Monthly Archives: July 2018

Mondo

Not long ago, Mondo came to live with us.

Mondo (adverb/adjective/slang): used in reference to something very striking or remarkable of its kind; very large or great in amount or number.

Mondo is a crested gecko.

Crested Gecko Facts:

  • Originally from southern New Caledonia but now ubiquitous in pet stores and among hobbyists as they are easy to breed and care for, and have a life span of about 15 years.
  • Tree dwellers with a semi-prehensile tail, which combined with specialized toes, allow the gecko to climb almost any solid surface (including glass).
  • Crested geckos can detach their tails when threatened. Unlike other geckos, crested gecko tails do not grow back once detached.
  • Crested geckos are eyelid-less. They use their tongues to clean and moisten their eyes.
  • Thought extinct until “rediscovered”, alive and well, in 1994.
  • Great jumpers; excellent poses.

IMG_8824

A former classroom pet, Mondo was re-homed once before coming to live with us in our office. That makes: us, a dog, two fish, a tarantula, and now a crested gecko.

Have we become “those people”? We are assuredly just a bird or turtle or gerbil away from official menagerie status (faded southern belles need not apply).

So many animals, mondo creatures. Pets galore!

Q: What’s it like living with a crested gecko?

A: It’s like every other day, except now there’s a gecko.

Which is to say, improved somewhat. A measurable improvement on the everyday.

Mondo good.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Names, Pets

Out Comes the Mystery, Etc.

The mystery plants are a mystery no longer. Unlabelled plants with board, squash-like leaves, purchased from the nearby grocery: 2 @ $1.99 (plus tax). They continue to be very green, have more proven their strength & vitality (and then some), and they are, indeed, edible.

They are Opo Squash.

Opo: a squash of the calabash type; lengthy, smooth, cool skin of chartreuse, with a mild, unassuming taste.

More:

The Opo plants, despite being mysteries no longer, continue to amaze, growing so rapidly and so large that they may end up taking over the garden.

Actually. It’s a little scary how much of precious plot I must cede, will end up ceding (have already ceded) because of my decision to buy and plant mystery plants in my garden.

They have tendrils, the Opo plants do, that snake along the ground between and through my other plants – the bell peppers, tomatoes and jalapeños – stealing away space, choking them slowly, remorselessly. As plants do.

The Opo plant leaves: they smell. Like a cat peed on them. Many cats.

IMG_8636

The weeds do not touch the Opo. Will not grow near the Opo.

Now:

The Opo have flowered, but with all they have so far done (and are doing), they have yet to fruit. What then?

What then?

“You like Opo, don’t you?” Stephen asked.

And I think: it doesn’t matter, though there was a brief time, I’m sure, when it did.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Change, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Enemies List

In order of increasing urgency (if not importance):

 

1. My Past Self.

2. My Future Self.

3. The Squirrel with the White-Tipped Tail that I Suspect Lives On My Roof.

 

Past Self keeps making messes for me to clean up; and Future Self keeps eluding our shared responsibilities, leaving me alone between them to deal with consequences I should have and also never see coming.

There is nothing I can do with catch up to my Future Self, and my Past Self has already done all the damage she’s going to do.

That leaves the Squirrel, who digs holes right in front of the porch steps in its efforts, I’m sure, to kill me. It leaves messes on my windowsills and curses at me whenever I leave or enter the house.

(I wish I knew squirrel language).

The squirrel is my undoubtedly enemy. But in a way, I appreciate its tenacity; it’s apparent resolve to defeat me in such outlandish fashion. There are those whom I regard much less than this squirrel, who have done much less and much more to me, personally, than this squirrel – who annoys and even entertains so much more than it will ever actually hurt me.

Maybe I should just leave it at that. In any case, it has been and will always be too late for anything else.

This squirrel will never be my friend.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, People, THE FUTURE, THE PAST

Dreams Don’t Mean A Thing

1) I dreamt that I failed my Crime and Politics final presentation. I wanted my grade, but the professor refused to give it to me so I dropped out of university instead and began to walk to earth.

2) I dreamt I was at Niagara Falls. I wasn’t doing anything – just watching the falls from the edge of the cliffs surrounding the falls. I don’t know if I was on the U.S. or Canadian side.

3) I dreamt I was standing in a snow-covered field at the base of a hill. People came to me with their paperwork and, one by one, I helped them fill out their forms. Then they went up a wooden staircase to the top of the hill, and I never saw them again.

4) An unscrupulous laboratory switches my brain with someone else’s. This someone is a ring-tailed lemur. I can think and understand the people around me, but I can’t talk, can’t communicate with them. Two women break me out of the lab. We take refuge in the world-renowned Simpsons Museum, which is also a maze. It has purple walls and is filled with giant fibre-glass Homer heads. There are MC Escher stairways everywhere: above and through the maze. Then the museum opens to the public and is flooded by tourists. I perch on the wall and watched them run around the maze.

5) I am stationed at a post-apocalyptic compound. It’s nighttime and I’m standing behind a fence. There are many other people with me, and some of them have lit torches. I am trying to save someone, but have no idea who it is. There is a group of men gathered around a coffin. The coffin is empty. It is also pure white. Suddenly, one of the men turns around so that I can see his face. It’s Ash from Army of Darkness (not Bruce Campbell)…only he’s dressed in a sailor outfit that Bruce Campbell wore in McHale’s Navy. Also, his face is bloated and discoloured because he is a zombie. Ash shouts, but does not make a sound. The men try to hook the coffin to a pulley so they can hoist it up a hill, the top of which is full of vampires. They are in a desperate hurry, as if something very terrible is about to happen. I have no idea how one white coffin is supposed to destroy an army of vampires, and neither does Ash.

6) Freddie Mercury is missing and my team is responsible for finding him. But we aren’t cops or special forces or investigators or anything: just grad students. In fact, a few of the people on my team are people from my MA program. The search focusses on the water: Freddie is down there somewhere. I dive in and wait for a very long time. It is so dark and so blue and above me swims a massive school of fish. Massive fish. They remind me of those Amazonian fish from the Vancouver Aquarium. There fish are there with a purpose: to keep me underwater. I am so afraid. Freddie appears. He has long, scraggly hair but he is Freddie Mercury all the same. When I look up again at the fish trying, I suppose, to think of a way out, it occurs to me that Freddie and I have been tied together. We wait. Despite the threat of the fish, because we are together we don’t feel like we have to leave, to get to safety, right away. It’s eerily silent; there’s a palpable calm, down there in the deep. I notice then that I’m not wearing any diving equipment, and neither is Freddie. We wait. Then, on some signal I can’t see or hear but feel, someone pulls us up, up, up out of the blue – past the darkness, pass the fish and right onto an underground surface. Freddie and I are separated by my team leader, a man who looks very much John Travolta. I report back to the office: a maze of secret chambers and dirt tunnels. I see one of my team members: she is putting away books and filing paper work at her desk. I’m searching for something (my next assignment…Freddie?) and become frantic. I turn around and I’m in a fancy hotel lobby. There’s a confused couple there. Tourists. The man is wearing a colourful Hawaiian shirt and a pith helmet. The woman is a blank. I help them check to their room before checking in myself. But I am at the wrong hotel and I know it.

 

THE END

 

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Celebrity, Dreams, Interruptions, Pop Culture

Kick Ass

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (DSC) is located in Guelph, Ontario. It is a not-for-profit charity funded by private donations and currently houses 86 equines (meaning donkeys, mules and hinnies). A mule is the offspring of a (male) donkey and a (female) horse. A hinny is the offspring of a (female) donkey and a (male) horse.

Here is the DSC’s startlingly-detailed and rather intrepid About Us:

Since 1992, The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada has been a refuge for donkeys, mules and hinnies who have been neglected or abused, or who can no longer be cared for by their owners. The Sanctuary rescues the donkey with hooves so long it lives in constant pain and cannot walk. It saves a terrified mule shivering in a pen in a slaughterhouse. It offers a home to a much-loved donkey whose aging owners can no longer provide adequate care. At the Sanctuary, the animals are provided a welcome and often life-saving peaceful haven after years of suffering and neglect.

The DSC does all these things and more. I learned a lot about donkeys, mules and hinnies during my visit there, and got to wander among these great beasts – with names like Cargo and Hershey and Daisy and Bob Ray – for one lovely summer’s afternoon. Some were amendable to knowing me. Others, decidedly not.

Does it matter? As the DSC’s puts it: We feel fortunate to be in proximity to such gentle souls day after day.

IMG_6250

There are worse ways to spend your time.

***

Donkey Facts:

  • Mules and hinnies are the offspring of donkey (and horse) parents, but 99.9% of the time cannot breed amongst themselves to make more mules or hinnies. This does not stop them from trying, and after all, who would? Such efforts may seem futile (a group of mules, after all, is called a “barren”), but by definition not impossible.
  • When presented with a situation, donkeys think, then decide their course of action – which means they choose, and on their own terms, whether they will do something, or not. Some might call that being “stubborn,” but then there will be always people who demean that which they don’t understand or that which refuses to satisfy their wants and needs.
  • Due to the harshness of their natural environment(s) (i.e. arid scrubland) a donkey’s sense of “flight-or-fight” is geared more towards “fight” then “flight,” resources such as food and water being scarce. Donkeys would rather hold their ground and face what’s coming. Not many of us can say the same, though that’s not the donkeys’ fault.

Favourite Donkey Fact:

Q: Do you know how a donkey goes about attacking predators – say, a coyote? (You’d think it was by rearing up and kicking at it with its back legs, yes?)

A: The donkey grabs the thing by its scruff, grabs it as hard is it can with its teeth, and then uses its front legs to pummel the thing to death.

Great beasts, gentle souls, and never to be underestimated.

The Miraculous Mule.

The Wonderous Hinny.

That Incomparable Donkey.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Places, Travel

Small Confessions

Mr. X used the school’s PA system to call me from homeroom to the music room. I knew what it was about, but remained remarkably calm as I made my way down the hallways of our sad little school, the smell of damp and mothballs catching in the back of my throat.

[Confession: I had signed out one of the trumpets from the school’s collection over the weekend, and through a series of (then) hellish but ultimately (as in now) comedic events, managed to damage the instrument very badly.]

The music room was not, as I had expected, empty. There was a class in full swing and everyone went silent as I entered the room and found Mr. X standing in front of them, right next to the ruined horn. He’d propped it up in its case on a stool and opened the lid: a mangled metal mummy put on display for all to see.

[Confession: I was fully ready to cop to the damage I’d done. Had mentally prepared for it in the hallway. But something about Mr. X having the class ready in wait, as witness – something about the theatrics of the whole music room set up turned me around on that.]

“One thing you should know about me: I don’t get angry. I get even.” That was what he told every class at the beginning of the year. It was delivered as a joke, but not to be taken as such. Not entirely. Standing there, called out in front of the class (mostly kids I didn’t know, but I few I most definitely did), standing in front of the messed-up trumpet, in front of him, I now knew that for sure. It was hardly a joke.

[Confession: At first, I thought it was an extremely funny thing to say: “I don’t get angry. I get even.” That particular brand of sardonic humour was, like, so in back in the day.]

“Do you know what happened to this trumpet?” he asked, loudly, and without preamble. And of course I did because, not only had I done it (or rather, allowed it to happen), but my name was on the sign-out sheet for exactly one trumpet (though, to my great benefit, it had taken a day or two for that particular trumpet to make it back into class circulation).

The students whispered (“she did it!”). Some laughed.

“No,” I answered. “I don’t know.”

“Because it looks like someone’s beat the hell out of this thing.”

“Wasn’t me.”

The teaching assistant (some young guy whose name must have been something like “Allan”) held up the sign-out binder. “It says you signed out a trumpet.”

“I did.” No lie there.

I remember the silence that engulfed the room as Mr. X, Allan and I stood there (a trumpet is not the trumpet, is not that trumpet, is it?). As the class quieted and settled in to watch.

I learned a lot about silence that day.

[Confession: My bowels had turned to ice. I was so sure they had me and would have probably admitted everything had Mr. X not chosen to speak in the very next moment.]

“OK. You say no. You say you don’t know. Go back to class.” It was clearly an admonishment, a small victory via public humiliation. But I think: his as well as mine.

He remains the only non-white teacher I ever had growing up (this includes elementary, middle and high school). So it also felt like a betrayal.

[Confession: I stopped taking music after that semester, although I signed out the exact same trumpet, (after they’d fixed it), at least twice more before the end of term using, of course, the new sign-out sheet in which date, name, instrument and INSTRUMENT NUMBER were prominently listed.]

Mr. X never mentioned the trumpet to me again. I never paid for the damages or was (officially) labelled the culprit. The other students quickly tired of the intrigue and scandal (such as it was in our pathetic little ‘burg) and moved on to the next thing, whatever that was.

A few years later, when I learned he died, and that he’d been killed in a skiing accident, I remember thinking: No way.

[Confession: But what I said was, “Just like Sonny Bono.”]

Yes. Just like Sonny Bono. I confess, I said that. I confess, I could have done better. I confess, that if in this whole story there is any fault to find or blame to assign, it’s not to be found anywhere I can imagine.

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

P.S. Fuck you, Allan.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Death, Education, People, Race, School, THE PAST

Open Secrets, Vol. 11

  • Remember awesome?
  • Many vs. Various.
  • It’s all a numbers game.
  • Why not take a stab (or two) at it?
  • Noble Dogs vs. Average Men.
  • Sure, makes logical sense.
  • Too much rope.
  • Civility vs. Humanity.
  • Do you care to brand it?
  • Try twisting it off.
  • All these sad dudes everywhere.
  • Definitely Mortal vs. Technically Immortal.
  • Pretty’s a lot.
  • But everything?
  • It counts. Until it doesn’t.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Death, Interruptions, People

Little Fallen Kingdoms

1. The Flower Man Cometh

Summers in the city mean patio dinners in the evenings; the sultry air, the cool breezes, the relaxed conversations – the city, for once, forgetting to take itself so seriously. A good time to catch up; reconnect with old friends, meet new ones.

Eat & drink. Be merry. Etc.

Then there are those who don’t (or can’t?) get into the swing of things. Those who fail to keep the hard-earned peace. Those who seem determined to spoil it, everything, for everyone.

Know who I mean?

His stories were boring, which would have been fine if not for his demeanour: the way he demanded attention, adoration, even, for this startling mediocrity. The way he was convinced (and tried to convince) that he deserved it. The way he interrupted if not speaking, or spoken to.

You know who I mean.

We all saw the Flower Man from across the empty street, one from a fleet of flower peddlers who roam the city’s summer’s night, flitting from patio to patio, selling puckered roses. Pressuring people to buy them or, lo, forsake love – reject it completely as a concept, never mind a possibility, forever. A hard bargain.

No one really ever wants a flower from the Flower Man.

But it was he who called him to our table, waving empathetically like a drunken sailor come off from the docks: a desperate fool. A fucking cliché.

Only $5 a rose? He bought one for his girlfriend, pulling out the sweaty bill from his front pants pocket which such flourish I wondered if he even noticed (or cared) that the flower was already wilted, already halfway dead.

Probably not.

Rose installed in his girlfriend’s waiting hand, he turned to us expectantly. The Flower Man turned to us, expectantly.

Follow the leader.

The people around us looked away, some cringing, knowing that they would surely be next. The Flower Man can be most persistent, and unforgiving. Who counts as a couple and who does not? The Flower Man decides, apparently. He alone knows love’s bounds. The roses have no say in it whatsoever, poor things.

“Pretty flower for a pretty lady?” The Flower Man asked my partner.

“We’re not together,” I said, gesturing to myself and Stephen.

“We’re not together.” Three small words that did just the trick, banishing the Flower Man from our table.

Now.

Do you believe it magic? Because those words spread like wildfire – engulfing the patio, cleansing the night.

“We’re not together.”

Every table with a purported couple, each having one speak for the other:

“We’re not together.”

No more roses sold that day. Not at our patio, at least. Whatever became of them it at least wasn’t that.

 

2. Punchline Botanical

Flowers are a joke, aren’t they?

You buy a bouquet of flowers. You put them in a vase. You watch them die. They die sl-o-o-owly.

I bought some the other day on a whim (as a joke for Stephen) and we giddily put them in a used pickle egg jar, installed them in the corner of the living room, and forgot about them.

What else is there?

IMG_8403

Except. Now, I catch myself, looking at the flowers and thinking…nothing in particular. I realize this is because I have nothing to add. Nothing whatsoever. They are dying, and doing it slowly, but that seems so far away from the present moment – and they are more than pretty; they are lovely in their resilience, their pomp and glamour – that what does it even matter that that’s the truth?

It’s not a lie, or a denial, the fact of the flowers. Their presence is irrefutable.

What sorcery is this?

 

(2.5 How Does Your Garden Grow?)

(I planted a garden this year, out back behind the house. I figured just a plant or two. I was convinced I would grow bored and abandon them before summer’s end. They’re plants, after all. Easily replaced by more of the same. Or not. Who cares?

And yet. I spend hours at a time out there. In the garden. Tending to the plants (so many plants), fulfilling their needs. Basically, making sure they are OK – and more than that, thriving – and no matter what havoc the sun is wreaking on my skin; no matter how my already tender back hurts. No matter the rain or the shine.

They have a power over me I can’t yet explain, or account for. Something that brings me out there with purpose, if not a real sense of time going.

And it does not matter that they, the plants, do not care one whit about me, and never will.

Don’t they?)

 

3. Flower. Power.

Dr. Ellie Sattler saved the day (T Rex notwithstanding). She did what needed doing, and she did it well.

It does not seem all that obvious at first, does it? Salvation from a paleobotanist (more plants, dead plants and long dead plants at that), especially when there are dinosaurs around, some of them bloodthirsty. A few, perhaps, out for revenge.

But that’s what happens when you underestimate power & presence. When you misjudge, devalue, miscalculate.

“Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.”

Stop. Smell the roses.

(But mind the puckered ones).

 

1 Comment

Filed under City Life, Hobbies, Interruptions, Places, Plants, Pop Culture

Open Secrets, Vol. 10

– Civility will not save you.

– Riddle me thus!

– The irreparable future.

– (Sometimes the fight picks you.)

– Who? vs. Who Dares?

– Now is a long time.

– Wonder about the premise?

– (Well, yeah.)

Whose: responsibility, choice, mans is this?

– Everyday, just so many heartbeats.

– Parts beyond wazoo?

– Who You Are vs. Who You Are Right Now.

– So many wrong words until the right ones.

– (If ever.)

– Someone to love vs. Something to behold.

– Oh! The inhumanity.

– Remember the punchline.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Change, Interruptions, People, Time