The last time he saw the house he built for his wife in 1962, just in time for the bairn they were expecting, was over his right shoulder as he twisted around in the passenger seat of what was once his car. As the automobile pulled slowly away from the curb, he experienced the disorienting sensation that it was the house that was sliding backwards, rather than his moving forward. He stayed twisted, looking back, trying to keep the red brick house in his sight line for as long as possible.”
February 28, 2014
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February 25, 2014
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Tomorrow is my birthday. Another year older; another year younger; another year wiser; another year to explore. Should the universe be listening, to help make it a memorable year, here is my birthday wish list for 2014.
In no particular order:
- A bottle of Elie Saab perfume. Or better yet, a dress designed by ES to wear to my Oscar party
- Ferrari 458 Italia – no I haven’t abandoned my dream of owning a Lambo – the Italia is just for fun until my real car comes along
- All-expenses paid trip to Monaco Grand Prix (May 25th)
- Lifetime maid service. But I’d be grateful for even just a year
- Books either for reading or writing in. A journal should have a picture on the cover of something inspiring like a map of an imaginary place; Hemingway’s Paris; a Mediterranean landscape
- A spa day
- Amethyst jewelry – because it’s my birthstone (and because it’s purple!)
- Complete DVD set of Homeland (seasons 1,2 and 3) – Brad Pitt will always be the keeper of my heart, but Damien Lewis is first alternate for the dubious honour
Dear Universe, I know it’s short notice, but if none of the above is possible within the aforementioned time frame, the old standby will do. Just send chocolate.
February 20, 2014
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Yesterday I worked from home on a specific assignment for a client. It was pretty tough to concentrate, what with the sunny day outside my window calling my name. But just a shade past 3:30 and I was out the door heading for Granville Island. It’s not a place I’d usually go on a winter’s day, but I thought I’d do some writing in the library of Emily Carr and then head to the food court for a cup of tea and a snack.
I never made it to the library or the food court. Instead, I happened by a little shop called “Eklectic Finds Home & Garden” – I just couldn’t resist going in to explore. My instincts were right – it was a place packed with treasures waiting to be discovered. At first there appeared to be no real order to the arrangement of the items on the shelves. Unrelated items were jumbled together. The more time I spent looking, I realized that the jumble repeated itself – if you missed the teapots in amongst the elephants, Buddhas, hats, gloves and tea mugs in the northwest corner of the store, you might spot another selection of teapots nesting happily with the garden obelisks by the front door.
I think I learned to make tea before how to write a poem. Tea was a big deal in our household (my dad hailed from England, after all). You had to make the tea in a pot; you had to hot the pot; and you had to make sure that it was served properly (on a tray with accompanying accoutrements like matching cups and bickies). Tea still plays an important role in my life. When it’s just me, it seems like a lot of fuss and bother to make tea in a pot. Friends have suggested a tea mug with strainer or a tea infuser. It seemed like a great solution to my dilemma but I’ve never been able to find one not made of plastic. I might condescend to dunking a tea bag in a mug of hot water, but I draw the line at drinking tea from plastic containers.
In “Eklectic Finds,” I walked by a bunch of tea mugs several times before I realized that they weren’t just tea mugs with lids; they were tea infusers made of china. No lurking tea bags, strings still wrapped around teaspoons or the remains of loose tea glued beyond redemption to the sides of a tea ball. Typically I’m the kind of person that always pauses before purchasing anything. Not yesterday. I just had to have it.
So I am now the proud owner of a tea mug with strainer. And a new place to buy those one-of-a-kind Christmas presents for the special people on my Christmas list.
January 31, 2014
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She sees him siting by the window, lost in the comfort of thought, surrounded by words. Nothing is certain. Especially his brow, furrowed by lack of light and time to reason with himself.”
January 26, 2014
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This year when the Oscar nominations 2014 were announced, I was determined to see at least all of the movies nominated for Best Picture. But when I went to pick a movie to see this weekend, it turns out that, besides the one I have already seen (Philomena), not any of the other nominated best pictures (American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street) interested me in the least.
I ended up choosing Saving Mr. Banks. I ignored all the criticisms that included the film had been “Disneyfied”; P. L. Travers wasn’t as prudish as depicted; and the only song she really liked was actually “Feed the Birds” and not “Let’s go Fly a Kite.” Regardless, I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It charmed me for two reasons: Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks had real chemistry (subtle even quiet but powerful nonetheless), and I possess a fondness for stories, whether the medium is a movie or a book, that travel back and forth in time.
Mary Poppins and I have a history. Before a single soul in Winnipeg saw it when it was first released in 1964, I was one of about eight people who attended a private screening at the Winnipeg Film Exchange. For this momentous occasion, my father was the projectionist, hence my presence. Of course I was blissfully unaware at the time of how much consternation the dancing penguins had caused P. L. Travers (that was one of my favourite scenes). I started getting sniffly during “Feed the Birds,” but by the end of the visit to Mr. Banks’ bank, I was in full crying mode. It was one of those situations where trying to make myself stop only made it worse. In my defense, (oh what the heck, I’ll let you do the math if you are so inclined) I was just seven.
After it officially opened, I did see it several times. And every single time, Mary Poppins made me cry. I’m sure if I saw it again now, it wouldn’t affect me the same way. However, nothing will diminish my treasured memory of being one of the first in Winnipeg to see Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins (and bawling my eyes out in a screening room at the Winnipeg Film Exchange).
P. S.: Mr. John Lee Hancock, if you are reading this, could you please tell me why the clips of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks appear flat-looking? My guess is that it has something to do with Cinemascope.
January 20, 2014
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Today, using a job search engine I particularly like, I discovered the perfect job for me in Surrey. It was a library position that required the candidate to have a proven record of working with young people in education; strong computer-assist and IT skills; and a passion for literature. This last qualification really got me excited – imagine working for an employer who required you to have a passion for literature!
Then the pound sign in front of the listing for the annual salary caught my eye. The job is actually in Surrey, England. Which is very disappointing. This specific job search engine pulls job postings from all over the world, but when I search for jobs in Vancouver, including cities in the Lower Mainland, it is not able, for some reason to differentiate between Surrey in the UK and Surrey in British Columbia.
The first time this happened to me (a couple of years ago now), I sent an email to the webmaster explaining that I didn’t think this job was in Surrey, BC, since when I applied online for the position, it asked me if I had a permit to work in the UK or an EU passport. I didn’t expect a reply, but when I did get one, I was advised that I had reached a leading search engine for jobs and that I should inquire about immigration or obtaining legal work permits from the appropriate government agency. I replied to this email stating that while conducting a job search for the Vancouver, BC area, postings for Surrey, England were being included, and they might want to fix that.
Since I emailed the job search engine webmaster, it’s happened several times – I’ll see a job posting for which I think I’m the perfect candidate, and then realize it’s in the wrong country. Never before today, though, has it made me seriously consider taking the webmaster’s advice and inquire to the appropriate government agency about moving to Surrey, England. At least I know they have jobs there.
January 9, 2014
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There are many good things to say about apartment living – in our block, the laundry room dryers is not one of them. It seems that I am always (and that’s no exaggeration) taking a load of laundry out of the dryer and having to air dry items that are partially damp or even wet. I expect this outcome when I’m “saving” money and overload the dryer, but not when I’ve meticulously played by the rules and I still end up with laundry I can’t fold and put away immediately.
You know those emails people send you about household tips to make your life easier; the ones you might read, keep in your inbox until you print them out and then never get around to actually using any of them? Well, a couple of months ago, I received one that included several laundry tip. It said that if you added a dry towel to your wet laundry, your laundry would dry faster.
For some reason this particular laundry tip stuck in my head. Mainly because my writer’s imagination started running away with me – scenario one: Mr. Dryer discovers that an undercover agent, Mr. Dry Towel, had infiltrated his secret operation; scenario two: Person loading dryer coaches wet laundry by placing an example (dry towel) in their midst; scenario three: wet laundry finds dry towel lurking in the dryer and they all run screaming from the laundry room in “The Case of the Frightened Load of Laundry.”
Anyway, this morning, when I had to do two loads of towels (clean bathroom, but no clean oversize bath towels), I decided why not try it? So I did. In each dryer I added one dryer sheet and one dry towel. I suppose if I had wanted to make this a real laundry experiment, I would have only put a dry towel in one machine. I must admit, my expectations were low when I went to claim my laundry. To my surprise and delight, not a single item was the slightest bit damp. But for today, I’m just happy I don’t have to drape damp towels on the backs of chairs.