Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Malarky tour 2012 and major weather events

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.

Weather wonderer: nippy note

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.

Hot Spot!

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.



Weather diaries, George & planting

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?



Lost sneeze weather

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.

Rain and quakes

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.

On the road with Malarky: Malarky roadie

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.

Washing retrieval wind

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.

In weather news, well it has been peculiar. I’d better leave it at that.

Tripping over Anne Carson, deliberating on comfort

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.

Low-pressure unison

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.

It sounds like snow.

There’s a sound with snow even before it begins.



Probably our most significant weather event of the season has passed me by unnoticed because I have been so consumed with my book and work. A sorry forecaster indeed.

The other day a woman gave me impending news of the weather and the cold drop. Unheard of! I am always ahead on the weather. Except I’m not. Now I am officially behind.

But I have managed to triumph in the area of cooking omelettes.  Thanks to Jamie Oliver’s how to cook an omelette section and amid a chorus of cynicism from the small male, who has finally, 3 successful omelettes later, conceded it’s a triumph.

Alas he’s requesting I cook omelettes at completely unGodly hours.





A fierce storm is brewing off the West coast of Vancouver Island. Here we are all stillness, light rain and glooms.

Clean up yesterday unveiled my vintage book on weather forecasting.

Kissed it & replaced it upon the shelf.


My wrists aren’t doing what God intended them to do (or what I want them to do)

The weather is not doing what I forecasted it would do two weeks ago

It’s a limp Wednesday indeed.

My brain aches every time I attempt the continental knitting, but when you are knitting a jumper for a good man it knits beautifully.


Next Weds promised chilly spell may be a bust! The figures are being revised upwards! I still have my eye on the 16th -20th for an arctic blast.

There was a smidgen of sleety rain (flakes size of pin pricks)  briefly last night. I caught sight of them in the headlights of a Honda. The forecast became fog overnight. We’ve been stuck at 3 degrees, a bit like something that fails to cook inside the low oven temperature.

A non-budging weather event noted.


Yesterday I gave up on the Irish budget. The sight of Michael Noonan nodding it out sent me fleeing to Denis Donoghue.

Each day I go to slow-cooking battle with Denis and it’s very satisfying. Yesterday we were hand wrestling over the imagination.  I was with him, but do wonder Denis — what about what’s absent in literature? What about what’s missing? And what about the readers who go looking for what’s missing and wonder about it? Where are you on appetite and the unmet appetite say?


Battling Denis

Early morning with Denis Donoghue’s bewk. I don’t entirely agree with him, (I’m more partial to social history than Denis maybe) but admire his questioning and hungry, battling through the nettles rather than admiring the swans, mind. Rather a joy at 5am with the current cold, sunny spell out the window.

The small male is a very early riser these days.  This morning he remarked of our neighbours across the street “Spotted… two more insomniacs, one making breakfast.”


My forecast was wrong! It’s 8 degrees and pouring rain since this morning! I have figured out why. The problem is I am forecasting indoors in a building which is approx 4 degrees colder at any given time then what is happening outside.

Therefore the -4 weather event, felt to be -8 outside, was felt to be at least -12 in here therefore it is very hard to see how the temperature could rise so rapidly. I have to factor this in. We have this crazed tradition of fans blowing constantly in our hallways. I recently asked our manager why this must be so (each year I have a lengthy exchange in winter with the organization who run our building about why we must live in a freezer .. they acknowledge it and refuse to turn the fans off because of a myriad of rotating reasons). The most recent explanation given was the sump pump was broken (that’s sewerage) and there was problems getting a replacement, therefore the fans had to be blowing all the time because the smell is so terrible.

Point taken, says I and added another scarf to my layers.

I love our building though. There are ups, downs and inbetweens and a certain honesty that comes with it. I am very, very fortunate to have housing.

A wind event is now picking up outside. Today is what my mother would describe as ‘dirty’ weather.



I summited the second row of the V neck jumper, despite two males and two guinea pigs distracting me. It’s a lovely rusty colour. But it is proving so difficult. I taught a friend to knit on Saturday evening, she told me her mother could knit all kinds of cable-knit jumpers. She picked it up in no time and her stitches were so perfectly even. Knitting DNA! To watch as someone’s brain and in turn hands process the directions is fascinating because people are so different in the way they pick things up. We have left-handed people and ambidextrous people in our family so our learning styles are often very different.

What a rare old weather day … sun with bluster that became bluster with eye assault… which dipped to cold to colder and foggy cold was the final note. The most distinctive bout of fog so far this Autumn/winter season which my son insisted was not fog at all but gunpowder.

A very Sherlock Holmes finish to Halloween evening. I lacked my usual stamina for traipsing door to door and did a short bit with the family and left to knit with Lori, while the boyos and Grandma carried on.


This afternoon at the prostate clinic I was reassured to see a couple of other young women, an old man with pigtails (not a Halloween costume) until finally a poor fella was rolled up on a bed with only a quarter of an oxygen tank remaining. I offered that he should go ahead of me and then worried the entire appointment about his oxygen tank expiring while the Dr. talked to me because somehow he didn’t jump the queue as I hoped he might. Due to this excessive worrying I now have a sheet of paper for some kind of test and have no idea what it’s for, so will take it to the lab for some translating.

Urologic Science reminds me so much of St Pancreas train station in London. I think you’d have to have been there to understand the connection. But the strident looking trains getting set to depart to the North remind me off the patients who exit from their appointments with good news, the handshake from the Dr and six-month-to one-yearly check up appointment. They skip out of there. Perhaps it was a good clinic today, since multiple skippers exited.  But there’s the returns and the one-way tickets in there also. Co-incidentally I saw a man out on the street before I went in who had the look of Jack Layton about him and I had a bit of a Jack moment remenbering that it still seems astonishing that he’s dead and not say, leaning on a cane or climbing stairs in Ottawa.

I am lucky as they seem to have figured out my problem. The care is excellent in that clinic.  (They also use Macs..) Canadian Health Care at its best. I won’t have a bad word said against our health care system.

I think this may be our most middling Autumnal day. The leaves are droopy with despair.

They remain on the turn. They’re at the halfway point now so you can look at a long line of them and see the beginning, middle, and end of the leaves colour changes. I had never noticed before how the timing can differ between them.

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