Sunday, November 25, 2012

3000 metres in the fast lane.

Consecutively. And I had more in me, but water polo players were leaping in, the ropes were pulled.

This is my pool. Peter Hemingway. An architectural delight and just a 12 minute drive from home.

I have never swam this far in one session. It becomes like flying, that sensation of having no responsibilities. Long distance swimming is so much easier than so many other things, and far easier than thinking \ feeling.

Last night I needed distraction, and found it in back-to-back movies: one a quiet little Canadian film, "Take this Waltz,"written and directed by Sarah Polley; the other "The Iron Lady," starring Meryl Streep.

The Polley film was brilliant. I could watch this 6 times, 10 times, and never grow weary of it, mostly because of the steamy -- and highly credible -- chemistry between Michelle Williams (bravo) and Luke Kirby, but also because Polley isn't afraid to make characters speak and act like real people do -- often most unusually -- and Michelle Williams was a perfect fit for the lead, Margo. There are laugh outloud moments in this film (ie: when Margo's laughing so hard during a ridiculous water exercise class, she pees in the pool ... the water turns colour, the flamboyant fitness instructor squeals that the pool's been fouled, orders everyone out, and the man (a neighbour who drives a tourist rickshaw in Toronto) who is obsessed with her sees the whole thing. There are sexy moments (easily relatable to moments in one's own life, when one wants so badly to kiss or touch someone, the feeling is mutual, and both parties resist and resist and resist ...). The music was superb, and fine attention was played to colour (ie: segues from turquoise to turquoise.) I appreciated the lead character's quirky wardrobe: was a fine example of thrift store fashions. The last quarter of the film became a bit too self-conscious and fast-tracked (and the menage a trois x 2 were silly), but all in all, I highly recommend this one.

"The Iron Lady," on the other hand, was pure shite. From the ridiculous caked on make-up to the inane script and "framing" of the story through Margaret Thatcher's delusional conversations with her dead husband. We finally had to turn this one off.

Go Canada! Hollywood, for shame.

I am planning a European vacation for 2013. As it stands now, we may be doing a house and car swap with a couple in the Alsace region of France, very near the Swiss city of Basel, and also ideally near the German border. This will be our base for exploring France, Germany, etc. I am hardly excited. ;)

Finally, huge congratulations to my daughter, Taylor Leedahl, on the launch of her new poetry book, Hybrid Hibiscus, with Jackpine Press. Taylor launched in Saskatoon over the weekend, and a friend (who knows how paralyzing it was for me to miss it) told me she was utterly phenomenal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White as new snow, clinging.

Everything should be white today.

One wakes at times, or simply rises off the floor after nights of not sleeping, and the best she can do is to rinse the dishes, stuff towels into the washing machine.

Outside, "new snow, clinging."*

One wakes thinking: Something good must happen today. Last night, unexpected flowers at the door. Our tenants and friends, Doug and Angela, brought a Christmas bouquet.

I needed that. It was my something good.

Or one makes her own good thing. Borscht, the last of it, from the Saskatchewan beets. Who knows how long it's been in the fridge, waiting for Right now?
Borscht in close-up resembles an image from "The Walking Dead."
See how easy it is to waste one's day?
Last night I slept beneath my desk, with a comforter bunched around me and the hot air register, in the old way.
I watched travel DVDs that made me want to go to Munich, and Baden Baden.
Last night I wanted to be a girl again, with a bowl of Alpha-bits and nothing ahead of me but the decision of which friend I'd intvite for a sleepover on the weekend.
I thought about buying a new dress for the company Christmas party, but even thinking about it took too much energy. 
Last night I felt bad about all the charitable organizations that send me address labels and Christmas cards I never pay for.   
I thought about compassion.
About those I will never see again.
About protecting myself.  
Today is white and furnace sounds.
How to surround onself in light.

*"new snow, clinging" ... the title of a photograph by Edmonton poet\essasyist\photographer Shawna LeMay.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Foothills \ Breathing room.

I am spending time in the Foothills, at the home of my brother, Kirby, and his wife, Laurel. That word, foothills, one of the cooler compound words, mais non?

Mid-November. With several events and responsibilities behind me, I am feeling, finally, free; it's a splendid way to ring out 2012. With freedom comes time, and time is what I require -- coupled with space -- in order to feel creative. When busy, I experience life mostly in close-ups and jump-shots. Now it's time for long and establishing shots. Slow fades, in and out.   

Today it is -20 C. A bracing day, but the sky is quintessentially blue. So let's go for a walk, then. Right out of suburbia into the countryside. West, toward the mountains.

High River is Wrangler jeans and cowboy hat country. We're talking belt buckles, folks. I appreciate the community's big town feel, its proximity to both Calgary and the Rockies. It's become a kind of home away from home for me over the last ten or twelve years.

So I bundle in layers (double socks, scarves, pants, mittens) and walk, and it takes a goodly while, but eventually I become aware. Winter birds. How the cold magnifies the already-loud roar of rugged trucks, with gun racks. (Fortunately there are not many on this road, straight as a knife, toward the mountains.)

I smell the cold, pipe smoke, cows, and -- oddly -- marijuana. Must be a trick of the cold, in the same way that I also momentarily step through Venezuela's blossomy air. 

I pass large, block-like prints that could me moose-made, the tiny "bicycle treads" left by birds, mice. Bales stacked in a way I've never seen before: hay wall, straw backstop.

There are horses with so much space around them they might believe they are truly wild.

I only feel the cold when I take off my mittens to snap photos. One cannot underestimate the value of a good pair of mittens. Take these ones, for example:

A gift from my mom to my sister-in-law. Beautiful and oh-so-warm. I borrow many things. Laurel's long, hooded coat; a scarf my daughter knitted for her.
And I play with my shadow.


I consider the myriad textures of snow.
As my smart phone camera and I are new to each other, we sometimes make mistakes. I think I am taking photos when really I'm making mini-videos.
I believe I'm taking a landscape photo and find the camera's screen's flipped and, whoa, I'm accidently there again, sun on my shoulder, a frosty mane.
When it feels right, I turn away from the mountains and double back. Everything is new in the other direction.
I think so often of where we live, and how. What are the lives -- the concerns, the pleasures, the day-to-day -- like inside the farm behind these trees...
compared to the lives of those who dwell in the side-by-side houses ...
... around the man-made lakes it would be so easy to mock, but how can one fault a lake -- any lake -- even if it began as a blueprint?
I smile at a sign that warns that parents can't be dropped off.

And think about how I attempt to make art in my life, rather than making my life art. As they say, it's not the destination. Here's to the journey, and eyes wide open.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Edmonton Book Launch for Listen, Honey

Listen, Honey!

Arts on the Avenue & DC Books

invite you to the launch

of Shelley A. Leedahl’s

new collection of stories:

Listen, Honey

(DC Books, Montreal, 2012)

ISBN 978-1-897190-79-1


The prolific
multi-genre Shelley A. Leedahl has boomeranged
back to Edmonton (from BC & SK). She’s celebrating her return to Alberta Avenue
the release of her 10th title
hope's you'll come out to meet some of the fictional folks in her "entertaining, thoughtful, & downright sexy book."


The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse

9351 - 118th Avenue (loads of parking)


Monday, November 5th, 2012

7:00 PM

How much:
The event (reading and music) is free; Listen, Honey is $18.95; & The

Carrot’s specialty drinks & treats will be available.

Reviewers say: "The voices in Leedahl’s stories are immediate and compelling ... her roots as a poet are evident ... characters are both blessed and possessed with their own brand of neuroses ..." (Books in Canada)

"Shelley A. Leedahl’s characters seem like cousins of friends of friends; the weird and heartbreaking stories that get traded late at night ... pretend the stories happened to a friend of a friend—you’ll be the hit of your next dinner party." (Front and Centre)

See you at The Carrot
on Monday, November 5
7:00 PM!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Kind of Music (Something for my Nov. 5th book launch)

Well, here I go again. Another book launch, this time an Edmonton event for Listen, Honey. And once again I'm going to have the audacity to present more than my published work on stage ... I'll be dragging the guitar up there, too.

Here's a link to the intro of the story "Listen, Honey," one of the 12 stories in the book.

Launch info will follow soon.

Night, night.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Comedy of Chairs (with black eye).

It is relatively easy to get a black eye while buying chairs.

The simple fact of the matter is that we needed to buy two dining room chairs. I have been keeping an eye out for some time, cruising the likes of Bombay, The Bay, Sears, Home Depot, Restoration Hardware, Winners, Home Outfitters, Pier 1, etc, but the second simple fact is that Zellers stores are closing, so I knew I could get the same style of chairs I have seen almost everywhere else at a good price.

[Greg: You get what you pay for.]

[Shelley: Not always so. Look at the dishwashing detergent. Based on home trials, we've learned that the yellow-boxed NoName Freshwater Dishwaster Detergent beats the shine out of any of the expensive brands we've tried.]

So off to Zellers, in the Kingsway Mall. Yep. There they were, at 70% off. Not leather, but something almost like it, in chocolate and red (but only one red left). And some pseudo-sueded styles, too, with broader backs. A bit of flair. We purchased five chairs, and had two young Zellers employees help us out with them.

Greg was at the side door with the Subaru, ready to load. Before we got the first one -- the single red chair -- in the car, he noticed that the was super wobbly. I about-faced to Customer Service, and got my approximately $23 back. 

Outside, Greg was struggling with getting the four chairs into the car.

[Shelley: You've got to put the seats down, like this ...]

I bent to demonstrate and at that very point I cracked my head on the car door. I collected myself in the front seat while the stars exploded in and around my right eye.

We drove home.

We were carrying the remaining four chairs into the house, when hundreds of tiny white beads began spilling out of the bottom of one of the fancy-backed chairs. On inspection, the bottom fabric was merely Velcroed in place, with huge gaps between each piece of Velcro.

I started sweeping. The beads travelled far and wide.

Greg couldn't get the Zellers stickers off the chair legs. They remain there still.

And then he sat down at the table on one of the new purchases. Let's just say we're going to be a lot closer to our food from now on.

And I'll be sweeping up beads until Christmas.

Chairs aside, Zellers, you will be missed. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When the Trees are Like Torches ....

I want to change my name to September.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Several things.

I am back in the city, finally all-of-a-piece:
and it feels much better than expected. Urban energy. And a city this size changes rather a lot within a year, so there is newness. Glad to have this fresh perspective. And apples on the tree.

I recently attended the Kaleido Festival on 118th Avenue in my neighbourhood, and the weekend of diverse and non-stop music, dance, art, and spectactle -- ie: zombies and stilt walkers -- made me extremely proud to be a part of this particular community. Read in the paper that 42,000 people attended. Holy.  

While driving home from work (at the radio station) yesterday, it donned on me: life is sweet right now:

*I enjoy my home and work

*I will soon announce an Edmonton launch date \ venue for Listen, Honey

*Red Deer Press has reconfirmed that they are bringing out my next book (an illustrated children's book titled The Moon Watched It All)

*I'm reconnecting with friends and the larger writing community here 

*The Commonwealth Fitness Centre has opened near us. Love it. Thus far I've attended a Zumba class (about 80 people there ... I was five rows back so had a little trouble seeing the leader and thus sometimes botched the choreography, but was impressed by how much I sweat!), and an Abs class ... four days later my abs are still killing me

*the Lasik surgery was a success

*Visited my brother and his wife in High River last weekend (R.I.P. dear Gunner, their 10-year-old white Shepherd I sometimes cared for when they were travelling.)

Kirby and Laurel in 2007
Gunner and Laurel at Greig Lake
Gunner and Jackson enjoy the dock at Greig Lake

*Greg is happy in his new position at McNally Composite High School

 *We have enjoyed two picnics (the goal is five before the snow flies): one at Hawrelak Park, and one in Red Deer, where we watched Greg's son Eric compete in a cross-country run with his fellow runners from Medicine Hat High.

Shelley in Red Deer, with omnipresent reading glasses in pocket

Eric (all grown up now!) races in Red Deer

Greg at the race in a T-shirt from his alma mater
Also special was my visit with one of my dearest friends (and first serious boyfriend) Robbie Hayashi. We dated for nearly five years, beginning when I was fourteen.  

Rob in Red Deer

 *Greg and I are on the waiting list for an adult continuing education class that sounds like the epitome of fun:
"Co-ed Healthy Active Living Evenings:
If you love trying new things, meeting new people and have an adventurous spirit, here is your chance to try a new and unique sport or activity each week. Past activities include paddleboarding, indoor rock climbing, snowshoeing, speed skating, hula hooping, lacrosse, boxing and more. The most exciting part is that you don't know which activity you are participatinig in until you arrive each Wednesday night! Every activity is geared to the complete beginner, no experience is necessary and you do not have to have the fitness level of an athlete to participate. The co-ordinator will let you know in advance how to dress and what to bring, but everything else is a surprise. Men and women welcome!"

Fingers crossed we get in. This starts next week!
* We have won meat (pork schnitzel!) at the Norwood Legion (the REAL reason Greg is so happy about being back in Edmonton ;) )
* I have been playing guitar and singing with Anna again, and last night had four of my favourite Edmonton writer friends over for wine and song
Bottom from left: Kath, Astrid, Anna
Top from left: Rita (celebrating a profound book sale in Brazil) and Shelley 
*I have finally gone over to the dark side and joined the 21st century: I bought a Samsung Galaxy 3. Even after one Telus training session, it completely baffles me. Trying to learn this technology (at this age) is like being dropped in the middle of Belarus and being expected to immediately speak and comprehend the language. Oy!
*And last and probably least: NEW BOOTS!
I'll be taking these babies with me to Europe next summer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Eyes Have It.

I have been sporting glasses and \ or contacts since I was 10 \ 15.

Age 13, Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan

With my many siblings in Wilkie, Saskatchewan. I am on the couch, far left, age 10.
I am adept at popping contact lenses into my mouth for lubrication; changing them on wind-blown beaches; removing or inserting them whilst driving; combing them out of shag carpets; releasing tub water and picking my contacts out of drains; and spying them when they fall during insertion and stick to cupboard doors, or socks.

I had been thinking about having Lasik eye surgery for a good decade. This summer I determined that when I returned to Edmonton I would look into it. Well, I'm a doer, not a talker ... I've been back in the city just a few days and I've already had the surgery.

Good-bye terribly expensive glasses. Farewell Opti-Free Express contact lens solution I've been hauling around like other people pack water. So long contact lenses which were no longer that comfortable, anyway (maybe because I didn't believe in wearing them for just the single "month" one is supposed to?).


-You can have a Lasik consultation one day, and surgery the next.

-It was far more expensive than I expected. Triple what I expected.

-The coffee maker at the clinic was "down" the day of my surgery. Damn. I had so been looking forward to my $3400.00 cup of coffee

-It is briefly uncomfortable, but I experienced no pain during or after surgery.

-The combination of two Tylenols and Xanax make for a lovely, 2-hour, post-surgery nap.

-One can get used to eye drops. Lots and lots of eye drops.

-The funky sunglasses you must wear (even to bed for the first two tnights) are not half bad. I would wear them anywhere.

-I see well out of my right eye, the left eye is coming. I have a 20\20 "committment" from MD Lasik.  

-I will still need reading glasses.
My surgery was Friday. I listened to many CBC Radio "Writers and Company" episodes while recuperating. Yesterday (Sunday), I was able to watch television. How apropos that the movie I tuned into was "Blindness," based on one of my favourite books (of the same name, by Jose Saramago). It happens to star my favourite young-ish actor, Mark Ruffalo.  

More facts (including the extremely trivial):

-I have not had the euphoric "I can see without glasses!" moment.

-I cannot run yet, nor swim.

-Immediately after surgery (while waiting for Greg to pick me up), I ate a bag of Miss Vickies Salt and Vinegar chips, as a reward.

-I bought new earrings and had bangs cut, just because.

Am I happy I've done this? Mais oui! Now, if only someone would buy my "Fantastic place at the Lake!" (see previous post) ...

Sunday, September 2, 2012


You tend a garden. You create a home. It is serene.


You live there a time. You make friends with the birds and neighbours.

You listen to coyotes. You run along the lake.

You swim. It is all lovely. You pick berries and provide

for yourself from your own garden, your own fruit tree. You lose yourself in the woods, and it is good.
People smile at you. They stop to talk to you. They take time. You take time. You write, and paint, and make videos. You rock in a chair in the second floor reading nook, and slowly sip a glass of wine. You are your truest self in your hammock, admiring the wash of colour that is the garden in full bloom, then an eagle flies overhead. Or a storm gallops in.
Or a hummingbird savours a delpinium. Or you get up at 2:00 a.m. or 4:15 a.m. just to stand outside and marvel at the everywhere stars.
Sometimes you lend this place out. Sometimes you must be away for a long time. Life gets complicated. Then more complicated.
You hope someone will love it as much as have.