Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dreaming of Flying

Our house is totally taken apart. Tomorrow all the furniture in the study goes upstairs to the loft‚which is already filled with papers, books, lamps, and assorted miscellany. Dresser drawers sit perilously upon other drawers —and the space in the middle is for two lazy boy chairs, two computer tables, two book cases, a file cabinet, a desk and chair , and two small cabinets—a TV stand and a TV.

In another day the men come to lay down carpet in two rooms—then the furniture goes back and the painters come to paint upstairs. The downstairs has already been painted.

I don't understand people who love redecorating—only wear, tear, and the results of the winter ice dam made me take this step.

Ah—the clouds! I want to be far away from this mess.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Straw Fragments

Instead of a continuous thread each piece of straw is fragmentary—together they convert into straw bales. It reminds me of how life is constructed of incalculable experiences —each one layered on top or beside another. Straw on its own can’t form a bale.

Of fragments: I own two large plastic containers filled with inks, pens, assorted pencils, markers, brushes, nibs, oil pastels, watercolour squares, charcoal, litho crayons, and vinyl erasers and kneaded rubber erasers. Each item a reminder of an art phase—a technical watercolour course that petered out when I had to paint a vegetable still life with precise side lighting, an oil pastel obsession that resulted in six paintings of “ Interior Landscapes”, a printing course that convinced me to stick with pen and ink, and a coloured pencil weekend workshop that taught me a modicum of patience. “How many layers of colours to get that effect?”

In a desk drawer, buried under instructions for putting together a handmade book: binder’s tape, binder’s thread, glue, heavy board, and a bone scorer. In an art folder leaning against the desk: decorative papers. And then there are two rolls of bookbinding cloth—enough cloth for a dozen or more books. I had taken a two-day workshop on creating a handmade book and immediately fell in love with the art. After making my first book in class I proceeded to create two journals, a book to keep notes on books read, and three gift books. I collected unusual decorative papers and then, after about ten books, I lost interest. One day I put everything away, “I’ll get back to it at a later date,” I told myself. That was three years ago.

Quotations—fragments of thought, often not what the writer meant if an entire passage is read. I like to copy down pithy thoughts or passages that move me. Who knows when I'll return to those words. When those words will encourage me to write a story, a poem, a lyric essay—

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finding the Whole in Fragments


In a few days the paintings, lamps, collections of shells, rocks, and what may be referred to as bric-a-brac heads downstairs to the basement or upstairs to the loft. The painters come with their ladders, buckets, drop cloths, brushes, and small paint splattered radio. Ruby, the lead contractor, leads his contingent of hired painters. First, the ceilings—a coat to cover the water stains from this winter’s ice dam, then the lavender bathroom. I chose a lighter colour for the bathroom and wonder whether it’s too light. Small samples never give an adequate sense of the result. What appears brazen on a piece of paper may turn out dull and passive. Trim in white—not dead white with ghostly overtones, not white imbued with green and black emoting a sickly hue under the glare of eight decorator bulbs. Not too yellow. It doesn’t complement lavender. I want a peaceful, but not a complacent colour.


Shopping for blue rugs, or do I say wall to wall in two rooms, requires entrance into the rarified area of colour names. I want a blue carpet and every company defines blue differently—Navy blue, Cobalt blue, Bonnet blue, Persian blue, Powder blue, Periwinkle, Cerulean, Slate blue—and names that wear their regal background: Royal blue. A carpet sample lit by overhead fluorescent lighting changes as soon as it nears another landscape. Over several weeks I brought home samples—some affixed to cardboard, a few twelve inches wide, and two oversized samples three feet by two feet with whimsical names. One darker. One lighter. “This,” I said to the salesperson when I found Maya blue, “is the perfect colour.” As soon as I placed it down in the room the other blues screamed —conflict, competition, wrong. I found two different blues. They’ll work—perhaps blend in quietly.


Today I left the house and headed to my favorite, or maybe the coffee house closest to home, only to find them serving coffee in the dark. The lights were out and the light darkener shades drawn. It’s overcast today, hovering between rain and consistent concern about rain. “Wait five minutes and maybe I’ll get the lights on. The coffee is hot.” I looked around and even with the lights on the place looks like a cave. It’s a stand-off. Why keep the place so dark? Perhaps the floor is scratched and the sunlight magnifies each blemish? Perhaps keeping it dark encourages conversation and discourages the bookish set or the computer folks who camp out. It’s not as if I stay through the lunch crowd. Last week one shade was up and a slant of light illuminated a table or two. Is it a matter of control? Rather than sit I drove three miles to another coffee house, found a table near the window, and plugged in my computer. With an overhead light, a large storefront window, a bathroom, and three other people sitting with computers—a model coffee house. But the coffee is quite mediocre. Today I tried Café au lait—too bland.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I listen to conversations—perhaps this is eavesdropping. When people speak so loud that their voices carry over into my space, am I really rude to listen? Often I am forced to listen to someone on a cell phone. Is there something about speaking into a phone that requires a loud voice?

Years ago I thought people were hallucinating when they walked along speaking into the air. Now I know better. They have attachments—implanted, I expect over an ear, and no longer require a hand to hold a cell phone. These are not folks in need of psychotropic drugs.

Then there's the true eavesdropping. Someone says something—it catches my interest—and I intently listen—and take notes. Who knows when a snippet of conversation will end up in a story.