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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

an offering from the bird

so, you've met the kids. Raven, the one girl among all that testosterone, has learned to deal with what life and brothers throw her, in a philosophical and humorous bent. in retalliation, they call her, sometimes affectionately, sometimes, disparagingly, "the bird".

about a year ago, eldest son Mitchell took it into his head that he must contribute his part to saving the planet, by joining the military. being raised by one of those mislead parents who believed guns are not toys, and wouldn't let him play with them, he seems to have rebounded in the opposite direction from his poor, foolish mummy. the universe, however, conspired against him, and he wasn't able to complete boot camp, much to his disgust, and my relief. but it raised quite a stir in the family. Below is the email his sister sent round once she'd recovered from the initial shock. no, she didn't actually implement any of her schemes, so she was not responsible for his disappointment.


Greetings from your flatland kin,

I just got a call from my mother today verifying that my older lemming, Er I mean sibling has officially joined with the armed forces. While I'm usually a big fan of natural selection I'm still harboring secret hopes of eventually having a niece or nephew for Brooklyn and since Kathie and I have yet to discuss her future reproductive plans, Luke is still far too young, and David seems well on his way to creating the first Robo-wife, Mitchell is still my best bet. On that uplifting note I thought I'd share a few random plots I've been incubating just in case the psychiatric evaluation proves to be less than thorough and additional steps are needed to preserve his Canadian bacon.

1) Accidents happen, especially to Mitchell. The untimely loss of a few toes or perhaps a trusty trigger finger would certainly have a negative impact on anyone needing to pass a military physical without greatly affecting the social life of the unfortunate victim, after all chicks dig scars. One possible winter scenario involves a large bottle of vodka, a cauterizing knife, grape kool-aid to simulate gangrene, and a Hawaiian pizza. Ok, the pizza was just in case I got hungry.

2)Despite the expanding of the world market and liberated TV censorship (with the exception of a few interesting web sites) today’s military remains as red-neck and blatantly homophobic as ever. A simple tweaking of his kit bag on the way to basic training, say an exchange of all of his boxers for something a little more wearable, like a few tasteful lace thongs (Victoria’s secret is doing some great things in camouflage this season), along with some alternative reading material and a scantily clad masculine photo or two and we'll have him back faster than you can say "Rifle Drill".

3)If all else fails perhaps we could try reasoning with him. Even ignoring the fact that he was probably voted "most likely to shoot own foot off" by his graduating class it could be he just needs a little assistance in isolating the underlying needs that have lead to his latest life choices. For example if he wants to see the world he could explore a fast paced and exciting career as an airhostess (never underestimate the element of danger added by the possibility of developing a sudden peanut allergy). Or if he feels he needs to seek a deeper meaning in life, he might consider joining a nice cult or religious splinter cell (not only are they better funded than the Canadian military, they also tend to have more modern equipment and more firepower)


Monday, June 16, 2008

it came from the music

It came from the music

Evening. Scents of fried baloney, cabbage, macaroni and cheese linger. South facing bedroom window. Summer sun still strong outside, though it's evening. Yellow plastic curtains stamped with images of white and yellow roses flutter lazily as he house exhales the day, inhales the first breath of night.

Green plastic radio, on folding T.V. tray by the bed. The remains of a candle in the shape of a smiling sun have joined radio and table in its waxy embrace, blobs and gobs of pale yellow wax puddled and hardened in a caricature of the shape of the radio, against metal. When the girl thinks to dust, she dusts around this now permanent landscape of the table.

Need music. Twirl radio dials. Boring….. twist. static. restless. Twirl. Mixed voices of two channels, battling for supremacy. Twirl. More static. Twirl. Faint…. The dial turning slower now, Growing louder… Evangelical passion fearful for her soul. Twirl. Static. Twirl. Soft, curving line of sound threads itself in one ear. Winding in elegant curls around her brain, caressing it. Darker, thicker threads join and weave and fold themselves into more than her brain can hold. So her heart makes room. It swells and aches with this monstrously beautiful sound, like none she has heard before. This is the sound of every feeling she has ever felt. It’s the contents of her soul made audible. She reaches for her drawing pad. Between her knees is the chipped mug filled with pencils she sharpened before she wedged the thin pillow between her and the rusty brown of the iron bedstead. She opens the book, “how to draw dogs” to the first illustration. And her pencil begins a dance across the paper. Tentative, cautious, at first, learning the steps as it goes.

2 hours later, the pad is empty, the pencils all dull. The music has ended. Fearful that she will never find the station again, she leaves the radio on as she turns out the light and pulls the worn coverlet to her chin. With the volume turned down. At some time in the night, she wakes with the terrifying thought that someone could bump the radio and she’ll lose the music. She turns on the light, finds a pencil with some lead still showing, and writes the numbers the dial points to on the cardboard backing from the used drawing pad. Back in the darkness under her patchwork quilt, she thrashes and tosses, worrying that the cardboard will be lost. Once again, the light goes on. She searches her school pencil case for a black inked permanent marker, writes the numbers on the unfinished wood at the bottom of her sock drawer, and at last falls into an uneasy sleep.

A wad of pages, tattered and grubby, crinkled and abused. No tidy manuscript, this. Each page has a life, a personality of its own, and refuses to conform to the shape of its neighbors. He lifts the top one, a pencil drawing of a Great Dane, from the heap. Strong, bold lines, clear highlights and shadows – a good likeness. It has her name on it, but this is like nothing he has seen her do before. This uncommunicative adolescent who seems to have no friends. This awkward, frumpy child who can’t be coerced or intimidated into completing any assignment she hasn’t taken an interest in.

“Where did these come from?” he asks her.

“from the music,” she answers, with something that sounds like awe in her voice.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

men in black

L to R David, Raven, Luke, Mitchell

it's a rare thing for all the children to be in the same place at the same time. but it was the youngest (and tallest) lad's graduation from high school, so eldest bro (far right) come south from his home in the Yukon, and other, slightly older bro (far left) came from Edmonton, where he's in University. we all gathered @ sis's (she's the one in the dress) in our best clothes and went out on the town. though it wasn't planned that way, we all showed up in black. that seems to happen a lot in our family.... all color coordinated, without consciously trying.

Monday, June 2, 2008

food with thought behind it


from left to right, Champ, Ryan, Taylor and Brooklyn.  Champ is so named in Ryan's expectation of taking the regional championship at his local 4H judging, a couple of hours north of Waynorth.  the H's are explained in the 4H pledge.

"i pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking, my HEART to greater loyalty, my HANDS to greater service, my HEALTH to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world"

not a bad way to raise kids.

Ryan is one of my violin students. now a handsome and strapping young man of 15, we've been friends (excepting a brief lapse when i first made him use a metronome) since he was 5. He still doesn't like metronomes, but i think he's forgiven me.  He's recently also taken up the trombone and the bagpipes.  he looks very suave in his new kilt.  Taylor is my granddaughter, Brooklyn's friend.  the photo is from a visit to Ryan's family farm a few weeks ago, to see the lambs.  Champ was a bonus, just because Ry is so proud of him.  

at the time of the photo, Champ weighed in at something between 1100 and 1200 pounds.  so, i was thinking of the two of them this evening when, in search of locally produced protein, i attended our town's 4H sale.  imagine a slender 13-year-old girl, maybe 82 1/2 pounds, with teased, bleached hair and makeup on a face that look like she just stepped off a teen magazine photo shoot, in very tight designer jeans, firmly escorting the 950 pound black angus steer she had raised from its birth, around a ring liberally dolloped with fresh cowpies.  and the steer was getting away with nothing.  or a rail thin boy of 9 wrestling manfully with an even larger 'calf'.  the calf never got the better of him, but they both knew it was a near thing.  another of these 'babies took a flying leap, lifting his solid 6 foot tall date right off the ground with him.  

not that i was intimidated, but i bought a lamb.