Thursday, November 19, 2009

A retreat. And What doesn't kill you.

Well, it ain't boring. (Life, that is.)

I completed all my readings (major whew), and visited a childhood friend, Lorene, in Lloydminster. It might have been a dozen years since I lost saw her; it was wonderful to reconnect ... we fell into conversation like we'd been apart for two days.

(Photo: A mini-drama presentation of
The Bone Talker, Big River, SK).

Then my friend Sean, Jackson et moi repaired to my parents' cabin at Greig Lake, in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park. We kept a wood-fire burning the entire time we were there, hauled wash water from the lake, wrote, read, and hiked more than I ever have in my life. The trails were extraordinary; I'd always been too bear-afraid to hike in the woods\forest in the the summer.

(Photo: Kimball Lake, SK, beautiful winter day).

At one point we came upon a hunting blind and an angry hunter stepped out: What are you doing? You're ruining my hunting!

Jaysus. You call sitting in a little hunt with a shotgun, ATV parked outside, hunting?

(We bought orange toques after that. They have deer appliqued front and centre.)

I spent part of every day with my new camera and tripod, shooting photos for the self-portrait project. The title of my series is "Understory," and anyone viewing the images would, I'm certain, consider them landscapes rather than self-portraits - often I'm scarcely visible amongst the leaves, trees, and grass, but that's the point. (I'll be writing an essay on this, so won't go into it further here and now. )

So, the days were rolling along just fine, and for all intents and purposes, it was a dandy retreat, with spectacular whether for November in Saskatchewan. One night we went into Meadow Lake to attend my sister's 50th birthday party. I knew I couldn't leave Jackson in the cabin, for he'd cry and howl as he's wont, and there are two families who live year-round across from my parents' place, so I brought him into town with us.

I couldn't bring Jackson in the house, as my sister has a dog that abhors other members of its species, and tying Jack-o up in the yard would have resulted in aforementioned crying and howling. So, I left him in my car, and had the dog gate up, as always.

Bad decision.

Long, sad story short: dog freaked out. Thrashed around so much he even got the dog gate down. $3085.00 in damages to my Subaru. He even chewed off the passenger seatbelt.

Far sadder still: I no longer have a dog.

And now the good news ...

I put the word out that I was looking for a new home for Jackson, and within a couple of hours, Harvey and Bev Demers at Greig Lake had found a lovely family who said they might be interested. The family came out to the lake, met Jackson (who was on strangely good behaviour), bonded, and took him home to their acreage. They have two children, and a 6 month old Lab retriever. And did I mention the acreage? (And it's NOT on the highway.) Their last name is Lajeunesse. I love saying it. Lajeunesse. Lajeunesse. It's so gloriously French. And Jackson won't even have to change his initials.

I'm making light of this, and lord knows my life is going to be easier now, but ay, how to live without a dog? I love dogs. I am 100% a dog person. I'm not even sure I know how to live without a dog making himself at home on my furniture, running with me, giving me hugs and kisses when I need them, eating the leftovers of every meal. Jack's been part of my life (some say he's controlled my life) for the last 5 years, and for 12 years before that it was Alex Trebek (the dog). I have complete freedom now ... so why doesn't it feel that great?

Another transition. Geez. Ground zero, otra vez.

So, I'm planning for ever more adventures in 2010, as now I don't have to deal with Jackson realities when I travel. Nepal is tempting. Cycling across Cuba maybe. Volunteering in Africa or South America. I just don't know. (Again, I'm quite overwhelmed.) Back to Europa? Apply for some US (or other) retreats? Connect with friends new and old?

First things first: from now until Christmas, I'm finishing up a few long-standing manuscripts and sending them out to prospective publishers. I've been dragging my ass on these projects for too long. Essays, poetry, short stories, and I'm revising my out-of-print novel, Tell Me Everything (Coteau Books, 2000), to resubmit to a new publisher.

Now more of the "show" part of this Show and Tell. A few photos from my project. (New camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ35.)

Finally, I'd like to alert all film fans who don't already know about to check it out.

Search the library by your favourite director, actors, genre, etc. I recently watched -- on my laptop, in the comfort of my own bedroom -- one of the best films I've scene for ages:

"Cloud Nine" or "Wolke Neun," as it's called in German, by director Andreas Dresen. Oh, my.