Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fate and Luck

September’s storms reminded me of my own month of tropical traumas, in 1999a year I basically lived in a boardroom or on a plane. First, I was stranded in Sint Maarten for a week when Hurricane Lenny slammed the Antilles, settling over us for two days and dumping 700 mm of rain. Ten days later, I flew Curacao to Costa Rica via San Juan; my suitcase didn’t make it. I spent a week in negotiations in San Jose in the same suit and shirt. A comical interlude, because two weeks later I got kidnapped in Venezuela. My luck held.

Image: Hurrican Lenny over the Caribbean, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, data superimposed by CooperScience  

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Her Only Family Portrait

"My father’s holding his breath so he doesn’t give it to me," says Mom, pointing to an old photo. I'm sitting in her dining room, where family pictures, decked out in a mishmash of dollar-store frames, adorn the walls. Was Mom told this by her mother Alma—here in that same picture holding Mom as a baby? Yes, he has his mouth closed, but he doesn’t look like he’s dying of tuberculosis. Though why else would they spend all that money at the photographer’s? “He was very ill,” she says, gently touching the face of the father she doesn’t remember. 



Sunday, September 25, 2022

100 Words for Stephen

Yesterday we said goodbye to another wonderful human. I listened to the eulogy, engaged in trying to subtle-cry, my tears indulgent and my sorrow insignificant and showy compared to that of his young family. But here’s a short list of who he was; a marvellous combination that made up this precious man: 
Husband
Father 
Friend
Neighbour
Artist
Wit 
Musician 
Animal guy
Raconteur 
Reader
Designer of dog rescue logos and banners 
Painter
Stick-thrower
Child-schlepper 
My kid’s employer 
Energy-giver
Confidence booster
Volunteer
Scooter wrangler 
Porch sitter
Naturalist
Pundit 
Best “my boy as one of the lost capybaras” Hallowe’en costume-maker
Humble 
Important
Missed


Inspired by Traumatic Times. Image: Unfinished sketch of Nim and Holly (Stephen Dutcheshen)

Friday, September 16, 2022

Traumatic Times

I will remember the Queen as gracious and dutiful, a reassuring symbol of honour and stability. She was a link with the past, but wisely adaptable too.
     Now, her subjects mourn. As global media speculate about her funeral and the royal succession, thousands gather to pay their respects.
Meanwhile, one-third of Pakistan lies under water. Thirty-three million people are affected, 1.7 million homes are damaged, and hundreds of thousands squat in improvised refugee camps while their crops rot.
     The rumble of a caisson is drowning out their cries.
All countries need their touchstones. Today, though, Pakistan needs a life-raft more.
Inspired by the week’s headlines. Images by Loïc Venance and Fayaz Aziz. Both the Red Cross and Global Medic are collecting for relief efforts in Pakistan.

Monday, September 12, 2022

You may not remember me…

I finally got to talking with one of the other fathers waiting in the schoolyard, and it turned out we’d both attended the same school. We talked about the things we remembered, the teachers we’d shared, and figured that we couldn’t have been more than one year apart.
     “I really should remember you,” I said. “But I don’t.”
     “Don’t be sorry,” he said. “I tried to be as invisible as possible. I’d be more upset if you had remembered.”
     Today, he was sitting away from the other parents, reading and wearing his don’t-talk-to-me headphones—and I walked right past him.
Inspired by Silver Ghost. Image by craiyon.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Silver Ghost

At first it was a slight reduction in brilliance as she walked down a busy street. Shortly afterwards there was a palpable dimming caused perhaps by bad lighting at the back of the restaurant. Then it became necessary to speak a little louder and develop a sort of shimmering patience when she stood her ground in line. Over the years changes to her teeth, hair, limbs and guts became too faint, too spectral, to catch the attention of professionals. Finally, all that was left was a lengthening shadow cast over an empty hospital bed and an indeterminate whiff of pee.
Image by Laurie Leclair. Inspired by Progress #3.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Inspired by Hare Brained Ideas

It’s good to have the CNE back. It’s also good to have reminders of being “Canadian,” like the Ex itself. It was also good to see the Canadian Armed Forces recruitment exhibit. There is nothing wrong with reminding young people of opportunities to serve their countries. Part of it made me wonder “how young?” There were opportunities to chat with members of the armed forces, pick up display material, and climb into a vehicle. There was a mock shooting area, with people of all ages lined up. It was chilling to see soldiers instructing pre-school children how to kill people.

Inspired Hare Remover. Image by aleks223 on iStock.

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