Covid 101: McMask Meals

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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Birding Ontario

a pause of pigeons

 

a feeding of ducks & geese Stratford, Ontario

silver goose

ducks & swan Stratford, Ontario

a mist of pigeons

a waddle of geese Stratford, Ontario

unhappy in pink at Toronto zoo

a party of pigeons

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

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Nothing Doing

Get Off The Pot

there is a time & place

for everything

except this

because this a time for nothing

a time to do nothing

to save nothing

this isn’t that rainy day

this isn’t when

the cows come home

when the crows roost

so stop waiting

for those eggs to hatch

no matter what you have on your hands

this is not the time or place

to save stitches

to waste your breath

or make yet more excuses 

no more chances

there is no grace period 

it’s not now nor never

neither suits me fine

there is no better time

for doing nothing

Doing nothing is a difficult concept in a culture geared to productivity. Being idle is seen as a waste of time, or as being lazy. Time off time doesn’t really exist when one has laundry to do, a house to clean, a yard to rake, children to look after, pets to tend to, boxsets of hit TV shows to binge watch. When we are deprived of distractions we panic.

What do you do in your ‘spare time?’ Plan a vacation check flights & hotels so you can get away from your routine & do nothing? When you get there is a rush from museum to restaurant – hiking trails – or finding a quiet spot in a park & sitting there breathing 🙂 Doing nothing is hard work/

I have been trying to break some of my busy habits. One step was to stop carting my iPod around with me whenever I left the house. My life had a sound track that never seemed to stop. A sound track that became a buffer between me & what was actually around me. If I ran into friends while on my walk I would be miffed that I’d have to turn off my iPod to listen to them. Or think – don’t they see I’m busy listening.

I recently stopped reading when I take a pee – I didn’t want to piss away those previous moments when I could be reading a few pages of some vitally important book. Why not do one thing at time, right. Enjoy the flow of the moment 🙂

I am not yet at the point where I can do nothing though. The closest I get is on my walks but even those have extra layers: eyes opened for photos, mulling over blog posts, wondering what to cook for dinner on the weekend. I think one of the reasons for my routines is so I can think less. I essential know what I’m going to serve every day for dinner – variations on the same things. i.e. Monday is always rice with veggies, steamed cabbage & steamed salmon. Herbs & spices for the rice will change from week to week.

One of the Artist’s Way tasks was to listen to a side of an lp. To just listen to it without doing anything else. Sit there & do nothing but listen. Let the music be music not background, not inspiration, memory cue or even meditation. It was a challenge. Are you up to it?
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Fortress of Louisbourg Redux

Another set of photos from my Cape Breton Trip in August 2019.  

my summer look

the bloody shepherd in the Military Chapel

dog of the bloody shepherd

wound of the bloody shepherd

toy soldiers

social distancing

live chickens – not animatronics

cannon balls

Does anyone know the story behind the wounded shepherd?

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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

 

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https://capfireslam.org

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Authenticity 

There’s been a recent on-line conversation about ‘trauma for points’ at slam competitions. At a Hot Damn It’s A Queer Slam – a year or so ago one of the slammers did such an emotionally charged piece they re-experienced the trauma that was the basis for the piece & ran off stage & outside. The piece was so emotionally charged it was impossible to judge – was it well written? Who knows. If you didn’t score the piece high enough were you diminishing their experience. It was one of the reason I stopped judging at slams.

Between WWI & WWII poetry underwent a psychological change in which the narrative/pastoral lost out to confessional ‘do I dare walk with my pant legs rolled.’ From Eliot’s surrealism to Sexton’s ‘I hate you Daddy’ authenticity became paramount. Poets who weren’t revealing something emotionally vulnerable about themselves weren’t authentic.

Poetry that wasn’t ‘insightful’ was considered entertainment – almost as bad as being greeting card sentimental. If you didn’t have trauma you didn’t have authenticity. If you had a sense of humour, even a sense of emotional balance one wasn’t a serious poet. This ran/runs though much of the serious writing arena & is heightened in the slam scene. Anger isn’t as point worthy as rage – rape is authentic – romance is sentimental tripe.

On a recent episode of Project Runway the designers were tasked to make a garment that reflected their ethnic culture. The Latino made a dress that incorporated the names of children who had died in custody crossing the border. His explanation was emotional & resonant – the garment was not good though – so the judges had to do this dance between sentiment & practicality. 

Slam judges often are confronted with this same dance – often though they favour the emotional as opposed to the actual use of language. They want to be nice. I was happy to stop judging because I’m not interested in being nice.

Good Idea

it seemed like a good idea at the time

everyone was so gung-ho

until they realized

they would have to do something 

to make it happen

 

expecting me to do it all

was part of their plan

not mine

sure I thought their idea was great 

but I’m not a one man show

as much as I’d like to be

as much I as I know

I would be better person

for being willing to do it all by by myself

I’m not going to even try

 

when that become clear

their energy began to wane

it didn’t seem so wonderful after all

getting active

making things happen

isn’t such fun after all

why can’t someone else 

do all the work for us

while we sit back

& enjoy the results 

the rewards should be ours 

for the thinking

 

thanks to someone being 

consistant and eager

to take each demanding task 

and fulfilling them 

to our specification

yes that gives us energy

but faced with having

to do it ourselves 

we grow diffident 

disinterested

disenchanted 

while looking for the right person

to blame 

to save face

 

the next fast flash of inspiration

will have to require 

even less than thinking

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

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

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

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

July

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 capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

North Sydney, Cape Breton

 

pre motherboard keyboards

state of the art teletype

red glass

candle sconce

Cape Breton Condos Complex

Affordable Cape Breton Single Family Condo

Fort Petrie Directional Aid

distances estimated not exact

https://capfireslam.org

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

Rotary Park 

I have fond memories of Rotary Park  when growing up in Sydney. It was just far enough to make it a trek but not so far one couldn’t get there by bike. It was the city reservoir & locals would picnic out there & swim. Needless to say it has become more urban wild than woodsy wild – with actual gravel trails – we only had beaten paths in the olde days 🙂

Entrance – Greenlink refers to trails

spray pledged forever love

shale & aspen

Greenlink map – note no Tim Horton’s !

the lake/pond?

water over the dam

teens hanging out at the top of the dam

wild blueberries – yes I ate some –

we would come here as kids to fill buckets with them

more water over the dam

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Bye Bye 2019

Over the past year my TOpoet.ca following blog grew from 298 to 363! That’s 65 new followers without me going out of my way beyond blogging regularly. The only stat WP doesn’t give is where the followers are located but WP map does show my hits have come from 91 countries around the world. That India tops the list is interest but that Bangladesh & Kenya are in the top 10 is a surprise. Kazakhstan! Kuwait!

My Tumblr is at 255. I no longer post there as regularly after the ‘porn’ crack down that had my pictures of random toys, or lost shoes, red flagged as being possibly against community standards. I didn’t have the energy keep asking for a review of the flag. Twitter 217 followers. Yes – my account was un-suspended after my appeal. Seems my hashtags were inappropriate for some reason. #Whatever.

2019 has been a pretty good year for me. Health has been good. Finances have been stable. Finished the edit & blogging of Coal Dusters. I hate to bring it to an end as I really loved these characters – but their stories had been told. Response was good for the novel. There’ll probably be another revision if I get back to again. Next up is Picture Perfect.

The other highlight of the year was my visit to Cape Breton where I had a great time with my sister – she loves to drive – with some old friends & also just on my own. Revisited old schools, churches of my past, took lots of photos & lost weight!! I also took my favorite photo of 2019 while at Fort Petrie.

Saw great shows at the Stratford Festival (my fav Nathan The Wise) & disappointing show at the Shaw (Mae West’s Sex was given a frenetic but poorly performed production.) Already have some shows booked for the 2020 Stratford season.

The big event for 2020 will be the 10th Anniversary of Capturing Fire in Washington DC. I do hope to get there, if I can afford it & before the Trump implosion closes the borders to the unemployed sneaking in to steal jobs. paypal.me/TOpoet I’ll be booking my trip once the dates are confirmed. 

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January
Thursday 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

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

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

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Picture Perfect Coming Soon

Lining up the 78 sections into a Picture Perfect file to start the editing & stitching together of the sections. I have almost 190,000 words to deal with that written as part of Nanowrimo in 2014/15/16. My next step will be to look at each section & write up a brief summary of what is in it. 

I have my characters, their backstories, motivations & events fairly clear in my mind but will be discovering how much of that is on the actual page 🙂 Some portions had been lightly edited for blogging here as I was writing them but things changed by the time I got to the end of story arc in 2016 so changes are to be expected. I’ll resist making those changes until I’ve skimmed through all sections. 

I also wrote out of sequence so I’ll have make sure my timing is right. I also let myself follow tangents some of which will remain as they are seeds for my hero’s next adventures. I also stopped worrying about creating a publishable work, which allowed me to make some diversions that weren’t necessarily pushing the story line, nor were they seeds for future story lines. Something I learned from American Horror Story.

I’m not planning to blog chapter until 2020 – editing on the luge to the new year can’t be difficult but not impossible. Unlike Coal Dusters I imposed no restrictions on language or explicitness not am I doing chapter titles – I’m not even sure I’ll be doing chapters anyway. In City of Valleys I did it by seasons & days of the week, so that may happen with Picture Perfect as well.

Here’s the opening that sets up the main plot & two of the main characters –

“You’re not listening to me.” Sanjay took the remote from Dan and muted the TV.

“I was.” Dan grabbed the remote. “You said my sister had a good point.”

“But you are going to ignore her?” Sanjay tried to get the remote back before Dan could turn the sound back on.

“Some thing don’t change.” Dan  blocked Sanjay’s hand, looked him in the eyes and kissed him. “If I had listened to her, we would not be together. You know that that.”

“So you keep telling me.” Sanjay pushed Dan away from him, got up from the couch and stood in front of the TV.

“Sanj, If you want to distract me you’ll have to drop your drawers.”

“We’re talking a lot of money, Dan. A lot of money.”

“I’m not paying for you to drop them. Now, step away from the TV. I was watching something.”

“You’re always watching something when I want to talk to you. You’ve recorded this anyway, so you can go back to it.”

“You asked me to clear things off the recorder, remember. Now that I’m trying to, you want to talk me.” Dan hit pause. “You’re the reason I don’t think we need a cat.”

“What?”

“Cats ignore you till you are trying to do something and they are all over you.”

“You wish.”

“This is nearly over anyway. Ten minutes.” Dan unpaused. “Step aside?”

He pressed the back button to rewatch what he’d missed talking to Sanjay.

“What’s it about anyway?” Sanjay sat beside him.

“Missing kids on the east coast.”

“I should have known.”

“Yeah, everything is homework for … hey! That’s me!” Dan hit the pause button.

It was a photo of two boys on the front steps of a house. Arms over each other shoulders, grinning at the camera.

“You sure aren’t missing.” Sanjay said.

“Yeah yeah I know. It’s the other boy Timmy Dunlop. I guess.”

“Guess? I thought you were watching this.”

“You mean, trying to watch. My Dad took this picture. I remember it. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though.”

“Yeah, right. How many photographs have you seen?”

“Enough, but some you remember. I had a crush on Timmy. We played doctor a couple of times. When we moved I kept hoping to hear from him but nothing.”

“I guess you know why now.” Sanjay stretched. “I’m heading for bed. I leave you to your homework.”

Any reality show dealing with crime was considered Dan’s homework. He saw things in photographs that most didn’t see. His eyes had been trained to discover and recognized what might appear ordinary to the untrained eye.

He went back to the beginning of the program ‘Canada Cold,’ that looked at cold cases across Canada. He’d worked such cases with the RCMP and that had tweaked his interested in them. This episode was about a the disappearance of several children in the Maritimes in the mid-80’s. Dan had no recollection of it at all. His family had moved when he was eleven, the same summer of these disappearances.

As he watched he jotted down the names and locations of the children. None struck a chord with him expect Timmy’s. The place name were familiar, Stellerton, Digby, Wolfville in Nova Scotia; Small Town & Port Something in New Brunswick. His Dad had been an itinerant photographer, “Photos By James”, who travelled from school to school, taking class pictures and individual portraits. For the summer’s he would take the family with him, spending a day or two, or up to a week in various small towns. 

Dan pulled himself out his reflective daze, replayed the ending of the show again and wrote down the number one was to call if they had any information. He’d call once he had found those photos his Dad took of him and Timmy. Stellerton had been one of the longer stays and one of the last as he recalled. 

They’d been there long enough for him to renew his friendship with some of the boys he’d palled around with the previous summer. They left pretty quickly. He remembered being pretty pissed because the Happy Hippo Carnival had just set up and he wanted to so badly to go it. 

Moving to Toronto wasn’t as important to him then as seeing the side shows. Even his sister was somewhat disappointed because she was seeing some guy their mother didn’t approve of. He figured that was why they were really moving away and for years blamed her for ruining his childhood.

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