Ten Things You Should Set On Fire

1.  Your bra.  You know the one I’m talking about.

2.  All notes and letters in your possession containing dangerous secrets.  It’s faster and more effective than eating them.

3.  Your mortgage, once it’s paid.

4.  Zombies.  I don’t know about this one from personal experience, but it sounds like good advice to me.

ADELE - Set Fire To The Rain

ADELE – Set Fire To The Rain (Photo credit: [ captivated ])

5.  The rain, if your name is Adele.

6. Those incense sticks and the aromatic decorative candles that are just sitting around collecting dust.

7.  Your imagination.

8.  Your passion.

9.  Someones heart.

10.  The world.

For numbers seven through ten, don’t use real matches.  But do say something cool like ‘burn, baby, burn.”

Does anyone burn autumn leaves anymore?  We pay yard people to clean them up and cart them away.  We used to rake them up and put them in clear plastic bags to be picked up and composted.  Well, I never did any raking, W did it all.  I’m very opposed to the whole idea, feeling strongly that leaves are meant to cover the grass and protect it from the ravishments of winter.  And then we can all be doubly annoyed with them in the spring.  Plus raking is hard work and I’ve never been a strong advocate of that, ever.

I remember when we were kids jumping into a gigantic pile of leaves and then having to clean up the mess all over again so we could light them on fire.  The smell of burning, smouldering leaves is something so wound up in the whole concept of fall that it’s hard to think proper autumn thoughts without it.

But I guess there’s enough things being set on fire these days.  No need for any more smoke getting in our eyes.

September Sunset

Due to diabolical schedule changes at work, I have been slogging away in that hell hole for the past four days in a row.  Normally three days one after the other is enough to kill me, so last night I was exhausted enough to pass out by eight p.m.  Yes, I know that’s pathetic.  I made up for it by getting out of bed at six this morning.

Although I haven’t done anything more strenuous yet than catch up on some reading and word game playing that I was too beat to even think about last night.  I wonder what people with interesting lives are up to?

These pictures are of a fifteen minute sunset from the other night.  I can’t be more specific than that because I really don’t remember what day it was.  Even as I was clicking away the lights were fading.  Makes me wonder what other wonders I’ve missed by working in a box with no windows and sleeping the rest of my life away.

As quickly as it happened, it was gone and there was nothing left but indigo.  Ever heard of sky-blue-pink?  I think that was it.

Dora Does Living Colour

Dora does the stink eye.

Pink goes well with blue hair. And red arms.

Could be an Irish ballet.

Dora tries her hand at face painting.

This is coloring after my own heart.  I LOVE green hair.  And would you not just kill for this last ensemble?  And go totally overboard with the self-tanning to complete your look?  If you say no, there’s a lot more you need to learn about having fun.  Thank you Maddy and Princess O.  My fridge has never looked better.

Last Letter From Rimbey

W will be heading home this week from his extended stay in Ontario.  I’m not kidding with the ‘extended’ part.  He’s been gone for almost six months.  My comfy, lazy, living alone days are about to come to an end.  The huge difference between 2012 and 1936 – when my dad left for his extended adventure in the wild west – is that we can phone and text daily if we feel like it.  For my mom and dad there were only a couple of letters back and forth in a month or so.  I think that must have made it feel like their time apart would go on forever as they lead their separate lives.

In this letter (the last one I have) dad seems to be winding down and wearing out from working hard and playing harder.  He’s sounding ready to head back home.

Rimbey, Alberta

October 1, 1936

Dear Marg,

I received your very welcome newsy letter last week and was I glad to hear from you, or was I?   Well I’ll say so.  I’m so glad you got a school.  What’s Marguerite doing now?  You didn’t say.  I suppose Newton is still at the same school.  There are so many questions I would like to ask it would take most of the night so I’ll quit.  I hope to see you before Santa Claus comes and when I do, Oh boy!  Won’t you see a happy boy.

I wouldn’t try to fool you by telling you I haven’t been enjoying myself here because I have really been having a whale of a time and am only half decided on whether I want to leave or not.  I told Alvin Boetger I’d call for him at Moosejaw on the way home, so I guess I’ll strike out anyway, although I haven’t any idea when. It will likely be some time yet because this job lasts for at least a month if I’ll stay.  I don’t know my own mind for any length of time.

The night I posted that last letter I broke the axle of the car and I rode to Springdale on horseback and what a night.  Twelve miles both ways.  I left here about ten and got there for three dances, then rode back again.  I let the horse walk and the sun was just coming over the edge of the hills when I arrived home.  I certainly felt great the next few days.  I was hobbling around like an old man.  It’s all worn off by now of course.

There’s another dance tomorrow night at the same place, so I’ll say goodbye to everybody just in case I take a notion.  The way I did when leaving home.  I don’t know whether it would be safe for me to land in home now or not.  I might have some difficult questions to answer.  Oh well, I’ve had lots of things to figure out for myself all summer.  Harold tells me I’ve changed a hell of a lot this summer – what do you think of that?  I hope it’s for the better.  I sort of have my doubts though.  I’ll ask you when I see you.  (next spring??)

Threshing Scene

Threshing Scene (Photo credit: Galt Museum & Archives on The Commons)

I hear nearly everybody is getting married up there.  I hope you haven’t any such foolish notion!?  I think it’s too much fun this way myself.  I’ve been disking the last few days with six horses abreast and is it dusty.  I got in seven days of threshing – wasn’t that a lot?  Oh well, I’m still living.  We certainly had a whale of a time threshing.  Harold was the life of the gang.  He sure was foolish.  Well I’ve been talking here for a long time and forgot anything I was going to say, so I’ll sign off for now.

***

Another night.  How are you doing, etc.  Saturday in fact.  I’m waiting for my boss to bring back my car from town and then I’m going places, to post this letter, etc.  The dance last night was a howling success.  A big time, but not so much fun today.  They tell me I’m getting thin, but I don’t believe it.  I haven’t had a good appetite for the last three weeks but I’m still feeling not too bad.  They tell me I’m  homesick.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re right.  You’ll have to try like a school teacher to make connections in this letter.

Smithson Museum in Rimbey

Smithson Museum in Rimbey (Photo credit: Sherlock77 (James))

There really hasn’t been anything overly exciting happen and I don’t know what to write being you don’t know the people here.  There’s a girl here wants to go back east with us.  She’s taken a shine to Harold I think.  I told her we had a load, sorry, etc.  I’m getting good at saying things I don’t mean – I guess that’s bad, what?

Well kid, I’ll have to call this a letter.  Anyway, I made a stab at it, which is more than I did during the summer.  The car is coming, so toodeloo.

With loads of love and kisses,

Hank.

Astute Observations on Goddamn and Crap

English: Overlooking Inuvik with the fall colo...

English: Overlooking Inuvik with the fall colors in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we lived in Inuvik (circa 1980) W thought it would be a lot of fun to put together a dog team, so he did.  The frustration and hard work involved in raising and training the dogs far outweighed the fun I’m afraid .  And the dozen or so dogs didn’t just disappear with the snow.  They required care throughout the long summers,  when the town became a sweltering dust bowl in the heat, and a slippery filthy mud hole in the rain.

 

One muddy Inuvik afternoon my daughter and I had this conversation:

Mommy, goddamn is a really bad word.

(Yes it is, and telling me that is not an acceptable way to get away with saying it.)

Little kids should NEVER say goddamn. right mom?

(No, they shouldn’t, so now would you please stop saying it?)

But mom, its okay for dads to say goddamn.

(Really? Why do you think it’s okay for dads?)

Because there’s GODDAMN DOGS and GODDAMN MUD!

She sounded just like him.

**********

Fast forward about twenty-five years to a conversation I had with my granddaughter when she was three or four.

crap

crap (Photo credit: matiasjajaja)

Crap is not a nice word, grandma.

(Nope, it isn’t.  So let’s not say it, okay?)

But sometimes you can say crap and its okay.

(Really?)

Yep.  Like when you’re feeling sick, you can say “Mommy, I feel like crap.”

(Ah.  I see.)

But if your mom looks at you when you’re sick and she says you look like crap, THEN its a bad word.

(Huh. You are your mother’s daughter, and I totally get your point.)

A Seventies Moment in Time

You never know when or where a scene from your past might suddenly surface.  My cousin Darren scanned this ancient slide and posted it on Facebook.  It’s me and W,  my bearded biologist husband, married for about a year, living in Dryden, Ontario, probably taken at my Aunt Marguerite’s (Darrens grandma’s) house.  She was so incredibly good to us when we lived there in the early 1970’s.  We were both working, but young and stupid with our money.  Thank God she liked to invite us over occasionally and feed us.

Sorry I can’t remember why we were in a hallway, posing in front of the thermostat, and I have no idea what that silvery thing is on the wall behind us.  W is wearing his Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources uniform, jacket in hand.  I’m just standing around looking happy.  I think maybe I did a lot of that in those days.

Q is for Quintessential

I never use this word in polite conversation.  My attempts at sounding sophisticated come out sounding prissy instead.  Plus I would probably stumble over its proper pronunciation and make a quintessential fool of myself.

quin·tes·sen·tial

adjective

1.  of the pure and essential essence of something: the quintessential Jewish delicatessen.

2.  of or pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something: the quintessential performance of the Brandenburg Concertos.

The purest, most characteristic, perfect example of a particular type.

Yesterday I fell asleep in the afternoon heat.  I used to watch my grandmother do the same thing.  She’d sit down to read and her eyes would close and her head would nod and the book would fall from her fingers onto her lap.  Once I gently touched her shoulder and startled her awake and she told me she wasn’t really napping, she was just resting her eyes.

So!  Yesterday I was resting my eyes in the warm sunshine.  When I opened them the sky was overcast and a cool breeze was chilling me to the bone.  It’s how the seasons change.  One day it’s summer and the next day it’s just not.  I know the autumnal equinox does not officially begin until the 22nd of September, but here in my little spot on the northern hemisphere it is already fall.  These chilled old bones do not lie.

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, 19th-20th century poet.

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, 19th-20th century poet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I found the quintessential bit of poetry to describe exactly how yesterday felt to me.

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

 

 

 

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt is probably the quintessential name for a poet.  If I ever expect to make it as a poet I can see I will have to seriously lengthen my name.

English: Sunset at the autumnal equinox

We had the quintessential autumn sunset the other night as I was leaving work, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  Look at this photo and imagine a half deserted parking lot in the foreground, a few power poles here and there and a Wendy’s sign twinkling in the distance.  And take out the waves.  There.  Quintessentially perfect.

Hmm.  Did I just say perfectly perfect?  I’m never using this prissy word again.