Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Last Sunday a friend gave a slide show presentation of the trip she took to Asia last summer and it hit me again how blessed I was to have gone on my trip last summer and how much I really do miss the people and places I visited and perhaps will never get to see again. This week I tossed off a few long-overdue e-mails to some of the people I met on the trip. I have had a few responses and updates in return and it reminds me again of how my life is not the only important one on the planet. It also gives me several opportunities to chuckle over the various language bloopers and mis-used figures of speech (with full understanding that I have nothing in my basically unilingual-state on my multilingual correspondents) that they write in good faith.
So I answer in like good faith while resolving never to marry someone whose first language is different from mine (communication is hard enough at the best of times). As much as I am planning on not marrying any of them, I do miss them a lot and wish that I could be more involved in their lives and develop a deeper friendship with each one of them. This mixed-bag of feelings gives birth to a similar mixed-bag of feelings on my tentative plan to do a longer-term bout of teaching English overseas. It's such a rich experience but hard to leave. But I suppose we shouldn't give up on a good thing merely because we'll miss it afterwards.

Monday, May 26, 2008


A few weeks ago I discovered on my computer a document containing various flights of fancy I had indulged in during my essay writing lock down at the end of the fall term. I must have been fairly out of it while writing the various poems and paragraphs that make up this document because once I re-discovered them it took a while before I believed that I had written them (I went so far as to accuse my brother of the authorship before I was finally convinced of my own culpability in the matter). Anyway I have had fun looking at some of my own stuff from the point of view of someone who has never seen it before. It's a strange feeling.

Here's one poem where my main concern is structure to the detriment of any ease of understanding. I feel like I should like to polish it a bit but instead will just write it out as it stands. It's different from what I normally write and I don't know if I like it or not but anyway.

Does rhyme suppress thought?
Too structured and constricting?
If within verse I cannot frame
My pleasant musings, I ought
(You may not share my shame)
Not force my feeble pen to writing.

We build our pretty houses over
Structures quite unsightly
The frame is not what is seen.
If an artist a canvas doesn't cover
The paint remains in pots, clean
But is it art? Quite unlikely.

So this is what happens when my brain is put under severe pressure to write other things. I guess something's gotta give.

Monday, May 12, 2008


While Gma heads down to the wilds of Omaha I am taking care of the house and dog. I know that we were fortunate to get a dog that is already trained and pretty good in the house and not too large and all that jazz but there's something about small yappy dogs that I just don't find appealing.

Perhaps my distaste has more to do with my championing of the low-maintenance approach to most things (from my appearance to my plants to my diet and, well, pretty much every other aspect of my life). Perhaps I am merely balking at the fact that this dog has to be walked thrice a day and, when put in the backyard, tied on a rope (which action includes subsequent untangling of rope from various objects in the yard and elsewhere at various intervals throughout the day).

In my previous experience with the canine species (specifically those under my care) the extent of one's necessary involvement was the placing of food outside the door at various periods throughout the day. Since this generally fell under the cleaning of scraps from a meal, it could almost be seen as a chore that wasn't even directly connected with the animal. Now I have always enjoyed spending time far above and beyond the quick shove of the food bowl out the door kind of relationship with my dogs but it was always a voluntary task. I didn't have to take the dog to do its business. It was always mature enough to handle anything like that itself. And I most certainly never had to pick up after my dogs. I am beginning to see why my parents held out with the rule of no pets in the city and am not quite so upset with them that we didn't get a dog until we had moved into a place with lots of room for them to roam.

It is much the same way with plants (as just one other example). I love gardening but give me a houseplant and I'll kill it. I do this not entirely willingly but then perhaps it is my subconscious telling me to free myself of encumbrances that makes me neglect them to death. I don't mind other people having houseplants but I see no use for them myself especially when I forget about them so readily. The beauty of a garden outdoors is that there is no need to water and you get half the year off tending it (at least when one is this far north).

However, when I am looking after someone else's things I generally take better care of them and have not killed one of Gma's houseplants yet so there is hope for poor Haley...

Friday, May 09, 2008


I dipped into an old favourite this past week when I read Dear Enemy, the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. Although it is the sequel, I read it before I had discovered DLL and whether it is for this reason or not, I prefer it to its predecessor. Both these novels are written in an epistolary mode and (although it renders their endings slightly awkward) I thoroughly enjoy the result. I think it's a form that is under-used.

On finishing the book I also found myself longing for that time when letter writing was a common part of life. In my youth I had several pen-pals and always enjoyed writing and receiving letters. I found that the process of posting the letter was the biggest hold-up to my sending out the missives. I used to dream of the ease with which the charaters in books would simply write the letter and let a servant worry about the posting end of it.

In the past few years I have lost my pen pals and had forgotten how much I was missing in this fact until I read that book. Oh to be back in the time when such a remark as "This is where Mrs Darcy used to write her letters every morning" would be commonplace. I suppose were I to have a showcase home and have my housekeeper give tours she could use a similar line when passing the computer room but it still has not the same impact as passing through a rich library by a writing desk in the same way that an e-mail is a poor washed-out cousin to the almost out-dated letter.