Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Winter Whiteouts and Memory Blizzards

The theme is music and I’m supposed to follow the lead and the cursor’s blinking and I’m stewing over whiteouts and car rentals and another trip to the frozen prairie to move a loved one into long term care. I made the fateful decision and now must see it through—and I’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing for the blog.
     Suddenly I overhear a snippet of an old song on seasonal rotation and the memories come flooding. Lost and out of reach to her, suddenly vivid and alive to me. Yes, I‘ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.
Sheet music by Melrose Music Corp., ca. 1943. Author’s note: To accommodate travel requirements, I wrote this contribution before Nancy posted her delightful ode to summer flowers. On the day this appears on the blog I will be in Saskatchewan, where in December there are no snowdrops but those falling from the sky.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Momentary Sunshine

In the big backyard of her parents’ suburban house, Zinnia chases after her older sisters Hyacinth and Magnolia, but they are mean and refuse to be caught and they laugh at her.
     “Maggie, wait!“ Zinnia whines. “Cinth, slow down!”
     But they're already gone out the side gate, locking it behind them. Zinnia falls on the grass and rips off the sunhat her mother insisted on. She closes her eyes, tilts her head up, and in the warmth of the summer afternoon sun, forgets for a moment her constantly teasing sisters and how she loves and hates them at the same time.

Inspired by You Are My Sunshine.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

You Are My Sunshine

There’s this young guy, spends way too much time downtown and way too much money at Funland, and he sees this old guy, night after night, begging in a doorway off Yonge, strumming his ukulele, singing the same sad song to a little stuffed dog, just trying to make change for a meal. And it works for a while, until the strings start breaking—no money for strings—even after some punk steals his uke, he sits there still, strumming those invisible strings, still singing that same sad song to his little stuffed dog: “ . . . please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Inspired first by Your Report on the Subway, a Toronto moment Kathy captured back in January 2016. Now, almost six years later, Laurie’s It’s Raining Mensches got me to finally write down this very old and very sad memory of mine. The photo is by Ciatus, who has an album on Fickr that perfectly captures the Yonge Street on which this story unfolds.

Monday, November 29, 2021

It’s Raining Mensches

Living with a dying dog is hard. One day Siko is fine. The next day he chews off his toes because his leg hurts him so. Between fetching pills and bandages, Rich and I are such regulars at our pharmacy that we can anticipate its demographic-pleasing Best-of-the-Eighties playlist. Last month I ugly-cried into my face mask while sing-sobbing to The Weather Girls. But friends have been so wonderful with dinners, dog treats, waived veterinarian fees, high-end meat and pots of honey. Because of all this kindness, Siko’s toes are pinky-new and he is with us for a little while longer.
Inspired by What kind of music do you like?
Photo: “Good Boy” by Laurie Leclair.

Monday, November 22, 2021

What kind of music do you like?

To answer this question, I mentally ran through my—I was going to say Spotify playlist, but who am I kidding?—CD collection: Sarah Vaughan, jazz and opera compilations, Edith Piaf, Guardians of the Galaxy and Shrek sound tracks, Christmas muzak, Stan Rogers, Queen, some Beatles, Mozart, Maroon 5, KD Lang, Joni Mitchell, The Clash, MuchDance 2009, and a well-played double-CD set of Jesus Christ Superstar show tunes, the lyrics of which are drilled into my kids’ heads for life. Do I have any discernible musical taste at all? “Ugh, well...,” I stalled, but thankfully the conversation had moved on.

Monday, November 15, 2021

First Church of Christ, Superstar

Towards the end of her marriage, my mother started attending church again . . . not—as you might expect—the Church of England, but rather the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
     I hadn’t been to church since my christening, and so it was all quite new to me, especially the part about all the secret Christian Science celebrities! Jean Stapleton—of Archie Bunker fame—was a Christian Scientist. The Monkee’s Mike Nesmith. Doris Day! But the only real star to ever visit our church was Ginger Rogers—twice—while she was refining her new show, downtown, at the Royal York’s Imperial Room.

Inspired by Feast of the Epiphany. The image is of an invitation to a free lecture on Christian Science, signed—in pencil—by Ginger Rogers on Sunday, February 15, 1976.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Feast of the Epiphany

Yesterday Soo asked me when I stopped being a Catholic. I told her early undergrad. But the question provoked: Apart from an enforced baptism at three weeks old, why was I EVER a Catholic? I loved the stained glass, the rosaries, alters full of Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies, candles. After she left I bought a pair of lug-soled leather loafers embellished with a Channel-esque gold chain across their vamps. And then it dawned: It was the bling. I loved the bling. And it’s amazing how seamlessly Catholic guilt segues into buyer’s remorse. Fits like a glove, or a shoe.
Inspired by Heresy Above. Little Laurie by Roy Schulze and Laurie Leclair, based on a photo by G. Leclair.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Heresy Above

All this talk of stars and movement made him nauseous. Or was it Galileo’s voice? The fool was droning on about the earth revolving around the sun. A ridiculous notion; and if it wasn’t nipped in the bud some nutbar might eventually question Genesis itself.
The Pope glanced at his sundial. His next audience was with a delegation of Bohemians pushing Saint Barbara for patron saint of miners. Jesus. A woman—what next? 
     “Just kiss the ring and go,” he told Galileo curtly, wondering what he would tell the faithful at the “Make Rome Great Again” rally later that afternoon.

Inspired by Starry Night. Image: Galileo before the Holy Office by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Starry Night

I lay on my back on the canoe, and it was so dark, you couldn’t see where the water ended and the sky began. I looked up at the Milky Way as he talked about the Great Bear, the Swan, the Dragon, the double star here, the star cluster there. But I wanted him to shut up so I could hear his paddle as it broke the void, plunged deep, came up behind, and dripped, dripped forward to be plunged again. I wanted to relax into the rhythm. I didn’t want any talk. I didn’t want to hear what I didn’t know.
Inspired by Space 1977. Photo by NASA.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Space 1977

Our new apartment got its TV the old-fashioned way, from a big old antenna on top. Cable might’ve given us a few more channels, but even my little black-and-white set, with its rabbit ears and its UHF loop, was able to pull in as much Star Trek as the airwaves could hold, because Star Trek was what I cared about most, and here I was getting it two times a day! . . . Channel 9, when I got home from school, then again, after supper, while mom watched her news. 
     She concerned herself with current affairs. I was looking to the future.

Inspired by Hamlet Hamlet do be a Lamblet. Excerpt from Star Week, April 30, 1977.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Hamlet Hamlet do be a Lamblet

I sunk my tetracycline-stained teeth into Shakespeare by watching the Hamlet episode of Gilligan’s Island. Along with a fleeting interest in The Bard, that show sparked an obsession with tropical islands, a gateway eccentricity to my pirate phase. Although the Drouillard Road locals could’ve rocked a parrot or a wooden leg, Windsor in 1967 was no ocean paradise. So imagine the five-year-old serendipity when I spotted a cookie bag emblazoned with palm trees and clipper ships. Those coconut cremes were in my mom’s shopping cart before she knew what hit her. Desert Isle–Dessert Aisle? It could work: It had to.
Inspired by The Be All and End All. Image from Wikipedia.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Be All to End All

To be, or not to be, a drabbler, that is the question. Whither the point to suffer the mind, spill ink upon blank page, then feel the slings and arrows of outrageous critics? (Or worse, feel none, and be unheard, unread, which marks perchance calamity for so brief a composition.)
     Devoutly to be wish’d: To be a drabbler no more, and by our silence bid an end to the heart-ache of a hundred measly words, the contrivances of plot and rickety premise, the sly shuffle with hyphens and compound-words.
     To drabble, or not to drabble: ay, there be the rub.

Notes: (1) So far this month we have been on a bee/b/be of sorts. Check the archive here. (2) A “drabble,” by the way, is (according to Wikipedia) “a short work of fiction of precisely one hundred words in length”—witness the confections served on this blogsite. “The purpose of a drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.” We make no claims regarding interesting or meaningful and vouch only for the hundred words (though sometimes we cheat with sneaky hyphens or made-up compound words, these end notes being a case-in-point).

Inspired by More Bs. Image of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, 1899, from the Shakespeare Centre Library, Stratford-upon-Avon

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

More Bs

Beginning with a barrage of brags and boos, and a bonk on the bum when Brenda bumped into Betty, the brawl burst out of Bob’s Bowling Bar, with a blur of broken beer bottles and bashed bodies.
     Brandishing a baseball bat, brought forth from her Buick, Betty bawled: “You bitch!”
   “Bite me!” blasted back Brenda.
     Betty began bashing. Brenda bobbed. Brian the Bouncer bellowed: “Break it up! Break it up you blonde bimbos!”

“Blonde bimbos?” the two beauties bellowed back, and began beating Brian, who, banged up and bloodied, booming and battling, bagged the bat and banished the bickering broads.

Inspired by Buzzman’s Honeymoon.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Buzzman’s Honeymoon

Julie and Phillip keep bees. “You kept them watered all summer!” Julie explained, handing me a jar. Watered? Then I remembered how these guys loved our deck fountain. We’d sometimes get a dozen or more, lined up in a polite row, like British Holiday makers. Some would swoop in for a dip, others were content to relax on the stone and warm their little legs, all chubby-dusty with pollen. We even saved a few sun-drunk ones from drowning. They repaid us tenfold with each spoonful of this lovely, caramel-coloured elixir, reserving a place next year at our Bee & Bee.
Inspired by Democracy’s Unsung Worker-Bees. Photo by Laurie Leclair.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Democracy’s Unsung Worker-Bees

Spare a thought for those who sweated the election. Not the politicians, but the poll workers who made it happen. In a few short weeks 200,000+ Canadians volunteered and trained to administer the vote. On Election Day they deployed to hundreds of voting places where, masked and using analog technology, they set up and staffed the polls to which their fellow citizens, sometimes cranky, thronged. They processed and registered voters, sought solutions on the fly. At closing they counted—by hand—every ballot cast, recorded the results then tore their workplace down, leaving no vestige of their role or presence.  

Inspired by Protest. Photo by the author at a real live polling station.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


The year Trudeau Junior won his majority, I needed a new fridge, so I worked the advance polls. Four days of squinting at IDs, repetitive strain from crossing names off lists, with no time to eat or pee, blur in my memory. Except for one young man, who, having waited forty minutes and showed me his ID, was given a ballot to make his mark. He announced: “I'm refusing to vote.” His protest—against the futility of elections? The corruption of politicians? Democracy?—witnessed only by me and three other tired election workers, living on chocolate, gummy bears and caffeine.
Inspired by Sign Wars! Graphic from the Elections Canada home page.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sign Wars!

The NDP here are a tight little group. No matter the campaign—federal, provincial, or municipal—you see the same faces, year after year. And so, we’ve all gotten pretty good at campaigning; and we sure had a pretty good run there for awhile—until the damned Liberals beat Toronto’s best MP . . . really.
     Thing is, I’m a sign guy, and so that’s how I’ll judge you. Our signs are straight; their signs are crooked. Our signs stay up; their signs fall down.
     By sheer numbers alone, we won the last three sign wars. Next time, hopefully, we win back the seat.
Inspired by Woke Salad Annie. Photo from the author’s extensive collection of Liberal Sign Fails.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Woke Salad Annie

Ever since they stopped the 7:00 P.M. pot-banging she was in an ethical quandary. How could she show her neighbours that she too liked a side of luke-warm activism with her piney Riesling? That’s why clanging kitchen utensils worked so well: All that community schwarm and a good night’s sleep for only a two-minute effort. But then the lawn signs came. First one, then another, then a third . . . Was she diluting her support for one cause by the proliferation of others? Who cares? Hate had no place on her grass. Neither did dogs—and she had a sign for that too.
Inspired by One Copes. Photo by L. Leclair.

Monday, September 6, 2021

One Copes

When asked what he did during the French Revolution, the Abbé Sieyès replied, “I survived.” I’m grateful to say the same (so far) of the pandemic. Yes, it’s tedious. Long, properly-distanced walks in the city distracted for a while—until I’d walked everywhere. A new bike, I decided, a shiny roadster for my Tour de Here. Hahahaha. Global supply chains are locked up tighter than Gitmo. Often I met friends in the park. First we had a brisk walk then, two meters apart, a beer on a bench. Sometimes we forewent the walk. Sometimes I forewent the friend. One copes.
Links are to previous Exquisite Corpse pandemic-era posts to show how we’ve coped. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Lockdown Games (for when you’re really bored)

I got out a glass, left the cupboard door ajar, and poured some milk. Mom jumped up, closed the cupboard and sat down. I got a plate, left the door open again, got a knife, didn't shut the door. Mom’s eyes bugged out. How long could she last? One, two, three . . . She death-gripped her coffee. My toast popped; I brought my plate to the table, leaving the bread out. Four, five . . . Mom's eyes twitched. Six, seven . . . I left crumbs in the butter. Gurgling came from her throat. Eight . . . Oops! Butter dolloped onto the table. Nine . . .
Inspired by Who will help me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Who will help me.

Just before COVID, I lost my computer to causes unknown. 
     True to form, I was pretty quick buying a replacement, only to let it languish downstairs . . . then the world ended. And why bother at all when any old computer will get you doom-scrolling through Twitter all day? . . . until that one died too, in October, and I moved to my iPhone fulltime.
     Two more months of that, and the fever broke, finally. I unboxed my new-year-old iMac, and plugged it all in. It wasn’t like I’d come to my senses, I just really wanted to download the new Doctor Who special. 
With apologies to Laurie for following up on the loss of her dear Starmen with a story of my inconsequential computer problems.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


This year we lost our wonderful friend Mike. And our talented pal Tom just two years before that. I often think about the fun times we had in grad school with the one, and in our fledgling adult lives with the other. For some reason, this cautionary tale on the precious impermanence of life and joy always leads me to David Bowie. At one particular-spectacular moment in time Mike, Tom, my parents, my first dog, Prince AND Bowie were all living their lives. A sort of Kuiack-Purvis-Laurette-Gerard-Brillo-Prince-Bowie Confluence. They were all alive. Like me. And most of them were happy.
Inspired by Dying. Photo by Mary Ellen Kelm.

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