Wednesday, 27 November 2013

First snowstorm 2013

I love to go a wandering,
Along the park's white paths,
And as I go, I love to drink,
The beer from my knapsack.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Nigel & Madge

Every Saturday morning, Nigel and Madge walked the five minutes from their house to The Cup & Saucer for breakfast. Nigel always took his eggs poached with rye toast, baked beans, and a small glass of tomato juice, onto which he sprinkled black pepper and stirred with his fork. He took his coffee black with one sugar. Madge drank tea and moved around the menu. Waffles one week. An omelet the next. A fruit plate here, a pancake there. She teased Nigel, calling him a "breakfast snob." She thought he should be more adventurous and try new things. All he would ever say to that was, "I like the way they poach the eggs here."

Nigel and Madge had been married for 22 years. They'd started dating in high school when Nigel had romanced Madge with Twix candy bars, games of gin rummy, and Brut 33 cologne.

Neither of them had much money, so most afternoons Nigel and Madge could be found at Nigel's house, playing gin rummy and eating Twix candy bars. Nigel's mother bought them by the box. Madge would bite off a piece, separate the cookie from the layer of caramel and chocolate with her teeth and tongue,  slide the biscuit to one side of her mouth, chew and swallow it, then suck the caramel and chocolate for up to several minutes. She could make a single Twix cookie last an hour.

One Friday night in November, Nigel invited Madge to dinner, along with his friend, Eddie and Eddie's girlfriend, Marina. Nigel's mother and younger brother, Michael, had eaten earlier. Michael had then gone to a sleep over and Nigel's mother was meeting some friends and wouldn't be back till late.

On his mother's advice, Nigel had served a simple menu: salad, pasta and bread from the bakery where he worked. Ice cream for dessert. Nigel crumbled up pieces of Twix into it. The only thing was, Madge arrived but Eddie and Marina never showed.

Madge was never sure whether Nigel had actually invited Eddie and Marina at all, or if the ploy had been the necessary prelude to his "big move." He and Madge had been dating now for several months and although they'd gone at it pretty hot and heavy at times, they still hadn't gone the whole enchilada. They hadn't had much opportunity. At Nigel's house, his brother was always around, or there was always the chance that his mother would switch shifts with someone at work and suddenly arrive home at 4, instead of her usual 6. Madge had three younger siblings and a father who yelled almost constantly; the situation was far worse at her house.

They ate by candlelight in the dining room. She usually slurped up spaghetti at home, sucking in individual strands and sending tomato sauce spray everywhere, but that night, she carefully twisted the noodles onto her spoon. Nigel had bought two bottles of wine, cheap reds, which they downed like grape juice. They were both drunk by the time dinner was over.

They cleared the table together, then Nigel lit a fire and they sat together in the family room in the dark, watching the flames. Before long they were making out, first on the couch, then on the floor. Nigel was wearing cologne that night, Brut 33, Madge learned later, when she lay back in the sheets of Nigel's bed and spotted the green bottle on his dresser.  She snuggled into his armpit, poked her cold nose, like a dog, into his neck and breathed deeply. The smell of him mixed with the cologne stayed on her hands for hours.

This Saturday morning, Nigel and Madge, as they always did, walked the five-minute walk to The Cup & Saucer. On the way, Madge talked about what she felt like eating.

"I can't decide whether I'm in a waffle mood or a French toast mood."

"Have both."

"There's no option for that on the menu."

Nigel thought, That's never stopped you before.

At The Cup & Saucer Connie took Madge's order.

"Sure, hon, no problem. You want whipped cream and fruit with ‘em?"

"On the side, please." 

Nigel's right eyebrow flickered ever so slightly.

Connie turned to Nigel. "Poached with rye and beans."

She didn't wait for him to reply and was turning away from the table when Nigel said, "Actually..."

A stunned Connie left the table to get their coffee and tea and Nigel turned to face an even more stunned Madge.

"Sunny side up? With bacon?" 

Madge thought, Who is she?

An image of Norah flashed into Nigel's mind's. He made a mental note to pick up a bottle of Brut 33.

"Honey," he sighed, opening up the newspaper, "You're the one who's always telling me to be more adventurous."

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Cowbees ride the range

Bumblebees ride blooms
Bright yellow chaps of pollen
Cling to furry legs.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Wreck Beach

Miranda, her salt-encrusted bare white bottom gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight, hawked margaritas along the sands of Wreck Beach, while her friend, Giselle sat alone. She wore a long-sleeved white linen shirt, linen pants and a Panama hat. She longed for shade, but didn't want to venture beneath the trees at the base of the cliff where she would inevitably lose the delicious breeze coming from the Pacific.

"Aren't you hot?" a naked older man asked.

Giselle turned her head to see a flaccid, uncircumcised penis dangling a mere inch or two from the brim of her hat. Thank goodness for sunglasses, she thought, I don't know where to look.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Elvis v. Deano

The pigeons hum an Elvis tune in the rafters of the underpass. It echoes: Are you lonesome tonight? Yes, he says. They try another: Heartbreak hotel? No, he says. Stumped, they go for a third: Let me be your teddy bear? You're covered in parasites, he points out. Feathers ruffle, then settle. You're the devil in disguise? Bingo! The devil continues, off to suck a soul or two, and more feathers ruffle, then settle. Bingo wasn't an Elvis tune. The pigeons switch to Dean Martin.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Future of Raccoons

A CBC documentary about urban raccoons asks: "In an effort to outwit raccoons, are we pushing their brain development?" We keep constructing better garbage bins to keep them out, and they keep reverse engineering them. If evolution continues along its Darwinian path, will raccoons soon be stealing our identities and jacking our cars?

The Snot Conundrum

What do you do when you're on the bus and you sneeze and a great big wad of snot comes out and you don't have a hankie and you think that everyone on the bus must know that you're sitting there with a gigantic blob of greyish-yellow mucus in your hand and you don't know what to do with it so you ponder how you can surreptitiously wipe it off on your pant leg or the inside of your coat without anyone seeing?

Lament for the Groundhogs, or Poor Buggers

Copyright © 2004 by April King
You lived on crap land
By noisy roads
If that bugged you
It never showed.

Your kinfolk died on
A roadway of hell.
An SUV sounded
Your ma's death knell.

We drove you out
We gassed you too
Guess this is progress
But not for you.

It ain't right
It ain't fair
There ain't no hide
There ain't no hair

Of the groundhogs. Poor buggers.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sweet Caroline

It is a universal truth that no matter where you are in the world--whether on a crowded dance floor or alone in a padded room--if you sing the first two words of the chorus to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, no fewer than two dozen voices will holler back: Ba, ba, ba.

Seeing Red

Mike pedals his screaming yellow mountain bike down the hot black arterial.

A side street. A Passat, painted that ubiquitously boring grey of all cars today.  A driver fails to look left. Turns right.

Mike brakes hard, avoiding the rear door by a hair.  Adrenaline fills him. He sees red.

Driver continues, oblivious.

A pity, really. The 28-year old, whose last act in life was to touch up her frosted pink lipstick, had so much to live for.


Susan was the neighbourhood's old biddy and a fiercely protective birder. In the woods where she lurked, spying on birds, Susan flushed out teenagers caught smoking, drinking and carousing; she would upbraid berry pickers and ball players and the owners of unruly dogs. She was killed, while striding after a standard poodle and its owner, waving a bag of feces before her, when a sugar maple branch fell and conked her right on the head.

The Teapot

After a day of rain, it had taken well over an hour to get the fire going. Towels and bathing suits hung over canvass-backed chairs and the firewood laid out to dry. While my sister crouched in the bushes to pee, I tossed tea bags and boiling water into my teapot. I saw her scan the skies, stand and rush back to the campsite, pants undone, a wall of water pursuing her. She rushed frantically, to and fro, throwing towels and suits and chairs into the van. I stood beneath the tent awning, holding my teapot, watching it rain.

Bare Bears?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy,
Was he?

I had never heard of a bare bear until learning from a man on the bus about the hairless Chihuahua bear of Borneo. My fellow passenger told me that it has eyebrows, shivers continuously, has a fondness for designer handbags, and always looks "a bit shifty." The things you learn on public transit.

Obey the Butterfly

Vintage butterfly
Natural History
of British
James Duncan, 1840.
Jim hated butterflies. Whenever he saw one, he would curse it a blue streak then wait for a reply. No butterfly ever responded. One day, however, after a particularly withering tirade at a swallowtail, Jim asked his object of invective a question: "Why do you take my verbal abuse?" "I don't," said the evil butterfly, plunging its razor sharp proboscis into Jim's arm, instantly killing him. You can only push a butterfly so far.


Two skanks battled on Pamela's lawn one Wednesday afternoon in September. Vitriol gave way to hair pulling, which gave way to a spontaneously-choreographed, slow-motion collapse to the pavement. Bottle blonde and Koolaid® blue hair seeped through their knuckles and they lay face-to-face on the warm asphalt, neither loosening her grip. Pamela looked at her watch. Thirteen long minutes passed, then she turned the hose on them.


Frances had a Grow-Up Skipper doll when she was 10 and had no boobies. By raising and lowering one of the doll's arms, Skipper would grow taller by a few millimetres and two boobies would thrust from her chest. Frances would spend hours alone in her bedroom, frantically raising and lowering her arm. She still doesn't have much in the way of boobies, but she was her high school softball team's star pitcher.


We are all  a lot of things; a walking dollar sign should not be one of them. Sadly, our take-it-all world no longer views us as citizens or patients or customers. We are consumers: of government, of health care, of goods and services. We are not names or faces or voices. Yet even as we bemoan the ills of society, and say we understand—or even know—how to fix them, we blithely continue shopping.