Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This was done from a newspaper photo of my friend, Peig.

For those of you who don't know this - when you scan a newspaper photo, it comes out with a plaid pattern across it. It was a lot of frustrating work, removing the plaid. In the original, Peig is on a ladder, scrubbing down huge stone lions that now, (inappropriately), sit at the sidewalk on Granville St. with plaques announcing the University's founding date.

I don't know how to describe Peig, herself. Except to talk about her graduating show. It was a single, life size, life-like sculpture of a woman in unfired clay.

Walking into the gallery, a stark white room, you see nothing else but this, spotlighted - a woman laying on the ground embracing a real tree trunk. Her arms are wrapped around it. One leg is across it. The expression of sadness on her face and the longing in the embrace are so palatable that it knocks the breath out of your body. You have no doubt that you've crossed the line from the everyday-world into a sacred place. It's not that the woman is naked - but that the feeling conveyed is stripped of every defense, every excuse, every explanation.

When the show ended - Peig had thought she'd like to take the piece to the woods and let the clay slowly dissolve back into the earth. She said that while she worked on it, it took over - it stopped being her creation and she merely took orders. I wish I had the words to tell you how powerful it was.

That is Peig. And this is my only picture of her. It's called, "Peig holds the Moon in Place." A very small tribute to such a large spirit.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mars conjuncting Uranus in Gemini

For M.
And Happy SOLAR Eclipse everyone.
(Yes. I have better things to do.)
Posted by Picasa

And another

One eye green cuff red hair  Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 27, 2006

Houston? We have problem.

Energy leak. Fuel escaping. Oxygen running low. You're breaking up, Houston. We have a Monday here, Houston. Repeat, we have a Monday. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What I Did on My Saturday Vacation

A thin layer of cloud gauzing over the blue sky. Still cold, but the bare ground and lack of snow cover makes it feel like Spring.

I’ve won the energy lottery today, have written another of my endless to-do lists and accomplished a third of the tasks on it.

Big chore #1, Shopping: I bought long stems of fuchsia Astromeria to put in a clear glass vase, a loaf of Winnipeg Rye bread, strawberries and bright green broccoli. White wine. Cookies. I think there are a few staples as well, although that isn’t a major concern. What I require are groceries that would make a nice still life. My father, the artist, if confronted with a bland palette of food, consisting of something like, potatoes, cauliflower and meat, would habitually remark, “You have to feed the eye.

It’s his fault I’ve become a flowers and strawberries shopper. My eyes eat, my stomach wonders when it’s going to see protein again.

I’ve restocked thumb bandages. I’m going to need the thumb again, so I paid attention to that.

The rest of the list includes hauling out my new Red Devil vacuum and attacking the fast-breeding colony of dust bunnies crowding my knees. There’s the everlasting laundry event – which is conducted in sniper-like fashion with me running up and down stairs trying to hit the exact minute when all three washers are empty at once and I don’t have to drag someone else’s abandoned washing out There are a few personal grooming items on the list too – ones that involve more than trying to break Olympic records for speed-showering. Some require the application of brain-damaging chemicals to my head.

The rest, are things like:

Write boring blog entry: What I Did on Saturday
Work on fiction
Make new face mold and faces
Glue downward-facing figure to backing
Work on ideas for downward-facing figure piece

There was something else.


Maybe later.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Politness and courtesy: Your call is important to us...

There has always been a curious courtesy between us, me and the Scorpio.

Not politeness – which is a practiced routine reserved for strangers I do not need to know or for people I do know, who have stung me. Politeness as noncommittal oil to grease daily transactions or used to withdraw when my personal boundaries are breached.

Courtesy, on the other hand, is a deeper thing.

The Scorpio and me are far from courteous the rare times when we disagree. We are unfair to each other. We assign blame and sulk. He has a good sting in that Scorpion's tail of his, and I’m no slouch in the hurtful words department either. Only the small wisdom afforded by age and experience keep us from spewing out everything we think – until later, when cooler heads prevail.

Most of the time, though, we are courteous. The first time we made love, afterwards, I thanked him. I had been celibate for nearly seven years, so you can imagine the gratitude under normal circumstances – imagine how it would be if the first person you slept with after all that time was utterly, flawlessly compatible with you.

Still, at a younger age, I’d have eaten my own tongue before I thanked a man for sex. It was their good fortune, I figured. That was how the game went. Men wanted sex. Woman gave it out. Even if you happened to like sex and were female, you never thought of it as a gift someone brought you. Well, I didn’t. But I doubt I was alone in my generation.

The other night, the two of us were laying face to face, talking. I couldn’t stop smiling. “I’m happy,” I told him. We’d both had weary days. The kind of day when the same thing happens at the same time, for the millionth time and you start wondering how in hell you ever got locked into this eternally grinding moment. No big crisis. No big what-happened. Just a slow, water-drip wearing down of the spirit.

“I’m happy,” I said, and then I added, “thank you for teaching me how to do that.”

For teaching me how to let go of the weight. For showing me how to open the door when you arrive and let the rest of the tired day leave as you come in. For doing that yourself each time you see me. For showing me that hauling emotional baggage into a relationship does not have to be one of the defining characteristics of a “serious” relationship.

He smiles and accepts my thanks. He looks pleased and happy too.

It occurs to me that courtesy springs from humility and gratitude. Courtesy isn't from the ego.

And I’m thinking about how genuine courtesy is the hallmark of every friendship that matters to me. That my friends and I thank each other for the things that matter most – the life lessons, the truth when no one else will tell it to you, the examples we provide for each other, the forgiven mistakes, the compassion, loyalty and humor we extend when life feels too damn long, scary or cramped.

It's kind of an old-fashioned thing. Like grace.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Continuing the theme: Naked people

Sunday, I was determined to get the chores done. Package up my income tax information, wash my hair, vacuum, and so on.

And by four or five in the afternoon, I'd cleaned up the polymer clay mess I'd made. The "should" chores were still waiting.

I was pleased with this particular figure...I like that it started out as a female figure and ended up somewhat androgynous. I find that anything I make tends, to some extent, to become what it wants to become, rather than following my plan.

The gilded color came from coating the polymer clay in metallic powder before the piece was cured. Can you make out the spiral patterns on the body?

So. Step one. Now I just have to figure out the rest of the piece and do the work.


Click to enlarge. Actual size is 6&1/4 inches.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ahhh. The weekend.

Before the clock hits 8:00 a.m., in the search for vital income tax and legal papers, I chuck out useless wads of outdated paper and I'm feeling pretty darn smug. Following the advice of a friend, I'm dejunking my life, downsizing, improving the feng shui. I will cease to be a mere boarder in an apartment whose actual tenant is self-reproducing stuff.

I cart the stuff triumphantly to the garbage and jam it down firmly, forgetting that earlier I'’ve disposed of a broken glass. I should not have forgotten this because I break a glass approximately every two days, so sharp things shark around the top of my garbage on a regular basis.

After I run cold water and peroxide over my thumb knuckle, trying not to look too closely, I apply three inadequate band aids and attempt to get on with my day. I shower with my hand bagged and rubber banded at the wrist. This is unsuccessful. There is a delay in the proceedings while I try to stop the bleeding again and figure out a way to get dressed without bending my thumb.

Finally,– and not without leaving little red smudges on everything I touch,– I set off to catch the bus. Leaving right on the dot, I almost miss it when it comes early. Run! But I'm wearing clogs, which are determined to slide off my feet at anything over strolling speed. I just make it, show my pass and plunk down red-faced, bloody-handed and gasping.

I have several stops to contemplate the first errand. A notice announcing that an envelope containing photographs is being held for me at the local post office. Actually, two notices, the last one final. I have no idea on earth who is sending me photographs. There is no return address stated on the notice.

Inspired by recent news items on overly enthusiastic and wide-sweeping arrests of people (many innocent) suspected of possessing child pornography, my mind seizes on the idea that some demented stranger has sent illegal photos to the wrong address. My address. What to do? Call the police, I expect. And say what? Good God, would they believe me?

The bus stops, derailing this insane train of thought. Turns out, after I'’ve shopped for groceries and leaked my way home (with better bandages in my shopping bag), the envelope is from Miz T. A letter and not a photograph, but a drawing.

A simple pen and ink line drawing of a naked woman with her hands covering her face - mortified, embarrassed. She has a leaf stuck in unruly hair and is holding an apple between her knees. "A doodle”" she calls it. And she affixes two sticky notes to it.– In one, the woman is thinking, Oh God! How am I going to ride my bicycle and wear white pants? In the other note, Adam speaks from a cartoon bubble: GIVE ME THAT!

Make of it what you will. I'’m still laughing. And adequately bandaged now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

You are what you (h)ate.

You are what you hate. And what you admire and love. Those distant “others” responsible for all the evil and all that inspires and uplifts us. That is what we are.

That, as I understand it, is what the Jungian’s call “the shadow,” those areas of personality we’ve banished into the basement of our psyches. The parts that do not belong to the conscious “I” we think ourselves to be.

Recently, my best male friend, whose shadow side is, in my opinion, as close to the surface as mine is, tells me that I am getting “really scary weird.” It’s possible he means it as a compliment. (He was responding privately to my entry, "Bleak City - and I’ve taken his remark out of context.) But the comment made me think about where I am on the Shadow Showing Index.

I’m just not scared anymore. That’s what I think it is. Or at least I’m not as scared of all the behaviors and emotions that I’ve shoved into the cellar. I can at least look at the concept without shuddering too much.

I am what I hate. What I fear most.

And what do I hate and fear? Bigotry, racism, snobbery, misused power and privilege, pettiness, back-biting, conceit (as opposed to confidence). Oh, the list goes on and on. And if I take this theory seriously – in all those characteristics, there is a little of me.


Who wants to think they have something in common with what they loathe? But dig around a little and you find that Walt Kelly’s famous line from the Pogo cartoon is right. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

It’s not fun – but the least we can do is open the basement door sometimes and recognize that it’s there. Not haul it out and put on parade – but recognize it. Haul it out and look, without, for once, judging its’ suitability for existence in the hallowed halls of society’s current dictates.

Sometimes it’s a wonderful antidote to substituting political correctness for actual thought. It’s an antidote to delusions of goodness or selflessness. What was the motive for that good deed, again?

And sometimes, as better writers and thinkers than me have pointed out, along with the “selfishness” or the anger that isn’t acceptable to show, or the envy we sugar-coat, hopeless feelings that no one wants to hear about – along with all the icky, secret, dark urges and feelings we’ve shoved into a coffin and buried alive, we bury also our courage, our confidence, our natural sexuality and sensuality, our right to take up our share of space on the planet, our right to show up and show off and break a few rules.

“You are what you love” is perhaps even harder to accept. Difficult to think there’s a hero residing somewhere in the depths. Who? Me? Not me. Yes, you. Yes, me. Moving to our own rhythms, doing what we know in our hearts is right, defying the odds, having the sheer bloody courage to stand UP, take chances, be determined as our heroes is just as strongly buried in our personal deeps. And most of us would admit our flaws in a New York minute, but steadfastly refuse to own up to our potential.

So, it’s the Pogo vs. Nelson Mandela polarity, isn’t it?

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”


“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Open the door. That’s my instinct. Truth is, life will open that door for you some day. Better to gather courage and open it for yourself.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Babel on.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t do well on two or three hours of sleep. That’s a generous estimate for last night.

It’s the fault of language, you see.

Before bed, I watch Cinderella Man and am so fascinated with James J. Braddock’s life that I look online for a birth date so I can see his astrological chart. Then I’m compelled to write excitedly to Mary (of A Breath of Air), who also studies astrology, because I have to share the earth-shattering news that he had a grand square in fixed signs. There was more than that, of course. But even that one sentence, to an astrologer, conveys volumes about the hardness and challenge of a life, and how explosive energy builds up.

I wanted to speak one of my favorite language and be understood. For a woman who claims that words and language lie, I am suspiciously in love with them. After I write Mary, I drift between sleep and waking with the language of astrology rolling through my head…dream-thinking in myth, metaphor and mathematical angles.

I love the sound of spoken Russian, of Spanish, of Irish and Newfoundland accents. I love the English of inner city streets. I like to hear jocks talking sports, musicians talking riffs and keys and nurses talking about operating rooms. And don’t ever get me started with the language of writing…conversation about pushed present tense, word counts, live verbs. You’ll never shut me up.

This morning, checking my various emails, I find a comment on Little Tiny Beads.
Through the grog of the insomniac night, I read:

“Linda, parabéns seus trabalhos são maravilhosos, estou encantada !Beijo no coração !
Marisa – Brasil”

I copy it and haul up Babel Fish Translation. Spanish? No. Portuguese? Bingo.
Babel Fish is a little lax on fine points, but this is what it says:

“Linda, Pretty, congratulations its works are wonderful are magic. Kiss in the heart.”

God. How can you not love language – whatever kind it is? How can you not love how we want so much to communicate with each other.

Kiss in the heart.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bleak City

This is in reaction to a friend’s letter. S/he was having a day in Bleak City and I got to thinking about those days and that place. I’m sitting here, cozy in my blue robe and slippers. Today is not my day to travel there, but I know the place - how it sneaks up when you least expect it. It’s a bit like this:

Wake up cobwebbed in disturbing dreams you don’t quite recall except for the feeling of dark and darker. You were running somewhere, getting nowhere.
The alarm clock explodes in your ear, shrieking voices and loud music.

It’s up and stuff the body into clothes and a stale cookie into your mouth.
No time for breakfast. Got to get to Bleak City.

Feet slap the pavement, eyes focused in midair. The sun is listing in a dishwater sky. Miss your bus and walk. Don’t look at that figure huddled in a blanket by the market door. His eyes are blue as bruises and he’s shivering with cold. Don’t. Look.

Shake it off, drown it with coffee. In a café, the waitress sees you try to catch her eye and keeps on going when you signal. Who do you think you are? The coffee arrives late and when you add cream, it congeals into lumpy islands that float on top. The toast is cold and filmed with too much butter. Never mind. These are not omens. These are not omens.

At work, the boss lectures your favorite coworker unfairly and in public. You are trapped within earshot, helpless not to overhear, thereby adding to her humiliation. Afterwards, you want to help but words fail you and she’s staring at the papers on her desk, blind with frustration and embarrassment.

Finally the work day snail-crawls to a close and you join the dispirited rush hour crowds heading home. There’s a bigger than expected bill when you check the mail and your key has suddenly started to get cranky in the lock. On the street outside, city crews are using a pneumatic drill to break up concrete.

And the sun goes down in the joyless sky.

Next day or the day after, you wake up in another place. Drink your orange juice and eat your cereal. You are early for the bus. Time to watch the birds spell hieroglyphic messages in the sky. The sun makes a friendly warmth on your face. And someone huddled in a blanket, with eyes as blue as the sky, says, as you pass, “Isn’t it beautiful out?”

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Randomly numbered things about me: a selection

#28 - When I was seven, I planted a peach pit from a canned peach. My mother told me it wouldn’t grow. It did. The tree produced tiny, rock-hard sour peaches but it was more than enough for me that it burst into exquisite deep pink blossoms every spring. And that a grown-up was wrong.

#97 – I still lust after the big set of Crayola crayons and always will.

#09 – I once loaned money to a student assistant. Ada Ruby, her name was. A roaring twenties flapper of a girl with long straight black hair and short bangs, who always wore a bee-sting of red lipstick. She was sighing about being broke and I figured she was out of groceries, but as it turns out, (I was handing her the money) she was out of wine.

“You know how it is,” she said, in all sincerity, “You need a nice glass of wine and candles when you’re in the bath at the end of the evening.”

I doubt she had food at the time, but I figured hell, if she knew what she needed. She paid me back the next week. And I gave her my most prized hat before she left for New York to become famous. It was a tiny black velvet number with a veil and a huge curving feather on one side. She was the only other person I could ever imagine wearing it.

#10 – To France S, the lovely dancer, before I left Toronto, I gave my velvet 30s dress with the opera cape.

#11 – So, there is no such thing as a seed a child can’t grow, one can never have too many crayolas, and there is no such thing as a frivolous or wasted item of clothing.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Laughter tears words

Laughter, body-shaking, straight up from the belly, tears streaming down laughter never perplexes anyone. Making love requires very little conversation or explanation. It’s about the same in all languages. Anyone in the world knows that weeping empties grief from the heart. We see someone laugh or cry, or a couple looking straight into each other’s eyes, we don’t wonder what they’re feeling.

I said recently that “words are liars by their very nature.” But I spend the entire weekend (and this isn’t the first time) sitting in front of computer until my ass is numb and my eyes are crossing, writing.


I’ve just commented on Marigoldie’s site – making her wonder if she’s coming across differently than she intended. The very thing I was just saying happens to me here at Life On Earth sometimes.

She’s a very talented writer. It’s hard to miss the picture she paints – but easy to look through your own life experience, (which is, let’s face it, what you’ve got) and then you may see things from a different angle than the writer does. Whether it’s her, me or anyone else. It’s like the story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant – one touching the elephants’ tail, one touching the trunk and so forth.

But sometimes, we manage it, we insomniac scribblers. We manage to say something so clearly, so purely, that it’s like watching someone laugh from the belly or cry from the heart – we wring the truth out of those words. I’ve seen that happen on each and every blog I’ve linked to - which is why the link is there. I’m thinking of posting a list of my favorite pieces to make a record of the entries that kept me going back to visit the same writers, again and again.

Meanwhile, I’d like to refer you to this recent entry on Mr. Head’s blog, which touched me enormously.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It's not enlightenment but it will have to do for now

Looking out to see if the real world is still there: A man in a black knit toque limps slowly towards a van the color of taupe dipped in milk. He is carrying a white plastic bundle under his arm. Two blurred shapes are posted at the bus stop – one in a red jacket. I don’t have my glasses on, so details, like whether or not they have facial features, are unavailable. A seagull stands sentinel on the roof of the building twin to mine. In the air, they are shining miracles – majestic and breath-taking. Standing still, they are a last minute thought of the Almighty. Oh. They’ll need something to prop them up when they land. Hand me those sticks. Never mind. Put them anywhere. About the middle. Do I have to do everything Myself?

I have spent the better part of the weekend writing fiction. I am not, generally speaking, a fiction writer, and I may suck at it very badly, but it’s an oddly engrossing occupation. Dangerous too. I find myself growing more omnipotent by the word. My character, the narrator, can be anyone or anything. And seeing that she is me, without the annoying restrictions of an actual life, I consider making her life heaven and then smiting her with bad skin, and a mother in the mold of Olivia Soprano. Plagues of locusts, rains of toads. Poor thing. It can’t be helped though. No one wants to read about anyone’s perfect life. It gives rise to homicidal feelings of envy and resentment. Be honest with yourself.

I could be a fictional man. Whoa. A
man! Now there’s an idea. Think of the money I’d have saved on therapy and divorce proceedings over the years if I’d been able to gender-bend myself halfway realistically into the head of a fictional man! Think of the men who could have avoided all that suffering!

Why, you may (or may not) ask yourselves, am I suddenly writing fiction?

Because of this blog.

Because I have begun to feel that now and then, writing
true stories, someone out there is taking from it a message I don’t intend. Now this means that I’m a really crappy writer or that reading 700 words about someone’s life doesn’t actually give you a clue about the overall picture, or it means we all look through our own life experience.

( Please, those of you I actually talk to – do not take these 406 -to this point- words, to mean that I’m talking about you. I’m talking here and there. Not the comments that make me think constructively, but the comments that make me go back and reread. Did I say that? I didn’t think I said
that. In honesty, I think I return the favor on other bloggers' pages, typing the secret code, hitting "publish" before I question whether the writer will recognize that I'm joking, or understand my hamfisted remarks as heartfelt empathy.)

On the proverbial other hand, writing all weekend has demonstrated an indisputable truth: I spend a lot of time as a fictional character. Writing as myself, whoever the hell that is, hour to hour, I'm a fictional character on the internet. Might as well let go of little drawbacks like age, place and personal history and be completely fictional. My character's skin fits as well, or better, than my skin – in spite of the fact that I’m dreaming it all up and smiting her with great glee and lots of adjectives. I even envy her a little. And she’s no Paris Hilton. (That’s a joke. Please. It’s
just a joke.)

Minute to minute, day to day, month to year to decade – life shifts and changes like weather. Today’s virtue is tomorrow’s fatal flaw. Tomorrow's goal is the next day's Very Bad Plan. And of course, for all of us, there are days and events that mark "before" and "after" in our lives. We are, none of us, who we think we are. Not really.So I might as well write fiction.

Love to all. From all of us.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Quiet Man

words are liars
by their very nature.
tin cans clanging
on a honeymoon string

trying to sing.

it’s a lot of noise
to untie later.

You and me
more often
check in,
leave the rattle behind,
unpack our breath,
kick conversation off
like a pair of tight

Sing our particular
with fingers and hips.
the melody being
what hovers
your eyes and mine.

I like how you look
at me
so often
you don’t have
the words.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The errant muse

It’s come to this. Open the dictionary at random, stab my finger at a word, see where it takes me. Winter freezes my face when I venture out and freezes my energy no matter where I am. I have contracted… something…some unnamed thing that requires a diet of toast and Aspirin. But I digress. My finger lands on the word:

Kindle/’kind(ə)l/ v. (-ling) 1. light, catch, or set something on fire. 2. Arouse or inspire. 3. become aroused or animated. [Old Norse]
-The Oxford Dictionary of Current English

which, of course, immediately leads me (as it would anyone, I'm sure) to check my notes on Norse Runes:

/ kāne-ăwze Fire of the torch. Rune 6 of the Elder Futhark, 1st aett. Chip of pine wood used to illuminate. The polar opposite of the rune, Is (Ice), which symbolizes the static principle. Rune of the mystery of transformation. What permits us to see. Bringer of light.
from: The Secret Lore of Runes and other Ancient Alphabets – Nigel Pennick

My muse (the dirty little traitor) is sipping Mai Tais in a cheesy, conch shell decorated bar in Florida, I just know it. She’s wearing capris, high heels, big hair and too much lipstick and about three Mai Tais ago, her vision blurred enough for her to start considering that the greasy Lothario across the bar ( who is wanted in three states for various fraud charges) looks kind of interesting.

If anyone sees her, please pump some coffee into her and tell her, if she can fit it in, I’m waiting to be kindled.