Archive | July, 2015

Mary loves her garden

27 Jul

  Mary squats down beside her lilies and curses. The red beetles are eating them. Mary hates the red beetles. They came a couple years ago and now they are back. “They cover themselves in their own feces,” Mary tells me, “so that no predator wants them.” She lops off the entire top of one of her lily plants and drops it into a bucket of soapy water. “Soapy water is supposed to kill them,” Mary tells me, “but it doesn’t work. I read it online,” she adds. “If you pour the water onto the plant, like the internet tells you to, it just washes the beetles into the soil where they lay their eggs so they can come back and kill your lilies next year. Some people have just given up planting lilies,” Mary says. “Because of these stupid beetles.”

All I do is write

26 Jul

Before I go to class, I buy two muffins and a cup of coffee. The building is crowded and I watch for people I know from class. I see Vanna so we walk together. She tells me she’s got a story to read. She asks if I do a lot of writing for this class. I tell her no, although this is a lie. All I do is write. Vanna says she herself doesn’t do much writing. Lately, she says, she hasn’t done anything for any of her classes. The more she has to do, the less she does. She says she feels paralyzed. I ask her what exactly it is she has to do. She says she has an assignment for script writing. This is the only thing she mentions. She asks me what I did on the weekend. “Nothing,” I say. But then I tell her we went out for dinner at a friend’s on Saturday night. I tell her we saw a video called Dangerous Liaisons. “That was an excellent movie,” she says. “Didn’t you love that movie? I loved it!” I tell Vanna I thought the movie was pretty good, but the quality of the videotape was poor. The top of the screen was distorted so that every time somebody stood up you couldn’t see their face. It was fine as long as people were sitting. “That must have been annoying,” Vanna says.

Mogie’s superpower is to smell milk through brick walls

25 Jul

 I’m hiding out on the front porch with my bowl of cereal when I hear Mogie yelling at me through the kitchen window. I look up. We stare at each other. I tell him he’s not coming out here, but when he disappears from the kitchen window, I open the door and let him out onto the porch.

The girl in the hall 

18 Jul

There is a girl sitting behind a book truck in the hall outside digitization. She is sorting books and listening to her iPod. I say hi as I pass by on my way to the staff kitchen, but I think maybe she just doesn’t hear me. Or maybe she hates me. Maybe she hates everyone. Or maybe she just hates me. Her eyes look glassy. On the way back from the kitchen to my cubicle, I try to make eye contact, but the girl doesn’t even look up. Later, when I go to the washroom, she is still sitting in the same place, only now she isn’t sorting the books. She is staring at her iPod, which is sitting on a stack of boxes that is piled beside her. The boxes have photocopy paper in them. When I go home an hour later, the girl is still there, but she has her head tipped back. It looks like she is trying to read the sign on the wall behind her, only because of the way she has here head tilted the words on the sign must be upside down for her. I go back the next day to see if I can read the sign upside down, but the girl is back. Or else she never left. But she couldn’t have stayed there all night, right? Wouldn’t security have kicked her out? Or maybe they wouldn’t. I realize I don’t know much of anything for sure. I wish I knew more. The way a doctor or a lawyer knows. Although, the last few times I went to the doctor, he didn’t seem to know much. 

Silence is a kind of luck

12 Jul

  I’m out in the back yard and it’s quiet. There’s a siren in the distance. Voices of kids in yards on the other side of the ravine. The breeze in the trees. Birds chirruping. Then silence for an interval and it feels like luck. I am reading the chapter Edeet sent me of her book, but I don’t feel like I am able to give it the attention it deserves, so I close the app I am reading it in and set my iPod on the table beside my chair. I get up from my chair and open the screen door and Mogie peers in, but stays where he is, on the mat outside the door. I go up to the kitchen and fix myself some cereal. I keep thinking about how I need to break up the rest of the hull of the piano and get that room cleared out before my vacation ends. Today is really the last day of my time off. Then it will be the weekend, and then Monday I go back to work. On the other side of the park, Ron is in his driveway coughing and I spend a moment hating him. People say hating, even for the briefest of moments, is a waste of precious time. A bird chirps loudly in the tree above me. I don’t hate the bird. I guess I feel like everything Ron does, even his coughing, is intentional and his intention, always it seems to me, is to irritate me by being an asshole. Whereas the bird just chirps and flies away, and if it has intentions, I have no idea what they are and I have no desire to figure out what they are because that bird doesn’t give a shit about me so there’s no hope that I can weave it into this pathetic story of mine. With Ron it’s different because he stopped talking to me a while back, after that night in the middle of last winter when I went over to his house and told him to stop having open fires in his driveway. He was burning something in a tin can, trying to find a way to keep himself warm so he could stay out in his garage all winter. That night, after I told him to cut it out, he doused the fire and didn’t light another one after that, but he hasn’t said two words to me since. Whenever I drive by his driveway in the car, he turns away and pretends to be busy.  I always think, What, are you four? But I’m secretly glad he hates me because it feeds nicely into the ongoing narrative I’m creating about myself day after day to obscure the real world as much as I possibly can.  Plus, once Ron gets talking to you he never shuts up and, as the story goes, people talking at me always makes me feel trapped and angry. 

Mary’s masterpiece is done

11 Jul


At 6:30 I drive uptown to get Parky

11 Jul

  At 6:30 PM I go out to the car and drive uptown to get Parky. He gets off work tonight at seven. I get a parking spot right in front of Arcadia Music, which almost never happens. It’s six forty-five. Mary wants me to get her some acrylic paint so she can paint this ceramic decoration she keeps out in the yard. She already painted it once many years ago, with nail polish, but the polish wore off eventually. Now she’s started painting it with acrylic paint, but she only has two colours plus black for the insides of the black eyed susies. She wants more colours so I go into the dollar store that is three stores over from Arcadia and get two kinds of blue, two kinds of green, plus tuttie fruitie pink and also white. It costs me eight something. Then I check the time on my iPod and since I still have some time I go into Loblaws and buy their last two pieces of fresh Atlantic salmon that they have on sale for $2.99 a piece. Then I sit in the car and wait for Parky, who comes out a few minutes later, tosses his guitar into the back and climbs in to lie in the backseat. “You mind if we stop in at grandma’s?” I ask. Parky groans but says, “Sure, fine.” Mom is up at the beach, where my sister lives. My sister’s kid, Sophie, is home for a couple weeks from Africa, where she has a job at the Canadian consulate. My mom is excited to hang out with her two great grandchildren who have been in Africa for the past year or so. We’re checking in on Mom’s apartment while she’s out at my sister’s. Park waters Mom’s plants while I get her mail. Then we drive home and I barbecue the salmon while he husks some corn and throws it into a pot of boiling water. The cats come down when they smell the corn and we give them the naked cobs to lick when we finish the first couple pieces. We leave some corn for Mary, who is upstairs riding the stationary bike and won’t be down in time to eat with us.

I’m eating Wegmans peanut butter at the kitchen counter

7 Jul

 I’m standing at the kitchen counter, eating Wegmans peanut butter and bananas on toast. Deve is downstairs talking to himself. He’s playing the piano. He’s learning a new Zelda tune. In a minute, I’ll go into the living room and download the latest version of Craig’s book, which I’m editing, on my computer. I don’t want to go into the living room with my peanut butter and banana on toast, because Mogie, who is sleeping in the living room, will smell any food I bring in there and try to eat it. Mogie is not as pushy as Voovie when it comes to food, but still… I don’t want to have to deal with it. In his latest version of the book, Craig has renamed the doctor, Doc Sparling. He thinks this is funny. And now, as I stand at the kitchen counter eating Wegmans peanut butter and banana on toast, I see that it really is pretty funny. I laugh to myself and then take another bite of peanut butter and banana on toast. When I get into the living room, having finished my snack, I see out the window that Ron, the neighbour on the other side of the park behind our townhouse, has his little outboard motor, which he uses on his canoe, sitting beside his car. His car is parked in the visitors’ parking. On really quiet days, Ron likes to disrupt the silence of the neighbourhood by running this little motor. He props it up on a hobby horse and submerges the prop in a blue recycling bin full of water, then revs the motor over and over again. It makes that burbling sound you invariably hear when you are sitting on a dock in cottage country. Ron usually works in his garage, but today his wife is sitting out on the front porch and I have to assume that he hates her so much that he can’t stand to be too close to her. 

Deve is disgusted

6 Jul

  I reheat a piece of the frittata Mark made yesterday morning and eat it with a piece of sourdough bread that I’ve toasted and buttered. It’s 11:45 AM. In an hour, I’ll go to the club and swim. Then I’ll have a steam and a sauna. Then I’ll go to Mom’s place and check her mail and water her plants. Right now though, I’m going to go into what used to be the kids’ playroom – and before that, the dining room – and work some more on dismantling the piano. I’ve been dismantling the piano for several months now. I’m in the final stages. Last week, me and Deve took the harp to the scrap metal place and found out that they’ll give you five dollars for 136 pounds of metal. I had thought it would be more and had suggested as much to Deve. Deve had sat in the car when I went into the scrap metal place. When I came back out to the car and told him the guy only gave me five dollars, he was disgusted. “At least it paid for the gas to drive it over here,” I said. “Maybe,” he said. Mary concurred. “I don’t think five dollars would pay for the gas to get over to the scrap metal place,” she said that evening when Stephen told her about the five dollars. “Where is the scrap metal place, anyway?” she asked. This week I’ve been tearing apart the wooden cabinet the piano was housed in, trying to get the pieces of wood small enough to put into the garbage. If I can get everything down to four feet or less, I can bundle it up with twine and the garbage collector will pick it up. If it’s more than four feet, they won’t take it.

Mary comes home with a new perrenial

5 Jul

 Mary comes home with a new perennial that she got at the grocery store garden centre the night she picked up Mark at work because I was at the Metaphora book launch and couldn’t pick him up. She comes out to the yard between loads of laundry. I’m sitting in the lounge chair. Voovie is asleep at the end of the chair with his little paws over his eyes. He’s snoring softly. The dryer vent is blowing warm air above and to the left of my head. I can hear it humming. Voovie’s paws twitch. When the dryer first came on, tufts of grey lint floated down onto me and Voovie. Mary is digging in the garden near where my feet sit splayed around the chair. She talks while she digs. “Look at all these little bulbs.” She holds up a clump of dirt for me to see. It’s got scraggly green leaves going out of one end and little white balls in among hairy looking roots. She cradles it in her gloved hands and carries it across our tiny yard. She drops it into a little hole that she’s dug in the garden opposite to where she got it. We have two flower gardens bordering a lawn that’s maybe twelve feet wide and ten feet deep. Between the lawn and our back door is a stone patio about the same size as the lawn itself, making our yard about twenty feet deep in total. On the other side of the six-foot slat wood fence at the end of the yard is a tree. I don’t know what kind of tree it is. Mary is pulling on something in the garden near where she just dropped the bulbs. She grunts. “I can’t get this out,” she says. “Don’t hurt yourself,” I tell her. “Do you need help?” I ask. “Maybe,” she says. I don’t really want to get up from this chair. “Go get a bigger shovel and I’ll help you when I finish eating,” I say. I’m eating a dish of leftover Chinese food that Mary brought out to me a few minutes ago, after I asked her if she would mind bringing me something to eat.  “What do you want?” she had asked. “Surprise me,” I had told her. Mary wades deeper into the garden. “I think I just need to get a better angle,” she says. She pulls again and whatever it is she is pulling at comes out.