Balcony Airs

Cannabis, cigarette smoke, and air freshener- all in the air on my condominium balcony.

Re: cannabis. Is there an overhanging unpleasant residue from years of it being illegal, or am I getting used to its odour, now that it’s officially allowed?


Anger and After

Someone told me to observe anger in the moment. Be bemused by it, if not outright amused. So hard to do- get distance on anger- when in the moment it often demands a decision right away.

Not always, though. I definitely learned as a classroom teacher the benefits of  waiting twenty-four hours to dole out discipline.

If it can’t wait, try to do it quietly, focusing on the behaviour, not the person. Do I feel anger in these moments? Sure. I try not to show it.

Some anger flares up quickly; sometimes it is a slow burn. In either case, it’s interesting to make the choice of observing, rather than acting on it.

Is anger ever exactly what is required? Sometimes, I guess. (I’d have to think about specifics here.) More often, the quiet approach saves the day. Anger itself always seems to have to be revisited.



Some books you reach for due to relevance at a particular moment, and sometimes simply due to proximity.

I have two copies of Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. One is a paperback I gave my mom to celebrate her move to a condo from her house in 2004. “For the cottage collection”, I inscribed it. A book, I guess, for her to connect all three of her homes. At the family cottage is where this copy resides. I own a hard copy of the first edition (1972) that I bought at a second hand bookstore. It resides at home in the city. I have never opened it there. I must have read it during some Atwood phase I went through as a reader in the 80’s. The cottage paperback gets opened, or completely reread, almost every summer. The Charles Pachter painting on the cover of a motor boat and dock links to the northern Canadian setting inside and where I am situated when reading it.

Best quote so far: “When you can’t tell the difference between your own pleasure and pain then you’re an addict.”

Man on the Moon

Hey Boomers.

Where were you fifty years ago?

Our family watched the Apollo 11 lunar mission at our cottage. Our parents woke me and my brother up to see the walk on the moon.

Whether I actually remember or was simply told we saw it, it’s still a special part of our collective history.

Agatha Christie in Two Days

Took a break from the more labyrinthine read of William Gaddis’s The Recognitions in favour of classic murder mystery: Agatha Christie’s first- The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920).

One doesn’t read Christie for the prose style. Even the content, looked at from our time, has moments of classism and racism, both of which ring true to the time and station of the characters.

It’s the plot. I paid close attention to character and details of timing, and still she stumped me. I recall a documentary on Christie, stating how poison (in this case, strychnine) was a favoured method of murder in Christie’s stories. She was praised by toxicologists for her accuracy.

Skipping over her sometimes perfunctory descriptions in order to get to the facts of the case, I finished the novel satisfyingly in two days of summer vacation.

Toronto Someday But It’s New York Now

A guy on the subway with head and arms tucked, hidden inside his t-shirt.

A canned drink vending machine in its very own shelter at the bus stop.

Corner stops for recharging your phone.

The number of people who don’t acknowledge my polite (Canadian) “excuse me… please and thank you” utterances.

Actively bullying to claim a seat in the local burger joint.

The attached photo was taken in Times Square. (Not sure how to take it.)

New York, New York….

#Shakespeare Enthusiast Tally

A university drama professor of mine once stated that you can see all of Shakespeare’s 36 (37?) plays on stage in your lifetime. The trick is catching those rarely performed ones.

In June, I was happy to tick off two from my list that I had not previously seen: Henry VIII and The Merry Wives of Windsor (the latter staged more often than the former), at Stratford, Ontario.

When I listed the plays, I was surprised that I’ve only seen about half the oeuvre live: 17 in total. (I was sure I’d seen Othello had some point, but if I’m honest, it was only on film.)

I was particularly deficient with the histories. It looks like Julius Caesar (with R.H. Thompson at Stratford) and Henry VIII are the only ones I’ve seen three dimensionally. (I knew the story well from The Six Wives of Henry VIII on TV in the ’70’s). And I knew bits of Richard II well from quoting it in my own play Put Up Your Hand.

I have directed: The Dream; Hamlet; Romeo and Juliet (all school shows).

I still teach the Scottish play and The Tempest, and remember a unique site specific production on Toronto island.

Not surprisingly, many were at Stratford, Ontario, like the two I saw in June: As You Like It (my introduction to Shakespeare with Carole Shelley as a wonderful Rosalind); The Merchant of Venice (Hume Cronyn?); The Taming of the Shrew done as a western; last year’s amazing Coriolanus directed by Robert LePage; Cymbeline; Timon of Athens; and A Winter’s Tale, in which I confess, I nodded off.

I got to see William Hutt as Lear twice- in Montreal, where the show played prior to Moscow in 1972, and again in 1988- equally energetic. Alas, I missed Glenda Jackson’s turn this season on Broadway.

So lots still to see. I’m keeping an eye out….

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

“…- a real decision makes one humble, one knows it is at the mercy of more things than can be named-…”

“People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of their perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare.”

“Then all of the others closed in on this newcomer and they looked like a peacock garden and sounded like a barnyard.”

“…as outrageous and unsettling in any other city as a mermaid on a mountaintop.”

“‘Why are they- shameful?’ I asked him.

‘Because there is no affection in them, and no joy. It’s like putting an electric plug in a dead socket. Touch, but no contact. All touch, but no contact and no light.'”

“I remember that life in that room seemed to be occurring beneath the sea.”

“‘Looked out’ means only that the room had two windows, against which the courtyard malevolently pressed, encroaching day by day, as though it had confused itself with a jungle.”

“And at moments like this I felt like we were merely enduring and committing the longer and lesser and more perpetual murder.”

“I loved her as much as ever and I still did not know how much that was.”

“It’s the boat that when you miss it, you know it’s a boat, but when it comes in, it’s a ship.”

Expertly Curated

Stingray Music just informed me that their playlists are expertly curated.  I turned to TCM- Turner Classic Movies- and they tell me that they can help me choose wines that are expertly curated to go with certain movies.

I wonder what else in my life is “expertly curated”?  How did I ever get by before such input?