Over the past year or so of the lockdown I’ve done my own purging & have observed the purges of others & was struck my frequency of various keyboards: electric organs, peddle organs, & pianos. I guess there is no place to donate them to that will come & pick them up – so they get curbed for the city to deal with.
these next four are all of the same piano that was dismembered & left to fend for its wounded self on the Danforth
not sure if these are less or more depressing – cute pics but still a keyboard being curbed
The big garden job this past month was clearing the weeds & grass that had invaded one of the garden beds. By weeds I mean things like violet, lily of the valley, ferns, crab grass & euonymus. Some of which are considered, by many, weeds but they are sure & steady infiltrators that can push out other plants. They all spread with underground root systems which are virtually impossible to dig up completely.
The euonymus was the last to go. It had climbed the fence & had gone from ground cover, to vine, to insidious eyesore. I remember it was a freebie decades ago, a shoot that took quickly. The green & yellow leaves are pretty & the area of the garden I put it in was in need of colour. I let grow unimpeded for decades.
Late this spring I cut back the lily of the valley & violets & the various root systems of both were so intertwined I thought it was time to let go of the euonymus. It was impossible to plant in the area without dealing with the roots. Like the pandemic house purge, in which I let go of stuff: books, scrap paper, lumber, screws, clothes – that were all perfectly good but no longer served a purpose. So it was to do a garden purge too.
The house purge resulted in empty spaces that I probably won’t fill. The garden purge doesn’t quite do the same thing as nature will constantly sprout things in empty spaces. The euonymus will be back – the will to live is unstoppable. It, & the violets, ferns & lilies of the valley will pop up were I least expect them to appear. In future I may be less tolerant.
In purging my writing archives I found many old poems, short stories whose roots are still resurfacing in my writing today. Those old hurts, old attitudes, old frustrations have grown, taken on new shapes. In the process of inputting some of those pieces I saw where I had changed for the ‘better’, where I had moved on, where I had let idolized teenage romantic fantasies continue unimpeded for decades.
The covid pandemic is now well into year 2 & its grip has tightened despite various lockdown restrictions & even the fairly rapid distribution of various vaccines, while the distribution of conspiracy theories has been even faster. Is there an end in sight? That depends on the profit margins, right.
Not only do the living have to bury the dead but they have to shoulder the burden of the cost – a burden that increases as the tax base shrinks thanks to covid deaths & lockdown bankruptcies. Like poverty, the pandemic will stick around as long as someone is making big bucks off it – I should have invested in pharmaceuticals when I had the chance 🙂 Or undertakers.
Emotionally I have remained relatively even-keeled. Sharing my house means my social bubble has never been one of total isolation. Zoom has been a boon for recovery meetings & I generally log on to six a week. Each with a slightly different format & different people. I am one of those doesn’t go on camera & usual I minimize to audio only to spare my wifi connection. Not seeing all those faces eating, pulling at split ends, playing with pets lets me focus on the sharing.
I have maintained an active social bubble within the stipulated limits. Socially distant walks with a couple of recovery friends has been important. Also sending time with some non-recovery buddies has kept them for being too isolated. I’ve had a a good friend drop over a few times to help with the garden.
Blogging & taking pictures have been vital to maintaining emotional & spiritual balance. Sharing things about various aspects of my life with complete strangers around world, most of whom I’ll never meet, makes me feel more connected.
Major purging has given me a sense of accomplishment – one of the benefits of a house is that I have things to purge 🙂 I’ve suggested to a couple of friends maybe they should clear out their apartment storage spaces rather than gripe about not being able to do things. The purge also stepped into my writing archive – unearthing artifacts that go back to high school days. Poetry, short stories, plays, even a couple of novels. Inputting them & getting the paper into the recycle bin.
I sure hope this lockdown paranoia soon has an end in sight though. My basement is clean enough, thanks.
Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been purging my past. Papers, first drafts, photographs & memories. A basement full of lumber, bricks, paint, nut & bolts saved, salvaged, kept for another day now gone, with out regret. Stage set pieces from Bushwack Theatre finally seeing the light of day in the back of a junk removal truck 🙂
I have seeing my history in the paper I used for writing on. Scrap paper recycled from Famous Players old daily multi-coloured sales report forms – pads of which became redundant as they were updated. Colour coded for filing & mailing purposes. Flyers for movies, for theatrical productions. Lined or blank loose leaf, pages torn out of scribblers, note book of various sizes & even shapes. Notes, poems, fiction typed on various typewriters, hand written in various inks & pens, dot-matrix print outs that had never been separated. https://topoet.ca/2021/03/16/past-of-the-future/
The ‘See Europe’ was one of several road show productions that travelled around the maritimes with special presentations – this was Travel, another was Alpine Skiing – the most popular was the in person show by Raveen – a hypnotist, magician – I wish I had some of those flyers. The travel shows weren’t big draws mind you but they were rentals – in this case Tony Smith was in charge of his ticket sales. We got the rental fee plus sold lots of popcorn 🙂
The various papers help date when some of these pieces were written as many of them were undated. The Famous pages are before I moved to Toronto in 1978. Days Of Heaven is from my first year here. The Famous Players form bring back memories beyond what I had written on the blank sides. One of my jobs there was to type details onto them. There was carbon paper between the pages that were 4 form thick so one had to hit hard to make sure the bottom one was legible. A mistake meant whiteout on all copies before re-entering. A total pain. Life before computers & data entry.
This piece was typed on the blank side of a ‘Days Of Heaven’ flyer
In the continuing pandemic lockdown I’ve been using some mornings to clean up & clean out the basement, which has become as cluttered with relics as an Egyptian tomb, only no mummies (yet). A repository of what is essentially junk saved for a rainy day. So donning a set of sweats dedicated to housework, & for the basement, a face mask to deal with the dust, I’ve been venturing down for an hour or two at a time.
Here are choice items that have been holding their own (as well as dust & cobwebs) for some time. These first are laundry room decor. This portrait of H M Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) is by Salomon van Abbé. Yes, I did a bit of research. It was in the basement when we moved into the house over forty years ago. It was in the remains of frame & already water stained. There is probably a companion portrait of the King. These were found in nearly every school across Canada at the time. I remember a similar one of the current Queen in Sydney schools. Every class room had one.
Beside her is a paint-by-number I picked up, framed, at a yard sale. Paris? in the rain. At least Chez TonTon suggests Paris, as does the shape of the kiosk with the posters on it. I’m not sure of the horse-drawn cart in front of TonTon – it does suggest a time before autos. Where they getting a delivery of bread?
Under Paris is this marvellous velvet painting that I found on the street in Montreal in the late 90’s. I used to visit Montreal a week or so every summer for a bilingual AA round-up. Even though the painting is signed ‘Ramon’ (I think) it is clearly out of a painting sweatshop where ‘artists’ would go from one canvas to the next – one artist specialized in clouds, another in water ripples etc.
Finally, for this visit to the underbelly, I found this placemat. It was wrapped around some plumbing fixture & held in place with an elastic. I guess there was a mummy after all 🙂 I unwrapped the fixture & was happy I did. I love this prime example of late sixties graphics. Coarse fabric, no makers tags, & it washed up a treat. I had never seen it before but my partner had a very vague memory of it. The mummy was tossed but its wrappings were resurrected.
resurrected from the vaults – from October 1978 – I moved to Toronto in May 1978 – I was living in an apartment on Sherbourne near Isabella.
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Picture Perfect is moving along with 56 sections, about 84,500 words, posted so far, with 101,000 words approx to be edited, then posted. This month I was at the point where I got sidetracked in the rough draft so I did major cut of about 5000 words. The cut removed a scene I didn’t need but a character I did need so re-invented him keep the flow. A fun challenge.
I watched some interesting movies including O Ébrio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Ébrio_(film)). Out of Brazil,1946, starring popular singer Vicente Celestino – who co-wrote it with Gilda de Abreu, who was also his wife. Imagine an Elvis film set in 1946 – fame & faithless women & songs & redemption. Eye-catching costumes for the women. A fascinating look at the culture of the time. The music & lyrics are idealized romantic, religious & dripping with sincerity. Performances are good to adequate, with some sweet silent-movie nods.
Another, an even wilder musical, is the Polish film The Lure (2015) directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska. One critic calls it “the best goth musical about man-eating mermaids ever made.” I wouldn’t call 80’s EuroDisco Goth but … the music is sublime, the visuals at times are stunning & performances good. Plotting uneven but well worth watching. I saw both of these as part of TCM series of women directors.
A couple of books I’m currently reading. Paper: Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé about gay men and women in the U.S. military between 1941 and 1945. This quote ‘ … being a homosexual, I had that constant compelling need to prove how virile I was.’ still remains one of the male gender identity struggles. The book is stunning – easy to read, easy to understand & at time heartbreaking & frustrating. Read it asap.
Kindle: Fairs’ Point: A Novel of Astreiant by Melissa Scott book 4 in the series. I read the first in this series a few years ago. It was part of a StoryBundle of 10 lgbtq fantasy/horror novels & I loved it. I’ve read the pervious in the series. Amazing world building, sweet male lovers & understated sex scenes. Set in a magic Mediaeval land. Only one more in the series after this one though 😦
in clearing out an archive of old writing in a file cabinet I found this piece from the early 80’s. It is about HIV fears but some of the lines about ‘a virus more virulent than love’ echo the current covid19 pandemic where a stranger’s breath could be deadly. Replace roses with masks & it’s ready for today
i’m pressing the mirror
to my face
not looking for contact
not seeking any content
needing any slight
sign of mist
to reassure me
i’m still alive
i’m still breathing
hey! it’s alright everybody
i’m still breathing
there’s nothing breeding in me
hey! you guys
don’t you hear me
I’m still breathing
something in the blood of lovers
has brought this war
to my attention
to my very front door
to my one & only bedroom
sullen pillow whispers
imploring an unwilling caution
for this angry end to innocence
‘so, we don’t meet again’
in the corner of my eye
wandering through the throng
of sights unseen
a man missed again by me
a stranger in your mist
a kiss is no longer a kiss
it’s an affront to our political awareness
it’s flirting with a virus
more virulent than love
a disease befuddled by language
so i’ll send you roses
yellow green black
olive drab camoflage
for our war of wait & see
our war of hide
a lift of the hand
a nod of the head
a thin smile of acknowledgement
i practice the arts
of indifferent recognition
so i can cast them upon
unobtainable flights of obsession
‘is this the wave of the future?
or just an unobservable mannerism
by this stranger in your mist
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Picture Perfect is moving along with 52 sections, about 78,800 words posted so far, with 111,000 approx to be edited, then posted. I generally try to keep the sections at about 1500 words.
I found another cache of old short stories & starts on others. They were in the file cabinet that I use to store Bushwack posters, photographs & articles I had cut from magazines. I haven’t really gone through these files in the 2000’s beyond searching out the posters I designed for my theatrical productions.
I remember writing some of these stories but in some cases have forgotten the contents. I also neglected to date many of them but there are clues that place them in decades, as opposed to actual years. Some are in dot-matrix printout – we stopped using that in late 80’s – early 90’s – which puts them back into the early 80’s Some are typed or carbon copies – which puts them back into the 70’s, 80’s. Lack of technology dates them – no cell phones, computers or even answer machines. I’ll be serializing them for including them with my music collection post – the music collection is essential an archive too, so it is a fitting pairing.
Stay-at-home covid19 lockdown has ‘forced’ me to start clearing out our basement. When you have a house stuff collects in the basement. Stuff that is now finding the light of garbage pickup 🙂 The shop vac is getting workout. Bye-bye cobwebs. It is so gratifying to see things carted away, sometimes taken by scavengers before garbage guys can pick up them. There’s enough to keep me bust for another couple weeks. The best way to spend a couple of morning hours indoors when the wind chill drops to -20C.
Earlier this week we took a day trip to Stratford. This is the first summer in decades I haven’t seen show there, & the first time since the 50’s my partner hasn’t seen a show there. Neither have never been there when they wasn’t a show running. Unlike out usual visits there we didn’t have to pack as much in the way of snacks & fluids 🙂
With most of the province inching into phase 3 I was curious to see just what that meant outside of the golden horseshoe. We left later than usual, no rush to get there for 2 pm curtain. The weather was perfect. The traffic was the usual with slowdowns outside of Kitchener. Our first stop was the Tim’s at the edge of Cambridge.
Masks on & in we went. No seating but washrooms were open, on request, one person at a time. Follow the arrows to the exit please. Staff masked & gloved. Coffee up to their standards. From there we took the New Dundee Road though New Dundee, Haysville & on to Shakespeare, This was the only major slowdown for highway work being done on the intersection there. 30 mins while road-plows plowed the road. It seems university guys aren’t doing construction this year to pay their tuition 😦
It was worth the wait for our next stop: the Pie Shop. There we bought chicken pot pies, lemon tarts & other nutritious snacks. On to Stratford for lunch at Features.
Yes Features was open for ‘take-out’ only. But they had patio tables set up & brought your order to your table. The town had more people than expected wandering in & out of the fudge stores. But the Festival theatres were all shut down even the gift shops. With so little tourist traffic the town opted not to do any gardening along sidewalks etc.
We did drive around to see the new Theatre. The rush for opening has allowed them to take their time with landscaping. The lots was fenced off so I didn’t get any real close up photos. People in paddle boats on the Avon was out matinee performance 🙂
Drive home was good. Road workers on lunch break as we passed through Shakespeare. One last stop at the Pork Shop for their excellent pulled pork. Home by 4:30. exhausted by all that sitting, taking photos & enjoying the scenery? Maybe we’ll hit Niagara-on-the-Lake for an August day trip. A big maybe because there isn’t even a favorite restaurant we miss there.
Many people I follow or am in contact with have beenbored into stressing about having nothing to do in their social isolation. These are the sort who post lists of Ten Stop-Motion Films that have changed their lives. One recently blogged a list of ‘last times’ they did certain things like eat in a restaurant, call a barista a stupid fucking idiot – those things we all miss so much.
To rub salt in that wound I haven’t had time to be bored 🙂 Blogging, editing, yard work, house cleaning, purging & zooming around have kept me busy. Covid has saved me money – do I really want to line up for a cup of watery coffee? Are those bonus optimum points for bagels worth the effort of gloves & masks?
I found some who took social isolation too far by not leaving their homes, apartments for weeks on end. I told one ‘friend’ I go for walks nearly every morning& they were shocked. They didn’t see the difference between locked down & locked in. Though having a house with two floors & a reasonable sized front & back yard does give me more space for social isolation. I don’t have the experience of being cooped up in a bachelorette for days on end.
It has been inevitable, but sad, to see many businesses along the Danforth closing down with ‘for lease’ signs in their windows. Even with government assistance most didn’t have deep enough pockets to deal with a lockdown this long. Some that are reopening, or who have reopened, have limited hours/days they are open.
The Danforth itself is about to under go a ‘transformation’ from Broadview to Dawes Road that is to see a reduction in car lanes, an increase in patio space & bike lanes. I hope the bike lanes are wide enough to keep cyclists off the sidewalks where we pedestrians are such a nuisance to them. There’ll also be prettification to encourage people out of their homes & spend spend spend. There’s nothing like the smell of spilt wine & vomit from the night before on a hot summer morning.
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Actually it’s probably 105 days of ‘lockdown’ which has loosened somewhat this past week even here in Toronto. I can tell by the amount of traffic on the streets both vehicular & pedestrian. The shift to more masking has seen an uptick, as is masks litter. Though I haven’t seen much ‘corporate’ branded masking. No McMask Meals yet. But I predict they’ll take the place of baseball caps & t-shirts as give-away promotional items. What would you prefer another notepad or a mask?
No covid immunity breakthroughs, not that I expected one this soon. We’re learning how to keep it from killing people but that’s small consolation. One way to boost the immune system is to stop reading/listening to all the contradictory news. It is clear that travel for pleasure will be restricted to the wealthy, if it happens at all. No DC visits in my future 😦
The US has decided the economy is more important than health – well, that’s always been the case – profits trump everything. Maybe there’s more money to be made in ventilators or letting people die, than in keeping them safe. As they say follow the money – if there was no profit in poverty there’d be no poverty. Treatment is more profitable than cure. What are funeral costs like these days?
In my walks around the neighbourhood I see more dusty stuff at the curb. The result of social isolation covid cleaning frenzies. By stuff I mean old dressers, old upright pianos – big items clearly dragged up out of basements or down from attics. Many of which I’m sure are gone before garbage pick up. I know stuff I’ve ‘curbed’ has been gone within hours. Thanks to covid my house weighs at least 1000 pounds less.
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