words

30 January 2009

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
Lord Byron

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I haven’t bought peanut butter in a long time.  I was reminded of such recently when my sister Jane stayed over for a night, and couldn’t find any peanut butter (or anything else really) to put on her english muffin next morning. My cupboards are spare.  When you live alone, and aren’t feeding kids anymore, you buy what you need.  You don’t buy things in case someone might want them.  You buy the things that will be put together to create your meals and that’s that.

It’s not that I was avoiding peanut butter or anything.  For most of my adult life, it was the warm melty goodness on a sunday morning’s piece of toast that went back to bed with me and a cup of hot coffee and CBC radio and whatever book or newspaper or letter was getting my attention that particular weekend. 

I think the biggest reason I stopped buying peanut butter was because I got rid of my car.  Since I don’t drive anymore, there have been changes to the way I do lots of things, like stopping at the grocery store.  These days I don’t buy to fill the pantry – I buy what I can carry home.  And for the past six months or so, peanut butter hasn’t had a place in the grocery bags I am forever schlepping around.  I guess peanut butter hasn’t been as “schlep-worthy” as other stuff.  It might have been on the grocery list – in fact I’d say it WAS on the list at least five times, but it got superceded by the can of tomatoes or bottle of olive oil which I realised I needed at the last minute, and which I needed more than peanut butter.  When you’re walking home from the grocery store, distributing weight in the bags becomes a priority, and and in my little walking home world, it was peanut butter that took the hit.  

So, as it happened yesterday, peanut butter finds its way into one of the grocery bags, and back to my cupboard for the first time in many months. And tonight after doing dishes, I open the jar and peel back the sealed foil and stick a spoon in and have a little hunk of the stuff.  And I tell you, it is a little spoonful of happy, glorious salty peanuty heaven. There is no piece of Sunday toast that will ever taste as good as that first little spoonful after many months of not schlepping it home because there were other things I “needed” more. 

(Even so… me and peanut butter have a date this Sunday morning with my bathrobe and a cup of coffee and Michael Enright and a good book and a piece of toast.)

go outside and play

20 January 2009

There’s a peculiar group of people who anonymously prowl the CBC website news stories and spew streams of complaints and judgements in the ‘comments’ section of every story.  In the blog world they’re called trolls.  I think a lot of these trolls see themselves as doing a ‘job’ of trashing the CBC, because the giant elephant we sleep next to doesn’t have a publicly funded broadcaster so we shouldn’t either I guess.  I can’t imagine that they convince anyone that isn’t already convinced of their view, and so really their purpose is to just share bad karma amongst the other ‘comments’ writers, and that’s just really too bad. 

Today all the news story trolls have their knickers in a twist because of the joyful and worldwide anticipation of Mr. Obama’s inauguration.  They can’t understand why us Canadians are so caught up in it, and why our national media is covering it so extensively. 

I guess they don’t see anything significant about a man named Barack Hussein Obama, setting out on a grass roots campaign, and getting himself elected on the basis of his oratory gifts, clarity of vision, grace and depth, all rendering the colour of his skin and funny name inconsequential.   The voters went for the smart, inspiring guy.

I guess they aren’t the least bit moved by the idea that a country with a history of slavery and legislated bigotry against people with dark skin, where just 60 years ago people like Rosa Parks were not entitled to a seat on the bus, elected a man with dark skin to lead them through unprecidented economic disaster and the pointless and seemingly endless wars they have got themselves into. 

I guess they don’t see the significance of going from one administration that stole an election, and then ran a country based on lies, negativity, divisiveness (“you’re with us or you’re against us”); a president that couldn’t say words with more than two syllables and who essentially governed with his dick instead of his brain; to a new administration that will be led by someone who is articulate, intelligent and elegant, and preaches a message of hope and inclusivity.

A thousand news story trolls could not dampen the moment of Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen leading that giant crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in singing the words of Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land.”  They want their country back and it’s beautiful.

I think the news story trolls should go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.  It’s a day like this world has not seen for a long, long time.  It all goes to show how badly we needed some inspiration.  And most of us are enjoying it.  Today it’s not so bad waking up next to the elephant.

adventures in transit

13 January 2009

Yes I Am

The other day I’m riding the subway.  Now, the subway is a place where good manners and even good behaviour are not in abundance.  People assume blank faces to the strangers around them.  It’s a place that is sometimes marked with graffiti and usually marked with careless litter.  It’s a dingy underground tunnel and, while I appreciate its speed in getting me places, it’s not my favourite way of travelling.

So anyway, the other day I’m riding the subway and I notice a small sticker stuck to the side of a seat.  It reads:

You’re beautiful.

It’s amazing how a small message can change one’s outlook for the day.

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Driver of the Day Award

Last night I’m walking down Kingston road, loaded down with grocery bags but not wanting to wait for the bus.  I enjoy walking in winter at night, and the exercise feels good; but the full bags and the snow and ice on the sidewalk are making it a little less than a barrel of laughs. 

I’m half a block away from the next bus stop when I notice the bus approaching fast.  I start to jog toward the stop, but the awkwardness of the situation reduces my “jog” to something that resembles a hobble/stumble/fumble/trip.  Nice bus drivers notice these things, and wait at the stop until you get there. 

This bus driver stops right beside me, a half block before the stop so I can board right there.  Then he must remember me from another time because he doesn’t stop at the bus stop I ring the bell for; he continues on another half block and deposits me right in front of the laneway which takes me home.

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Yech

On the ride to work today, a perfectly respectable looking lady sneezes right into the back of my hair.

january daughter

8 January 2009

Happy birthday Kelsey.  I hope turning 24 will start your best year ever.

Many of the brightest lights in my memory are lit upon you.  Like when you were two and my sister handed you Paddington Bear and you about shattered us all with your instant devotion (and everlasting) love for him.  Or when you were four and Mary Poppins was your hero and you could mimic the Jane and Michael characters and their accents with hilarious accuracy.  Or when you were six you used to wish me a safe journey every day after I walked you to school: “Don’t fall mom!”  And as long as I live I will never forget the sight of you and Halet dancing and singing down the street in spontaneous and utter joy in a rainstorm under a shared umbrella.  (I felt ever so guilty for making you come in because I was worried you’d get struck by lightning.)

Since you were small, others liked to be around you; no doubt because of your gentle nature, quiet confidence and self assurance.  When you were a kid, our house seemed to be the one in the neighbourhood where everyone came to play.  You were your own person from time you could walk, and I have always admired how you sustain a clear idea of the things you want, you set your sights on them, and you go after them.  Whether that be making your own bed the way you like it, at age one, getting a new job at 16, or taking over the family Christmas giving project at 23. 

You’re funny as hell, and a great impressionist.  You’re kind to the bottom of your soul, and yet displays of affection are not your thing.  I love you because you’re still that same person you were as that little girl – authentic and smart, beautiful inside and out.  I feel like you’re a gift that was given to us twice – both when you were born, and when you survived that wretched trauma at ten.  There isn’t a time that I look at you and don’t thank the stars.  You belong here, and we’re ever so grateful.  And I’m looking forward to the next 24 years of memories.

And many more and shut the door on ricky hubble.

part one

Last night after work I’m walking part of the way home, and I as approach a young couple walking in front of me in the same direction, it becomes apparent that they’re smoking a joint. As I overtake them, it occurs to me that in all my “forty-something-ness” and “officy-clothes-ish-ness” they might think I could be the kind of person who is offended or shocked at their choice of smoking product.  And they could not know that I’ve probably brushed more pot off my lap then they’ve seen in both their lifetimes.  And that once upon a time it might have been important to me that they know “I’m hip, I’m cool to that man” but really now I could care less and just privately wish them an enjoyable little buzz and winter night walk.

part two

This morning it’s a veritable winter wonderland. Gorgeous giant flakes are tumbling to the earth, inviting you to skip work and go tobogganing, drink hot chocolate and enjoy a chat with the neighbours as you shovel it off your sidewalk. As I’m waiting for the bus, I hold out my hand to admire the flakes on my glove. But the childlike wonder is somewhat diminished when I become aware that I can’t make out the delicate crystal formations unless I pull out my reading glasses.

sunday morning coffee

4 January 2009

This morning I awake and stretch my toes luxuriously deep down in the toasty cotton jumble.  I call for the maid to bring me my coffee, but the impertinent little bitch is nowhere to be seen so I have to get up and make it myself.  I look out the window at the pretty winter scene in the park, then take pleasure in going back to bed with the coffee where I audibly “mmmm” that wonderful first sip, wiggle my toes some more and listen to the radio and read my book and think about all the things I plan to accomplish today.  Later.