Aberration, a poem

Winter, the air was as dry as unbuttered toast.
Ice formed from any moisture and hung onto any thread.
Children were bundled so if they fell
it would be face up
so they wouldn’t suffocate,
their identities unknowable behind scarves and hats pulled low.
Until a Chinook
when they threw off their stiff winter clothes
and ran in their socks and shirt sleeves
in yards of mud,
no, not ran, but hopped
like new little toads with tails abandoned,
this way and that,
with the randomness of joy.
And when it was over
they came home dressed in other children’s clothes.

I joined the Rusty Cast-Iron April Poetry Club, a closed club on Facebook for the month of April. I tried to write a poem every day. Some days I pulled old poems out of the moth balls and re-worked them. Honestly, it was really hard and time consuming. Whole mornings were taken up with my punching and kneading the raw dough! But it was an honest effort. I am going to post some of the ones I am happy with. NOT ONE A DAY, but maybe one once in a while. Thank you dear reader for you indulgence.

This was Day Five, I think the prompt was to write about a micro climate, which this is not, but it is about a climate aberration… We did experience something like this the first winter in Ottawa.

 

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This Holiday Season was Brutal!

Some years I manage all sorts of crafty things for decorations and gifts. This year I had hoped to finish one little dress for one little granddaughter but illness, loss and general malaise knocked the stuffing out of me.

Nothing lasts forever, not even illness so thanks to the wonderful anti-biotics that addressed a bronchial infection and the joy of spending time with children and poetry lovers and artists I have rallied and finished the wee dress.  The good news is she is getting longer, not wider so this will fit her for a while!

mjdress

The fabric is linen and the pattern was Burda 9772

 

Xmas Panda-monium?

I went to my son-in-law’s family Xmas. It was pandemonium with a medium sized panda.

All the kids got an anonymous gift of a stuff toy animal in support of the W.W.F. What a great gift. Not my idea and no one came forward, so it makes you wonder… well he loves reindeer so perhaps he cares about all the animals too.

 

birniexmas

and these are only the ones that fit in the frame!

smilywilf

anonymous panda with a donation to a charity!

I Said it Out Loud: I am hanging up my red rubber nose.

wilftiger

ROAR!

I was out in a social environment, drinking a beer, chatting. In reference to something, someone said, “Oh yes, you are a clown aren’t you?”

Having said out loud that I was retired made it true. But it has been a long time coming. First off the fact that parents started telling me that clowns were “scary” and they would prefer that I not dress up. (I think I am way more scary without my clown makeup but hey, if they don’t want clown face I don’t do clown face.)

But I also started to notice how physically demanding it was. I love talking to the kids about what they imagine they are becoming as I paint their faces, or just seeing their level of commitment as they patiently wait as I apply the paint but there are many younger people who have steadier hands and stronger backs.

And I have grandchildren now. I am so lucky to get to see them as they grow into this world. I think now I need to spend my time doing what I can to see they continue to have one.

Clownlaughing

It’s been fun.

I don’t want to say too much when Shakespeare said it so well.

The Stranger’s Case, is a speech written by Shakespeare, Sir Tomas Moore’s  response to mobs attacking refugees. “Sit as kings in your desires” brings to mind a particular orange individual, but also the silence of those who put him there and who intend to profit from “a strong hand” in response to strangers.

“This Your Mountainish Inhumanity.”

The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you: you had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another….
Say now the king
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers: would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? this is the strangers case;
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

Being Past Middle-Age (Old)

lastpeonies

 

I don’t think I agree with Mr. Sedaris when he says:

Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room.

and as per usual I read the line incorrectly at first as “There ARE A FEW real joys”. Ooops. There are many draw-backs to aging but I have found there are a few, very real joys. Acquiring a guest room speaks of many things, financial things, years of acquiring security, home and also friends. These things are indeed things to be pleased about. But the greatest joys I am finding, and I am past middle-age, are in being less observed and more observing, needing less and appreciating more, and feeling less expectation (and maybe more love).

These days I am having very wonderful conversations sometimes on public transit with people who I would probably never have had an opportunity to talk to previously in my life. I am not sure why this is happening more often but it might be that I am not always looking at the floor and listening to a podcast or reading a book or sleeping or avoiding eye contact, but I also think it is because I am over sixty, completely non-threatening and usually, if I am going somewhere, pretty happy.

I am at a point in my life where I can contribute a bit to those in my life but no one is entirely dependent on me. While I am hardly noticed unless it looks like I might need to sit down, I can notice all sorts of things.

A week ago I ended up talking with a woman at length, a bus and two subways worth, after an unleased dog ran at the fence to the school yard his owner had let him run in, barking rather ferociously at her. (I tend to be really scared of running dogs since having been bitten). I wanted to calm her (and myself) so I said something like, “Scary huh?” She said she had a lot of experience with dogs growing up in Jamaica and she had a heavy purse. 😉

We talked about dogs, she likes them, I don’t much, and cats, she doesn’t like them, I do, and children and being grandmothers and what each of us thinks is the most important thing to learn (my favourite question). Along the way I mentioned that I had an auntie who had always made me feel special. We were discussing the importance for children to have a safe person who will always accept them and give them space to just be children, “like grandparents do” we said in unison.

I got to my stop on the subway after a long and wonderful conversation, learning her age and history and family and her beliefs while sharing mine. We were holding hands by this time. She said, “What is your name?” I told her and asked her for her name. “Opal” she said.

That was the name of my favourite auntie!

I find a lot of joy at my age.

Something Serious

I woke up this morning thinking about people who hate.

I know the popular rhetoric is to call all violent acts “terrorism” and then look for ways to identify an individual with a group; hell, the sad and crazy bastards greatest hope is that you will do this rather than look at how sad and crazy they are.

I know it is not a popular idea to examine the machinery of hatred as mental illness. (I don’t believe in letting anyone off the hook, I just think there has to be a response to hatred that has the greatest success in disarming the hater).

People Who Just Hate: PWJH

This group is easy to identify. They justify things by blaming others. They think if they get away with something it is divine providence, and when the shit hits the fan they imagine they are martyrs for some greater cause, regardless of how nuts it might be, or that they are victims themselves. They have no perspective, no empathy and are either isolated or only associating with others who are equally unhappy and insane.

Some of them have children. All of them were children once.

Everything that causes suffering starts with what we show and teach children. If we don’t have a society that puts the care and education of its children first, this includes helping parents, fathers, mothers, single mothers also, in getting the emotional, nutritional and housing support they need; addressing child abuse; addressing domestic abuse; we will end up with fractures in the society that will frequently lead to violence.

 

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