happy October first

A year ago I was in Eastend, Saskatchewan, in the Stegner House, and beginning to write the first draft of the book I am still struggling with. I'm on the countdown now of my second draft and I think it's better. I've been deterred by a mass of mind-numbing paper work but today I'll be back at it and that pleases me.  We'll see how I feel at the end of the day.

As you know, I call my morning swim wet meditation and I solve problems while I swim: writing problems, people problems, menus, leftover plans, shopping, appointments and so on. But sometimes I am able to free fall. One of my games, then, is  making words out of the words on the warning signs in the pool room.  The signs read:

SHALLOW AREA  (wallow, hallow,allow, aware, etc.)

NO DIVING (don, din, gin, nod, ding, etc.)

DEEP AREA (peer, pear, pare, rare, and so on)

It's a kids' party game, right?  No, it used to be a kids' party game. Now they do everything on computer. Whatever happened to pencil and paper games?

Anyway, this one is quite nice and it takes a few lengths to list words in my head.

Here's another one you can play in an airport lounge, when your flight is delayed or cancelled. (Does that ever happen to you?)  Think back as far as you can in time to what was in that space you are in, as far as your knowledge goes, from Pleistocene or Neanderthal or whatever, through time and history.  Pile everything into that one space you are in now.  Very crowded! It's time travel at its most comfortable because you don't have to go anywhere, except maybe to the ladies', slash, women's room. 

Happy Day.  Use it well.

 

 

 

 

a stoney day

I expected diamonds today and it turned pretty stoney. Or papery.   Brazil, India and China have my passport to play with until the end of November so I have to get an enhanced driver's license in order to enter the USA in three weeks to visit my daughter and her family - an early Christmas with them. More paper work, beginning with my marriage certificate to explain my change of name from the one on my birth certificate to the one on my driver's license. Oh dear.  The permission may not come in time.  

Well, isn't it wonderful that we live in a free country limited only by the amount of paper we can amass to prove we are who we say we are? We are fortunate, I know that. I am not complaining. There's a lot to be said for staying in one place, isn't there?  Every one in a while I feel sorry for myself, you may have noticed.  I say that I have lost my friends, my family, my furniture, my doctors and so on.  But you could say that they have lost me.  I'm still here, sort of, like that farmer's axe, the one he's had for 30 years, with 3 new heads and 2 new handles.  

I used to joke that it would be convenient if we could tattoo a number on an infant's heel, his own personal affidavit of his existence, for identification for everything: country, bank account, charge cards, marriages, social insurance, and so on.  But people keep moving, so you'd have to add country numbers, and regional numbers, on and on.  No one has a heel that big.

What if you cut it on a stone?

 

anon anon

This is probably too difficult to touch on (as opposed to tackle, or deal with) in a brief blog, but it might supply a catalyst for further thinking - mine.  The novelist John Gardner (1933-1982) , prematurely dead in a motorcycle accident, just before  his third marriage, wrote two books about writing that  -forgive me - I think are going to outlive his novels. His best-known novel was Grendel, the Beowulf story told from the pov of the monster.  He taught writing and  his insights and exercises and assessments offer excellent stimuli to wannabe writers, but the book that sticks with me is a collection of essays and criticism titled  Moral Fiction. He thought that writing should be moral, not in the religious sense but in the acknowledgement of universal truths.  He thought hat you had to be a good person to be a good writer. If you weren't that good, then writing well might make you a little better.  That's my over-simplification, I guess, but bear with me. In order to create whole, believable characters, a writer has to have insight, and tolerance,  He has to get inside the heads of all the people she writes about. I think this is even truer for a playwright, but then, I'm biased.  It shows, though. The writer's intimate knowledge of the character in attitudes, speech and behaviour produces a fully rounded, living, breathing human being, criminal or not. Such intimacy fosters love.  Doesn't it? Some kind of love. Oh, if only!

It's late, I'm getting incoherent. I'll try again tomorrow.

I did, and I amended it, but it's still not what it should be. Anon, anon.

more memories

I  think of lots of blog topics when I'm not in front of the computer but when I open it up, I go dry and can't remember a thing. Now I have a blog folder into which I stick cryptic notes and hope they mean something to me later.  So here are some thoughts for memory lane, if you're old enough to join me.  I wrote down some brand names of popular female products not from my time but from my mother's and older cousins, 

Mother used Pond's cold cream. I think her cologne was named "Mimsy" (as in borogoves? I doubt it.) I used to buy her a bottle for her birthday and she was effusively thankful about it. We had a maid in the days before the war. Once in a while she took me with her on her day off (Thursday afternoon). I suppose my mother had an engagement.  Anyway, Jean's "perfume" was called Ben Hur, and it came in a precious little cobalt blue bottle that I wish I had now because I collect blue  bottles.  There was another fragrance in a blue bottle called "Midnight in Paris".  A little later, in my teen-time, but I didn't wear nail polish and still don't, there was an exotic brand called Chen Yu and it came in dark colours: green, black and blue, way ahead of its time.  I see young women on the subway wearing those colours but now they have stars and squiggles and all sorts of motifs on top of the colours.  

I can still remember the products that sponsored the Eddie Cantor show on radio: "Ipana for the smile of beauty and Sal Hepatica for the smile of health."  Oh, and I can sing the jingle for Bryl Cream: "Bryl Cream, a little dab'll do ya/ Bryl Cream, you'll look so debonair. Bryl Cream, the gals will pursue ya/Simply dab a little in your hair."  

It was years before I understood the pun in the Fisk tire ad. A little kid in his nightshirt, holding a candle, is being told "Time to re-tire."  And then there was the Bon Ami slogan.I think Bon Ami was some kind of household cleaner for glass or something fragile, because the line went "hasn't scratched yet," with the picture of a cute little baby chick.  

Well! This has drawn up a little heap of memories that probably don't mean anything to you youngsters. But if you're hockey fans I bet  you can sing the Hockey Night Song even though it's long since off the air. Me, I remember the song the Happy Gang used to sing on noon-time radio.  Keep smiling.

just like heaven

Do you remember the movie, Just Like Heaven?  Reese Witherspoon is in a coma, between life and death, and she visits Mark Rufalo who has rented her apartment while her family waits to see if she lives or dies.  Well, a spoiler, but it's an old movie: she lives, but she doesn't remember him from her coma visions.  At the end, when he comes to find her and touches her, she remembers all the nice things about him and they live happily ever after.

I bought the DVD so I saw the extra bits.  Her memories  include scenes where things were not so good. They weren't deleted; the audience saw them but they were deleted from her memory when she touched him. The extra bits reminded us of what she had chosen to forget.  I think sometimes we do that, I know I do, - but I remember the bad things,  sometimes, when I'm on a downward spiral. Then it gets worse, hard to get off the roll and look up.  I remind myself of that, when I get low lower lowest.  Good things and bad things happen to everyone. Not that we should put on rose-coloured glasses and be like Candide, thinking everything's lovely in the best of all possible worlds, but we do have some choice.  We can choose to remember the good things, look on the bright side, as the saying goes, and look UP.  After all (I can't stand this) tomorrow is another day.

catchup

This is going to be a catchup day for me, at the Paper Desk and in the back files of Little Mac.  For you, too.  I've been talking to so many interesting people and lining up different events, it's going to be a busy fall, with better weather than we had here in July. So I'll have lots to talk about.

I went with a friend yesterday to see The Sea, the play by Edward Bond playing at the Shaw Festival this season.  I saw it years ago in Toronto and liked it then.  Bond is arguably the best playwright of the 20th century. Arguably, but he is pretty good.  I remember being very jealous of him when I read that he wrote a play in three days. The first time I tried to do that I wrote three pages and then someone fell and needed a Band-Aid, and someone had a birthday party (well, I had a birthday party for someone, one of my children), and I ....don't know.   Time passed. I got back to the play two weeks later. I actually finished it.  It had a reading eventually but was never produced. 

The next time I was more prepared. By that time, my husband had died and I was trying to make a living for me and my kids, and I seemed to have more time. (Husbands are very time-consuming, bless them.)  And I had a system. I thought out my characters and planned the play on scene cards (aka recipe file cards) and then I sat down to write - and finished it in three days. First draft, that is.  Sometimes one is all it takes. Sometimes one isn't enough.  You never know until you read it or until other people read it - out loud. 

Anyway, I went to the Shaw and saw The Sea, and loved it, the play that is.  I have some cavil with the cast, nothing for them to worry about.  It's a very good play and it has some nice comments about age that I want to remember, so I'll buy a copy.  Not an e-script, but a paper book that I can mark up and keep close.

My computer just warned me that I'm running down, so I must recharge. Today is a catchup day. Use it well.

finders no keepers

I am astonished to report that I found two things I thought were gone forever, very important items. One: over a month ago I lost my wallet in a subway station, just before the August long weekend, so Lost and Found was closed and after that I was obscenely busy, so I cancelled everything and got new cards and new numbers and faced the slow job of telling all my creditors my new numbers.  Yesterday I was in the Bay subway station where the L&F is located and thought I might just inquire, doubting all the while, and LO!  it was there, intact, everything accounted for.  

Two: this week I lost my passport, even worse. I left it under the lid of a photocopier at Staples.  I missed it immediately and phoned and it was there and I went the next day (yesterday) and got it back.  Not in my defence, but to show that I'm not the only one, the manager told me they average 4 passports a week left by people like me who leave it  under the lid of the copier. Beware. Be careful.

I just want to say that I am so relieved and pleased that people, most people, are still honest.  And grateful. Me, I mean, not them; I'm the grateful one.    Thank you!

That's worth a blog, isn't it?

symposium

I've been sitting in the whirlpool after my swim for a couple of weeks now, to aim the jet on my upper arm to ease a little stiffness.  So yesterday morning a strange man - not strange, but unfamiliar to me - was sitting in the pool yawning.  He apologized, saying he had just awakened. (No, he didn't say that; he said, "I just woke up." We must talk about wake and awake some time.)

So I asked him if he sleeps on his back or on his side. On his side.  I said I had just read an item in the New York Times that people who sleep on their backs wake up faster and more alert. People who sleep in the fetal position take longer to uncurl and come to. I said I used to sleep on my side but years ago I read an article in Cosmopolitan magazine that told me if I slept on my back all the wrinkles would fall off my face to either side during the night and I'd look younger longer. He wanted to know how I did that, made myself sleep on my back. I told him I trained myself. I don't have any test comparison, no clone who continued to sleep on her side, aging all the while, as  I slept on, wrinkle-free.  ( Not quite.)  We were joined in the whirlpool by a sister swimmer  who swims at almost the same time as I do.  I see her if I sleep in for ten minutes or if she goes earlier than is her wont. (I had trouble convincing Spelchek or Predict-a-text that I meant wont and not won't..)  So we are friends. I explained what we were talking about.  She sleeps on her side because she has a back problem, but her husband sleeps on his stomach so he won't snore.  I don't think I snore but it doesn't matter because I  sleep alone so I'm not disturbing anyone.  (We all know about sleep apnea, don't we?) 

We kept on chatting, an interesting conversation at 6:30 in the morning, discussing ideas one doesn't normally encounter during the day, certainly not in the subway.  I have often called my swimming wet meditation but this spa exploration was different, a sharing of three minds in an exposed, open situation.  A symposium spa.   Nice.

reviving past creation

Last night I went to a special, selected meeting of playwrights and composers, ten of each, the meeting arranged and facilitated by the Playwrights' Guild of Canada. I'm not sure how selective the selection was. There are not many playwrights who are librettists or lyricists.  Those of us who are (or wannabes) were invited to submit a resume of musical works produced, if any, and a statement of intent or attitude, if one had no actual experience. From the submissions considered admissible, a random choice was made. Not sure if it was eeny-meeny-miny-moe or just take what can get. Anyway, I sent in a resume of the musicals I had had produced, in one form or another, and some suggestions as to what I'd still like to do.  I told them I couldn't remember the production dates and that they were irrelevant, anyway.  The only date they had to know was that I was born in 1931 and I  still have all my marbles. So I was one of the ten.

Of course, they were all younger than I. I was acquainted with the oldest-next-to-me person in the room, a playwright. I talked to a couple of young (one early 20s, the other mid-30s) composers who seemed intrigued with the musical that I wanted to write at one time, a long time ago now.  As I spoke of it, memories flooded back, all the research I had done, the people I had interviewed, the plot I had worked out. I even had a title.  At the time, I couldn't get anyone interested in collaborating with me, nor could I get a theatre (producer) "eager" to do it.  By that time, I could not afford to work on spec. I still can't.  I have a film project I'd like to do but one needs a producer, absolute essential these days.  

My battery is getting low. I think I am too.

Do I dare to eat a peach? 

more words

As you know, I love words and I love to follow trends, personal foibles, new words, anything that gives one an insight or a clue to the people that  use them. I've talked about vocabularies changing and expanding all the time. I've talked about U- and non-U words (Upper and Middle Class; Lower is like Upper), and the use of a brand name instead of a generic, in some cases.  I've noted other people's use of words. I came across a hint the other day about fashions and aging.  I sort of noted that before but here are some more:

Apparently older people, like me, say porridge instead of oatmeal. My mother used to call instant coffee ersatz coffee, the term she picked up during World War Two . Ersatz is from the German, meaning replacement.  Words change with the times. My mother never did learn to say refrigerator instead of icebox. Long ago I used to call those cheap rubber sandals I wore at the beach thongs. Nowadays they are called flip-flops and they are worn on the street and on escalators and in subways and I worry about peoples' toes. (CROCS are known to be very dangerous on escalators.)  And now thongs refers to those horrid G-string panties that younger women wear so as not to reveal a panty-line under their clothes. The best ad I saw for Fruit of the Loom's  sensible, comfortable underwear showed a variety of thongs bobbing along a clothes line to the tune of "Stuck in the Middle With You". I don't really know what to call sneakers, runners, tennis shoes, Nikes, Addidas whatever.  Is it best to use a brand name?  

A wrap used to be a sweater or shawl or jacket one put on to be warmer: "Put on a wrap if  you're cold."  Evening wraps were the most common. Now wraps are like a sandwich only trendier: tortillas or (lower-calorie) Romaine leaves wrapped around a filling.  

Well, I could go on and on but I have work to do.

applicable?

Have you found that you are spending a lot of time on apps? I mean a lot.  And then there are Facebook, YouTube, Tweeter, not to mention Pinterest, Instagram, and #whatever.  Not to mention your personal interests, banking, special shopping contacts. ( I just added a Poem-a-Day - love it.)  I've resisted most of them, except as necessary, but I'll tell you a big one I added this summer - don't laugh: Weight Watchers.  It takes  lot of time but it saves time, too.  It does all my adding and figuring for me and as long as I enter my  consumption honestly, It tells me the truth.  

I'm not doing well this week.  

I wasn't going to tell you that.  I just wanted to comment on how time-consuming all these useful  extraneous services are, not to to mention online shopping.  Enough,  already.

what's the magic word?

I never feel so incompetent as when I am trying to log in to a seldom used program - should I say app?  Passwords proliferate and get more elaborate and complex as we go along.  I can't stand it. I freeze, I can't remember, I lose it.  It seems so much easier to admit I forgot my password and then they give me a new one but then I have to remember it.  My bank made me change mine after years and years and then IT didn't remember - I'm not joking.  I went for several weeks changing constantly because it wouldn't co-operate.  I finally phoned and got fixed up but it won't copy in one place.  Never mind.  

The reason I've been so stressed is that I've been trying to fill out all the forms for Visas to only three of the countries I'll be going to next year. (The cruise people are looking after the other 75.)    Lots of passwords, plus my passport,  plus dates. Some of them want year, month and date; others want date, month and year.   And all the way along you get warned about terrible consequences if you make an error or lie.  I wouldn't dream of lying, of course, but by the end of this afternoon, at the end of this interminable, stressful week, actually, I was even spelling my name incorrectly.  Now I have to go to a copy shop and make lots of duplicates of everything I've done.  

I HATE paperwork.

I don't want to talk about it any more.  I'll think of something.

Oh, BTW, thank you to the commenter who liked my who-am-I? blog.  That was very nice of you. I'm always so surprised when someone reads my blogs. I feel as if I've popped a thought into a remote mailbox, never to be picked up or noticed or read.  I think I have about four readers now, not all at once, and not regular, but it's comforting to think of them - you.  I want to say, keep up the good work, but I'm the one who has to keep up the good work.  No problem because I know the password. 

broccoli

I'm having a very bad time with several stressful things, so I'm not going to talk about  them. Instead, I'll talk about food . I had some leftover, lightly steamed broccoli and you know I hate to throw away food, so I made a broccoli-apple salad.  The nice thing about cooking with leftovers is that you never have to measure anything, you just taste it till it seems right.   So - take some cut up broccoli, and if it's too big and you  have a little Cuisinart chopper/grinder, you could give it a whirl. Chop up  a seeded, but not peeled, apple and add to the broccoli in a bowl large enough to accommodate  some other things as they occur or appeal to you, beginning with a little red onion ((I heated it a bit in the microwave so it wouldn't be too strong). So then I dumped in some raisins and walnuts (chopped a bit), and some apple cider vinegar.  It seemed a little too acid so I stirred in some liquid (melted) honey and then some low-fat mayo and then  tasted it again.  It was okay, but too much for me, so I took a  bowl of it to my  next-door neighbour and he invited me in for a glass of white wine and we had a talk and I told him about my stress.  So you see.  Good leftovers make good neighbours.

And reduce stress.

who am I ?

Yesterday morning I encountered a woman on her way to swim as I was leaving. I've known her for about ten or twelve years.  When I say known I know her name and a bit of her recent history. I also know her birthday. Names and faces I often don't remember but I usually remember birthdays. It was about two weeks ago.  I said, "I didn't send you a card this year but I thought of you.  She didn't say anything.  I said, "You know the line, 'A stranger is a friend I haven't met yet"? I always -no -used to think we could be friends but it never happened, and I'm sorry."

She said, "It's not you, it's me. I have this inner self."

"We all do," I said.  I didn't say but I thought that some people are more inner than others.

I'l think about what you said," she said.  

Later, in the afternoon, I gave a reading and a kind of bio of my life to a group at Ryerson University, the first talk in a new project about plays and playwriting, a bonus to be connected with the Over-50 Playwriting Program. I told bits and pieces of my life to establish myself in space and time and read from a couple of plays, one a complete monologue I've never performed before, about the last four minutes of an old woman's life. Well, I guess that's part of my inner life.  I thought of my...acquaintance.  The difference is, I sell mine, and then go deeper inner. 

When my husband died, that's when I began to develop another persona.  I was Gallant Widow, Intrepid Journalist, playing the role that had been thrust upon me. Now I'm Aging Widow (still writing), Local Seer, what else?  Somewhere in there, there's me. 

Who am I?  For that matter, who are you?

when you are old and grey and full of sleep...

...and nodding by the fire"  (from one of my favourite poems by Yeats.)  Yes, well, it's a good thing I don't have a fireplace any more because i don't have time to nod by it.  I can't believe how busy I am, and with deadlines and priorities. I won't go into details; everyone has details. I used to think how nice it would be when i got to be eighty, that I would have time not to nod by the fire but to catch up with lot and lots of reading.  Not.

The thing is, there's always more reading to do, not just the classics, some of which I missed (I never did read War and Peace), but always more new books to read, really good books that I must read - when I have the time? So I keep buying them and I need more bookcases but most of all I need more time.  I keep forgetting how old I am. So then when I remember, I sigh.Well, maybe next week, or next month, or next  year.

Well, maybe when I'm ninety.

do you smell something?

There was an item on TV last night, one of those fillers to leave people feeling less gloomy about the state of the world. This one was about the scents being used in stores and other commercial establishments, especially hotels, to make people feel welcome and cheerful and consumer-ish (?), i.e. in a mood to buy stuff.  apparently one hotel has paid a lot of money for a "signature smell". Customers or clients don't actually recognize the scent but they feel good.  The only store I can smell is some kind of kitschy gift shop with all the scented candles and smellies.  That's what my hyper-allergic daughter called those little sachets women put in their underwear and linen closets.  Liz called them "closet smellies", and threw them out when she received them as gifts. . 

I remember years ago reading about a company in New York called Flavours and Fragrances and they were in the business of creating new flavours, tastes and aromas.  Apparently when Jello wanted a grape flavour they went to F&F to create one.  There were more practical (?) demands for their services.  The company developed an Essence of Cave to lure bears into hibernation  - I guess in zoos since presumably they could find their own bear-cave in the wilds.  I wonder if women spray the man-cave room, so popular in houses now, with essence of male, to keep the guy at home.

I had a radio show at the time, a 90-second spot from your Big Sponsor in The Sky, that I wrote and recorded for the United Church of Canada. It was broadcast on independent radio stations across the country. Anyway, I wrote about F&/F - I always wanted to call it Favours and Flagrances - and I wondered if they had developed an Odour of Sanctity.  Never did find out.

So - nothing new under the sun, and if  there were it would spoil and smell. That would be a familiar odour.  One of the new rules of eating is, don't eat anything that won't rot. That rules out artificial, processed, preserved food although I'm told that honey is the only food that won't spoil. 

I do go on.

lateral thinking

Do you remember lateral thinking? Edward de Bono's ideas about it date from about 1967. I was aware of  him and I think I have a paperback book somewhere about LT.  I leaned on the idea  heavily in 1975 when I was in trouble trying to "write" a play for a non-literate acting company.  Theatre Passe Muraille, headed then by Paul Thomson, was a collective group, an ensemble of actors who went out and "researched" the components of a story and then came back and acted them out, putting the loose parts together to form a play.

We hooked up because  I wanted to write a play about Reverend Horsburgh, the United Chuarch minister who was arrested, tried and convicted on 4 or 5 out of 27 counts of contributing to juvenile delinquency in his church (in Sarnia).  He actually served about 27 days in a federal prison (Kingston) before being acquitted by the Supreme Court of Canada because he had been convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of minors. As I  began doing my research before being committed to Passe Muraille, I found that my subject changed like a chameleon according to who was describing him.  To some witnesses he was an angel; to others he was the devil incarnate. That's why I asked Passe Muraille to take him on. I needed a collection of minds to approach the character. And that's how I came to lateral thinking.

Once into rehearsal I wasn't allowed to write. The actors went out daily or nightly exploring various aspects they hoped to cover in their production and came back the next day to report physically and audibly on what they had discovered. Nothing in writing, though.  It was highly entertaining and I laughed a lot.  But we had no script. I started reading and working through lateral thinking, trying to find a handle. I tried de Bono's recommended methods: free association with words, wishful thinking, exaggeration, distortion, reversal and so on.  I sent up  (yes, sent not set) different circumstances and movements. I asked 'why?' a lot. I tried to fin multiple, parallel answers. Finally, I put paper in my typewriter (this was long before computers) and wrote a scene-by-scene breakdown of a play that didn't exist. 

Act One, Scene One, in which the Reverend Horsburgh meets his new congregation and startles some of his listeners.  

Like that.  

I handed the pages to Paul Thomson with a book of matches so he could burn them if he wished. he read them through two or three times and said, "This makes me feel a whole lot better."  He pinned the pages to a wall and the company began to rehearse, improvising dialogue to fit the demands of the scene and also remembering words from their play-time.

At the end of the day, Eric Peterson, one of the lead actors in the company, said, "We actually have a play to rehears and we have three whole days to get it ready for an audience. This has never happened before."  They were all ecstatic. I was relieved.

The play went on tour before it came into Toronto to run for a few weeks.  After it was over I  wrote it down and it was published along with my reporter's notes and the collective experience, titled "The Horsburgh Scandal."

I couldn't have done it without lateral thinking. I thought of it this morning as I swam because I need some of that thinking for the chapter I am working on about epiphanies.  Funnily, enough, lateral thinking is one of the suggested synonyms for LT.  I didn't know that. 

the artist's way

Have I mentioned Julia Cameron yet? She defines her book, The Artist's Way in a sub-title:  "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity".  Because it's a project in twelve stages, people have mistaken it for the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's not.  And I think it is intended for civilians, that is, for people who are not necessarily writers or artists. But the people I know who have read it are not lay-people.  McLuhan predicted that some day  everyone would be an artist.  That's happening, has happened, and the problem as he also predicted is, who will there be left to read and admire the artist when everyone is an artist?  Case in point, the blog.  

Everyone writes blogs now. Who wants to read them?  Except I guess celebrity blogs - but they limit themselves to tweets, don't they?  Or maybe a blog with a narrow focus, like a cooking blog, several of those, none, I suspect, as wildly successful as Julie Powell's riding on Julia Child's apron strings.  The best-selling Book of Awesome began as a blog when Canadian writer Neil Pasricha was at a very low point in his life and set himself an assignment to think of something good that happened each day.  

I'm no sure about my blog yet.  It's a pump-primer, that I know. It's good discipline and useful preparation for my big trip.  And I think it's beginning to serve as footnotes to the book I'm working on, about age.  I mean, what else could my blog be?  I am old and I am writing about what happens to me and what I'm thinking in my twilight years. I've actually quoted from one of my blogs - once -  in my book, though I'm not sure whether it will stick. 

Back to Julia Cameron.  I read it and worked on it when I was still living up north (in Muskoka).  There are some exercises she assigns that I don't think I could do now, living in a city as I do, with too many calls on me and too many distractions.  But if it appeals to you, check out her assignment for Week 4.  "Reading Deprivation" is a doozy.  I actually did it twice, about a year apart. Giving  up reading is harder than giving up booze, I think.  I mean, books are an addiction.  Readers used to share what was called a Gutenberg Complex.  I'm not sure what you'd call it now since print is going the way of the dodo bird. 

Think about it.

some days are diamonds

Thanks to a comment from "Pat" I found and listened to a song by John Denver, "Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days Are Stones".  She responded to my complaints about a day that had  turned out to be a frustrating obstacle course. I like John Denver but I didn't know that song.  Pat says she keeps a little bowl of pebbles with "diamonds" scattered among them, sparkly beads. Rhinestone buttons would be nice. That's a  lovely idea, thank  you.

I keep thinking of a line from that Rogers & Hammerstein song, from The King and I: "If you become a teacher/By your pupils you'll be taught."  Not that I'm teaching you anything with my blather, but Pat has taught me something. 

I think I stagger along from stepping stone to stepping stone (different kind of stone), clutching at signposts along the way to guide me or at least cheer me on.  I'll give you another line, this one from Marshall McLuhan.  He said "the price of eternal vigilance is indifference."  I think he was referring to the Red Telephone, the one that was supposed to ring when World War Three was imminent - or something. McLuhan thought that the people assigned to be on the alert for the phone would get tired of being so tense and would gradually slump into inertia or indifference. That's a small price to pay, actually, and I don't think it's true.  I think that the price of eternal vigilance is eternal vigilance. You can't ever let down.

"Don't give a inch."  I think that's from Ken Kesey but I could be wrong. I often am.  Still, it's another signpost to spur me on my way.

On my way to where? I  guess I'll know when I get there. In the meantime, I'm on the look out for pebbles and rhinestones. 

names

Years ago, one time on a trip to London, I went alone to a play - don't remember what play but it was a comedy. The whole audience burst into laughter at one character's line about using a Pifco.  I didn't know what that was. I asked my neighbouring seat-mate, a stranger to me, what a Pifco was.  She leaned over, very close, and whispered, very discreetly,  "It's a small electrical appliance,"  The brand name stood for the thing. That doesn't happen often, not to stick, and Brits do it more often.  

They say 'corn flakes' for all cereal.  They say 'Hoover" for vacuuming and also for devouring food ("I hoovered it up").  I guess the closest to that usage is in Newfoundland.  When a Newfoundlander says fish, he means cod.  All other fish are identified by their names.

Some brand names make it into a generic identity but it doesn't always last.  Xerox used to mean photo-copy, no matter what brand was used.  Not any more.  Thermos is still, I think, in wide general use but vacuum flask or bottle is competing with it.  Kleenex used to be king but there are lots of other brands, including generic ones, that are identified as facial tissues, including those cute little purse packs labelled SNIFF or with Xmas greetings on them. (Does anyone, except perhaps the Queen, remember handkerchiefs?)  Oh, and then there are Post-It Notes and Scotch tape, both from the same company, and they have stuck, if  you'll pardon the expression. I'm wondering if the indefatigable rabbit is beating out other batteries. Product recognition must cost a fortune.  

Is Coke synonymous with a soft drink, a thirst quencher, a happiness symbol? Okay, what about water?  Are we going to start identifying water with the safest, cleanest potable liquid we can find? buy?  Oh my.