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Saturday

There is no grand message today. There was just waking up at a decent hour instead of sleeping away the morning, and wonderful coffee, and a good vibe in the house during breakfast. There was an hour while Myron skyped with his Ukrainian relatives, and I thought again about that post I linked to the other day, how much I love to hear him speak a language I can't understand. There was a very simple carrot-potato soup for Myron's dad, which is not low-carb in the slightest but it's one of the only things he reliably eats, so I make it and remind myself that I'm glad he's eating something. 

There was cold weather but no wind, so I didn't have to regret skipping the legging-layer beneath my jeans. There was a bus that showed up on time and a seat free for me. There was tea at Fools & Horses and then there were lunch meatballs at This Little Place. There was a horde at the holiday craft show--no admission fee! This would never happen in Ottawa. (Confidential to Allison and Lynn: that guy with the giant animal ottomans was there, but there is no cookie lady and I felt her absence. I feel like there always ought to be a [meanish] cookie lady! REAL BUTTER.) There was another candle from Coal and Canary. Oh, was there ever; I may need Coal and Canary rehab. Then another tea and still no wind and another bus and Myron at home to listen to me chatter about it all without ever sending a signal that he had something he'd rather be doing. 

For a day without a grand message, it sure didn't suck.

2 T butter, 1/4 c onion, 2 t herbes de provence, 1 t cumin, s&p=saute. add 600 g carrots, 400 g potato=saute a few minutes. 1 c strong chicken stock and water to cover=simmer until soft enough to puree. thin with extra water as needed, but puree as smoothly as possible. If you aren't feeding a person who is sensitive to spices, you can season it a lot more intensely.

beef/pork/arrabbiata/mozzarella perfection

beef/pork/arrabbiata/mozzarella perfection

FIR XMAS get it get it

calm before

You know it's bad when the weather service has to make a Game of Thrones reference. (Thing: I like the person who writes these long weather statements for Manitoba; he/she has a much more colorful vocabulary than the person who did it for Ontario.) The cupboard was not what you call bare--in fact, there was plenty--no rush for bread and milk necessary the way people do when there's a storm coming. What are you all doing with that bread and milk? Anyway, what I did need was some coffee, because now I have grown myself an addiction and I was not about to let my little coffee jar go empty. And if I'm going out for coffee I might as well make sure there's an extra box of cream because Myron's been putting it on his hot cereal on the weekends. Two stops. No big.

There is a whole lot to hate about transit but if you head out on it with the right frame of mind, it can be not quite so bad. It helps if you have something playing in your ears (today, an old episode of The Splendid Table). I am practicing my chill lately (not the kind in the weather report) and to do this, you pretend that people do not smell bad or bounce their heads/air-drum to their music or eat a bag of onion rings and then wipe their hands on the seat. You pretend, in fact, that the seats are not covered in fabric because that is a terrible, terrible idea for a bus! You pretend they are fiberglass, wiped every night by a fleet of no-nonsense custodians with all of god's own ammonia. You focus on where you are going when you get out of the bus and what else is going on with you or you turn your brain off and listen to an argument for canola, instead of olive oil, in your next batch of toum. You remember there is a whole lot of local garlic in a wicker basket at home that is begging for this treatment. Before you know it, it's time to get off the bus.

flyers

At my transfer I saw a community bulletin board with a dozen flyers begging for my attention. They got it. Something about the dark day and the looming snowstorm and all that beautiful dark red on the Twelfth Night poster. Doesn't it make you just want to put on as many layers as you have to, and some lipstick just that red, and go watch a play? Good, bad, whatever? I understand if you don't, but I'm thrilled if you do. Winnipeg winter is a fucking beast and if you don't go out into it and basically defy it to kill you, it'll sense your fear and eat you up from the inside.

viva

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Long live these days before snowdrifts and ice. Long live square toed boots and shadows in the late afternoon light. This is a gratitude post, a bowing down before the riches of my damned lucky life, a thing that people do at this time of year. How could anything be so miraculous when it's so ordinary? It is, though, it totally is. I could never have pictured this life before I had it; my imagination did not have the vocabulary for its strangeness and sacrifices and grace. Long live whatever it is that will keep me from taking it for granted.

list five: the stuff of undocumented days

1. Winnipeg has a lot going on, you guys. I didn't even do a tenth of the things that made me think hey, that sounds like fun, we should do that.   We saw lots of live music, twice at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (once to see JP Hoe and once to see the chorus of the Manitoba Opera); I saw the Winnipeg Symphony alfresco while coated in mosquito repellent. There were more, too, people I can't remember.

This pic... it was insane. At the Symphony show, a huge flood of people went down to the front of the stage and can-canned (?) together. It was glorious and unbridled and I loved it.

This pic... it was insane. At the Symphony show, a huge flood of people went down to the front of the stage and can-canned (?) together. It was glorious and unbridled and I loved it.

We went back to the WAG for their centennial exhibition and I saw my first in-person blue-period Picasso. This is a huge deal for me. We also prowled the art district and talked books with an encaustic painter and gossiped with a coterie of senior-citizen sculptors. People really talk  here. It's like how it felt to go from Pennsylvania to Georgia, from people who are generally reserved and have a nice sturdy shell to people who want to figuratively and literally clasp you and squeeze you a bit to see what you're made of.

2. I have been here six months now and only once can I say that we had an uninspired restaurant meal. The rest have been smashing. This is partly a product of knowing where to go, but suffice it to say that researching this topic is not a waste of time.

3. During July, my neighborhood butcher shut down for holidays and I went almost five weeks without the smell of smoke wafting through my windows. In case you can't tell, this was a sad thing.

4. My windows! They're open all the time. I approve; this lack of humidity is a wonderful way to run a summer. My compliments to the people in charge.

5. My windows! Part II! The next house project is a doozy--the slow stripping of years of shinysloppysqueaky paint from the trim around the windows (and doorways) (and the stairwell, my god, I'm crazy) and staining the wood to bring a little dignity back to the place.  

6. I am doing actual socializing things. They may be slightly contrived socializing things, but I don't even care. I'm new in town and without slightly contrived socializing things, I am stuck with Myron and my in-laws for human contact. And they're nice! But not enough, so off I go. I am not too good for slightly contrived socializing things.  

7. I have now listened to all of Welcome to Night Vale and I can no longer say that I can't bear to listen to podcasts but that still doesn't mean I'm going to listen to yours so let's just get that straight now.  And yes, I know, where have I been. I blame the rest of you for not telling me about it before last month.

8. I wrote. A lot. I don't think I'm going to be done when I wanted to be, but I made huge strides. I think I have said this same sentence about a dozen times and you are probably sick of hearing it by now. I'm sorry. But it's so true.

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9. This is a thing that happened: On one of the hottest days of the year, this man got fries from the stand a few blocks away and fed them one by one to this giant, happy white dog, who snapped them out of the air and barked and climbed on him and licked his face. They stayed in the shade for about fifteen minutes telling each other what perfect beings they were, and then they were gone. It's a fuzzy pic--I took it from my window--but I couldn't let them get away without trying. I don't think there's a better way to spend fifteen minutes in the entire world. Maybe just as good. Or maybe close.

10. Lo these many months ago I tried migrating Kimperative to Squarespace 6 because the platform had finally stabilized and it was a good time to do it. Unfortunately, things went haywire during my many migration attempts and it took Squarespace engineering a long time to get it straightened out. They are heroes, though, and eventually things got done. It's mostly finished (there are still screwy bits here and there) but I didn't want to wait any longer to write, so the site is live today. (Tonight, that is.) Though the comment form looks complicated, I swear it's not--just select "guest" and don't worry about providing any credentials you don't want to provide. I have made a quick-and-dirty graphic to remind you of this for a few weeks. (Ha! This implies I'm going to write again in the next few weeks.) And the comments are threaded so that I won't feel so ridiculous writing replies to them. MODERN INTERNETS, they are mine. I hope you like it. Kick the tires; if anything's broken, just let me know. PSST: You'll probably need to change your RSS feed; sorry about that! Here's the new link.

a hole in the cold: #FortnightofFlash

The Garlic Corner does not bother with one of the endemic names local shawarma joints use—Shawarma King, Shawarma Prince, Shawarma Palace. We are here for the garlic and the chicken and pita are just vehicles to get it into our mouths. On the chair beside him is Myron’s weekend bag. From here, we walk a few blocks to Rideau, through the mall and to the bridge, where we split up. He stands four lanes away from me, in black leather amid a rainbow of nylon coats. He waves sometimes. Mostly we watch each other. It’s unseasonably pleasant; no gloves, no scarves. The warm wind blows my hair into tangles and his bus comes before mine. It’s over.

When my own bus comes I get a prized empty seat near the front. Two stops later, a man in his fifties gets on and sits with the young woman behind me. He asks her about her coursework, her major, says that he’s “workin’ casual” for Canada Post but did his degree in geography. She has that kind of voice that repels inflection but she keeps going with the conversation, and the two of them prattle through every lurching stop of the bus until I can’t bear it any longer. I head to the back of the bus, find an empty seat, and lean my head against the cool window. Everyone back here is silent, earphones in, head bent down to device, eyes closed. I am with my people. I watch the clock. By now he has his boarding pass. By now he is through security. By now he is sitting in a chair attached to four other chairs and is opening the copy of Cloud Atlas that bewitched me in New Mexico.

I get off the bus in front of the antique store and am almost knocked over by the wind. I walk into it in the dark along the highway. I detect a drop of rain, another, another. No wind this strong should be truly dry; exertion like this calls for sweat. I lean forward with each step but the wind corrects my posture. I try to remember the names of winds I know: mistral, simoom, sirocco, sundowner. The skies open and the rain comes down and I think of all the things we did today that put me where I am right now instead of dry at home fifteen minutes earlier. And I think about what it is to be jean-soaked and coat-soaked in the middle of a warm November instead of shin-deep in snow, and I think like an English major about cloudbursts and baptisms and timing and my empty house. Maybe I can write again, turn this into something. And look! I did.


More about the Fortnight of Flash can be found here. I can’t hack month-long projects right now, but you know I love a good fortnight.