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Margaret Atwood Travels Further Than Ever – Blessed Be!

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I have noted some folk looking at this post from a couple of years ago. I had put it up because of the success of the television series, A Handmaid’s Tale.

Now, Ms. Atwood has produced a new novel, The Testaments, [which, by the way, has a brilliant front and back cover] with an international launch from London, England. I can humbly state that my part in her literary life remains the same.

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It was not my intent to piss off Margaret Atwood.

The opposite, in fact. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration.

She was giving a reading at the University of New Brunswick in my student days. I attended, but there was quite the gathering and she was whisked away at the end. However, I overheard there was a ‘gathering’ in her honour. Invitation only, of course. Academia and literati.

I crashed the party (that was the term used by the professor who clapped his sturdy hand upon my shoulder but – happily – did not thrust me into the night).

But Ms. Atwood was kept deep in many a learned conversation and I had no opportunity to converse. I did, however, overhear where she would be spending next afternoon – the historic University Observatory.

Next day I knocked upon the Observatory door.

It was not a cheerful Margaret Atwood who answered, and answered with alacrity.

She asked my name.

She asked my business.

And she asked how the hell I knew where she was. She had stolen the day to do some writing. Some ‘real’ writing, in this window-of-opportunity grudgingly offered on the book tour.

At least I was there to praise Atwood and not to bury her with some essay question.

Nor had I a manuscript to hand to her.

I might not have garnered a smile, but her curt thank you was reward enough.

For me, at least.

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Trump & SCOTUS Walk Into A Bar

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~ You are being scurrilous, Mr. President.

~ What?

~ Insulting.

~ After what you Marble Palace bastards did to me?

~ Not us.

~ Then who?

~ The US.

~ What?

~ The Law, Mr. President. Of the Land.

~ I put some of you bastards in place.

~ But you can’t put the Law in its place.

~ I’m POTUS. I’m above the law.

~ Not above. Or below. Or equal.

~ I’ve got Power.

~ Not before the Law.

~ I’m the Leader. Elected by the people.

~ Before the Law, you are but E Pluribus Unum.

~ What does that mean?

~ You don’t know?

~ Why should I?

~ It’s on all the money.

Canadian, eh = THE GOLDEN PHONE

I can testify to the veracity of this blog. I wrote the book.

On the River 2009+

FROM: Canadian, eh – Canada Day 2003;

AKA: Canadian, eh; God’s Country Only in Canada, you say; Proud Canadians; Ten Cents;

An American decided to write a book about famous churches around the world. For his first chapter he decided to write about American churches. So, he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would work his way across the country from South to North.On his first day, he was taking photographs inside a church when he noticed golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read “$10,000 per call.” The American, being intrigued, asked a priest strolling by what the telephone was used for.

The priest replied that it was a direct line to Heaven and that for $10,000 one could talk to God.

The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at…

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A Birthday Present For Kafka – Party On!

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(sweet baby Kafka)
03 July is Kafka’s birthday and –  I forgot.
I could say (without any honesty) that I am distracted by COVID-19 and all the changes (some of them fundamental) which are happening around me. {I had my own two week self-isolation to deal with}. BUT Kafka not only lived through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, he contracted the disease. And he survived, even though he already had the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him six years later.

But, this morning, a Twitter respondent from across the Atlantic reminded me. I have already thanked her. So, I will repost my Kafka Birthday blog.

First, is the letter I have written to him (as yet, unanswered).
Second, is the diary entry I gave him for his birthday, from my novel, Kafka In The Castle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Present / Your Future

Still in this World

A Life Away

Dear F:

You would find it perverse to be wished a “Happy” birthday, but your response would be gracious. Such is the reality you understand, and how you deal with it. I have found that your reality is actually real.

Although it will give you no pleasure – well, ‘little’ pleasure – you are correct in all your observations.

Governments become the tools of the bureaucracies which run them. It doesn’t matter what type of Government, from the monarchy under which you lived, to the right wing horror of fascists that called themselves socialists, to the inept socialism pretending to be ‘for the people’. All three governments held their sway over the city where you spent your life. All three oppressed the people they ruled. All three looked after themselves first.

Writers are either writers or they aren’t. The urge to write encircles one like a snake around its prey. Feed it and it won’t quite squeeze you to death. You can not ignore it – even at your peril. It is with you every hour of every day, ever inquisitive and (sadly) always looking for something better.

Love is a see-saw of extremes. Every high guarantees a low. Every low reaches for a high. Every high reaches for a high. When these hills and valleys are eventually levelled, they are still desired.

Sex is highly over rated. The thing of it is, even rated fairly ’tis a consummation devoutly to be had. Yes – I know – you appreciate Shakespeare. On a par with Goethe, even if you can’t bring yourself to say the words.

People are just one damned thing after another. Of course, so many people have brought you blessings, you throw up you hands to ward off the snake. And sometimes – some few times – it loosens its grip.

There is no castle with walls thick enough to hide against the perils of being human. Which is why you never tried.

Except the grave, of course.

Except the grave.

Yours,

D

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

03 July 1918
 
The anniversary of my birth.
 
In celebration of the day, I did not make it my last.

Kafka And Trump Walk Into A Bar

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{I wrote this after Donald Trump was elected President of The United States of America.  He is still in place.

Today an article popped into my news stream entitled : “Trump Has Franz Kafka Spinning His Grave”. You can find it here: https://www.laprogressive.com/trump-has-franz-kafka-spinning/

So, in honour of Kafka (and I have visited his grave), I’ll play it again, Donnie.}

““““““““““`

~ Frank. Welcome to your world.

~ Thanks, DT. I’ve been living it all my life.

~ I’ve taken some pages out of your books, Frank.

~ I did try to get them burned.

~ You didn’t try too hard.

~ Well – no.

~ You know – neither did I.

~ I know. They all ran to your tune.

~ They did.

~ You were the Pied Piper of Havoc.

~ Worked like a charm, Frank.

~ Yes, DT – yes, it did.

~ They thought I was a bug.

~ Yes.

~ But I turned them into bugs.

~That you did, DT. And turned them against each other.

~ Yes.

~ And stood back, and watched.

~ Pretty well.

~ To the victor goes the spoils.

~ I was astounded – believe me.

~ And they keep making the same mistakes.

~ I know, Frank. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so funny.

~ The one-eyed man is King in the land of the Blind.

~ Yes, Frank – yes. But you know what?

~ What?

~ I’ve got great vision in both eyes.

Canada Day Is Really Dominion Day – But A Beaver Remains The Same

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We know that Canada Day is really Dominion Day.

But – that said – there is still no better symbol for Canada than the industrious beaver. But even hard-working beavers hard-working beavers need their time at play. This is what I saw.

I was walking along the river and heard the strangest noise.

It was one of those noises which, when I found out what it was, sounded exactly as it should. A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river.

First there were small rolling noises, as the branch went through its hands.

Then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’.

And then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, until the beaver and I both heard noises in the river.We both saw another beaver approaching.

The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which). They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and sniffed each other. They then swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver that had first approached rubbed noses once again, then made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg). The sun was setting and they became difficult to see.

However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour and one headed to the other shore.

Perhaps they had just had a date. Perhaps they had just arranged for a date. Whatever the case, I had the distinct impression they were more than friends.

Ricotta and Bittersweet Chocolate Crostata (Gotta say, this is a blend that sounds superb.)

This crostata will never disappoint, just imagine a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top of a creamy filling of fresh ricotta and cream.

Source: Ricotta and Bittersweet Chocolate Crostata

Minty Gin Rickey (As there happens to be a BIG bottle of gin at hand – and fresh limes.)

Similar to a mojito, this Minty Gin Rickey recipe is made with gin, lime juice and club soda in an iced highball glass with muddled mint.

Source: Minty Gin Rickey

Alive In The World & Not Coming Home Dead

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So, fourteen days of self-isolation ended yesterday, and I went into the world. That, plus being super careful at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, meant I had not stepped into society for three and a half months (except for the inter-city bus ride to get me here).

Mask on face, I got on the city bus and sat in a designated seat, keeping folk (hopefully) at a healthy distance. Seating was reduced by half. Not everyone wore masks.

Reaching my destination, and out on the street where I could keep my distance, I pushed my mask off (though I did not put it away). There was moderate foot traffic, and it was not difficult to keep from getting close to people. I ‘d guess only one in twenty wore a mask.

I have a favourite walk along the harbour, and when I reached the water I attempted to set out on it. First, I did check to see if the public washroom was operating. It was. However, I found my usual trek was restricted by construction. I had to start along a city street, which is narrow this close to the harbour. There was no way not to be close to folk walking in my direction, and I pulled up my mask. Again, few others were wearing masks.

Once beside the water, where the wooden walkways are wide, it was much easier keeping away from other folk. There were many people there (it was a nice summer day) and the majority of them did not wear masks. Outside bars were open, and I saw groups of people (10 – 20) sitting at long tables. There were  also folk in twos and threes sitting on public benches.

I knew there would be no cruise ships in port (that business is dead for the year), but I eventually realised there were no pleasure crafts, either. All of the moorings were deserted, and it made quite a difference. The only marine traffic I saw was a Pilot Boat on its way out.

I did sit awhile (a favourite pass time) at an individual chair, and looked out toward the Atlantic Ocean. And was happy there was some breeze.

As I continued, I was surprised that (I believe) all the restaurants were open. Folk were inside and out on the patios. No masks were visible (except on the servers). There were reduced numbers, of course,  but I bet the restaurants were as full as they could be.

I eventually continued along the streets to get of a large grocery store. I had not been in a commercial building for three months. I lucked out when, as I entered, one employee was wiping down a shopping cart. I grabbed it. I was only getting a few items (though – as usual – there were some unplanned purchases). More shoppers had masks, but I’d guess 50% did not. Nor (you can believe this) did they all follow the arrows on the floor. Still, I was in and out quickly, paying with a credit card (I did see one person use cash).

Next door is a Liquor Store, and I made some purchases there. No one else wore masks. I did not stay long, knowing full well what I wanted.

The bus back was much like the one I took to the harbour. Enter by the side door. Designated seat. No ticket necessary.

So a day has passed. Purchases requiring refrigeration were disinfected and put away. The rest I’m just going to let sit until the respective safe time frames for the respective containers passes.

I decided to stay put today.

(image) https://i.pinimg.com/originals/64/9a/83/649a839d99330f27cfb30eaa867f3d61.jpg

Kafka Sees A Ghost’s Shadow From The Window

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An Excerpt from my Kafka In The Castle, where I fill in all of his missing diary entries. Kafka never avoided life – if anything, he perhaps plunged too deeply into it. But I think he never felt he was a part of what went on around him. He understood reality too well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

01 June 1917

I have been on the outside, looking in – the darkness of the night behind me, the fog resting close upon the harbour.

I’ve watched diners at their ease, the fire colourful through the grate, the rich hue of the glass raised to the lips. And my own face, peering back at me as I look in, reflecting like a ghost’s shadow from the window.

And the very next night, I have been on the inside, looking out – seated at the very table I had previously observed.

The fireplace at my back, its warmth more than welcome. And I glanced out at the harbour, its fog higher than the previous evening, but not yet obscuring the lights of the ships. Their portholes wavering.

And, as I brought the red liquid to my lips, I saw my own face dimly doing the same in the window, imposed and distant between me and the fog. And I felt as alone as I did the night before.

Whether I was sitting or standing; whether in the warmth, or in the fog – I was still me.

Always K.

Always observing.

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