Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Drought

We counted every hour of every day that it did not rain. We had moved to Stage 3 Water Restrictions last Monday. I heard this Niveau Trois news on Radio-Canada French news, while in a ferry queue. Never in all the time I’ve lived here, have I been so acutely aware of the lack of rain, need for rain, and the drought, that was also accompanied by a mad volume of forest fires that torched our province and Saskatchewan during June and July. (More fires in June alone than the entire fire season of 2014)

So, not unlike Kennedy’s death for Americans, I know exactly where I was when this much desired rain started. I was here. 5 paces from this sea, indoors.

 

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And this what what I was doing when the rain fell.

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Muggy drought

We are in, not a weather episode or event, but perhaps have entered a whole new weather dimension. It’s a bit early to tell, but warmer sea temperatures in the Eastern Pacific are, apparently, from what I have read, creating it. We are living what I am calling Muggy Drought. In June we had 14 drops of rain and the temperature was and is hot. Hot by our standards.

For the first two weeks of the month, it was that reassuring azure blue sky that hints at itself each spring and firms her presence and stakes the overhead canopy for summer. For me, it’s an annual demarcation. There she is. That absolute azure. Welcome home! This is our weather. But this June, weeks later, with no sign of any typical moisture, you cannot help but marvel at this protracted azure, yet she’s not the absolute azure. Because the absolute azure takes the odd nap up there and allows for more intermission and mingle. I recall this from my time at the community garden, where your day would be measured by the need and pressure to water the seeds. A day with rain due would mean, phew, I don’t have to water this once.

I’ve been meaning to track this particular system, which has now become, in my mind, perhaps prematurely, a worrying way of weather life we may have to adjust to. It certainly does look that way this summer. The evenings have been quite lovely with very exciting cloud activity, perhaps to meander around staring up at.

Two days ago a detectable change. Humidity. Worse. Humidity is so uncomfortable. Humidity does not suit us. We are not and do not have air conditioning. Air conditioning is such a drain on electrical resources. We do have forest fires. Already fires are burning in Prince George. There have been 123 fires since April 1 in the Yukon. Last year throughout the entire year there were only 23. There are presently 80 fires burning.

While we have the privilege of pondering the possible implications or hints at what this new hot, humid, moisture-less weather may mean for us if it continues, Pakistan has been suffering the most oppressive and vicious heat wave that has taken the lives of 1200 people.  The descriptions of the temperatures are horrific, 43 degrees celsius.

The BBC report contained the following: “They say low air pressure, high humidity and an unusually absent wind played key roles in making the heat unbearable but they do not know why such conditions prevailed at this time of the year.”

You can read the whole report, which notes 2000-3000 deaths in India also, here

 

 

 

Feb weather-strange

Strange February. Strange Feb weather. East they have been sunk by snow piles while West, here we are, today anyway, sunny while leaning towards gloves. It has been worryingly mild. Today il fait du soleil.  There have been plentiful and visible stars and a visit from Mars and Venus last Friday evening.

Two women with binoculars strapped to their eyes alerted me to the crescent moon with Mars and Venus on a visible day release. I’m grateful to them. It was bleary though my bi-focals, but Venus seemed pyramid shaped. The two women naturally insisted when complimented “We are only out here because we saw it on the news” but I fear they were too modest given they had binoculars and were easily able to identify the planets.

Sometimes your unknown neighbours can be so very favourable.

The Polar Invasion

This weather event, henceforth localized to the “the blood will drain out of your feet” weather event has been termed the Polar Invasion in the US. (the successor to last year’s Polar Vortex)

Colorado perished last night and the Texas Panhandle recorded a temperature of -10.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean there was localized flooding in Ireland with the yellow alert being raised to an Orange alert.

Here we have -2 for an overnight low, dipping to -5 in the mysterious titled sheltered areas. (Definition forthcoming)

Here’s the full forecast. I am too timid to click on Edmonton, so click amongst yourself if your fingers aren’t already frozen.

10cm event

I’m late to the weather station to disclose the 10 cm snow event. This was the second snowfall of the season to my memory. The first snow event was the icing sugar event. This weather event will forever be memorable because it blew the fuse on my windscreen wipers. Remarkably that is the second time this month I have blown my window wiper fuse. This has been a perplexing year for window wipers in my guard.

The arrival of this snow (now turned to rain) event was carefully observed by my team of weather watching compadres. Each of whom has a district, not unlike the electoral districts in the city. Each watcher reports on sightings and the start of the event, which we collectively anticipate. It’s much FUN. As the main weather-wonderer who calls all the weather-watchers to their stations (ie your flat window) I took to the streets to do a reconnaissance since none of us could determine whether the snow had started or not. I decided to go jogging and find out. Thus I witnessed the very start of it. A suspicious rain start which became small grains of snow by the time I realized my wind-pipe was appalled at what I was asking of it, at this late hour of night, in such freezing temperatures.

I woke at 5am as I usually do if there’s weather action and convened with the thick and settled snow. The snow shovels began at around 5.30 or nearer to 6am. The birds were on strike.

The forecast was for the snow to turn to rain around 10am, but it hung on for much longer. I had an Ernest Shackleton expedition to the off licence on foot and on bus to two friends who were jointly birthday-ing. Half way there I contemplated abandoning the mission except I had bought Prossecco and was certain I’d land on my arse if I attempted to turn back and climb the hill home. Better to arrive at destination with bottle intact, than retreat and offer the best Italian to the pavement. The house I visited had an under-stairs cupboard, which I appreciated. Since living in an apartment one isn’t privy to such. Technically I have a coat closet, but there’s something that doesn’t quite feel stooped and under-the-stairs enough about it.

Obviously our snow event is a minor freckle compared to what I saw in Ottawa recently; Likewise we could learn from their snow ploughs, orange tractors and salting trucks. However each weather event is worthy of a nod or notice. You do not need to be the tallest woman in the world to have good feet. The mystery of whether the snow had begun amongst our weather watchers was entertainment up there and beyond Netflix.

In this regard, I think we have the best vantage point for snow in this country. Its arrival provokes curiosity and it buggers off before we are mentally buried by it.

 

Icing sugar weather event

We are coming to the close of the icing sugar weather event, where snow dusted us. This follows our freeze your phalanges off 5 day retreat. It was very mild mannered snow. The temperature is due to rise from tomorrow onwards. Thus our arctic pause may be over.

It’s never over in Antarctica, where following our lead in some sort of reverb/feedback ping of arctic inflow from us, they recorded the lowest temperature ever -93.2 C yesterday.

Despite this news I still want to be reincarnated as a penguin (if anyone is filling out the order forms there in reincarnation headquarters.)

You can never say enough about the weather …

140 miles pr hr winds hit England and Ireland this week. East Anglia saw a sea-surge that tipped houses into the sea (or should that be dragged houses into the sea?). The images are astonishing. This story on the BBC also caught my ear: a lifeboat station in Norfolk was pulled into the sea in the surge. Lifeboats being precisely that which rescues people from the sea, being thus swallowed up by the sea prior to any rescuing is very strange and leaves one with the question: what remains?

Click here to read

I remain perplexed as to why the weather is not THE story each and every day. Increasingly, this season there are more and more of these storms. India, The Philippines, Cuba, England, Scotland & more.

 

Mushroom lines

After the rains of Saturday and the rains of Sunday, we have a testament to the mega-mm that fell. Today I glanced at the grass beside the pavement and thought I saw smashed up apple. A closer peek it was a line of mushrooms, a regiment of mushies popped up out of the trampoline damp. I must now take my eyes hence and try, at a less inconvenient hour, to understand more about the spontaneous cultivation of mushrooms. They are everywhere out there on the grass.

Part 2: Footstep storm

Subsequent to the Horse Hoof Weather Event yesterday I was forced to declare the promised wind speeds a bust. We declared them a bust at 8.04pm. There were closer to 33 km/h than 90 km/h and we were not ungrateful for that. In anticipation of the big 9-0 I took my hoofs down to the community garden and chopped down all the forest-high fennel that would not have survived one gust at that speed. Alfie Cyril and his brother Darwin (cochons d’Inde/guinea pigs/cavy creatures) upstairs think it’s Christmas since they received an enormous amount of fennel for supper.  The garden was flooded and this was before the latter part of the storm.

Today a second system is scheduled to arrive with 100km/h winds. We can estimate they’ll be closer to 35 km/h based on yesterday. However this is the trouble with us, we then get battered by unsuspecting storm as we did back in 2006. I have revised this weather event to a more appropriate name than Horse Hoof, she’s now Footstep Weather Event. Will she, won’t she? The hesitant boxer?

Yesterday was a wonderful collective effort on the weather watching front, we had reports from Victoria and Nanaimo that gave us wind of what was on the way. I think the federal government should pop me in an out of commission lighthouse and I’ll podcast poetic interpretations on the weather to the nation. I would though want a postal service, which may not suit them.

What’s your weather doing?

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I have several reviews from the UK of Malarky to catch up on.  Am behind. But ahead of the storm! And the country always relies on its novelists and poets in the matter of weather. We have your back. (and ears)

Breaking news: Horse Hoof storm happening

We are having our first megawatty storm of the season. I have christened her the Horse Hoof weather event and have my provincial weather watchers reporting in on Facebook. (Our lovely Victoria-based friend Anu is ahead of us in the storm, so she tells us what is on the way) Horse Hoof just landed the most extraordinary rain: gutters filled and gutters spilled like I’ve never seen them. The sound was most percussive and final 100 yard furlong-esque.

At 6am she, Horse Hoof, was proffering only splashy asphalt rain and the very very odd single gust of wind.

Winds of 90 kph are promised this afternoon and evening. I will keep watching.

You can never say enough about the weather, says I. Happy Saturday to you all.

Add your weather reports in the comments sections.

Welcome Irish & British readers

A big hearty welcome to British and Irish readers. I am delighted Malarky is now published in the UK and Ireland. (and Aus, NZ, S Africa, India & all commonwealth countries). I very much hope you find my novel engaging and thank you most sincerely for reading it.

There was a lovely review in Saturday’s Irish Independent and a nice shout out from Colum McCann in today’s Sunday Independent, Colum  chose Malarky as one of his summer recommendations. Thank you to Colum, a writer I have long admired and respected.

This week I am in Dublin doing interviews about Malarky. I’ll be on TV3 The Morning Show on Wednesday.  I am enjoying being home. The big story is my sister’s greyhound Sally. I send special love out to greyhound owners, rescue services, since this dog is exceptional. Affectionate and both snoozy and sweet. (Not quite what I envisaged from a greyhound). Today we walked along the canal with her. I am not so much of a dog person, but Sally has converted me to these wonderful creatures. I may have to revise my ambition to be reincarnated as a penguin.

There was patchy drizzle this morning in Dublin, which by night gave way to a stronger downpour. Gardens are looking terrific from the recent hot spell. And it’s good to have access to Cadbury’s Turkish Delight and more importantly lively exchange and great friends.

Next week I will be in London talking to the media about Malarky. If you wish to interview me please do contact either me (mrsokana@gmail.com) or my publicist Henry Jeffreys at Oneworld in London. Or Cormac Kinsella my publicist in Dublin.

More weather reports to follow.

Best to all for now, AK.

Footless and sunny

We have had two consecutive days of sunshine & I’ve had two consecutive days of operating on one foot temporarily. I’m growing accustomed to both.

I failed to report the generous digging of my community garden patch by Helen & Earl. Collectively we have 182 + years between us. It took approx 117 of those years to finally remove that other pesky half of the granny geranium plant. It takes a village to dig out a stubborn geranium. Happy June to you all.

Weather score

There is a most tuneful wind happening outside at this hour that is interspersed with a tinkling of light rain against the window. Sometimes the weather is so melodious despite its dour visuals. Today overcast beyond overcast after yesterday’s beloved bright blue.

I had a major gardening expedition yesterday with the prompting and assistance of G — another gardener at our community garden. G suggested we cut back my nuclear granny of a geranium and transplant her to the borders of our larger garden. Granny Geranium is a massive bird of a plant. She’s the size of a peacock with its feathers spanning out.

After at least 25 minutes of serious navvy activity with a fork and a spade each we finally managed to remove about a half of said granny geranium. Then we carried her to the border. I can attest she was the weight of a man. I remarked to G it was like hauling a dead body, although I have no experience of such to be clear.

What was stunning was her roots had gone so far down, which G pointed out is precisely what the plant is meant to do. She is doing exactly what she should, she kept warmly observing. I left with mud in my eye, muddy arms and fantastically muddy legs. It was exhilarating I confess and I admitted to G … you know I don’t think I ever truly gardened until this moment.

In minor but worthy of note excitement, the first potato is making his presence felt. I already killed the fennel (who kills fennel?) but it may yet reincarnate.

Sudden weather and pan-free turkey

Yesterday there was a very sudden weather event. By sudden, I mean it had come to my notice all of a sudden. I was only just finished contemplating the last Pineapple Express, there had been some sunny spells and patchy drizzle and then the sudden weather event occurred. By evening the sudden weather event was in full swing-dazzle.

Wind. A biting wind followed by ransacking rain. How do I know this? I did what every sensible weather wonderer does and went jogging in it! I also compiled a bunch of descriptions of this weather event as it happened from friends in Victoria, Nanaimo, Strathcona and the DTES. The Island, Victoria, saw the worst of the wind. One friend reported her AM radio signal was interfered with! Another her house was shaking by the wind.

Today sun. We like this although we didn’t dislike the sudden weather event it merely caught our full attention.

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In a moment of madness I have purchased a large frozen turkey. I have never successfully cooked a small chicken and I own no roasting pan to fit the large turkey. One has been procured. Tomorrow amid the other details of my work day I will be attempting to roast a turkey. It feels like a random act to be roasting a turkey on an average Friday.

My other bubbling ambition this week is to frame a house. I have watched youtube videos but am not yet overcome with any super woman sense I too can frame a house from watching them. I did, however, build a teapot shelf. I am not yet quite satisfied with my teapot shelf.

I was disappointed that youtube does not contain the how to roast a turkey if you don’t have a roasting pan video I hoped existed. There’s a niche for someone with ambition…

Stormin’ H

As promised, with patience, here is the storm from p33 of Bertrand Sinclair’s The Hidden Places. (1922)

“He sat now staring out the window. A storm had broken over Vancouver that day. To-night it was still gathering force. The sky was a lowering, slate-coloured mass of clouds, spitting squally bursts of rain that drove in wet lines against his window and made the street below a glistening area shot with tiny streams and shallow puddles that were splashed over the curb by rolling motor wheels. The wind droned its ancient, melancholy chant among the telephone wires, shook with its unseen, powerful hands a row of bare maples across the way, rattled the windows in their frames. Now and then, in a momentary lull of the wind, a brief cessation fo the city noises, Hollister could hear far off the beat of the Gulf seas bursting on the beach at English Bay, snoring in the mouth of False Creek. A dreadry, threantening night that fitted his mood. ”

The storm then gives way to more from our operatic male (common place in BC literature of this & later periods it seems)
“He sat pondering over the many-horned dilemma upon which he hung impaled. He had done all that a man could do. He had given the best that was in him, played the game faithfully., according to the rules. And the net result had been for him the most complete disaster.”

I must pause here and interrupt this programming to give you a 7 hour respite before we hear Hollister continue his aria into the verdant moss of his wife!

Pineapple Express busted

The Pineapple Express weather event had silenced me, but fear no more for the heat of the sun has rejoined us. We have a SUNNY break. That be a blast of sun that may disappear behind the trees (or condos) before I put a full stop on this sentence.

The promised rise in temperature on the third day of the Pineapple (Saturday) did not materialize and last night out at an event and a late night dinner I fair froze on exit. It was lepping cold! The previous evening my partner Jeremy and I were discussing the Pineapple and concluded the experience matched the sense of being “sub aquatic.”

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Onward with Mr Tim Parks prostate memoir. What a complicated organ! What a disadvantage and complex matter it is to be embodied at times. So many organs, so many muscles, so much can go wrong. He has now moved into what may be the final four hundred metres lap/ furlong and is concluding his problems are myofascial pain. Am I right Mr P?

I was particularly taken with the line where the man running the mediation/relaxation class tells him Senor Parks I have never met a man so utterly unable to relax as you before. I’m a tad confused by his title, since sitting still may actually be what caused his problems to start with. But all shall be revealed during my final Ascot type reading of this text. Squeezed in between a stack of deadlines and pain complications.

Withering weather

There are up to 20 weather warnings today in our province. For our city, it is rain and for the Island wind warnings. It occurred to me that we haven’t had so many rainfall warnings this season, yet it never seems to cease raining.

Friday was a particularly abysmal day. Yesterday a beautiful blast of blue light, which now has given way to worse than Friday.

I think along with weather warnings forecasters could begin melancholy measuring alongside the warnings. This weather is likely to induce the following in people: then the challenge to find appropriate adjectives to match the weather. Writers could be hired. I find the language of weather forecasting has such potential.

How is your weather, wherever you are?

 

Welcome Cinnamon Sally

We are back to neither here nor there weather. Rain on the road weather. It was so chilly inside I left the apt with two cardigans and a down jacket to discover it was a balmy 8.9 degrees outside.

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Today there was significant family news. I met the new family addition in Dublin. Alfie Cyril has a four legged cousin and a great, mighty woman she is too. My sister introduced me by Skype to her new dog Sally Cinnamon, a rescue greyhound.

I am not a dog person, but am certainly, as of today, a Sally Cinnamon person. She lumbered over to greet me, laid her chin on my sister’s knee (“it’s a greyhound thing” said her mother) and then did a delightful yogic downward dog stretch. She is massive. Huge. In my opinion. Horsey!  Well compared to Alfie Cyril, a very podgy, hen shaped guinea pig. I had imagined more of Whippet type of dog. They sleep in a very remarkable manner greyhounds, like lounging queens from another century. Do all dogs sleep like that? My sister says she looks like Scooby Doo when she is asleep. I found her very regal, except she stuck half her back legs in her paw print furry basket while the rest of her (and there’s plenty of her) poured out across the rug. Apparently greyhounds are somnolent creatures and can sleep up to 18 hrs per day.

I am going to be knitting for Lady Sally since I think she could use some insulation on her hind humps from the ferocious Cabra wind. Really forget Downton Abbey — Sally Cinnamon in her snood slinking about Cabra will topple Lady Grantham’s mother.

Winter Reading Rituals

Here is a piece on Winter Reading Rituals I wrote for the International Festival of Authors blog back in October:

I’m not long returned from the Brooklyn Book Festival where the weather was beautifully warm and I had to pace about wearing shorts. Last weekend I travelled to the Victoria Writers Festival and Wordstock, the Portland writers festival, and tonight have just arrived home from the launch of the Vancouver Writers Fest.

I remember all four recent festivals by the weather and conversations. In New York I had to turn on the air conditioner. In Portland I had to turn on the heater and yesterday night I could not sleep because it was so windy here in Vancouver.

I love the fall season in Vancouver and pay close attention to the wind and rain. It signals for me the start of my winter reading rituals. The weather closing in, the sky turning grey means it’s time to turn in to the page.

All year I turn to the page, but in winter I embrace the page amid additional attention to physical comfort.

To establish any ritual it’s necessary to repeat it. It’s not a ritual if you only ever do it once. My reading rituals are particularly employed and important when it’s raining. As it’s regularly raining in Vancouver, I am committed.

Comfort is vital. I adopted two couches from a generous couch shedder because I deemed we needed a couch-per-reading-person (in this case two). I have invested in four hot water bottles because I deemed we needed two per person. I bought my son the softest blanket in the world which I subsequently commandeered and he has yet to raise a loud protest since he has disappeared into the vortex of video gaming. Quilts are very important in our apartment, they are dragged up and down stairs and sometimes found under the kitchen table and are thus umbilically connected to winter reading rituals. Pillows and cushions are critical.

Liquids. Liquid comfort matters during a winter reading ritual. In this case: teapot, teacups, milk jug, glass of hot port have proved trojan company. For smaller participants I admit to providing endless bags of chips and token chopped apples.

Finally I have found fuzzy or warm socks a most important part of my winter reading ritual. If my feet are cold or itchy it’s very distracting to my reading.

Once comfort is established and the weather has been noted, this liberates my brain and reading begins.

A stack of books is always within arms reach of the couch because I practice inter-reading. I might wish to digest a paragraph by reading a different work after it, or I might just dig in for the long haul with the same text.

Walks are taken only to refill hot water bottles or the teapot. Generally the plan is not to get up. Naps are sometimes taken at the book, but this isn’t encouraged. The teapot is the weapon against slumber. The curtains are always open, darkness is welcome but the curtains stay open because the weather doing its thing outside is a pleasing visual carnival.

Titles vary, but I would not necessarily reread Madame Bovary in winter. She is usually reserved for the wooden chair on Grandma’s deck.

Long-left leaves

I apologize for the interruption or hiatus in postings. I have some catching up to do because I’ve been on the road so much this season.

The past two days have seen quite a weather event. I’ll call it a single event because there was very little interruption. Rain, relentless, plunging rain — there was a small river running down the back alley this morning. And wind. 16,000 people had their power knocked out by the high wind in spots like Steveston, Southern Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast etc.

This evening though, the rain took a pause and there was a hint of fog out there when I went for a wander. It was almost a blue fog. I have decided it was a Christmas fog since there was only a hint of it and since we’re technically no where near Christmas.

The leaves are drowned to a mush, they look like long-left breakfast cereal.

If you are feeling down during the winter season please check out the In Our Time BBC Radio 4 episode I posted below and convene with Mr Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy for company and comfort. I also recommend hot water bottle, perhaps some oolong tea and the softest blanket you can find to curl up with.

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