Bistro

Bistro Cover

Bistro

Thank you, Allan Hudson, for your kind words about my book of short stories entitled Bistro. Allan has also set out a brief introduction to five other novelists, several of them close friends and admired acquaintances.

Bistro was one of three finalists in the New Brunswick Book Awards (2016-17). I think it was the only self-published book to make the finals. So, all of you struggling self-publishers, it can be done and we can get recognized, as we know from the results of one of this year’s major French book awards, awarded to another self-published author, much to the chagrin of all the French publishers who had already turned his book down. The message to everyone is simple: “Don’t get off the bus. Keep believing. Finish the journey.” And remember, you’ll never finish the journey if you get off the bus / train / boat / plane / tram / trolley / whatever … before you reach your final destination.

The cover photo, incidentally, is one of my cartoons that has appeared on these pages before. It shows a bird-man, beak open in astonishment, watching three ships approach his belly-button, as he sits there, naval-gazing, or should that be navel-gazing? “I saw three ships come sailing by …”

You can link to Allan’s Blog, the South Branch Scribbler, by clicking on the link. Bistro, incidentally, is available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle.

Light

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How these flowers change with the changing light. This is full daylight, with the sun to the south shining directly on the house.

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This is the evening light, with a low sun shining from the west straight along the footpath. I am always amazed by what Monet saw in his paintings of light as it fell at different times of the day on various objects. The cathedral face at Rouen is a prime example. Here, in my garden with the hollyhock, I see how its colours change, how texture alters, how different features become more salient at different times of day.

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Sometimes it is hard to believe it is the same flower. We were so surprised when we first saw it, that we nearly pulled it up, thinking it was a weed. Luckily, we didn’t, and it rewarded us with a summer long, now into fall, series of blossoms, not to mention a myriad seeds for next season. We have become quite good friends, this hollyhock and I and we talk together regularly. Sometimes the other plants get jealous, and you can see they have faded slightly, bewildered by  his glory.

Smurfs

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Smurfs at Mactaquac

There’s something special about our Fall, here in New Brunswick. At Mactaquac Provincial Park, just beside the Beaver Pond, a group of travelling Smurfs have avoided the hurly-burly of the camp ground and put up their houses in the woods. Lots of things handy: water, shelter, shade, and the Convenience Store just around the corner and down the road.

The New Brunswick Smurfs, if you can find them, are interesting people. This group has constructed temporary homes in different sizes for the adults and the little ones. We didn’t see Papa Smurf, or anyone else, while we were watching, but he’s probably in there somewhere, with the family, keeping them quiet and waiting till we move away. Then they can all come out again and nature watch in relative safety.

 

Falling into Fall

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Falling into Fall

Not just Beaver at the Beaver Pond. Wonderful, this transition from end of summer to start of fall and look, there’s  a little pot of gold at rainbow’s end. By tomorrow, some tiny mouse will have gnawed the edges in search of sustenance. Meanwhile, this moment of perfection caught forever in the transient eye of the passing camera. Tread carefully when you walk these woods. Look everywhere, not just at the path ahead. But watch out for those tree roots. Their little hands will reach out and pull you down and you’ll roll in the already fallen leaves, an old man turned into a child once more. But oh, it’s so much harder to leap to your feet and run, run, run from shadows and the nightmare hands that haunt your dreams and reach out to grasp you.

 

A Cobbled Life

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A Cobbled Life

I have been writing away, but keeping it to myself. No more posting original material on Facebook or the Blog. I feel a little bit knotted and washed up by the tide, tied in knots, so to speak. Never mind. There’s lots of old material and photographs to work with. I am tired of reading “publishing on your blog or social media counts as a publication.” Like heck it does! Try going before the Promotion and Tenure committee with articles from blog, photos from Facebook, and a collection of letters to the editor of the local newspaper.

MT 2-6 Monkey Meets An Anarchist Ant

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MT 2.6
Monkey Meets An Anarchist Ant

(Memories of El Camino de Santiago)

The anarchist ant dresses in black.
He wears a little red base-ball cap
backwards on his head.
His eyes are fiery coals.

“Phooey!” He says.
“It’s folly to go with the flow.”
So he turns his back
on his companions and marches
in the other direction.

Some ants call him a fool.
The Ant Police try to turn him.
The Thought Police try
to make him change his mind.

Others, in blind obedience
to a thwarted, intolerant authority,
first bully him, then beat him,
then bite him till he’s dead.

Comment: One of the legends of the Road to St. James, the pilgrim route across Northern Spain that I walked in 1979, states that if you do not walk the road as a human being, in your own lifetime, you will come back as an ant and be forced to walk it ant form, when you are dead. I stood on the hill outside Astorga, looking back at the city. On the old pilgrim road, at my feet, and beneath the old Cruz de Harapos, a colony of ants was busy walking in a long line towards Santiago de Compostela. One turned his back on the group and started to walk the other way, but he didn’t last long. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard.” Fair enough. But watch out for the ant-police and the thought-police. 

Obsolescence

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Obsolescence

The programs that no longer work.
The files you can no longer access.
Photos that vanish
leaving a blank space in the album.

Memory that goes on the blink.
Forgotten phone numbers,
the birthdays of family members,
that carton of eggs left in the store,
your cousin’s face, her name,
the parking spot where you left your car.

“What day is it today,” you ask,
for the second or third time.
“What time is it?”
“Who’s that coming for tea?
Are you sure I know them, dear?”
“Where did you say we were going?”

“Just round the corner, to visit a friend.”
Or should that be … round the bend?

Comment: Apparently I placed this poem on Facebook a year ago, but I have found no trace of it here, on the blog. This time last year, I lost both of my computers to what was diagnosed as obsolescence. Luckily I had most things backed up. The group who swore they could transfer 99% of my hard-drive material to the new machine, migrated just 1% (my desk top) and the other 99% went on walkabout. I was able to piece much of it back together, but obsolescent programs and out of date apps no longer functioned. So much material was deemed irretrievable. This experience made me realize, yet again, how fragile is our hold on our possessions, our memories, our sanity, and yes, our very lives. For me, it is a very sobering thought that, with a flick of a switch, I, like my computer, could be turned off, and 99.9% of the wonders of my beautiful existence would totally disappear from the memory-banks of this earth. Some say, and I believe them, that, like my computer, I will be re-cycled, recirculated. I will become a part of the wider oceanic world-consciousness. Alas, we can have faith in whatever we wish to believe, but sometimes, we really don’t know.