Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Gran Via

The music starts before the doors close as we embark at Diego de Leon, heading for the Gran Via metro stop. The guitarist, a muscular guy in a tight back T-shirt, has a karaoke machine strapped to a wheeled cart. He's playing "My Way" with more passion than skill. His eyes close and he's really into it.

Across from me is an elderly man in an Espana ball cap. He shakes his head in disapproval. Two middle aged guys travelling with their wives each other a look that says "this shouldn't be allowed." But the guitarist plays on, oblivious. No one looks at him. But slowly, people begin to smile.

A blind man gets on the train at the next stop. The elderly man offers him his seat. He says no, he is getting off at the next stop.

The musician ends "My Way" awkwardly before beginning his second song. The middle aged couples are still smiling. The old guy looks grumpy.

The musician finishes his song and passes around his tin cup. The middle aged guys, the old man, some women, and my husband-who had had his headphones on all along-dig out some change.  His cup filled, the musician bows his thanks and exits the train.

The Gran Via.

The great road we all travel.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

When it's Sunday in Madrid

When it's Sunday in Madrid you sleep in.
You make espresso.
You eat bread.
You join Madrilenos as they enjoy their morning.
With churros and chocolate and cortado.
With church bells and family and friends and street musicians.
The elegant ladies with their matching shoes and handbags.
The young men with their long hair.
The Real Madrid fans awaiting tonight's game.

When it's Sunday in Madrid you think about how you live your life and how others live their lives and what makes a life.
You think about how you're alike and how you differ and why any of it matters.

When it's Sunday in Madrid.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Little Bits of Paper

My parents moved half a dozen times in the fifty years of their married life. 

A basement suite in Victoria, a small house in Trail, unique houses they designed and built in Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge. Every time they moved, stuff went with them. Furniture. Clothes. Household effects. Works of art. Mementos. 

And little bits of paper. So many little bits of paper, following them from place to place, packed, unpacked, looked at, put back in the box. Once or twice I have made a stab at going through these papers with an eye to discarding them. I look at these little pieces of paper, saved and stored over the years. I haven't had the heart to throw them out. 

Not yet.

Maybe today will be the day as I ponder my own possible next move.

Here, I find the lengthy correspondence detailing why the grandfather I never knew did not have his original birth certificate. Here, my mother's original teaching certificate. Her report cards. Diplomas. Awards. Newspaper clippings. The "Ritual Calling of the Engineer", inscribed with Dad's name from 1948. Blood donor records. The obituary of the navigator on Dad's aircrew. The death certificate of Dad's sister Muriel who died when she was three. Postcards. My father's Sunday School attendance records from 1937. Love letters. A newspaper article announcing my maternal grandfather's promotion to bank manager in the Highlands. My baptism certificate. Poems written by my brother. My great aunt's expired passport. Dad's letter announcing his resignation from his teaching career. "Dear Mr. Parslow: While my affection for young people as not diminished, my enthusiasm for entering the arena on a daily basis has..."

So many pieces of paper, sorted, packed, moved, unpacked, read and re-read. Added to and deleted from over decades of life.

Some make me smile like the Christmas card from my brother "Bobby" and the first thing I ever published in the Edmonton Journal and an article I wrote for the ATA News called "Nice Swim Doug". A photo of my four year old sister from the Peace River Block News. Emails sent by my junior high daughter, printed off and stored away. 

Some make me wonder. Why this one Mothers' Day card with the cute kitties? Then I read  inside. "The world needs more mothers like you. One more anyway." A card sent to my mom from my cousin just a few months after her own mom had died.

Each piece saved for a reason. But what reason? Who were they saving it for? Each other? Their kids and grandchildren?

Decades of their life story in bits and pieces. 

The housekeeper in me wants to throw it away. The archivist in me wants to curate it. The librarian in me wants to organize it. The writer in me dreams of telling their story. 

But the daughter in me puts it back in the box. 
Little bits of paper. 
Your journey is not over yet.

Top Ten Reasons Jason Kenney is Touring Alberta in a Pickup

Today Jason Kenney began a truck tour of Alberta to drum up support for his bid to become leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives and "Unite Alberta" in the way only a guy in a Dodge Ram can do.

Kenney will tour the province in a truck the colour of the Alberta flag, bunking in with friends he hasn't met yet so he can get to know the "real" Alberta, apparently including the non-existent town of "Whitelock" which he announced he would visit early in his tour.

Mr. Kenney currently sits as an elected Conservative MP for the riding of Calgary-Midnapore with a yearly salary of more than $170,000. Generally, elected officials in Canada use the time when the legislature is not sitting to visit their constituencies and serve the people who elected them. Not so the former Liberal-turned-Reform-turned Conservative Mr. Kenney who apparently feels the time is right to capitalize on his knowledge of government misspending obtained during his tenure as first executive director of the Alberta Taxpayers Association, an organization to which very few Alberta taxpayers belong.

Why is Kenney touring the province in a pickup? My top ten list.
  1. Wants to find out the correct place names of Alberta towns. Which he never learned due to the "social engineering" rampant in our school system.
  2. Gotta have a gun rack, bro
  3. Mom never let him drive a truck when he was a kid 
  4. Needs to fit in with the guys in the parking lot when his buds are watching the peelers
  5. How else will he haul the quad?
  6. Wants to take advantage of the cheap cost of fuel before Notley's carbon tax kicks in.
  7. Chicks dig a guy with a truck
  8. Looking for places where he won't even see a niqab.
  9. Prius don't run so good in wintertime.
  10. Truck nuts don't fit on the Taurus


Jason Kenney.
You haven't lived in Alberta for nearly 20 years. 
You wear a suit every day.
You listen to Gregorian chants on your Ipod.

And you're couch surfing Alberta in a pickup?