Friday, January 13, 2017

The Furniture Barn vs. The Dress Barn


We've been waiting for the Furniture Barn to open since Christmas. It's all used furniture and plenty of it.  Thus the rocker. And a fine rocker it is too.

Why is it that I am more than willing to enter the Furniture Barn, which actually is a barn, but not so willing to enter the Dress Barn?

I've been in the Dress Barn once and actually bought some khaki pants, but I said to the clerk as she was ringing me up, "Dress Barn is a terrible name for women's clothing. It makes me feel like a cow."

She told me that the owner of Dress Barn began selling clothes in the barn next to her house, and she built up the business from there. That made me more sympathetic. 

Still, women being herded into the Dress Barn? It doesn't feel good. I haven't been back.



Monday, January 9, 2017

See-through money


I spy with my little eye all of you looking back at me. Magical Canadian money. Queen Elizabeth sees you too, and she's not happy. Stand up straight! Look like you mean business!

This money is slippery. It feels like a sandwich bag in your pocket, or a doggy bag. Still, for now, it gets the job done.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A reader's bliss

Yesterday, Tom and I went to the library bringing along proof of address, so that we could get library cards. It's an 18th century, two-story house surrounded by gardens and a picket fence.  We were greeted by Glen and Lynn, who are not only the librarians but also the tenants of the house.

"We've come to get a library card," I said to Glen.

"You don't need one," he said. "You just come and take a book and bring it back."

"Right," I said. "For a moment I forgot I was in Nova Scotia." We grinned at each other.

Tom told them where we lived, just a block down the hill. "Oh, you live in the hollow," Glen said.

"They moved that cottage in there several years ago," Lynn said.

"We live in the hollow." I smiled at Tom. Tom and I smile a lot these days.

Glen and Lynn visited Chester twenty-one years from Ontario.  "We had a nice house on the Ontario River," Lynn said. "But when we got home and sat on our front porch, we decided we'd rather live in Chester."

"So let's do it, I said." This was Glen.  "We sold our house and moved here."

"Lynn does the gardening," Glen said. The library sits on about an acre of land.

"It's a work in progress," Lynn said.

The library: another reason to love this village.


The front door of the library at Halloween.

The front hall. I'm such a sucker for square tiles at an angle.


The book room.

The Club Room for readers.

The Ondaatje Room. I asked them if I could come and write at that table and they both chirped, "Of course!"



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mourning LaVell Edwards

We moved from Minnesota (15 years) to Provo UT in January of 1985. Tom was a visiting professor for winter semester. We knew nothing about BYU. Nothing. We didn't know their football team had won the 1984 national championship. Never heard of LaVell Edwards, the coach. We were Minnesota Gophers, who mostly lost, except for the two years that Lou Holst was the coach before he moved on to Notre Dame. We weren't football people anyway. We were High Culture. (It's okay to break into guffaws here).

After a few months, Tom was offered a full time position at BYU, which he accepted, and we began looking for a house.  Cal Monson, one of the good guys, was our real estate agent and we ended up looking in Oak Hills directly above BYU. Cal drove us around in his big Cadillac and a couple of times he said, "LaVell Edwards lives just up the block from this house," or "around the corner" or finally, and this was the motherlode, "right next door to LaVell Edwards!"  We could live right next door to LaVell Edwards. That is when I finally asked, "Who the hell is LaVell Edwards?"

It was an honest question.

We ended up living several blocks away from LaVell and Patti and must have met them casually, but it wasn't until I met Ann, their daughter, in 1988 that I became fully aware of them.  Ann and I fell in girl love at a lunch arranged by Elizabeth Wahlquist, because we wrote for the same New York publisher. My first book had been published the year before having won the Delacorte Press First Young Adult Novel Contest as an Honorable Mention.  Ann's first book was published a year later winning the same contest only the top prize, not just the humble HM. This stung for a few minutes. Writers are sensitive people.

For almost 29 years I have loved Ann more than my own skin.

For almost 20 years, Tom was Santa Claus at Ann's annual family Christmas Party. The large-framed, densely built LaVell once sat on Tom's lap nearly breaking every bone in his puny skeleton.

Patti took our Honors class: Memoir and the Imagination and wrote about the fire in Big Piney, Wyoming. She wrote intelligently and well. She was charming.

In 1995, we moved into Ann and Ken's ward in Salt Lake. Ken was our bishop. He was our lawyer. He was our friend.

The last few years, Ann and I have met as our own little writing group, and I have heard her read essays about LaVell as a father, whom she often refers to as "the coach": rye, humorous, relaxed, a man who loved what he did but didn't take himself too seriously. A gardner.  It struck me as I read through all the articles about him in the SL papers that his public persona and the private man were the same person.

Isn't that integrity?

Let me be the first to say it: he was damned sexy.

We knew he was dying, but when we got the actual news, we burst into tears. Because he was the coach. Because Ann was his daughter.  Because he took her to Hawaii that time. Because he had a large head and so did Q, his grandson. Because of Patti. Because of all those grandsons. Because we can't attend the funeral and hug everybody. Because he was fun to chat with. Because so much time has passed since 1985. Because Tom was his Santa Claus. Because we will never see him again in this life. Because we, ourselves, will follow. Because.



Friday, December 30, 2016

I got Pneumonia for Christmas

I did get Pneumonia for Christmas. It sneaked up on me like a sea ghost--no coughing, no runny nose--just overwhelming exhaustion. I've been taking enormous antibacterial pills and they seem to be working. I have been seeing my children's faces and loving them more than I thought was possible. How could I not be on this planet?

And we are moving. The heating oil for this house costs as much as the rent, and we are still cold. So tomorrow we move into the village of Chester into a tiny, immaculate one bedroom house. It is surrounded by a half an acre of land and fully enclosed with trees. It's within walking distance of the Kiwi Cafe and the Chester Playhouse. Two blocks to Freda's Beach. There is a basement for storage.
We plan to be very happy here. I am excited.  Here are the pics:




Freda's beach--good for a daily swim



Friday, December 16, 2016

Sea smoke


This morning it was near zero degrees and a steam was rising on the bay, so forget what I said about this being like Boise, Idaho. Today, we're in the Arctic. Later, on the radio, I heard that it's "sea smoke," a term I've never heard before. It's when cold air hits a warmer sea: sea smoke. Not fog, not steam, but sea smoke. Almost as good as sea glass. Isn't language the best? Isn't it great to have a large brain?



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

But not as frightful as readers seem to think. Contrary to popular belief, we do not live among icebergs. The temperature on average is about 32 degrees F. The humidity is 98, so that feels colder.
It is raining lightly and we had a whisper of snow a few days ago. It IS gray most of the time.

Fact: Halifax is on the same latitude as Boise, Idaho. Does that put it in perspective? And we are on the Gulf Stream.

Griselda is back. The Canadians wouldn't allow her on the plane because of some old lawsuit. She needs papers to prove that it's all taken care of. Her hair lies greasy flat on her head and her face is streaked with emotion. "It's so ridiculous. I'm Canadian, for god's sake." And then comes the kicker:
Cedric, her dog, was run over by a car. Cedric is dead.

The holy roller friend let him out and whammo.

I am sorry about Cedric. I liked Cedric. He was an innocent in all of this. There is collateral damage wherever Griselda goes.