Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Photography by Donation.


I have had a camera (and have been documenting my life) since I was ten years old, and now I don't. It's a strange experience, something akin to losing one of the less-important digits: you don't need it to live, but several times a day you wish you had it.

Sea water has irreparably damaged my camera. I have no fancy cellphone-cum-camera (though I'm getting close to crossing over to the dark side). Currently I am relying completely on friends and family to supply me with photographs. It's an interesting experience. My photos and documentation are "filtered" through their experience: what they find worthy of recording. When I ask to see their photos, and request that they send me a few, I am effectively filtering again.

All this results in far fewer photos. I've now travelled to the prairies twice without my own camera. I've had numerous readings, seen scores of old friends, and family. It's the strangest thing. We had our Sunshine Coast Farewell Party \ Greg's 50th birthday party on Saturday night: no camera.

It's almost become a test: how long can I exist without a camera? Will I become one of those eccentrics who stops taking photographs all together, and only reworks her existing photographs (via printing, Photoshop, etc.)?

The snapshots -- all taken in June by other people (except on rare occasion, when I asked to take a shot -- represent this month's experience through various other lenses.

My father singing and whistling with me at my presentation in Humboldt, SK.
Dad recently went blind, so it was extra special to have him accompany me.
We also performed together at the Seniors' Centre in his hometown, Watrous, SK.

Playing guitar at Greg's class's end-of-the-year picnic,
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park

Greg and his mother, Shirley Richardson,
in Gibsons. Shirley was visiting from Victoria, BC 

It was hard to spot but easy to laugh at this deer, standing proud as punch
and munching vegetables in a garden in Langdale.
If it were my own garden, I wouldn't have found it nearly so cute.

The night of our farewell party we hosted the bald eagle show again.
Greg's tempting them with salmon.
Some of the friends who attended our Farewell\Birthday Party on Saturday night.
We have a great firepit, facing the water.

This is my dearest friend, Flo.
She was en route to the ferry and then to Las Vegas,
for a mother-son vacation. We met (ironically)
when I was on a mother-son vacation in Bali.

Greg and I in Gibsons on Father's Day.

Greg with 50 candles blown out.
On his birthday he ran 10K and did 50 push-ups (his usual).
I'm very lucky to be his sidekick.  

Greg opening cards and gifts in the solarium at our rented house on Stalashen Drive.

And that, friends, is almost the end of the story of our time on the Sunshine Coast. The packing and cleaning have begun, the post office has been notified, and on June 26th our cars convoy back down the TransCanada toward the prairies.

As of July 1st, we are reachable at Box 205, Middle Lake, SK, S0K 2X0. We'll be there for the summer, and -- unless a small miracle happens within the next six days -- in September we'll be back at our Edmonton address.

Now I must run, literally. I've been on a running sabbatical since just before my prairie tour. Today I FINALLY won a gift certificate on the local radio station COAST 91.7 CKAY for a restaurant (Blackfish Pub, in Gibsons), and I'm going to run out there to get it. It's a great station; I'll have an ear cocked from Saskatchewan

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Garden Story, or The Way They Do Things in Saskatchewan

I am on a book tour in Saskatchewan, and family \ friend visits; gardening; performing with my father at the Seniors' Centre in Watrous; my great niece's 6th birthday party; and tenant business have also been on the calendar.

Big thank yous to my various hosts: Logan Leedahl, Helen and Jim Herr, Eileen Kaun, Donna Boehm, and Gerry Hill. And also to the librarians and event organizers responsible for bringing me here (including my friends Rose Ward in Humboldt, and Bernice Keller in Middle Lake). And the Writers Union of Canada, the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, and Vertigo Reading Series.

Especially deep bows to all the friends who are coming out to support me at my various events. Wow. I am being so pleasantly surprised.

I want to share a wee story about my experience in Middle Lake, the village where I still own a home. I hadn't been to my house there for two years, and the tenants have not been gardeners. Actually, the yard was such a wasteland, you couldn't walk from the front to the back gate for weeds. You couldn't even tell there was a sidewalk. As Greg and I may be there for 4-6 weeks this summer, I wanted to clear a small patch within the weeds and put in at least a hint of a garden.

I began thrashing away, filling my garage with bag after gigantic bag of weeds and branches and wild grass. Oh, and daisies. They'd gone utterly crazy, taking over almost everything. The raspberries have also run riot (but that's a good thing). My neighbour Eileen immediately came over and started working with me. Then Marie, from across the street. I couldn't believe it. Two senior woman, on hands and knees, working right along- side me.

Soon Grace -- who moved in on the other side of Eileen after I'd left Middle, and thus I don't even know her -- showed up and worked extremely hard for about three hours. And she has cancer! Among other backbreaking chores, she whippersnipped my grass.


A few hours later, my friend Shirley arrived: "I've got my trowel and my water bottle," she said, "where do I start?" Wow. "Well," I said, and gave her a big hug, "there used to be many lupines in that bed over there. Let's see what we can find." And we began, two women in the dirt, trowels in tandem, a scene reminscent of "Little House on the Prairie."

The next day I was in the garden as early as possible again (I was staying at Eileen's). I had hoped to clear a space for the tomato plants I'd been given the night before (after my reading in neighbouring Pilger). Again, Eileen worked side-by-side with me. Then my friend Elaine came over. She saw the amount of work to be done and said she was going home for her mulcher. Soon she was back, and we were getting an island of space cleared.

Eileen went to get her mail. She returned and said: "I saw Frank Punk at the post office ... he's coming over with his rototiller. I'm making lunch. Elaine, you'll be staying too."

Frank did indeed arrive. He has bad shoulders now, so I got the rototiller off the trailer and into the yard. We shared the job of rototilling. Frank brought me a bucket of seed potatoes: red and white. Wouldn't take a dime for anything.

Then Clifford arrived, to fix my lawnmower.

That island of rich soil was growing. I whipped over to the store and bought a variety of seeds. A thunderstorm was threatening. No time for ensuring string-straight rows. Eileen dropped potatoes in the holes I'd dug, and helped me plant the swiss chard, a few varieties of lettuce, beets (there will be borscht!),  cucumbers, spinach, and carrots. I cleaned up some of the perennial beds, and threw some annuals in pots.

My dad had lent me his old Nissan truck (my friends got a kick out of the fact that I was touring SK with my 9th book in that beater, oil stains on the seats) and I made three trips to the dump. Liz was working there. She charged me $7, total. The community also hugely supported me at my readings in the area.

And this, dear friends, is the way they do things in Saskatchewan.


MONDAY, JUNE 11TH ... 7:30 PM

The new venue is the Cathedral Village Freehouse - 2062 AlbertStreet.


 and one more reading after that ...

Saskatoon, McNally Robinson
Tuesday, June 12th ... 7:00 PM