browse”. I just go get my cheese (and floor mat, and yoga pants, and artichoke hearts, and fireproof safe, and office chair, and bedroom suite, and baking soda), put it in the trolley, and I leave. His Nibs ends up in the queue, scratching his head and saying ‘I don’t remember putting this in here…’.
So I decided which electric fireplace I wanted, and I went to Costco. WITHOUT A GROWN-UP. But they did not have my fireplace. I left Costco, disheartened, and without a karaoke machine (did I mention I’m also an impulse shopper? Because I am. Ask Mr. Tall about the As Seen On TV shopping day sometime). And I went to Rona, which is Canadian, which makes me happy. I did not find the fireplace I wanted, but I found one that I thought was EVEN BETTER. So I asked a strapping young lad (who is in contention to be my new cabana boy, I’ll have you know) to hold the trolley while I lifted it on. Instead, the young lad suggested *I* hold the trolley while *he* lifted it on, and, forgive me gentle reader, but I let him. I did not exercise my right to do equal work. I just stood there and watched him serve me. It was good. It was *very* good.
At the checkout queue. I have two (2) items. To Wit: One (1) electric fireplace; One (1) chain for The Nipper’s light.
The fellow at the checkout looks at the trolley and says, “well. That’s a big box.”
To which I reply, “That’s a little forward. Not to mention a huge assumption, considering we haven’t even met.”
The fellow at the checkout turned this colour:
He sputtered and spit and didn’t know where to look. I said, “the barcode is at the bottom of my enormous box. You’ll have to go down to scan it.”
After the scanning was done, he said, in a slightly squeaky voice, “this has a remote control. I guess you’ll be using that, huh?”
I replied, “No, I think I’ll let Mr. Poopypants have the remote control, since I’m always hotter than he is.”
The checkout fellow looked at me with tears in his eyes.
I said, “Everything we say has to be dirty when you open our conversation with ‘that’s a big box you have’. It’s one of the seven rules of conversation. I hope you have enjoyed our exchange as much as I have. I wonder if you have a strapping young cabana boy I could borrow to help me manoeuvre my enormous box into my van.”
A *second* strapping young fellow obliged.
And that is how I got fire in my bedroom.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of painstakingly hand-knitting a sweater for someone who dies partway through the process, then having to repurpose the sweater for someone else whose arms are longer. I say this only because it’s a shame to let that hard work and good yarn go to waste. And it’s not like you need to TELL your mother-in-law that the sweater you made her was intended for your own mother, but your own mother bit the biscuit, leaving you a textile-challenged half-orphan. And really, how were you supposed to know when you were in your thirties that women in their fifties don’t like crop tops? It wasn’t a crop top when you first started making it, because your mother was only five-foot-nothing and so it would have come at LEAST to her waist. Possibly to her knees.
It’s not like you’ll have hard feelings knowing your mother-in-law will never wear the sweater. It’s the thought that counts, right? It would be better, in fact, if she donated it to someone who would like it, but you know she won’t because she’s too goddamned nice for that and she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. And that right there is the thing that’s going to make you feel the most ashamed for the rest of your natural life – that your mother-in-law is too goddamned nice to donate a dead woman’s sweater because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.
Sometimes, everything works out, and you knit a sweater for a boy and things don’t work out so you keep the sweater even though it’s way too frigging big for you and for everyone else you know, because you didn’t know anything about test swatches and gauge so you just chose to keep the sweater because damnit, there’s six months of your life in that thing and the majority of your pregnancy. And then you meet some dude who’s like, seven feet tall and the sweater fits him like a glove and you give it to him and he’s really sweet about it but then the next time he comes to your house he’s a total dick and you don’t ever want to talk to him again, but still, at least someone gets to enjoy the gargantuan sweater you made for a boy you desperately wanted to please.
Maybe the moral here really is “don’t knit sweaters for people”. But then you see it work out *really well* for other people, and for babies, because when you knit sweaters for your wee one and they just look so goddamned good, you start thinking, “Man, I should knit sweaters more”, and you make one for your husband but something went weird in between the cuffs and the shoulders and even though he has really really long arms, NOBODY has arms THAT long and the sweater never gets worn because who wants to look like he’s wearing a sweater that looks like a mentally awkward person knit for a particularly docile orangutan. Even though sometimes your husband does wear it, particularly in the winter when you refuse to turn on the heat and he kind of likes it because he can double the sleeves up and pin them around his neck and still get full coverage of his arms. So that kind of worked out too, but only because your husband is pretty much the sweetest person on earth; he’s the kind of man who agrees to wear the horrible sweater you made with stilt-arms because he wants you to know that he appreciates the *gesture* and how much time and effort went in to it even if you’re not particularly good at gauging real people arms.
It’s like this time TUO was really nervous about telling me when I was pregnant the joke about a pregnant woman taking thalidomide because she can’t knit sleeves and I laughed and laughed and laughed until there were too many tears in my eyes to see and she was so relieved because she knows how emotional and sensitive women can get when they’re pregnant but I was just so goddamned relieved that someone out there understands about how bloody impossible sleeves are. If all of the sweaters in the world just had no sleeves, the world would be a better place. Things would work out much more often.
Doing away with sleeves entirely is a good compromise, but it takes a very special sort of person to agree to wear a sweater vest. And chunky yarn only works when your aunt is so tiny that if she sneezes, she might just disappear. Luckily, I have such an aunt. And a sister-in-law who is gracious enough to tell me she wears the silk camisole I knit her in cerulean blue.
Anyway, I didn’t actually give my mother-in-law a sweater that I’d begun for my mother only to have her die on me. I bought the yarn for a sweater I was going to knit for my mother, but I ended up making my mother a different sweater out of different yarn and she loved it. Well, she said she loved it but she had a brain tumour and tried lighting markers thinking they were cigarettes and then she laughed and laughed. I choose to believe she did love that sweater, and the arms totally fit her, but the rest of the sweater was way too big because she’d lost so much weight. She said it was good because it was so warm and for the next sweater, could I make it in blue.
I said I could make it in blue, but I knew I wouldn’t, because she was dying and I didn’t want to start another sweater and have to leave it partially made for the rest of time or else unravel it and use the yarn for something else. Sometimes I think that makes me a bad person, and the part of my brain that still doesn’t accept that I myself am not still ten years old thinks that maybe if I’d have started that sweater for her, she wouldn’t have died. Maybe as long as I kept adding one stitch, or one row, she’d live another day. Or another year.
And can our lives be measured in terms of stitches, counted row upon row, building from a simple ribbed pattern to something very much more complex, narrowing at last back to a ribbed pattern and then ending, finally, in a long and twisting single string? If I had started that blue sweater, would I have sat unravelling it, undoing my mother with each frogged inch?
Dear Princess Kate Middleton:
Let me open this missive by saying I don’t actually give much of a rat’s arse about the social and class structure to which you now belong, and I give even less of a rat’s arse about the family you married in to. I mean, it’s not your husband’s fault that my great-grandparents had to leave their homes, their language, and their culture behind and move across the ocean or face starvation, persecution, imprisonment, segregation, enforced poverty, and the theft of their native lands and religious beliefs. I don’t hold that against your husband or his family *personally*. And frankly, the whole colonialism argument is wearing a bit thin, in my opinion. I do hold it against the institution to which all y’all belong, which is no fault, again, of your husband’s. He couldn’t help being born into it. Neither could his parents or grandparents, etc..
In fact, I suppose one could argue that your husband and his family are as much a product of their accidental heritage as my family is, and that our positions in the world could easily be reversed. I mean, that’d be a complete lie, because there’s no way anyone with title and peerage would have lowered themselves to rut with anyone from my family (who, by and large, were swarthy, hard-working farmers who probably enjoyed a little too much Uisea Beatha from time to time). But, things being what they are, you and your family are where you are and I and my family are where we are.
Listen, Kate. May I call you Kate? My grandmother’s name was Kate. Did you know that? It was her parents were kicked out of their country by the British lords stationed there to take over their land. Just, you know, for some perspective. I mean, her husband’s grandparents’ lands were also taken from them when the famine came and food rotted in granaries on the docks. On the other side, my grandfather’s great-grandparents came over because they couldn’t afford to pay the landlord *and* eat. But that’s all in the past, and there’s no sense, my grandmother Kate would say, in nodding our heads to the ghosts in the room, because they just won’t go away if you do that.
Hey, listen, it’s really nice that you and your husband are visiting children in other countries whose families can’t afford to feed them. That charitable work all y’all do is…well, it’s downright inspiring is what it is. You get to wander around the world with your husband and his family and see all sorts of people who can’t feed themselves because they are living in poverty, living in war, living in drought, living through famine. Your mother-in-law was pretty famous for appearing to give a crap about these sorts of things, and that’s really nice. No really, I mean that.
Anyway, normally I wouldn’t bother writing to you or anything, but I just wanted to say that I think you should be able to go around nude whenever and wherever you please, and it oughtn’t be something shameful or sensational. We all come into the world naked. We all look the same under our clothes, by and large. So I think it’s pretty completely not fair that your vacation or whatever in Malaysia or whatever might be threatened because those people are, like, crazy about things like revealing clothing. Although I suppose you could try to argue that being in the altogether is absolutely nothing like wearing revealing clothing.
Probably, you might want to consider yourself lucky, even though your grandmother-in-law is probably holding the bridge of her nose and muttering that she was never naked in her entire life, save that one time in Scotland when a wild romp through the heather tore her finely tailored suit from her body, back in her military days. But the most that came out of that was a Harlequin Romance story involving people called Duncan and Wee Angus. In some countries, like North America, you might be called a slut for doing things like not wear clothing in what you thought was the privacy of your own home, and then it would be okay for anyone to rape you, if they felt the need. Actually, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen, so forget I even said it.
But that’s another thing. I mean, your husband’s family has their knickers in a bunch because there are people in the world who make a living taking photographs of famous people doing, like, everything. And through the Wonders of Science they can probably take photographs of your superfluous third nipple from SPACE. Which is actually pretty cool, if you think about it. The space thing, not your third nipple.
I just wanted to write to tell you that *I* think you should go naked more often. My grandmother Kate used to say that if they can’t take seeing you in the altogether, they shouldn’t be looking in the first place. She was a very wise woman, you know.
I woke this morning keenly aware of the distance between us and sad because of my loneliness for you. I asked myself, was it so very bad? And the answer of course was no. But, as the dude says something about star-crossed lovers, the tower had to fall.
Still, thank you. And I miss you. I know you are well, and happy. In that other universe where things turned out differently, I should very much like to trade places for a single day with my mirror self.
You’re going to get sick of seeing this, and I apologise. I don’t normally launch one-woman campaigns like this, but this one is an exception, I think.
When The Captain was in third grade, his class went on a school trip to the Motherwell Homestead. It may be a notable excursion in that I was a) not asked to leave the tour, and b) not in need of air-lift rescue. Also, both of my children returned intact, and stitchless (Stitchface, aka The Nipper, also came along with us).
The Motherwell Homestead is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s been declared a National Historic Site. That’s pretty important. Second, it is one of the oldest working farms in Canada. Certainly one of the oldest in western Canada. And by ‘oldest working farm’ here, I mean ‘oldest working farm that’s working in the same way it was working over a hundred years ago’.
So the Federal Government, in its infinite wisdom (/* <– sarcasm arm) has decided to severely reduce Heritage and Museums Canada funding. Because nothing says “we value our people” more than forgetting their histories, heritage, and stories. Anyway. One of the results of this asinine decision is that the people at Parks Canada who do the budgeting want to axe the educational programming at the Motherwell Homestead.
What does that mean?
Well, if you haven’t been to Motherwell, I’ll just list the things that will probably be gone should this decision go through:
1) The Working Horse program – the Motherwell Homestead includes a farm that is worked the way our great-grandparents would have worked their farms in the 19th century. With horse-drawn ploughs, threshing machines, and hay carts.
2) Interpretive employees – the people who work at Motherwell all wear period costumes and learn the history of life on a pioneer homestead. They show kids the toys that the kids of the 1800s would have played with on the farm (the tug-of-war between ALL OF THE KIDS and me was awesome…and watching a bunch of nine year olds trying to carry eggs on spoons had me cracking up).
3) The farm itself – I don’t know, but I suspect the horses will be gone, the cows they use for demonstrations (kids can learn to milk cows). The pigs will be gone, the chickens will be gone, and, probably, the amazing garden will be gone. They use the produce from the garden in the restaurant and at local farmers’ markets. They use the eggs in the restaurant. They probably use the pigs in the restaurant too…
4) An important piece of history and of our provincial heritage will be lost. The proposal is to produce a self-guided tour. With no one in period costume. With no hands-on exhibits. With no “pioneer experience”. With no smell of horses and demonstration of how to saddle a horse. With no PEOPLE.
History is the story of what has gone before. It is the story of the past. Heritage is the story of our PEOPLE. It is the story of where we have come from, who we were, how we lived, how we worked, how we died. Heritage is the tale passed down at every kitchen table about the time Uncle fell in the slop bucket and ended up sleeping with the pigs. It is the story about the women in the parlour who had to stay on one side of the curtain because women and men did not sit together after dinner. It is the connexions between us and among us. Heritage is where we have been, and that plays a big part in who we are now and where we are going.
“Guess what this was used for?” Won’t be something asked by a self-guided walking tour. You won’t see thirty wide-eyed children (and nine bored little pishers off in the corner trying to catch flies off the windowsill) all trying to answer at once. You won’t take home quilted swatches (another thing the staff at the Motherwell Homestead do – they teach quilting and, I think, baking). You won’t take home jars of Homestead honey or sandwiches made from wheat harvested *by hand* on a pioneer farm.
Think about this. Please think about signing this petition. Don’t let the federal government tell us that our heritage isn’t important enough to have people tell the stories to teach us.
I have begin my “40 by 40″ challenge. I’ve decided to write (and send by post) 40 letters; one to each of 40 individuals who email me and ask for a letter, before I turn 40 (this won’t happen for SEVERAL years, of course). Some folks have asked me to write about specific things. Some folks have just requested a letter. Either way, I’m quite excited.
I have had penpals over the years…I have always loved writing letters. Lately, I’ve chosen to write postcards. Postcards are a small commitment. With the exception of the postcard stories I sometimes send on the postcards (my recent favourite of those was the one I wrote for my Actor about the barrows), you don’t really get to say a lot on a postcard. Which is kind of the point, I suppose.
So this letter writing is both exciting and intimidating. My letter-writing skills are rusty. I have finished four letters today. I kind of like the pan-Canadian selection here…
Delivered to Mrs. Collicutt’s class, 1980
Hello everyone. I am so glad to see you all here today. For my presentation Mrs. Collicutt asked me to pick a word to talk about so I am here to tell you about hubris. What is hubris? The dictionary defines hubris as the act of bringing shame to someone. To use the word in a sentence, I could say “Dwayne showed hubris when he threw dog poop at me last week during recess,” but that sounds weird. My dad says that hubris is when people show too much arrow gins. Gin is a kind of liquor, so I guess that hubris is for people who drink a lot or show off their collection of gin to everyone. But I wasn’t sure what arrow gins was exactly, so I asked dad for an example but he told me to talk to my aunt Jane. But I’ve never seen any gin at aunt Jane’s place. She doesn’t have any liquor at all, or even a television. And all the furniture in her living room is covered in plastic, and no one is allowed to go in there. Why did she buy a house with a living room if she didn’t want to go in there ever? Maybe she keeps all her gin in there. What is an example of hubris in my own life? This story has aunt Jane in it too. Over Christmas time she took me to the Science Centre to look at the animals and see the guy do the dry ice demonstration and they had a whole exhibit on evil lution. Aunt Jane said they had too much hubris and that mankind should remember where it came from. She also said she didn’t pay twenty dollars to have her intelligence insulted with evil lution. She took me home right after and dad was asleep on the couch and not doing anything but he got mad anyway because aunt Jane was supposed to take me out for supper as well and couldn’t he get just one day to himself and then I asked him why evil lution was hubris and he started shouting at Jane to keep her opinions to herself and then mom came from upstairs and she didn’t have her makeup on and she started shouting at dad to stop picking on her sister and dad told her she looked ugly with no makeup on and then mom threw a vase at dad and Jane left with me and now I’m staying at her house for a few days. Tonight I’m going to sneak into the living room and see if I can find her gin. Well that was my presentation and thank you very much for listening. I hope you don’t think I had any hubris in my talk.
*this guest post has been brought to you by the Palinode