Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Once, bilingual, I was the family translator, I am told. Our multi-cultured Canadian family needed me to relate the meanings of the words uttered by Ingebjorg and Thorvalder to those who spoke only English. Apparently, from the time I could talk until the age of 9 I was called upon for this role. As Ingebjorg became more articulate in English, my Icelandic waned. Thorvalder suddenly died, and my Icelandic grew less dominant, and eventually faded by lack of use. I am sorry that I cannot remember much of this beautiful, poetic language. The sagas Ingebjorg sang, the verses a-plenty are now only sounds of comfort. Yet, I did spend a few hours with her about eight years ago, a few years before she died and within those hours, I was nearly able to comprehend her scolding!!

However distant that usage is, the power of Icelandic still dominates my soul. I speak with a slight accent, I am told. The poetic sensibility of the language has never left me, and the harsh guttural contrasted with smooth, silky vowels twistable with the tongue drives my English pronunciation into foreign realms unknown to native speakers. I wish I could deliver more vocabulary without having to think. I need to visit Iceland, my heritage to revive this gift of my youth.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Snail Mail Delivery

Our landlord, love her, decided to install a mail slot in the front door of our building instead of allowing the postman access to our mailboxes. One likely reason, apparently a good reason, is to prevent incoming thieves from entering the building during postal delivery. Another theory is that keys were lost, and once lost, the key for a postbox cannot be replaced. There doesn't seem to be a master. Whatever the ambiguous raison etre, the post is fitted through this horizontal aluminum fitted break in the bottom of main door, and sits on the carpet until someone picks it up and places it in a plastic container on a table under the mailboxes. This allows anyone to rifle through all mail. The landlord, attempts delivery when she is available. Door to door she goes, up and down the 3 flights of stairs on each side of the building (elevators don't exist here) slipping letters under doorways, when it fits, or leaving the mail in front of tenant doors, when mail cannot be shoved between door and carpet on the other side.

Anonymous posties undoubtedly make their judgements about recipients of certain mail. Having landlords and fellow apartment residents know your business is entirely disconcerting. Having Aunt Bea's stickers flash before 3A while searching for an important document is less worrisome than having neighbours spot a collection notice. However, seeing any type of mail that remarks somehow on your public image, whether positively or negatively is embarrassing and an invasion of privacy.

To date, no mail, I believe has been stolen by a resident. The residents of this building are a docile bunch. Content to remain in the same place for up to 22 years, they obviously don't want to become confrontational. They simply accept the new process for mail delivery without so much as a blink of disapproval. When I am at home at 11ish in the morning, the urge to fly down the three flights upon the sound of mail being shoved through the mail slot is tempting(yes, you can hear everything in this building), and sometimes, a neighbour will have beaten me to the pile. This shows me that although they won't openly complain, the idea of me or anyone else seeing a certain item would mortify them, and to avoid the passing of judgement on their insular world, they choose to sort the delivery before the prying eyes of others will witness a part of their lives they would rather have private. I am relieved to know that they have some sense of independence, that they value their privacy and are just as confused by the new system of mail delivery as I am.

When the landlord slips the letters under the door, she has witnessed every cheque, knows our habits via all bills, has a comprehensive notion of our passions through mailers and magazines delivered. She is a kind and unobtrusive soul, but there is obviously a need for voyeurism that remains in her method for mail delivery that can't be ignored. I have to passively accept this and hope that my race for the pile at the foot of main door can be reached when and if I need my mail to be self delivered. I am exhausted by this concern for privacy every day. I love email.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Munching Lions

In reply to the lion fodder floating down the turbid waterway...
(See the only comment ever made on my blog under 'Spinning')

The idea of feeding the big cats your shredded remains
demands reflection and speculation about this food chain metaphor...

I would not knowingly detach your flesh from your corporealness,
and certainly not plate a meal for the the consumption of the wild forces embodied by your vision.
I am sorry you feel consumed.

Obfuscation in the clouded land could feel like an turning towards distress.

Watercourse, muddy or not, will lead you somewhere.
Lift up your head, and you can see the way.
Swimming can be useful.

I can assure you, I would never front-float in any water I could not drink!


I do not understand the working world as it pertains to me. Temporary employment seems to be my niche at this point in time. A permanent Job seems too permanent, and maybe there lies the glitch. However, steady income is alluring and therefore a goal. I do want a regular paycheck, a dependable monetary source. Hire me! Perhaps too much eagerness is off-putting. Be nonchalant. Be approachable but not desperate. So much to demonstrate. All kinds of software to be 'familiar' with, so many words to type per minute - 60, without mistakes. 'Can-do!' attitude. Multi-task, organization par excellence. Be a 'people-person'. Yes, to all. There is always doubt about me until I start working. Then I become indispensable. Then I have to leave because a holiday has concluded, a sick-day has expired. Then I start all over again. A new job nearly every week. And yet no job at all, because I never stay long enough to be the one, the only, the very one needed to complete the office picture. I can wallow in self pity. Easy to do. Not productive. Pretend I am not worried. Find that job, just waiting for me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Tops, the toys painted with horizontal colours of red, ochre and green whir with speed to blur the edges of colours to form new ones. Pumping the top takes some skill because the top needs to remain straight to spin effectively. It needs to land straight, or the top will topple.

Sometimes 'life' has been compared to a spinning top. Right now, I feel I am whirring in one place, going nowhere. I seem to be mixing my sensibilities and cannot differentiate any segments of my understanding. I experience vertigo while I remain in the same space, spinning. The point? The point is to spin.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Time is involved.

I watch movements of people walking, one foot proceeds another. Some walk with purpose. Others saunter or stroll. Clothing strides with the legs, arms swung. I watch them go somewhere else.

I breath. I am quiet, patient, simply calm.

The wind winds itself slowly around objects. A butterfly seems to be heard. A plastic bag drifts across the road.

My watch marks the hours without ticking. I look at the dial sometimes. The numbers are small and hard to distinguish. When I look again, the hands of the timepiece have changed to a different position. The hour seems irrelevant.

When nothing is expected, time becomes inconsequential. Waiting stops when something happens. Time becomes important again. Time becomes precious. Time is valued.

I can induce activity. Sometimes I need to wait.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Left out


Forced into acceptance.
Altering my confidence, pressure on my soul.
Destruction of my ability to trust.
Suppression of my happiness, oppression of my certitude in my place, my relationship, my friendship.
Belief that I am not worthy, absence of support.
Embarrassment, diffidence...

I am the impediment. Distrustful.

Secretive rendezvous are arrogant questions, insolence.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Early Memories

I cannot remember the beginning of my life. I do not remember birth.

I remember a blue greyed fence placed in our living room, although at the time I could not differentiate the name of any rooms. It was the faded wood that surrounded my square playpen, apparently built by Avi, my grandfather, for my protection and freedom. All wood used was recycled from a farm house that used to stand where my parents' house now occupied. The house was built from this wood too. The boarder occupied enough space to allow an adult sized lounge position in the confines of this restrictive area. I remember my Avi, Thorvalder, leaning against the wooden wall beside me, his bristling, tobacco stained moustache forming a smile. I assume this memory was lodged in my brain before I could steadily walk.

Another of my early memories was in an October morning, hoisted skyward by my mother. She allowed me to view the golden and crispy leaves she was raking from the fork of a dark, damp oak. I felt the smack of autumn's brilliance enveloping me, the scent of yearning upon me that still wafts in my soul to this day. I can't have been more than 3, as we were still residing at my first residence.

I have held this image as being my earliest memory for some time, until I remembered the coarse boards of my playpen. Memory can be odd. It can dodge, avoiding placement, until suddenly images place themselves conspicuously in the mind of the rememberer. A memory game.

Some flower memories

Hollyhocks in my grandmother's garden wave in silence as their long stamens bob in the quiet afternoon oblivious to noisy bees darting, foraging in yellow stamens weighted for their benefit - my namesakes.

I remember the stupefying scent of lilacs in mid July, shrouding my mother's tears, as incense will penetrate, preserve thoughts in a church during a mass.

Nighttime nicotine, white star shapes, scenting the heavens, heralding the nightlights above.

Spring plenty, daffodils bursting through March grasses; park of child-pickers, armloads of pale yellow heads bobbing as they stooped for more, gleeful.

Yellow lilies, mournful blooms marking my inability to continue to conceive.

Red, the loving rose - a full dozen, baby's breath contrasting the abundance, and a smile of happiness for the unexpected thoughtfulness.


Play was serious. "Let's play," was necessary to survival.

Jump. Hop. Skip. I was never very limber. Do the airplane. No.

Colour. Yes, Crayolas. The pack of 64 were the best. It had gold and silver. Bronze. Magenta. Crimson. So many greens. Hours and days and crayons. Sometimes when I was sick, my mother would buy a set of Paint by Numbers. I met those lines with trepidation. I could not easily follow the recommended colours. I tried. Jon Nagy showed my how to draw. His TV show was my favourite program. I ordered his drawing package, and it arrived, not like the free treasure chest I ordered with coupons from the Captain Crunch cereal boxtops. It arrived without disappointment at its contents.

Then there's blocks. Sometimes just tongue and groove wood scraps are a world of possibilities. Fitting, piling, criss-crossing; right angles rising to towers. I built cities and a giant fort to house my little sister. But she moved and the fort tumbled. She cried because the edges of wood scratched her as she climbed out of the wreck. I was angry because she ruined my efforts. I should have nailed her in.

And sand. A pile dumped from a half-ton, centered in a grove of venerable oak. From sand there's roads, and architecture. Winding treads where 'Dinky Toys' plough through to newly furrowed, honed to perfect depths and widths, made smooth with puddle water, creasing the sand with wheel turns, curving to the monoliths, stones piled to mark a destination between the lengths of road. Sticks stuck upright, devoid of leaves, and some with hunks of foliage for trees to shade the highways. As summers passed, the sand pile flattened. The country of origin simply changed.

Indoors, there was 'Post Office'. Deliberating over the plethora of junk mail my father received was a great incentive to engage in this occupation. The game was one of several played in sequence in our playroom, the kid's side of the basement. Dolls, School, complete with a real green chalk board and rows of desks purchased from a catholic school that transformed into a seniors' home allowed a surreal world to be investigated with abandon, spontaneously.

The play room was large, for a child. Approximately 10' by 20', we could enter from the left of the wrought iron stairwell, and enclose ourselves by the sliding mahogany doors. A double bed, and various doll beds were the features of the entrance; wooden table, chairs and dishes for dolls' entertainment completed the first play area. Next was the school area, where Post Office often took place in the north west corner atop a large square storage box covered in black and white plaid vinyl. Somehow, the opening lid for 'posting' made this furniture especially attractive.

We did not play 'House' in the basement. This activity was saved for summer, when we could use the playhouse our grandfather built, first for me, and eventually for my sister. It was a real house, complete with glass panes and a window box, a door that latched, and wooden furniture he had constructed that a 3-8 year old could utilize. The roof was peaked; my grandfather's bald head just fit inside. Every spring the entire house was given a coat of white paint with chocolate trim. Pink honeysuckles graced the doorway, sweeter than honey begun from this bush.

At one point, a swing was installed in the rafters, rope separated by a solid board strung through each side. This was a remarkable swing. Such boundaries were broken. Swinging INSIDE!!! I remember swinging high. How small was I?! Thin hemp ropes, pink dress, my grandfathers hands around my waist. Months, years, passed. Eventually, swinging would encourage kicking of the door, and the swing disappeared; furniture miraculously appeared. Everything was exactly my size.

Different swings. Swinging beside the sand pile in the neighbours yard, swings held by planks supported between the giant oaks made swinging a joy. I was old enough to hold on by myself. I loved smell and prickly stoutness of the rope, the speed and flaying sky as the wind pressed on my cheeks, my flapping skirt, free. Wheee.

Later, when neighbours - kids, congregated, we played more complex games. The Beatles, Ponderosa. I was either George or Hoss. I never liked these characters, but I was not assertive enough to be anyone else. But I got to play guitar and ride a horse. We flew all around the world as rock stars, and stabled our horses between the poplar rows. The neighbour kids got to camp out at night in the poplar wood. The imagination of childeren become especially involved when there is only imagination to play with. I was never allowed to stay out past 10. Who knew what may happen? Especially because there were no guitars or horses. Play may become reality. Innocence would be lost. 'They' were right.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Living Memory

I have taken my memory for granted. I like to remember. I can remember many precise details from the binging of my youth. My memory is my solace, my connection to the past and and a history lesson for my present endeavors. Not everyone remembers the same things, but collectively, memory can enhance all events, when shared.

I have a sister that does not remember her childhood. My father cannot remember past today. I have relatives that cannot remember significant actions. I have friends that do not remember anything negative. Others will not remember the positive component of a memory. Most bizarre are the memories that are constructed. People I known will draw on an event and develop a memory that never existed.

I feel estranged by those that were part of my memory and refuse to continue to keep the memory safe and alive. Living memory is vital to ensure a moment, a celebration, a pivotal transformation is never forfeited. Lost memory saddens me. I enjoy rekindling and renewing memories. I need my memory.

My grandmother had the best memory of anyone I have known. She could remember at least 20 stanzas of sagas that she sang until her death at 103. I aspire to develop my memory. I need to be part of her legacy.