Category Archives: Hobbies

The Crow

FLASH MEMORY: my grandpa had a crow!

At least that’s what I remember, I think. I think I’m sure I do.

I remember being 5 or 6 years old. Coming in from a hot summer’s day, running up the red porch steps of his house and past the broken screen door with the holes in the mesh and into the kitchen to find it there, large and black and so alive, staring out from its wire cage which had been placed on top of the counter by the sink.

I remember its giant wings. Its sharp beak and the way its back sloped smoothly down toward its ragged tail feathers. Its sacred black eyes, blacker than black. My grandpa standing next to it, watching it with his one remaining eye.

Why did my grandfather have a crow? How long had he had it? What was he going to do with it?

Answers elude. Companionship? Husbandry? Admiration?

Or something else.

A day? A week? A month?

I can’t say.

And what indeed.

Grandma was there too, standing at the stove across from the sink, the crow, my grandpa. Standing with her back to me making soup, giant daikon sectioned neatly on her cutting-board.

Grandpa, Grandma, Crow. Sink, Stove. Wire Cage, Cutting-board. I stared at all three – at everything – burning the scene into my mind. No one said a word.

The crow beat its wings inside the cage.

***

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this memory, only its intensity, or what I like to think of as its tactile veracity. The truth behind the facts.

I don’t want to know if it is real or not. I want neither to confirm or deny but rather to indulge, let the image sit as it sits and shine or fall, fade or endure as it will.

My grandpa had a crow, with giant wings and eyes blacker than black. There was soup on the stove and sliced daikon arranged in neat piles on the cutting-board.

I can’t remember what my grandma looks like, not from memory.

 

 

 

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Filed under Birds, Childhood, Family, Food, Hobbies, Pets, THE PAST

Reality Spin

There are shows I see within other shows or in movies which I sometimes can’t tell are real. I sometimes wish they were and at other times marvel that they, in fact, are. Real that is.

Case in point: “Conjugal Visit” is not a real show but clips of it as a real show can be seen on Insecure, a real show; Gigolos, a show seen within the movie, Tully, is a real show which I believed was not (could not, would never) be real.

Right?

Recently, during some idle streaming, I discovered Doomsday Preppers, Botched Bodies and My Cat From Hell. All real shows, though in very different ways. I won’t vouch for quality, and shouldn’t, since that right now is beside the point.

So. What makes Gigolos more likely than “Conjugal Visit”? What makes these Doomsday Preppers as likely as your Botched Bodies and My Cat From Hell? Premise does not seem to be either an issue or an impediment.

So what gives?

Prepares it’s not the premise, but the execution, and not so much that as the sheer audacity of all things considered. Life being stranger than, etc.

For real.

Anyway… Happy Easter, and may god bless us all!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Entertainment, Hobbies, Holiday, Movies, Names, Pop Culture, Television

Top Recs

The following: A list of things people have recommended to me, ordered according to our relationship to each other, arranged by order of importance and/or frequency of occurrence of said recommendation.

Friends:

  • Archer
  • Downton Abbey
  • Lost
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (book and movies)
  • Afternoon naps
  • Bouldering

Acquaintances:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • Hitchhiking
  • The one on the left.
  • All lady fight club
  • To prove it by choosing which limb.
  • Mint tea
  • Chewing gum

Co-Workers:

  • Downton Abbey
  • March Madness
  • That cute place down the street.
  • To give up the coordinates for the rest of him we swear we only want closure.
  • Vaping

Upper Management:

  • To value “experience.”
  • To treat co-workers “like family.”
  • To give 110%
  • Offal on demand.
  • Game of Thrones
  • Dystopia
  • THE BOX

Family:

  • To call more.
  • A career change.
  • A nose job.
  • The key so we can finally know what he hid in that room we found behind the fake bookshelf in his workshop.
  • To please god stop reminding us.
  • Downton Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Family, Food, Friends, Hobbies, Jobs, Movies, People, Relationships, Sports, Television

Lay of the Land

Some people are landscapes, and I catch myself staring at them so that I can take them in; their vistas, outlines and curves and bends. Each and every one of their distinguishing (and distinguished, depending, frankly, on the face) features.

It’s something I’ve done since as long as I can remember.

(And I remember getting into more than one schoolyard fight for “staring hard” at other kids and, once, as a first grader, getting into it deep a sixth grader whose prominent brow, delicate nose and permanently puckered mouth was like staring into the very depths of a suddenly de-randomized, nearly cogent universe…I feel like I was very close to something then, even if that something ended up chasing me back to the little kids’ side of the schoolyard, fists like cinder blocks raised in semi-righteous anger, puckered mouth ruining itself like a torn suture as they raged on at me).

It’s true, though: sometimes they catch me, the people do, staring at them. Taking them in. My options then are very limited. 1) Ignore and break away, or 2) Keep right on staring. Very little needs to be said in the moment.

Look. It’s not personal. You just have an interesting smile, a striking pose, an odd jawline, great limbs, a kind expression (or a monstrous one).

These are not compliments or criticisms or facts.

Just me, taking in the lay of the land and then moving on so we can both get on with the rest of our lives.

Now doesn’t that sound nice – isn’t that OK – if not totally one hundred percent reasonable?

 

 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Hobbies, Mind and Body, People, School, THE PAST

Things I Learned Last Week

  1. Dried out grapefruit is still grapefruit, but not great grapefruit.
  2. Semi-identical twins!
  3. Sometimes the weather really is all there is to talk about.
  4. If you put a dinosaur on it, I will buy it.
  5. More lemon water please!
  6. Take care of your cast iron and it will take care of you.
  7. Beware the jerks (but no need to fret over them).
  8. I like asking nicely until I don’t.
  9. My dog is DRAMATIC.
  10. Nothing like bad advice to put the rest of the day into perspective.
  11. Spicy beef patties or nothing at all.
  12. It’s good to be present, if not always available.
  13. Talents come in all shapes and sizes and, occasionally, smells.
  14. How to read the imperfect novel (still learning that one).
  15. Less brains doesn’t mean more heart.
  16. I hate “Actually.”
  17. Odd numbers please me.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Change, Communications, Dogs, Food, Hobbies

Found Objects

There are quite a few things in my house that I literally picked off the street, things people left out for other people to take…unless no one does, and those then things become garbage.

My former neighbourhood (two neighbourhoods before this one) was great for found objects; weekly treasures that sprang up with the morning dew like mushrooms. Most of the things were gently used, some were brand new (i.e. still in the packaging); others, decidedly not.

My former neighbourhood (one neighbourhood before this one) was pretty good for found objects, though they were more seasonal in nature, appearing like the harvest moon or showering the streets like meteorites.

My current neighbourhood is OK for found objects. They appear often enough, but not always, like good (or bad) weather, seemingly blowing in with the wind itself. Timing is key here.

Then there are the random neighbourhoods I pass through with their own rhyme, reason and rhythms for found objects. Timing is everything, in these places.

My current take from the streets thus far includes (but is not limited to):

  1. A sturdy red (seldom used) TV tray.
  2. Books in varying condition (mostly good, mostly celebrity autobiographies, cookbooks and textbooks with interesting pictures, maps and diagrams).
  3. A detail of Michelangelo’s “Birth of Man,” in a gilded frame.
  4. A metal, Tiffany-esque lamp (the kind with three settings…bright, Brighter, BRIGHTEST).
  5. Coffee mugs (more than a few, some of them funky).
  6. THIS MAGNIFICENT TWIN HORSE LAMP.

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  7. A wooden owl. Decorative?
  8. Big-ass sea shells!
  9. A working Magic 8 Ball (found by my sister-in-law and generously gifted to me). Yes – definitely.
  10. Carabiners!
  11. An ornate black resin picture frame, of the kind you’d find at your great aunt’s house, or failing that, an off-the-beaten-track Winners.
  12. Like, so. Many. DVDs (including the an entire season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer).
  13. A kitchen mirror (non-haunted).
  14. Two 1,000 piece puzzles (one of doughnuts, one of shoes).

Will I ever stop finding things on the street and taking them home?

Hm.

There are…other ways to live, I’m sure, that don’t entail picking things off the street to use and enjoy in your home – ways involving, I dunno, yachts and oversize vases that accent the Roman pillars holding up the front entrance of your foyer. Or not.

There are places with foyers. And places without.

There are ways, certainly, like that.

That is very, very true.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Books, Hobbies, Places, Routines, Thrift

The Jar

There is this very large pickle jar currently sitting on my counter that I should recycle, should get rid of, but won’t.

I want to get rid of it, but also no I don’t.

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It is truly a large, mightily impressive jar. It is, I guess, aspirational.

The possibilities!

I used to put all sorts of things in empty jars:

  • Bugs (grasshoppers, crickets and spiders I’d eventually release, and often back outside too)
  • Buttons (buttons belong in jars!)
  • Nuts (chestnuts and acorns from around the neighbourhood because where else would they go though?)
  • Change (not “spare change,” that’s a luxury)
  • Paper clips and screws (they just seem to go together, don’t they?)
  • TACKS

So many things. So many jars. But no more.

The very large pickle jar currently sitting on my counter…maybe it’s not so aspirational then. But nostalgic.

I’d read somewhere that the root meanings of nostalgia are “longing” and “regret.”

“Homecoming” and “pain.” And an empty jar.

I don’t even like pickles, not all that much.

Not really.

 

 

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Filed under Food, Hobbies, Philosophy, THE PAST

Bumper Crop

As it turns out, the one tomato plant I bought on a whim because it cost a dollar (even though it was wilted, mostly dead or dying and seemed to be more brown than green) was the plant of the garden this year, producing, shall we say, a rather bumper crop of produce:

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As for the rest, a confession: despite earlier enthusiasm, I eventually left the garden to fallow…though before it can do that I suppose it needs “to rot.”

It is. Rotting, I mean.

Nothing untoward or gross – just a slow decay indicative, really, of my failure to provide care or manage it.

To care, I mean.

The other tomato plants died in the ungodly heat and for lack of rain, and water (two very different things, as it turns out). Likewise, the jalapeños and other assorted peppers (bell, ghost, habanero) perished. The squash and the mystery plants, though mysteries no more, were ravaged by vermin (raccoons, skunks, squirrels and rabbits, we had them all this year).

It was more than enough to demoralize, to quit. To not to care, not anymore.

I can only blame myself. And the gods.

I realize. I was too ambitious. Next year will be another year, at least, to try.

But that, I also suppose, goes without saying.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Death, Food, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

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.

 

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Filed under Change, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

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).

 

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