Gulls have wings. Angels have wings. Coincidence?

December 2, 2010

Lily Lake

Rain was forecast for today. So before the sprinkle became a downpour, we took the dogs for a walk around Lily Lake in Rockwood Park. There it is in the photo above; on the left, you can see a Ring-billed Gull gliding over the water.

What is wrong with this picture?

Now I’m as superstitious as the next person, and I get the connection between white-feathered sea gulls and our culture’s version of angels (we’ll leave aside for now their origin as fiery snakes). But I had never before noted any ability of gulls to walk on water. See? There’s space between their bodies and their reflections. Let’s go to Camera Two, Bob:

Quick -- call the Scooby Squad!

It took a while before I solved the magic trick. Observe, if you will:


The oak leaf nearest my foot is floating in the water. The other two leaves are resting on the ice, which is still pretty thin at this time of year. Breezes make the lake water lap over the edges of the ice, and the rain has  coated the rest of it. Case closed.


Still and all, gulls put on a good show. Here is a snap of the Duck Pond that adjoins Lily Lake. While the Mallards and Black Ducks are scrambling towards a pair of hominids bearing breadcrusts, a Ring-bill — there, just below the foot of the staircase — goes sweeping up in the opposite direction, like the Paraclete flitting through her dorm window for a few hours of fun.

Yes, I like gulls.

Gulls belong to the order of birds known as Charadriiformes. While sitting in the car one day, I pulled a pad of paper and pen from the glove compartment and wrote this blue-ribbon word verticaly down the page. Then I made a poem. Duck Enjoy!


Cries of
Herring Gulls
Red eyes
Anchored in
Radiance, they

Friday the 13th at the Alley Cat Disco

August 13, 2010

It was Friday the 13th, but Cuca decided to go out anyway.

He was headed for the Alley Cat Disco for a night of struttin’ his stuff.

I told him he should stay home, but would he listen? Not he. He had the pack of Black Cat cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve and a walletful of cash for drinks, and he was sporting his white spats. The cat’s meow, he.

He’d been there an hour (so he told me the next day) when in she walked: Kitty Puff, the girl of his dreams.

Cuca almost couldn’t believe it when Kitty sauntered up to him. “Buy a girl a drink?” she purred.

Now ordinarily, Cuca won’t even drink fermented milk. Adam’s Ale is his preferred beverage. But one look at those Max Catfor slickered lips, and Cuca lost his head.

Too bad, really. Somehow he found his way home at three in the morning, yowling “What’s New, Pussycat? Whoa-oh-oh!” at the top of his lungs. I let him in, whereupon he toppled onto the boot tray in a heap and snored until ten.

I say “Too bad,” because Cuca couldn’t remember a thing. He didn’t know if Kitty liked him, whether they’d talked, whether they’d danced. All he knew was he had an empty wallet and a head pounding from too many glasses of Gato Negro the night before. Cai and Fergus avoided him, for fear he’d reach for a hair of the dog.

“Never again,” he moaned. “Never again. Coffee, please. And an aspirin.”


Narrator: Lavenderbay

Starring: Cuca

Co-starring: Mourning Cloak Caterpillar



The Happiest Telephone Poles

July 16, 2010

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please Try Again

March 17, 2010

Here is something I wrote this morning. If you’re Catholic, please regard the following as either a reflection on Saint Patrick’s day (if you like the piece) or as five minutes shaved off your stay in Purgatory (if you don’t).

Please Try Again

Five weeks since I quit my job, and  already I’ve forgotten the name of my favourite town drunk. Such a cheery fellow, checks himself in at 4 pm most days. A man at a cafe table below me resembles him: jeans, dark nylon jacket, grizzled beard, Moosehead ball cap.

The man is sipping a Tim Hortons large and working in a puzzle book. A high-school girl approaches his table and bums a quarter from him. They both ignore the fountain, its water coloured pistachio in honour of Saint Patrick’s Day.

I’m sitting at another table — adorned with an absurd little parasol, clusters of grapes and apples or pumpkins on dark canvas — on the mezzanine level, waiting for the library to open. I’ve just rolled up the rim on my own Timmy’s. “Réessayez.” Please try again. If I’d won a coffee, at least, it would have made up for being gypped out of the hash browns supposedly included in the combo I purchased.

Over the loudspeakers, Marvin Gaye once again announces that he heard it through the grapevine. I wonder how the teenagers can stand it. I wonder why people my age are assumed to have musical tastes that never evolved past the age of seventeen. I wonder why there aren’t more people in this town who drink mouthwash.

The man with the puzzle book is gone, but eighteen shop clerks and office workers are now scattered among the tables either side of the pistachio fountain. All six women and one man have remembered to wear green tops today. Most of the eighteen are sipping coffee, alone or with a co-worker, with or without food, before beginning their day. 

An older gent with red suspenders and a grey snowmobile jacket is not breakfasting. An open jar of petroleum jelly sits on his table. He holds his right boot on his lap, dips a hand into the jelly, and smears it inside the boot.

Finally, someone notices the Saint Patrick fountain. Two middle-aged women park two severely disabled adolescents in front of it. Before one woman takes a photo, the other removes the winter coat of the slimmer girl to display her mint-green sweatshirt and matching trousers. Flash. Then the wheelchairs are turned to face the fountain, and the occupants are handed pennies. The chubby girl flings her coin sideways; the skinny one drops hers at her feet. A second attempt is made, this time a supportive hand raising the mint maiden’s arm to improve her aim. The coin hits the water, and a crooked grin shatters the calm of the girl’s face. In celebration, the group lines up at Tim Hortons.

Now five preschoolers troop by, holding the handles of a bright orange strolling band. Their shuffling slows to a stop as they notice the fountain. One daycare aide sets them on its wide stone edge while the other readies the camera. Then they toddle on again, pausing to admire the stuffed moose in the picture window of the museum.

I wonder where I fit. I wonder what kind of job I can find that I’ll hate less than standby lockup attendant. I wonder if I’ll ever make a difference to anyone anywhere. I wonder if I can learn to worry a little less, relax my knotted cortex enough to enjoy simpler pleasures as others do — a green fountain, a word puzzle, a chance at a free coffee, a 40-year-old pop tune, that first spicy sip of the day’s mouthwash.

Larry. His name is Larry.

And We Don’t Even Like Swallowing Flies

February 7, 2010

Humans. Humph.

Good morning! Here is a poem I’ve just written. While it isn’t a limerick, I hope you’ll find it every bit as silly. (And who knows? Maybe I can move the sidebarred parrot poem to the limericks page and write a fresh one of those, too!)

With Feet and Frogs Flying

One on a jog’ll
Look down when a frog’ll
Retreat to its wat’ry abode;
The startling splash
On an early morn dash
Brings a smile to lighten the load.

But with mirrored great goggle,
The dour, disturbed frog’ll
Disdainfully shake its green head;
It knows that it’s healthier,
More pleasant, and stealthier
To go for a good swim instead.

On a Train to Somewhere (journal entry, part i)

March 26, 2009

Hi, people.

Not having coordinated computers and photo programs et cetera just yet, I’m breaking my preferred habit of supplying a few photos to break up a long blog post.

What follows is the the first part of a 1300-word bit of writing I did on the train in the early afternoon on March 19th. I’ve cleaned up, but not gussied up, the writing; gussying up would include, f’rinstance, the use of a few more verbs than “be”. Anyway, here goes…

March 19 2009

At 13 19 I awoke to the surprising, surprised words, “Oh, but you don’t live there anymore!” The voice was my own, unspoken, interrupting my somnolent thoughts. I was on the train.

Yesterday, the 18th, I was out front with Cai at 08 30 when I saw a moving van parked in front of our building. It wasn’t the company I was expecting. I asked anyway who the men were here for, and sure enough, they were here for our apartment. Just as well that I asked, because the building manager wouldn’t arrive for another half hour, and no one had thought to discuss buzzer codes.

The neighbour who was to watch the Cardis during the move had fallen sick, so out they went onto the balcony to enjoy the Spring air, bark at other dogs in the back field, and occasionally whine to come in.

As the driver and his two hired hands set to work, I wiped down the kitchen cupboards and swept away prehistoric dust bunnies. We discussed dogs — the driver has a husky and one of the other guys a Chow-Collie mix. I told him about Goodbear’s dog, but he isn’t online.

One of the movers praised my packing job. I didn’t mention that I’d been at it since September. On the other hand, the platform bed was now in five taped packages, several odd-shaped things had been taped together and nestled in a large, see-through plastic bag, the futon was already enclosed in a plastic mattress cover, and nearly everything else was in a covered container, so I guess it was all as prepared as it could be.

The movers took just under three hours to empty the apartment. Everything wooden, from the kitchen shelf to the old rocking chair to the packages of bed planks, was wrapped in blankets. I have high hopes for their safe journey to Saint John. I tipped the movers $30, suggesting they get themselves some lunch.

When Cai and Fergus finally came inside again, they were happy and excited, playing a riotous game of chase through the nearly empty apartment. They were relieved, I think , to no longer have boxes, bins, and barbecues within swinging distance of their wags.

Some of the furniture was left behind.  It had been bought by our neighbour Gwen, who was moving from her one-bedroom unit into our two-bedroom. I should mention at this point that we were leaving a housing co-op. We had gotten to know several of the pet-owning neighbours, among them Gwen. I was happy to give her a good deal on the furniture; she needed the stuff for her new, larger space, and I didn’t have to break my back or spend money to have the stuff removed.

About 16 30, Jane and Robert called, ready to drive the dog crates and my suitcase to the train station, to store them in the checkroom overnight. As soon as the big pieces were stowed, Robert suggested we go have supper at Fionn McCool’s. I wasn’t expecting this extra meal on my final evening; Jane and Robert had fed me several times since E.g. had left for Saint John in mid-February, the last time being just three days ago.

We didn’t have a lot to say during this meal, but it was a good quiet, a sense that we’d all managed to say all that needed saying. We sipped our beer and admired the pub’s decor and noticed all the young people enjoying their dinners before they headed out to the Britney Spears concert. Then my friends dropped me off home again, and we promised to keep in touch.

Stream of Consciousness

January 29, 2009

Mired in thoughts

about this and that, here and there, now and then.

I muck around the ‘net

until time runs out,

and still my imagination is dry.

“Add New Post”?

But there’s nothing, nothing…

Then it laps downstairs

like crystal brook water:

Eleanor Plunkett.

She’s playing the harp.

Flow gently, sweet Afton.

Remember me to one who lives there.