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.
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.
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…
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!
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have been on the road with Malarky on and off since Sept. 23 when I began at the Brooklyn Book Festival followed by Ontario (Trent, Peterborough), THIN AIR Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Victoria Writers Festival, Wordstock Portland Writers Festival, Vancouver Writers Fest and I am just returned from the marvellous experience that is IFOA in Toronto.
Thank you to all those festivals who invited me, to the audiences and many readers I met, writers I read with and the staff and volunteers who work so hard at these festivals and my publisher Biblioasis for their stellar efforts on behalf of Malarky. I also thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Writers Union and the BC Arts Council for support.
Obviously I have been greviously remiss with my weather reports and must take a big inhale and apologize for this. It is not that I haven’t been observing for I have, just have not quite managed to nail it onto the screen.
Yesterday’s weather events in New Jersey and New York give great pause. The ferocity. The build and how the weather pattern increased its speed on approach, thus making the predication even more challenging. One of the descriptions that has stayed with me from relatives in the middle of it was of the windows bending. The windows being bent (inwards I assume) from the power of the wind. And how fire and water co-existed throughout. Houses on fire in the Rockaways that were surrounded by water on all sides was another description I caught.
I send good thoughts and courage to those involved in recovery efforts and getting the lights turned back on. I am always impressed by the spirit of New Yorkers and was doubly impressed by noting friends who woke this morning there and immediately turned their thoughts and attention to how they might join volunteer efforts today in that city.
Over the next weeks I will catch up on some postings and thoughts about my experience on the road.
Stay warm and safe and thank you again.
I have been quite distracted from my weather wondering, but this evening I noted a new nippyness to the evening temperature when I went out for an impromtu later evening run. It gave me a sense of impending Fall and all that it brings. I was not unhappy to remember or think about it. I love detecting the seasons and Autumn/Fall is my favourite season.
Before that I have to put the canning pan to work and can some peaches.
The wave of heat has been with us for two days and we are delighted with it. Welcome heat. Welcome wave. It’s a particularly good combination because at night the temperate falls and it’s not unbearable.
Or it may be the case that we are simply defrosting from the past six months of chilly puddling and therefore cannot gain any actual sense of the temperature because we’ve been so frozen. Who would actually know at this point what’s unbearably hot as we’ve become fluent in unbearably overcast.
Yesterday (Sunday) it was scorching at 4pm. I gave thanks and scorched along with it.
My only concern now is that of thunderstorms and what they lead to — the dreadful forest fires.
Sources tell me there was an hour long discussion on BC Almanac on the weather today. I am ashamed to say I missed it. Such is the nature of my present life my weather forecasting or weather watching has been derailed.
I’ve just discovered, thanks to my partner Jeremy, the Weather Diaries of film maker George Kuchar. Joy!
Not inconveniently I am enduring a period of immense challenge with our current West Coast weather. I saw the Flowerman on the road today and he conveyed his despair over the weather and his plans to usurp his current arrangement in his plot at the community garden. He generously reconfigured some of his great plants along the communal sides of our garden and I was struck by them as I left the garden the other day. He really is an extraordinary and generous gardener. I sometimes imagine all of the people who receive immense joy from his efforts. He gave me some advice on seeds… apparently I am planting them way too deep because everything should germinate in this weather and basically in my much neglected plot very little has germinated.
Mme Beespeaker gave me some bee friendly plants, but so far not much luck in them popping up, likely because I messed up some of the planting. Repeat! Repeat seeding will be required! Not too worry am wiser now.
One great aspect of this decling weather situation is the planning. When it’s pouring rain, a la aujourd ‘hui, my community garden plot can’t flourish beyond not having to water it, so I begin plotting how I’ll move the strawberry plants once the fruits are finished (And boyo they have been fantastic this year) to the sides and then plant some vegetable starts and hope we are lucky with some sun before September. The Flowerman and I shared our “plans” in the rain today.
As I type this I’ve been listening to a video interview with George Kuchar (RIP 1942-2011), right now he’s joking about his eyebrows, but earlier he talked about his fascination with twisters and how the internet more than provided for his weather watching needs in that regard.
There has been some astonishing flooding as the Fraser River gave it up in Sicamouse (sp?) and some truly horrific forest fires in Colorado. I took a peek at the Fraser out in New West last week and it was high(er) and swirly. I would love some day to write a novel about or around that river. I have developed quite an affection for the small parts I’ve come to know of it.
There was also concurrent flooding epsiodes in Belfast and Cork. Cork has previously been hit very badly by flashfoods and this last round seemed to come on so fast. A weather forecast, yes, but bam! Floods like you wouldn’t believe. One spokesperson commented it was impossible to be prepared. The wonder of rain, ne c’est pas?
Today a darkening series of rainclouds closed in on us over several hours until they finally conceded to burst their banks. But the waiting was like missing a sneeze that kept threatening return. Except there was no light to entice it with! (If you miss a sneeze, look at the light so the saying goes)
At the pet shop (guinea pig hay supplies) the woman behind the counter compared notes with me on how she had processed the darkness according to her working day. I looked out thought it must be 7pm, it wasn’t yet 3 she said.
I have had a merry old time enjoying cross-country/international commiserations on the weather and reading Mr Robert Walser’s The Assistant. (Translated by Susan Bernofsky)
“…lets not allow ourselves to get too worked up over such a woman finding such a young man odd, but rather report on their conversation.”
I shall later offer a snip from Walser’s take on the weather that’s particularly dotey.
Wales appears to be under serious flooding, I heard reports of heavy rainfall from the West of Ireland and here in BC we have a mixture of 6 current flood watches and warnings in effect. Rain is the theme!
Today however we enjoyed a blast of sunshine. At 6.30pm I had to dodge indoors for fear I might even get burnt. (It doesn’t take much, I can manage to get sunburned indoors with the curtains shut)
Oh the other enormous piece of news that I managed to shamefully miss for two days because of being in a deadline tunnel was an earthquake (4.0) off the coast of Co. Mayo! Felt in Mayo, Sligo, Galway which has the geologists pondering and some of us pointing at the fracking activity for inquiry.
I have been away on the road with Malarky, so apologies for the interrupted weather forecasts and meanderings. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Bolen Books in Victoria, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and Village Books in Bellingham.
The highlight for me was at the Seattle launch when 10-yr-old Willie Bays, on his flute, played traditional Irish music (trad) with his mother Susan on fiddle. A mighty player and together they played a mighty set. Go raibh mile to them both.
Also, am enormously grateful for the enthusiasm and warmth of booksellers Robert, Casey and Claire (in store order respectively). Most impressed with the woodwork in many of these shops and the array of jigsaw puzzles that surrounded the reading area at Bolen Books. (including one of a teapot)
What about the weather event at Union Station in Toronto yesterday? A bathtub rainfall event! We were grim on this coast around the same time, but I had to shift my overcast sulking when I saw what had been dealt to the floor at Union. A spot I stood but two weeks ago and imagined doing a cozy waltz around (if I could manage such a thing).
In gardening news I am a disgrace. Officially flagged a green one. Some mysterious objecter has plunged a bamboo pole into my plot with green masking tape on it to alert … I am not sure whom. Not the Mason Bees who were happily mining in my strawberry patch today. Thank you to the gardeners who offered help for my beleagured plot and added soil to it in my absence.
The Flowerman has the most magnificent Pink Poppies. They have to be capitalized they are such stunners. He also generously added some manure to my plot and consequently the purple geranium has gone nuclear in size and I think has made for happy bees.
Profuse thanks to all who have read/are reading Malarky and have tweeted or written about it. Lovely to hear of this happening. A book is nothing without readers. I have great faith in readers and it grows deeper by the day.
I noted a sharp wind ouside just now when I pulled in the washing off the line. I was surprised at the chill in it and checked the weather station which claims an 8 degrees. But there was something enlivening in it after a particularly draining day. An encore quality. The reward for carrying on. Must remember to dip out and take note of night weathers and temperatures, they can be so satisfying.
Today I was searching for another interview and tripped over this Anne Carson interview on Writers and Company. I loved her book Nox. The tactile unfolding, fragments and collage and what it intended. During the interview she tells a story about a teacher who taught her Latin at lunch time in school, whom she subsequently learnt took off to a farm and became a hermit. It reminded me of the single or individual teachers in life who impact us and how important that impact can be. I particularly enjoyed her tale because it reminded me of a wonderful, eccentric French teacher I had, who was very encouraging and supportive of my desire to create odd, effusive sentences in a language I could barely mutter where’s the park, Jean-Paul is sitting by the side of a lake and can I have a raspberry ice-cream in. When it came to writing she would smile at my requests for vocabulary or attempts to add details and delight in them. Strangely in hindsight many of my vocabulary requests concerned the weather!
I must read more of Anne Carson’s work as I am only familiar with a small amount of it.
I drank a cup of Lea Valley Tools tea today and it was very acceptable. The tin of tea was a present from a much loved friend several years ago and I’ve admired the tin, but never religiously engaged with its contents. That will change! It was a particular taste I was looking for and needed to cure a headache from today’s low clouds. And the green tin delivered. Later in the evening thinking maybe it could be a hint, I took up the tools catalogue for a bit of comfort reading.
I’ve been thinking a lot about comfort and how and where we go for it, or how and where it may be right there beside us. I think possibly because yesterday my partner’s brother gave me the most incredible food to eat that he had prepared and I was very taken by the near musical notes in its taste. Also, because our winter and spring have been strangely colder than usual we are still clutching blankets and putting on scarves, which brings me again to the consolation of comfort.
There is another low-pressure system coming in that’s provoking yet another curious weather situation. Today, late in the day, wind, cold freezing wind with a snowfall warning. It looks like the snow will be slush but the combination of wind and nearly snow coldness was unusual for us.
The clouds hung low in that pre-snow mentality they possess.
The weather redolent of a shift and around us the talk is of a teachers strike and this morning’s news of the death of Jim Green, (RIP), a long-term poverty activist and former City Councillor was written all over those sad, low clouds today. A strange unison between weather and change and sadness out there.
A unity that failed to occur today however was the chicken soup I decided to make (Asian style) before the misguided notion overtook me to hurl four lamb sausages into it. I am still several hours later wondering what possessed me to do such a thing.
Answers on a post-card to ….
A major woodwork undertaking that should not have been undertaken but God loves an ambitious palm-sanding woman, with her dressmaking measuring tape and her dremmel. An extraordinary sized shelf has resulted. I think a very spacious, high-class shoe rack is the outcome, which needs to have a back to stabilize itself. My first experiment with mad-sized lumps of plywood from scratch. It looks better than it touches. It touches, well, wobbly. Lesson learned= measure the space into which the intended shelf will dwell.