this is not my beautiful house

#17 / At the risk of sounding like you-know-who, some of my favourite things

#17 / At the risk of sounding like you-know-who, some of my favourite things

It’s raining in a nice way. Which is pretty easy to say from inside the house, looking into the backyard, where birds are hoppy and swoopy (autocorrect tried to get me to say happy and swanky but I’m standing firm), the grass is neon, and the evenings are stretching toward the solstice. Also I can breathe again, mostly, which for unknown reasons has been a problem of late, and a pretty big one from my point of view.

I took a few days off work because when you aren’t getting enough breath, it wears you out. I had plenty of time to youtube some of my comedic heroes, and read tons of articles on medium, and read other people’s blogs, and some great short stories.

All of these left me feeling gaspy in various ways and also not very funny or bright or much of a writer, which made me anxious, which made me gaspy, etc.

Autocorrect left the word gaspy alone the first time I used it, but the second time, it tried to change it to gassy, and just now, on the third try, it tried to make it raspy. All of these ring true, especially during my recent bout of unwellness, but again, I’m standing firm.

Because I’m feeling a little listless and idealess, not to be confused with idealist – especially since all I’ve done so far is stare out at the rain – here are a few non-autocorrect actual mix-ups and miracles that I don’t have to invent

My mother, Iris Cassells, once got a letter addressed to Irish Castle.

An old friend called me out-of-the-blue and said, in a fetching tone, guess who? I said give me a hint. He said we used to party together all night long, all the time. I said could you narrow it down a bit please.

The last time I dropped anything psychedelic was during a camping trip on Long Beach, with people I had met on the train from Toronto. Before we parted at the Vancouver station, we agreed to meet up a month and a half later, on the Friday night of Canada Day weekend, at Long Beach Provincial Park, and we did, all seven of us. This was before cell phones. We all just kept our word. Long Beach is the most westerly point in Canada – which you might think a pretty good claim to fame – but there’s more. Very late that night we were running along the beach, all of us holding hands, and big beautiful sparks flew out from our footsteps. They snapped crackled popped and smelled like sulphur. My theory is that there was flint in the sand and the conditions for such a wondrous phenemon were optimum – all systems go – and it was the most amazing experience ever. It was like falling stars but constellations of them and in reverse.

That’s a hard one to follow. How about a book review!

Once upon a time I found myself in a barn in Port Loring, Ontario, and there were books for sale and I picked this one up because it was about the right size and colour, and had nice thick ragged pages like watercolour paper. On the green canvas-wrapped hardcover, there was a small drawing of a chicken, bottom left, and this title: The Egg and I, which looked hand-written, and the author’s name, Betty MacDonald, scrawled beneath. On the inside front cover was an inscription: To Mom, from Ester, 1945.

I mean, how could I not?

I was staying at a very remote island cottage and it was the absolute perfect book for right then and there, and The Egg and I remains one of my all-time faves. It was a best-seller back when, and a movie of the same name was made in 1945, starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert. Also, very importantly, The Kettles, as in Ma and Pa, were introduced in the pages of this autobiography, which describes the considerable adventures of Betty and husband Bob as they live and work on a chicken ranch way up in the Olympic mountains – which made my wilderness location at the time of first read suddenly seem urban. Those crazy roads she talks about, the wildly interesting locals, the Kettles!, the chickens, the calamitous weather, predators at the doorstep, nature’s almost unbearable beauty and bounty, all told with great humour and the deadly kind of wit I love.

Betty MacDonald was a daredevil, a wonderful writer and storyteller, a pioneer, a tough cookie, a rebel, a powerhouse, an equalist (that’s my own word – pass it on) and along with Nancy Green, Canada‘s top ski racer through the 60‘s, she is one of my heroines, and not just for bravery and courage either, but for common sense and good jokes.

Yup. She tells a wicked story. It’s a fascinating, very very very funny book. Get it on Amazon. Read it. Then we’ll talk. Ester knew the score.

Also something interesting is that when I was on Vancouver Island, after the trippy weekend I just told you about, I drove it’s periphery and at one point was within spitting distance of the Olympic mountains, where Betty had perched years before gathering fodder for her story. (The interesting part is that these two stories accidentally intersect – I didn’t notice that they were related until just now.)

A new day, and one more fave thing

I was just walking from the GO train to work, June 14, and it’s cool and windy and leather jacket-y, the sky is blue except for the blips of cloud-pillows, I can almost breathe, and it’s the kind of weather that allows you to do practically anything. A song popped into my head (why did autocorrect want me to say pooped into my head?). Lou Reed’s A Perfect Day.

I hope yours is.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger and other mostly incorrect idioms

What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger and other mostly incorrect idioms

#16 / My shopping behaviour is either whimsical, or a result of the malt whiskey which has been in my system since birth

#16 / My shopping behaviour is either whimsical, or a result of the malt whiskey which has been in my system since birth