Saturday, October 24, 2009

now why didn't I think of that?

Trimming B's fingernails ...and he yanks his hand away.

"Not that one!!" he says. "I need that one long!!"

"Whatever for?" I asked him.

"For getting Lego bricks apart."

When is playing computer games writing?

Well it's like this.

If I stay sitting here, at my computer, after I write "She needed to think. Long and hard." then I am, even while I am blowing up multi-coloured bubbles, still thinking about what on earth it is that K is thinking about and how it will be that she can come to realize that she has lost the "luxury of disdain" ...

but if I go fold laundry and cook and grocery shop, K and her struggles have been drop-kicked right out of my mind.

In which my daughter quotes a movie at me, to my utter delight

"And do you know how you overcome writer's block?" I asked my daughter.

She made her best guess. "By sitting in the rain watching cars go off bridges, standing on a table and practicing jumping off buildings, watching apples roll down streets?"

Say what?

So I'm sitting here trying to write a pantoum and humming along to Randy Stonehill and I turn to glance through the slats in the blinds to see if it's still raining ...

and the "rain" has turned my lawn white.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Letter to the Offspring

Dear children.

Although can I call you children? Both of you have feet that are bigger than mine, and one of you is taller than I am. However, I am still your mother, and that makes you my children.

I just wanted to say: it's not like there's a manual. It's not like I can go look up, say, whether or not I should ask someone if they can quickly play through their songs on the piano while they're home for lunch, and find out before I ask that I'll be starting a big fight that will result in your being back to school late, so please don't tell me I "should have known." Seriously. There was no way to predict that. Do you know how many years you've been practicing piano? There was no precedent, and no place to look it up.

And you know how Dad and I seem fairly stubborn? I know Dad has "consistent" listed as a super-power, so let's talk about me instead. Do you know how many times I am saying "Well the deal was that A would lead to B, unless C, and then, and only then, would there be D, and therefore you have chosen X by default." and I'm thinking "Wait what? What were the choices? I am being too stubborn? Am I failing to honour their struggles? Am I being unreasonable? What page is this on in the manual? Oh right. Dang."? On second thought, it's probably best if you don't read this until you're older, or the arguments will ramp up. If you do read this, I absolutely meant what I said and I have no doubt at all that I am handling this properly, this thing right here, whatever it is.

Just - Dudes. I'm doing my (admittedly flawed) best here.

May it take you less time to recover from your childhood than it took me to recover from mine.




okay the rest of you can start reading now.

I called my Mom the other day to say WOW you were consistent, and way to go! Growing up, of course, I thought she was intractable and unreasonable and just so blasted hard-headed! That woman would never back down! Which, umm, wow. Way to go, Mom.

So she told me that she'd heard a preacher one day say "What are you going to say when you get to heaven and the Lord asks you where your children are?" and she took that to heart.

!!!!!!!!!! That is a TERRIBLE question! FIRST of all it implies that every choice your child makes is within your power - which stops being true right about the time you leave the hospital and your baby screams all the way home because he or she wants a soother or doesn't want a soother or is maybe wet or maybe scared of the car seat or maybe that street light right there is kind of spooky and wasn't the noise more *muffled* before, and wow there's a lot of room out here and I'm not so sure I like that. Maybe also hungry. Or too hot or too cold.

Maybe that's just MY baby. Maybe you told your baby to choose to be content all the way home.

SECOND - never mind second.

I spluttered and gasped and spluttered some more and then said "You should have stood up and said "I'm going to say: I don't know, Lord, I thought You had them?" "

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dudes! That was amazing.

That title right there? That's the kind of thing how you can tell I'm a poet what sells poetry.

But here's what I'm talking about.

Walking the dog, just at dusk, because we've decided that if a coyote is going to crouch on the other side of the fence and watch her do her Thang, even though I am shrieking at the top of my (rather considerable) lungs from the deck, it's time for the All Leash, All the Time phase of dog toiletry. Unless we no longer want a dog, and until someone else in this house starts snorting for joy just because I've walked through the door, I still want a dog.

What was I talking about? right. Walking the dog. We're up the hill from the lake but I can hear geese, overhead, and then I realize I can hear them landing on the lake, and so I head down the hill to the lake, and

Geese, geese, geese, honking overhead, and wheeling and sinking below the trees so that I could no longer make out any more than brief flashes of white on their bellies, and landing on the lake with a great communal whooshing splash - and honking and gabbling and looking for each other ...and it went on and on and on. It was dusk, my favourite time of day, because all the lines between things blend, and it is so easy to be gentle with my own flesh and bone, and the air was a cool caress and the long symphony of migration went on and on and on and I was in the middle of it, open-mouthed in awe.

A marvelous gift of a moment.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quick critique

I just got an e-mail from Judith, entitled Hey. As I know and love a Judith, I opened this e-mail and read

pithy detank
armed coiner check small.
gantry small spun otto.
deer held scar billet!
melt precis armed melt.
self ulna pithy nobble?
labile cyder endue unbare!
billet under as doubt?
coiner detank.
detank bemuse lake spawn!

As my dear friend Judith is also a poet, and a good one, I read the whole thing. (the original is much longer, but frankly, after the bemused lake spawn, the narrative lost its flow). We often critique each other's work via e-mail but this time I thought she could just look it up on my blog.

Judith: this lacks your regular clarity and capacity for deep emotional connection. And let us never forget that an exclamation mark in a poem is like telling the reader "You are too stupid to realize this is important." ("!") While I would normally suggest removing the offending punctuation, in this case perhaps it is necessary, as I am, apparently, far too stupid to understand much of your poem until the lake spawn is bemused by the dual detanking of the coiner and the pithy. Or perhaps the detanking of the coiner was a pithy phrase. Seriously, J, this is not a step in the right direction for you, in my humble opinion.



(*Hope This Helps. That's the way I sign stuff, sometimes. It often means "I have been a heavy handed critiquing jerk, but I'm putting this obscure acronym here at the end as a pretend stab at self-deprecation so you'll forgive me for it. Love ya! Tootles!")

(**the first letter of my first name. Why I can't be bothered to type out my entire name is a mystery to me. It's five letters, it rolls off my fingertips without thinking (although I do an astonishing ability to consistently spell it wrong even though it's been my name my ENTIRE LIFE) Sometimes I even have to back space and erase most of it to sign my e-mail in this clever code. Don't ask me.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My hero

So a few whiles ago I took A to the eye doctor, and lo and behold, her prescription has changed drastically, and if she wants to get her learners now that she's 14, like you can in this province, she must be wearing eyeglasses while she drives.

This means we must purchase her a pair of eyeglasses. Any of you who have ever tried to get someone who hates the very idea of glasses to pick out a pair of frames - I invite you to guess how the initial attempt went. At one point, she offered to suck it up and pick a pair if I allowed her to wear mascara before Grade 10 because then her eyes wouldn't disappear behind the lenses. This seemed like ...well, somehow, half reasonable? and like I wouldn't be stuck in the shop for the rest of my life? I called TechnoRock and asked him what he thought and he thought "Nonsense." and so I looked at the TeenAgedHardPlace and said a very short goodbye to the Rock and went to the van where my head exploded. And then we all went home.

Today TechnoBoy took A and a friend shopping to pick out frames. At first it was one friend, D, and then "oh but she's hanging out with X today so he's coming too" and then it was "oh and Y is coming too, and then we're all going roller blading after" so, TechnoHero took 4 people to Costco to pick out glasses by committee and within an hour he texted me to say they had frames and YAY! and how much of a good sport is he???? and they cost approximately half what I was expecting them to and did I mention my husband is an EXTREMELY good sport???

That is all.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Learning Curve

So if you drive around Calgary at all, you may see us - we're a small bunch, only six of us, but we all have the same thing in common.

We have a faraway look in our eyes, and we are mumbling and counting on our fingers. We may be stopped at stoplights, in the line at the grocery store, scribbling things on the backs of receipts. C may even be walking - be kind to him, he's very good with words. If we have managed to shower and dress that day, we may even look like we normally have all our faculties. Do not be afraid of us. Approach us if you like, but be aware that we may start to count the syllables in your greeting.

We're okay. We're just trying to compose poetry in iambic pentameter, and it's harder than Milton* makes it look**.

*"They ALso SERVE who ONly STAND and WAIT."
** I wonder if HE counted on his fingers.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Helpful Hint

this from a friend in my poetry class:

"so if you have some sweetgrass in the car and think 'Hey! I could smudge this and get rid of the smoke smell in here!'?

Don't do it while you're driving."

Hat tip Carmel ;)