Not to mention it

The Not To List

Not to sew a robe for anyone

Not to ask for an excuse

Not to wear a hat for a funeral

Not to tell the time for a year

Not to clean a room for a photographer

Not to ask for another chance

Not to fix a sandwich for a questioner

Not to erase a mistake for a reporter

Not to fix a noose for a saxophone

Not to give a shit for logic

Not to hope a day goes by for a minute

Not to worry a teabag for example

Not to make space in a crowd

Not to mention it again

Not to question the powers that be

Not to complain about a bad photograph

Not to be culpable

Not to make that bed again

Not to ask them why why why

The 227 Rules For Monks cover every aspect of their life – from how much fabric can be used to make a robe, to how to walk into a room. Many are variations, refinements of the one before it. So I guess half their time is spent memorizing these rules the rest in enforcing them 🙂 

We live in a world hemmed in by rules almost as restrictive & unevenly enforced. If one is in the right social class they can get away things that others can’t i.e. rape, spousal abuse, homophobia (that list is even longer the the 227 Rules.)

Watching ‘The Crown’ I realized the rules of etiquette for interacting with the Royals was equally as ‘refined’ right down to what honorific is appropriate for different occasions & from different people – Presidents as opposed to other Royals. ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Royal Highness’ aren’t equal & one never says Mrs. Mountbatten or Queenie.

Oh, yes, then there’s the rule where, when dining with the Queen, one must stop eating when she stops & go on the next course but cannot start eating it until she does. One monarch was such a fast eater, often dishes where barely smelled before the new one was served.

So this is a list poem that consists of things ‘not to do.’ Some off which almost make sense, some of which come from my experience with others. I have a good friend who is a real photographer (unlike me who is a point & snap). He wants things as they are as opposed to magazine tidy. Same when he does portraits – ‘Don’t smile.’ 

Some of these rules have a ‘subtext.’ ‘Not to make that bed again’ is about getting out of bad relationships. Unlike some of my list poems this one doesn’t develop a narrative line as it progresses, it lacks inner logic (who give a shit?) The first rule is a direct reference the the 227 Rules. My usual rule is photos & blog content aren’t directly linked 🙂

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh?

Picture Perfect 7

It was after six pm when Dan stored his bike in the side garage. The Mazda was gone so he knew that Sanjay wasn’t home. He couldn’t recall if Sanjay had said he was working that night or not. After the unusually busy day he’d had Dan was okay with a quiet night on his own at home.

One side door in the garage led directly to a short flight of stairs into kitchen, the other side door opened onto the backyard patio. 

“I’m home!” Dan called out as he put his shoulder bag on the kitchen table.

There was no answer. The TV was on in the living-room. He turned it off. A timer would have turned it off at 7:30 and then again at 8:30 if there was no one home. There was a message by the remote.

“Forgot I had a night shift at Pa’Pappa’s. I’ll be home at the usual time. Sanj.”

Pa’Pappa’s was one of the restaurants Sanjay worked for. The other was Zephyr. Both owned by Sylvan Papoulias. Zephyr was the fine dining establishment that regularly made the Michelin’s list of top North American dining experiences. 

Pa’Pappa’s was at the family-oriented end of the spectrum. The difference, according to Sanjay, was in price and paper quality for the menus. Desserts for the family spot would be served at the the other but instead of grated dark chocolate they’d have shaved white chocolate. Both paid him the same but at Zephyr’s he got his name on the dessert menu there.

Dan went to the fridge and took out the remains of the pizza they had ordered on the weekend. A squirt of hot sauce and thirty seconds in the microwave and it was ready to eat.

He took it out to the back patio and ate while watching the sun setting. The various solar lights began to glow as it got darker. 

This was a good life. 

He was washing the plate he had used for the pizza when his cell rang.

“Good news Dan.” It was Cyrtys. “I just spoke to the big wigs and they are truly excited by your proposal.”

“My proposal?”

“Why yes, to do a special on this missing children from an almost-abductee’s point of view. You’ll have to tell them how you evaded his grasp and all that. It’ll be so dramatic.”

“I was not almost abducted.” Or was I? Maybe that’s what my mother was holding back. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember that week. What do they call it – post traumatic shock? 

“I don’t mean literally. Can we take a meeting tomorrow. We have so much to discuss. So much.”

“I’ll have to check my schedule. I do have a business to run.”

“But Daniel this is your business, isn’t it. Seeing what others don’t see in a simple set of photographs.”

Dan woke in the morning with the naked Sanjay spooning him. He reluctantly disengaged himself careful so as not to wake his lover. Sanjay smelled of vanilla and chocolate. Dan sat at the edge of the bed. Did he want to start something this early in the day? If he didn’t there might not be another opportunity. 

He scratched his balls, head and then stretched his arms to work out the sleep kinks. Bladder pressure pulled him off the bed and to the toilet. As he was relieving himself he heard music in the bedroom. That meant Sanjay was awake and had turned on his mp3 player. 

The music was a gentle sitar with tabula and distant vocalizing. Soothing for morning. 

Dan rinsed his mouth with water and went back to the bedroom. Sanjay was on the floor doing yoga. Dan sat on the floor and began copying what Sanjay was doing. He knew the routine of movements and closed this eyes to flow more consciously into his subconscious. As the exercises moved to a finish the music built up in speed and complexity. Then there was silence.

He opened his eyes and leaned back on his elbows watching Sanjay’s hair stomach as his breathing became more regular. Dan was never able to slow his down as well or as much as Sanjay did.

Over breakfast he was telling Sanjay about the ‘offer’, as he called with with air quotation marks, from Quintex, when his phone rang. He unplugged it from the charger to answer.

“Linda.” Call display told him who was calling.

“Daniel we have to talk.”

“You mean you talk and I listen.” He replied holding the receiver away from his ear.

“I’m not in the mood for your wise cracks this early in the day.” Her voice seemed to echo off the kitchen ceiling. “I’ll expect you at the FairVista store by ten.”

He brought the phone to talking distance. “Not unless I teleport. I’ll be there when I get there. Eleven at the earliest.”

“Get your houseboy to drop you off.”

Dan rolled his eyes to Sanjay’s frown. “She’ll never forgive you, will she.”

“I can hear you.” His sister said.

“Well, Sanjay can hear you, too. Trying using your inside voice. Oh I forgot, you don’t have one.”

Linda had never learned to modulate, as his mother called not shouting. Even quiet conversations ramped up to her shouting. He often wondered if she has some sort of hearing problem but the one time he had suggested she get her hearing checked she went even more ballistic than usual.

“I’ll be expecting you.”

The line went dead.

“Fuck, you’d think she’d learn to say hello and goodbye.” Dan shook his head.

“Family is like that. I don’t think my mother ever asked me how I was doing before she launched into how my sisters were doing.”

“I’d better get going if I expect to be at the big shop by eleven.” Even if he caught the right transit connections travel time was nearly forty minutes. A trip he would make no more than twice a week. Despite her brusqueness his sister did run the business well. She enjoyed the interaction with customers much more than he did.

“Not going to bike out there?” Sanjay asked.

“No thanks. The war on cyclists is as bad the city’s supposed war on cars.”

The door bell rang.

“Who could it be at this time of the morning?” Sanjay asked as he went to answer it.

“Is my brother decent?”

“Good morning to you too, Linda.” Sanjay said as she brushed past him.

“I was outside already Daniel. I knew you’d dawdle.”

She took a mug out of the sink, rinsed it and poured herself a cup of coffee. 

“I don’t suppose you don’t have real cream in here do you?” She pulled the fridge open. “I guess this’ll do. Not two percent I hope.” She took two swallows. “Not half-bad. You ready yet. I don’t have all day.”

Daniel put his loafers on, checked his shoulder bag to make sure he had the photos he’d printed off the TV of all the missing children. As expected the quality wasn’t great but would do for now. He followed her out to the car.

“New?” He ran his hand along the hood.

“Don’t give me that look.” she opened her door. “Yearly lease means I can upgrade the Lexus every year. Why own anyway? You should try it. Tax deductible.”

He got in. “Bike styles don’t change that rapidly.”

“Tell me about it.”

She turned at the end of the street and headed to the Expressway.

“What is going on Linda?”

“Those pricks at FairVista say we aren’t making a large enough profit for them. Look, you know we are breaking even at least. It takes a few years for a business to really get established. I’ve explained all that to them. Even their accountants say we have a sound business plan but to them sound means bigger profits.”

“Uh huh. Tell me something you haven’t told me before. I warned you that the profit clause might bite us in the ass one day.”

“Who expected it to bite us so soon. That’s what I’m saying. But I have an opportunity that may increase profits for a minimal outlay.”

“Linda we’ve spent enough getting the new shop set up. I’ve already split off the best selling stuff to you. Or is this another attempting to pressure me into setting up shop with you?”

“No, nothing like that little brother. The people from Cuppa’s has approached me.”

“What? You want to start a coffee shop somewhere?”

“In the store. It’ll be like Starbucks and Indigo. Timmie’s and Shoppers.”

“How much of an outlay?”

“For the two locations a couple of hundred grand.” she said quickly.

“Two locations?”

“FairVista and Queen.”

“What about the Classic?”

“That lease is coming up soon. Daddy always said follow the money. Cuppa’s is the money.”

“Classic is doing fine. Better than ever in fact with the new condo complex.”

“Why do you always fight me Daniel?”

“I didn’t fight you on the new shop did I?”

“I’d call refusing  to move all the business to it, putting up a fight.”

“If I remember correctly you thought having too locations would reflect what a success the business was. The big expansion. Right? Once FairVista was established then there’d be franchise opportunities to sell.”

“Daddy said you have to dream big to get big. Besides Peggy thinks it’s a great idea. She’s already signed the agreement.”

She pulled into the mall lot and parked behind the shop.

“Mom would sign anything you asked.” Dan wanted to get angry but he admired the way his sister often went ahead and did the ground work. “But …”

“I know you have the final say. If Daddy knew …” she trailed off. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicenseHey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 


The Furnace of Art

I’m going through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way again – this is definitely the 2nd time with someone else. First was, alone, was way back in the mid 90’s, then a few years later with a friend in recovery. I’m going through it again with the same friend. I may have done some of the exercises that first time because I starting doing morning pages in the mid-90’s as I result of that first reading.

The next time we worked through everything. Now some 20 years later it’s time for this version of me to give it another go. I found it productive then & hope to again. In recovery meeting soften go through the same text, a step at a time, endlessly because repetition is the mother of learning. No one is too well to get better 😉

I still have my paperback of the book but opted to download a Kindle copy for reading in transit. I’ll went to Indigo & bought the workbook – that’s right I went into a book store ! & bought a book ! I did check a couple small indie stores first but they didn’t have the workbook. I discovered that there is now a ‘Creativity’ section full of books to free the mind – a step up from New Age, I suppose.

So far I’ve read through the introductions. Cameron makes no secret of her recovery & the role that it played in her ability to explore creativity. I remember when I got sober I was afraid that without booze to fuel the furnace of art that I’d never play the piano again 🙂 I thought I wrote better after a few drinks – I still have some of notebooks & can read my handwriting for the most part. I was certainly in touch with melodrama & self-pity after a few doubles.

Evanescent Extra

it didn’t last long

the look

beguiling inviting

for a brief moment

passing him on a subway platform

me getting on 

him getting off

eyes catch

not long enough to snag

our heads turn 

but the doors close

am whisked away


the moment memory 

has a hold of me

a face that needed a shave

sloppy quick half smile

eyes I think I remember 

moment too short to get color

dark hair dark eye browns

skin coffee 

or was that just subway lighting

or memory dimming already


I carried that glance 

as long as I could

I didn’t check my phone 

didn’t look for other faces

savoured that intimation

or am I reading

something into those eye

maybe he was glad

I was the only body 

between him and getting off

a half smile of thanks 

to the transit gods

that allowed for his easy exit

but no 

he did turn a bit towards me

as the doors closed 

he did follow me 

as I was ripped out of his arms

did he have arms

 I’m pretty sure he did 

but all I have is that face 

the unshaved line of his jaw

half a smile

short hair

yes I think he had short hair

or was he wearing a tight toque


funny how a glance

can take in so much and so little

would I recognize him 

will it be one of those faces

one can’t quite place

like extras in movies

in a subway scene

just out of view

out of focus

filling in a background

so my life 

doesn’t feel so empty


March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Richard III – Stratford Festival


June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C. 


All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

My Peeps

birds on a wire in Toronto

all alone am I in Toronto

seagull in Stratford, Ont.

swans in Stratford, Ont.

geese in Stratford, Ont.

swan in Stratford, Ont.

swans & ducks in Stratford, Ont.

pink flamingo in Toronto

#Toronto #WordPress #pigeons #swans #geese #ducks #seagull #flamingo #Stratford #travel #photography #Ontario

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees &  eat at Capturing Fire this June in Washington DC – sweet, eh?

Lee-ping Lounge Lizards

The lee side starts with Brenda Lee: The Definitive Collection – maybe not all the hits but enough for me. ‘I’m Sorry’ is a classic, melodramatic, over-the-top song as she sings her codependent heart out. Her gumbo rock is fine & she survived being a child star quite well too. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is a season fav too. Her life was no ‘normal’ there’s been no movie bio 🙂

Now to the cocktail lounge with an mp3 collection that includes. Julia Lee: And Her Boyfriends. This is an lp to cd transfer. I bought the lp based on the sweet cover – a portrait of her in a mink. The songs are ‘suggestive’ i.e. My Man Stands Out. Her voice is sexy & she knows an innuendo where she sings one. With her is Risky Blues – an lp compilation of even more suggestive songs ‘Big Ten Inch (record).’

Here too are a couple of lps by Blossom Dearie: Once Upon A Summer Time, Cafe-apres Midi. Blossom is on the less raunchy side of nightclub singers. A sweet, light, playful voice she is worshiped by jazz singers. her material pulls mainly from Broadway with some jazz standards thrown in. You can almost hear the cocktail shaker in the back ground.

The opposite is a pair by Mable Mercer: Sings Cole Porter, Merely Marvellous. I first heard her on a jazz magazine sampler singing Ballad of all the Sad Young Men. Mable has a nice alto range & is relaxing & fun. She doesn’t push jazz boundaries. Emotional without showing off. her material is similar to Blossom’s with a dash of more modern stuff – ie 59th Street Bridge Song.

More show-offish is Jane Morgan. I have the wonderfully over-produced Jane In Spain, & Time. Jane has a classic clear night-club voice. Spain is a delight with its hitch Latino flourishes of castanets & some of the songs, Granada, are ‘Spanish’ sung in English. Time is more diverse & ‘modern’ with songs like Moon River, Tammy given the nightclub treatment.

Final Lee is Peggy Lee – an inspiration for all the above – she started as a big band torch singer whose career changed with the times. I have in various mp3 collections: Beauty and the Beat (w: George Shearing), Latin Lee, Ole Lee, Fever, Christmas Carousel, Is That All There Is – her  Some are standard issue lie Latin Lee but all are elevated by her delivery. Her Christmas Carousel is one of my seasonal favourites.


this is the week

when the universal currency is

hearts & flowers 

chocolates & regrets

traded with eager expectations

I’ll give you a glimpse of this

if you give me a glimpse of that

I’ll put up with your doing that 

if you allow me to do do this

I’ll treat you like crap 

love you & put up with your crap

because you love me


we exchange these representations

of our willingness to continue 

our little patterns of regret dispute 

in the name of tender loving 

compassionate cooperation

because our relationship is perfect

bouquet trade-offs

of explanations for reality

how far we compromised 

our teenage ideals 

for our forty-year-old realities


so many of us

are still ruled by bitter teenagers

who didn’t get the pretty girl 

or great guy we idolized in high school

we still cart that fractured dream

around as a measure of what we want

as if we’d stop some teenager 

in the street today and ask 

‘is this the one for me’

not that a stranger 

can actually to talk 

to a teenager in the street today

without getting charged for something

but that’s another story

another compromise

to protect us from one another

so where was I


ah yes

the new universal currency

of regrets fears retribution 

being more satisfying than love

who wants to see things flow 

without the elegant 

encumbrance of expectations 

without the sunny 

undercurrent of resentment

mental telepathy doesn’t work

and it is your fault

I should not have to tell you 

what I want

you should just know

from the way I wear my hat

oh right I don’t wear hats

well that should tell you something


it tells you I love you

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Richard III – Stratford Festival


June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C. 


All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s – sweet, eh?



Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.


I wanted to throw

the math book across the room

the brown paper didn’t cooperate

as I folded it over the cover

one side was too big to fold

the other too small to cover

I tried to slide the book

so everything was even

so it would be neat tidy

the real cover protected

I wanted it to look as perfect

as the book my mother had done in minutes


I lacked her eye hand coordination

perfected by years of knitting

of dress making

I couldn’t even colour between the lines

now here I was

with a pair of scissors

a roll of heavy brown kraft paper

attempting to make covers

for my school books

as requested by the school

if the books weren’t kept tidy enough

we would have to pay for them

I wasn’t even supposed to write on the books

not even to underline

couldn’t dog ear the pages


the book refused to fit

I managed to get it wrapped

taped the corner to keep it in place

I didn’t care that it was bunched up

that there was a crease 

on the back cover


I tried to slide myself

through grade school

high school

so everything was even

so I would be neat tidy

bland as brown kraft paper book cover

a cover that never quite protected

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – 

True Love

True Love


she shows me

the new backpack

that her boyfriend had bought her

for her sixtieth birthday

he was so pleased with the colour

her favourite green

she hates it

but she didn’t tell him that

it’s not the right fit

on her shoulders

like the wonderful red parka

he bought her for Christmas

she loves the colour

but the zipper doesn’t work right

she has to zip a little 

before putting it on


I guess he’s from India

as she imitates his accent

I like so much to give you things

she’s grateful to receive his gifts

but will insist

that in future she go with him

when he’s going to buy 

a surprise for her

she asks me

if that sounds reasonable


I’m not sure

why she’s asking me

or if she’s showing off

that she has a boyfriend

who buys her things

Another true life adventure – well adventure is over-stating the incident. The ‘she’ is a recovery  acquaintance. We don’t constantly talk about the futile battle of life 🙂 Life if full of small pleasantry & learning to recognize & share them is a part of becoming life-sized. Though sometimes I do wish some people would develop a better sense of boundaries 🙂

The conversation here is about the trivialities of life, relationships &, for me, control. Not that I haven’t received gifts that didn’t quite suit me but I’ve never thought, I’m not going to give specific directions on what I can be given – “here’s a file of my sizes, preferred colours, flavours & if your gift doesn’t fulfill these strictures I’m not interested.”

I found the conversation amusing but found myself thinking that here was someone who may never be pleased with anything so I’d better not give them more than a handshake. I’m also is favour of boyfriends as any age. I rarely talk about my own romantic adventuring though – as accepting as many people are they don’t need to hear me brag about my active sex life.


So the piece ends with me projecting a bit on her about the nature of ‘brag.’ But it also reflects that fact that what people tell us isn’t always in the content of ‘what’ they say but the ‘why’ they say. The subtext. Am I telling you about the randomness of ‘ordered on line underwear’ sizing (some countries large is medium in North America) – to find a better place to order or just to let you know I like underwear & that I order it on line. (btw I do know the right underwear size for all my boyfriends).

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 June 25.26.27. – sweet,eh? 

Picture Perfect 6

Dan walked down to the shop. Sandy and Ushio were busy with customers. Since opening the new mega-store at the FairVista Mall two years ago, business at this original location had changed considerably. Most of the advertising they were doing was now directing shoppers to the mega. This old location was now specializing in equipment repair and flash sales of soon to be discontinued camera equipment.

Dan went to the service counter to see if there were any new photo restorations for him to look over. It was the work he had done on photo restorations that lead him back to his RCMP life. The RCMP had brought in some security camera footage that needed ‘clarification.’ Pixel by pixel he had painstakingly crafted a more precise image for them. That lead him and Sandy developing a program to do just that – sharpen or delete till the image was clear.

Usually the restorations were of old wedding photos, pictures that had gotten tossed in the wash, bleached on purpose in revenge, or merely faded by time. He enjoyed the focus the work took to do successfully.

“Mr. James?” a woman in her mid-forties came up to the counter.

“Yes. Can I help you?”

“I certainly hope so.” She leaned forward and dropped her voice. “I need someone followed.”

“Your husband?” he asked.

“Yes,” she hissed back. Her hand darted from her beaded chocker to her bracelets as she talked.

“I’m sorry, we don’t don’t handle that sort of case.”

This wasn’t the first time someone had come in looking for a detective agency. James did specialize in various surveillance equipment but they didn’t do the actual surveillance themselves.

“I see.” She glared, twisting her left bracelet sharply. “Not enough money in it for you.”

“No, that’s not it not all. We only provide equipment not manpower.”

“You don’t think I’m worth the manpower or are you one of those men who think it’s okay for a husband to fool around, to lie and take advantage of women.”

“That’s not the point Ma’am.” He looked to Sandy or Ushio for some sort of backup.

“Not to you, but it is to me. So you refuse to help me. I’ll report you to the human rights commission. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same quality of service you’d gave a man.” She put her purse on the counter and began rooting through it.

“It has nothing to do with rights. It is not the kind of work we do. We deal with equipment, with photographic equipment.” He wasn’t sure how to make himself any clearer.

“That’s what I want.” She pulled her phone out of her purse, turned it on and turned it for Dan to see. “You take pictures of him, catch him at his little game, get me the proof.”

“We can provide cameras, even install them for you.”

“Install them! If I knew where he was meeting this women I wouldn’t need you to follow him to take pictures. He’s found out how to confused GPS you know.”

“Ma’am we don’t follow people.”

“Isn’t that what surveillance means?” She demanded. “It says in your advertising. Surveillance specialists.”

Was she deliberately not understanding him?

“No. It says surveillance equipment specialists. We sell, repair, maintain, but we don’t operate or even monitor the equipment.”

“I didn’t think you personally did, it but you must have employees who work your cases.”

“That’s not what we do. I can recommend a couple agencies that do what you are looking for.”

“You are like all men.” She snapped. “Offer one thing and then refuse to deliver. I’m going to report you for false advertising.”

She shut her purse and yanked it off the counter sending a display of photo albums to the floor. If the shop doors could have slammed she would have slammed them.

“So got your number bossman,” Sandy laughed. “You are like all men, promise one thing and never deliver.”

“Since when?” he asked her as he helped her straighten the photo albums.

“For one thing you said these albums would sell like hot cakes.”

“Give them time.” He muttered weakly. “Give them time.”

“I don’t know why we still carry things like this anyway?” Ushio asked. “Or even why we open up. Since the new place opened last year we’ve been getting less and less street business. I can’t remember the last time I sold something that wasn’t corporate.”

“You been talking Linda?” Closing the shop was something she was keen on. “You think she’ll hire you?”

“Ushio,” Sandy said, “she may have married your brother but trust me Itchy doesn’t want you round either.”

“It is Ichirou,” Ushio laughed. “But I always give older bother an itch. He never likes it when I do better than him. And I always do.”

“The Depot will remain opened as long as I can keep it open. Linda isn’t going to push me into closing it or selling the building either.”

“Understood.” Sandy saluted. “Time for me to see what online orders we have.” She went to the order desk and sat at her computer.

“I have that security set up to design.” Ushio bowed and backed away to his work space. “Now Dan-sai you vanish so we can get some real work done.”

Back in his third floor workshop, Dan took the east coast pictures out and spread them on the light table. His mother had picked out the location in one of them quickly. He hadn’t seen what she saw.

He swivelled the lighted magnifier over the picture of him and Timmy arm over shoulder. They were on the top steps of the porch. The bottom of the letters of the sign over the door was visible over them. So that was how his mother knew where they were. He knew the name Wickham Arms but it hadn’t occurred to him till his mother said it. 

Just hearing the name brought back a sense of the times. He didn’t have any clear memories of the days they spent packing to move, other than wishing he’d had a chance to say goodbye to Timmy. Once they had put their stuff into the car they had driven directly from Stellerton to their house in New Waterford in Cape Breton. 

His Aunt Tansy was so tearful when they told her they were moving. She’d been their housekeeper and house minder since he’d been born. She didn’t really seem to understand the great urgency, as she called it, the great urgency in their moving so far, far away. 

What was his mother not telling him? He felt she was holding something back about the move. About why they had moved.

That week they spent packing their house. Did his Dad sell it right away? He must have, because he had money for the down-payment on the shop in Toronto. He could see their furniture being carted into the moving van.

He could barely recall the drive to Toronto. Motels where they spoke French, his being car sick. He did even fight much with Linda. Wait. Linda had stayed behind, That’s right. She got to say goodbye to her friends while he wasn’t given the chance to do the same. Not that he’d had that many friends and the only one his missed was Timmy.

They stayed at some cheap motel in Mississauga for the first few weeks till his father found a sublet. It wasn’t till they had been in Toronto for two months that they moved into the third floor of the Queen Street E. building. Linda didn’t show up until then. Until she had a room of her own.

The Wickham Arms. What really happened there? Besides Timmy Dunlop going missing and no one telling me about it, ever. He did a quick online search and the Wickham Arms was still operating.

He’d never considered family as having secrets worth hiding. Maybe he was wrong. He’d have to talk to Linda next. Maybe she’d have more to tell him.

He shook off his memories and refocused on the pictures in front of him. Timmy’s wide-open eyes and sneaky grin made it hard for him to see anything else in the picture. 

He grabbed a notepad and began jotting down the details. This was what he would do if this were a crime scene photo. porch. stairs worn from use. can’t see the bottom step. wooden railing with evenly spaced slats. needs painting. to the left some wicker furniture – two chairs, a table under the window, a rocking chair in the corner. set for a view of the street. lace curtains in the window. no hanging plants.

As he made notes of the facts he drew some conclusions as to what the pictures were telling him. The Wickham Arms, even for the times, was old fashioned. The curtains were of a more conservative decade. The furniture was mismatched and also harkened back to the forties.

The boys’ clothing was dusty but not dirty. Timmy was wearing cut-off jeans that were too large for him, something from an older sibling probably and would be used for one summer only. The sheriff’s badge Tim wore was shiny and had the same moulding detail as the buttons on the vest of the other child, himself. Tim’s tee shirt was torn on the shoulder. 

In one of the other pictures the boys were horsing around the a backyard and that was probably where the tee shirt got torn. It had a cross-eyed Yoda on it with ‘care me what’ printed underneath. A Mad magazine reference?

Tim’s straw cowboy hat was pushed back on his head. There is a folded flyer tucked into the hat band. 

Dan was wearing cut-off shorts as well, his bare-legs are clear from the knees down behind the cowboy chaps he was wearing. The chaps had a cow skin pattern, fringe and metal medallions along the other edge with more fringe tied though them. A matching vest over a plain black tee-shirt. His felt cowboy hat was pushed right of his head and held around his neck by the string.

What would the other photos from the TV show tell him? He had kept the episode he’d recorded. Abstracting images from the TV wasn’t that difficult. He’d done is several times to see how it would work out. The image quality depended on the original  sources. HD broadcasts were pretty good. Black and white movies not so good. None as good as a still camera.

He made memo on his cell to check the show when he had a chance. As he entered the memo he noticed the time. He’d spent the last three hours on those photos and wasn’t even getting paid for it. 

He double checked all the Depot’s rear security on the top two floors and went down to the shop where Ushio was doing the same for the front doors. It wouldn’t do to advertise as surveillance specialists to be broken into, so the stores had state-of-the protection.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International LicenseHey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees 


The Porch

Welcome to an occasional new Monday series in which I’ll take you on a tour of the art pieces in my house. Many of you will never darken my door but that’s no reason not to see past it. Plus you may hear more about these pieces that my regular visitors ever hear, or want to hear 🙂


Starting with the porch – which some of you have seen in my Christmas photos. The first thing you’ll see, besides me letting you in, is this wonderful oil painting. It consists of marvellous cliches & is clearly from an assembly line oil painting factory. It has misty mountains, waterfalls, cascades, a quaint cottage in the pines, & a rough path to the cottage.

I found it on one of my morning walks. I took a few photos of it then & it was still there on my way back. The frame was included so I couldn’t resist it & brought it home. It is perfect for the front porch. If you take a close look you’ll see why it was tossed. There is a slit in the canvas – about the size of a knife blade – over the secluded cottage. I think of this as a breach of the time-space continuum. I love this painting & love the fact that is is found art.

On the window ledge by the front door is this hand-carved wooden African fetish that is intended to scare away evil energy. The tag say ‘two warriors.’ I’ve had this so long I don’t remember where it came from – maybe a yard-sale? It may have been a house-warming gift. My partner found it too grotesque to have on the living-room mantle piece so it has been in the porch protecting our house for decades.

On the other side of the door is a bookcase whose shelves are cluttered in endless knick-knacks. My favorite of which is this lamp from the 30’s. It has the remains of its original paint job & still works. It is La Canadienne. It was a Christmas gift some 30 years ago. I’ve been tempted to have it reconditioned but decay has its place. Linus is a period bobble head. The cow is a creamer. The poodle on a log is a future Hot Damn! prize. The random holes on the frame are from stapling the Christmas fabric that hides the shelves from the prying eyes of Santa’s elves.

Our Lady of the Flowers -a boxed St Teresa plaster icon. This goes way way back when I was living in Cape Breton. I found it in an antique store in Halifax  in the mid-70’s. I had to have hit even though I am not Catholic. I have been told that these were in Catholic grade schools at one time. There would have been a little shelf handing at the bottom for candles or for votive offerings or for holy water – depending on the school. I keep in in a darker corner of the porch out of too much direct sunlight.

I remember buying it & carrying like a doll as it as too large to bag & to delicate to toss in a suitcase. I was stopped on the street by a group of Russian sailors who recognized the Saint. They spoke little English but their thick Russian accents made me weak in the knees. Laudamus Te indeed.

White Shirts, Bullets & Ballots

after that first day 

I swore not to wear 

a white shirt ever again


too many of the doorbells 

we rung had been rung 

too many times in the past 

by religious pests bringing 

the word of salvation

we were bringing 

the word of vote 

to the people


we had been warned

that the white shirts 

wouldn’t be effective 

but we felt 

we had to present a clean-cut 

non-threatening image 

if we wanted people 

to become aware of their rights


white shirts proved 

not to be the way to go

so we were allowed to wear 

what we wanted 

as long as 

it was clean and non-political

we couldn’t sully our approach

with anything that might be seem 

to sway the people

the way the other parties did

with guns

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Richard III – Stratford Festival


June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre – Washington D.C. 


All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s – sweet, eh?