Sunday, June 24, 2007

I really don't have time to write today as my parents arrive early afternoon and I'm up to my eyeballs in work and preparation for their stay and anniversary bash but I need to update at least once a week for me as well as my friends.

I have just read Marlene's blog and I love how she speaks of soul and its importance - too easy to forget - and her signing off thought - "don't forget to step into the garden of magical possibilities sometime soon!" This made me smile. I am reminded as my heart beats too quickly with too many chores uncompleted by my deadline that my soul needs time and my body needs food. I skipped dinner again last night (though I did serve myself some crackers and cheese) as I wanted to keep working on a big project and I had taken the morning off to visit with Vaughan and Wenda at our old sanctuary - The Grind. And then I drove over to my sister Bev's and then met my other sister Madonna for a quick lunch and took a minute to buy some lavender and black-eyed Susans for the entrance walk to our house which reminds me that Rob cut the grass before he left for Toronto and left a bed of dandelions at one edge because "it looks pretty". Though our aesthetics don't always agree, I love how this man can make me see something, like a dandelion that I consider a nuisance, in another light.

I just spoke with my friend Kate in Germany. How I love her. She too is working on a novel. I have a tinge of envy that she, at 35 with a young family, is doing now what it has taken me years to consider a possibility - though really I don't care that I am a late bloomer. I am more concerned with doing it, completing it.

I will just add a few unrelated notes on the past week as I must run...

My sister who was locked out of her house is being petitioned (is that the correct word?) for divorce and spousal support. How can an able bodied man, after two years of marriage, make such a demand? I am not being sexist. I would say the same thing if he were a she.

Photographic images have a strange power. A sister gave me her dying computer to burn her photograph files onto CDs as she's afraid she'll lose them. While doing this, I looked at hundreds of her family pictures and those of her - though her weight went from one extreme to the other - her body language didn't change. She is sultry, sexy even, and beautiful whether she is too skinny or too fleshy. I mentioned this to her. An hour later she telephoned me to thank me, said that even though she had a cold, she looked at herself differently, took time over her toilette, put on large gypsy earrings, a lacey skirt, a lower-cut top than she had originally planned to wear.

Her call reminded me that I too am too critical of my physical appearance. What the hell. This is what I have been given and I should be more respectful. Reminded me of Woodman stroking her belly and praising it. So before I left the house, I looked in the mirror, smiled at myself, and on impulse, tied a silk scarf around my neck - made me feel very French.

I'm hungry. Must end here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


37 years of marriage

It's our 37th anniversary today and I don't feel in the least romantic. I woke too early. Rob woke later, packed his bag, and left for Tofino for his last two days of shooting. Though I did get a few kisses and a big box of chocolates, somehow I felt let down. I wonder if he felt the same way. I gave him a gift two days ago. So what do I expect after being married this long?

What's it all about... this crazy little thing called love?

I was over celebrating a friend's birthday last night and one gift was a deck of cards with questions about living. Perhaps it's a way to get to know others. Or perhaps a way to get people to spill their secrets. Someone draws a card and then each person at the table answers the same question. The first card asked: Put in order of importance the words "love, money, happiness, freedom." I answered freedom, happiness, love, and money. Most people chose love as most important. But without freedom, I would feel trapped and this would make me unhappy and it would be impossible to love me let alone another.

After Rob left, I tried to catch some more sleep but I just lay there feeling lifeless.

At five the doorbell rang and outside was an enormous bouquet of exotic flowers. And seeing all that beauty beautifully presented made me feel a whole lot better. And I remembered the way Rob took my face in his hands the other night and just held them there a while. And how loved I felt.

"I gotta be cool relax, get hip
Get on my tracks...
Until Im ready
Crazy little thing called love"

Crazier is that Rob always describes our marriage as "living hell" and sometimes he even tells me that he didn't get much weight for his money - meaning he could have found a bigger, softer mama in his old New Brunswick home. Still can, he told me this morning. But a minute ago he called to make sure I received his flowers - the exotic ones arrive today that's why the delivery was late, he said - and so I told the old guy that I loved him. Couldn't help myself. And still I shake my head and can't believe that it's been 37 years with the same guy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Strange day - overcast and cool - and again I don't want to take the time to write here but will to remind friends and family to write their blogs. I love catching up on their thoughts and doings this way. But there isn't, I whine, enough hours in the day to do what I want to do - and I've been so busy this week with family. For the first time in a long time, I've been immersed in the lives of my sisters.

The one who was locked out of her house continues to be disillusioned by her husband. When he finally agreed to give her her mail, every envelope had been opened.

A second sister flew in from Toronto to help me organize our parents' anniversary party. She's the politician, great at brain-storming and writing speeches and it was wonderful to have her input. We now have some grand plans for our Irish celebration in a Greek restaurant.

In our last hour together - why does this always happen at the end? - we disagreed about an event and she, over-worked, began to cry. And her tears drove me to tears and so I agreed to handle the event her way because I didn't want to upset her over such a small matter - at least, to me. And then she gave into me. But the tears reminded me of family dynamics and how we are our most vulnerable within our nuclear family. I read somewhere that if we can be ourselves within our original family group than we have achieved some degree of separation and are more our own person.

A third sister had a special evening to celebrate the opening of her new business venture. As I was the designated driver, I did not enjoy the excellent champagne but did enjoy the festivities and learning about the sophisticated equipment for the clinic - all to do with dermatology. And then I met a writer who has just completed her first novel and has received her first rejection. I told her I was working on my first and she asked how long I had been working on it.

"Oh, around seventeen years," I answered, feeling foolish and dim witted.

Her mouth dropped open. She thought the two years she had taken to write hers excessive.

The next evening, one sister and a sister-in-law of one of my sisters (gets complicated) went to a reading, put on by Simon Fraser, where we met Vaughan and Shirley. There were four students reading their work and one published author - Sasha Su-Ling Welland reading from her non-fiction "A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters" about her grandmother and grandmother's sister who were feminists way back in the nineteen twenties. One settled in San Francisco, the other in London. Sasha punctuated her reading with many asides and I especially loved it when she said that it had taken her seventeen years to write the book.

Today, early, I returned to my novel as finally I have a day - it's 2:35 p.m. and I have yet to dress - to immerse myself. The section that I am working on has to do with stream of consciousness writing which led me to sites on the internet about Andre Breton and his realization "that only the unconscious offers the marvellous." I want the marvellous in my book and so I sit with my journal and Mont Blanc and let the writing flow, hoping that my unconscious will provide some devilish text. I think it was Iris Murdoch who said that good saintly characters are boring. We need vicious vile villianous ones to make things interesting.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I sit in my house in the garden - unfortunately, the roof is leaking so I've covered it with plastic to protect my papers and books - thinking of the past week and Paul Simon and Bob Marley lyrics run through my brain. "Still crazy after all these years" and "No, woman, no cry... everything's gonna be all right."

It's been a crazy week. One sister called and asked if she could stay with us for a few days. She needed somewhere quiet to think. She left her husband a note saying just that. On the fifth day, he changed the locks on their doors, and the numbers on their alarm system. Now she can't get into her own home. The police said "No, he can't do that" - though he did - "Get a lawyer." I have to be careful telling this publicly because anything I say could be used against her in a court of law which seems as appalling as his crime.

I learned, a few days ago, that our next-door neighbour, who has lived beside us for 23 years, died May 13th. She had been in the hospital since November, suffering from diabetes. Over a period of time, the doctors removed her feet, then her legs below the knees. Rob visited her and said she was quite philosophical, had accepted her loss. She was 82 years old. Every Halloween, she would let her grey hair down and dress up as a witch. Every holiday - Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day - she would leave a little gift on our porch for "Silly Gilly." Somehow it seemed sadder her dying and not knowing.

Last weekend, the Globe & Mail featured Leonard Cohen whom I've adored through all his careers - as poet, prose writer, song writer and musician. I'd like to see his art exhibit in Toronto. Though he laughs when people call him "a lady's man," I used to dream of him as the perfect lover. I have never loved a poet in the flesh but did make love to a man who recited "My lady can sleep/ Upon a handkerchief,/ Or if it be fall/ Upon a fallen leaf..." and later married him.

Every time, Cohen appears to me - on television or in the paper, through his writing or song, I am drawn to him. In this interview, when speaking about his current situation - living in an old house in Montreal with his 48-year-old love: "This isn't very different from the monastery... It's the same kind of life, which is sometimes difficult, like everybody else's. It's a struggle for significance and self-respect, and you know, for righteous employment, to be doing the right thing."

What is the right thing, I wonder. I have such battles inside myself. I do everything around the house that I can possibly do so I don't have to pay someone else for labour though when I tried to prune the cherry tree - sitting precariously on a ladder and sawing at a branch - I realized some things are best left for professionals.

My life now consists of home-work and writing. I have slipped into writing mode this past week and can't seem to stop. I write a paragraph or two - sometimes only a sentence - and when what I'm writing reminds me of another writer's words on the subject, I stop and find her (or his) text. Sometimes I quote her (or him.) Sometimes not. I am also referencing my journals and old letters. I appear to be creating a system that works for me. I whisper to myself to not get too cocky, too excited - though sometimes I can barely contain myself, I'm so pleased. I remind myself over and over that this is not for publication - at least, at this stage - I can do what I damn well please.

The books that have pleased me the most in recent years are those that don't follow any set formula or those that speak about the unspeakable - like novels by Winterson, Duncker, Ondaatje. All three are way above my league but they give me courage to write what I please. Nancy Mairs, whose niche is non-fiction, is another author of whom I'm especially fond. I was leafing through "voice lessons" this morning and found many passages that I'd underlined. The one that applies to this moment, is a quote by Jane Tompkins: "I find that having released myself from the duty to say things I'm not interested in, in a language I resist, I feel free to entertain other people's voices. Quoting them becomes a pleasure of appreciation rather than the obligatory giving of credit."

I so seldom allow myself pleasure or rather, I struggle to allow myself pleasure which sounds mighty ridiculous when I see it on paper. Writing can be fun and if it isn't, why bother? And although I do struggle - sometimes for hours on end over one sentence - in the end, when I've got it right, I am so full of pleasure, the struggle appears as nothing - the means to an end.