Tag Archives: artistic life

The Porthole, Melbourne, Ontario, Canada.

Simply stated,The Porthole, the little coffeeshop is right downtown in Melbourne,Ontario. Downtown is marked clearly across the street on another heritage building that appears to be quite retired at the moment. Around the intersection of downtown Melbourne, Ontario there are some business concerns and agricultural spots but as far as I can tell, The Porthole is the only place to eat. On my drive today in search of out of the way places I drove past the little place a couple of times before deciding to try it out.

Country style, no fuss, just come on in and what will you have?

Drawn to the serving counter first I was met by the nicest soul and within minutes of chatting with her I had the story of the place. While finding out about The Porthole I could also sense the connection this wonderful lady had with the folks gathered there. As a newbie on the scene amongst a table of beautiful seniors, another table of friendly locals, several weathered handsome farmers, a few younger, slightly weathered handsome farmers and another artsy looking chap in a leather cowboy hat I felt like I was just one of the gang.

Back in the kitchen a couple of young women cooked our lunches but one ( who turns out to be the owner I believe) also came out on request to banter with one of the comical regulars. The scene was fun and unscripted and as good as anything you might see at Blyth. Around the corner of the kitchen wall I think I could see an old time pie safe or icebox. In any other place it would be all tricked out as a décor touch but not in this place. It was just part of the furniture.

Some sailing décor, in keeping with the name is there. Sailing is hardly a pastime in this spot as it is just farmland for miles around. The owners had at one time had a connection with Port Stanley and so the name, The Porthole. Social doings in the community like barbeque suppers are clearly posted, Girl Guide cookies were promoted at the counter and several squirrel and birdfeeders hang jauntily from the ceiling.

My lunch was good, especially the fries. The fries made me think of the kind of fries you get at the local fair. Coffee was good and in a big mug served with extra cream right from the carton. I didn’t ask to see the menu but I bet it is a good place to get good country food any season.

I will be going back to get another helping of a good lunch, a bit of banter and the warmth of human kindness.

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Yard Work, Digging Mostly

Keeping me on my toes, the gathering of two family members, a neighbour, my librarian and  her daughters, I went ahead with my night to meet and encourage other community writers.

The sensory games and  creativity ideas were tried. Some poetry, mine and another’s ( a professional) published piece were read. A story about the influences of the neighbour attending the event, upon my writing, was pulled for my stockpile and read in it’s entirety. We ate fruit and dessert squares. Another evening, led by me, encouraging young writers was planned for the summer.

In the meantime, stories and threads of ideas were revealing themselves, The group dynamics were interesting. From the mixture of a very small gathering came ideas of reading with very young children, the trauma of  caring for elderly pets,decluttering household contents and wondering about the unforeseen future, knitting, crochet, tatting, hooked rug making, church yard sales, baking, cooking, reading cookbooks, dealing with children, throwing away blackened pots of burnt spaghetti, recalling the chores of working with father in the barn milking the cows and going to the mill and cleaning the house, despising those awful hooked rugs so heavy to drag from the upstairs bedrooms all the way downstairs to air them and clean them while sister baked, studying French and setting up a writing blog …. one that the mom , the librarian, can’t read because it will be all about her according to one of the young daughters.

At the conclusion of the evening another neighbour arrived. A young mother returning her library books, noticing us finishing up the brownies and the fruit tray, realizing we were a bit over the closing hour at the library. Familiar to me, a neighbour, we often say hello. I knew she was a fellow teaching colleague on maternity leave and an artist. Now I know she writes a blog. From just skimming through some of her blog posts I’ve also discovered that her husband is a poet.

All in all, a successful gathering . A very small community gathering of supportive people just planting the seed and nudging together the warming circle of stories, ideas and creativity.Tending a word garden takes effort and patience and with a sprinkle or two of interest it might even take root.

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Little Did I Know

Deep down there is a belief that a profession in vulnerability would have been the right choice and I could have been a contender. It all bubbles up and down ,still there but all along but no one, including myself seemed to really notice or take it seriously because there were gaps of knowledge and confidence.

So wandering off  led to a very long road which with all the right turns and defeating disappointments led to here and there and now a stopping place where there are so many thoughts and dreams and memories and gaps in those memories that is almost funny.

Baffling.

Despite the loss of some of the unwritten songs that should have been belted out and too little and too late training in something poetic like a profession in vulnerability that would have been exciting, I managed.

Barely.

Yet no regrets because it all happened in a different parallel with all the fun and meaning still intact and it  left me at the end of the time used up and battered about but glad enough and relieved  there was just enough of me left to have the time to take each shattered piece and give it a turn in the sun and then shade and hide a bit of it in the dark and try to find something to say that matters in a time of strange human tragedy and confusion.

Writing.

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Pretty Much It

Neck high in the snow drifts is just one problem for a short and stocky bulldog. Over the head scary snowdrifts bank the roadway but smell very nice due to high squirrel traffic. The laneway is short and filled with two cars but it has a build up of ice that slows grandma down when she agrees to a outdoors session. At the end of the lane is a nice little brown collie and shepherd mix dog that has the privilege of sometimes running around loose to play and provides a fun break from the day to day short walks. The rest of the day is a bowl in the morning and one at night, Sleep periods in the sun on the old brown chair, play with the treat kong for a few minutes, brief business trips out the door, sleep periods on the warm floor intermixed with sleep periods on the soft white blanket on the couch and sleep periods on the wooly blue blanket on the best recliner. Spurts of sudden activity randomly engage the little bulldog girl when the ninja cat appears from behind the bedroom door. Grandma is close by, cooking things, doing laundry, tapping on the keyboard of her computer at all hours or sitting, resting, reading and drinking tea.Life in the country is pretty much as expected.

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Creative Recovery

Sleeping arrangements are fluid and depends on who gets the bed or basket or recliner

there will be

no television

when there isn’t enough

room

for both on the recliner so

pretending

to work at the computer is so boring and yet

comforting

it fakes

enough

that sleeping resumes and then television and a cup of tea is manageable

a constant supply of cheap food with pull

back lids set upon

a tea

towel on

a high level is tolerable

as loads

of laundry wind down to floor

mats and duvets and random

socks

yet still there are bins and baskets and bags and general loose ends that are set aside while swollen ankles ache and frozen shoulder seizes

dishes are reasonably clean and dirty

in a cycle of day to day existence in the middle of this shift in family, possessions, luggage, pets and dreams

while here

at the centre is a maternal management

worse for wear and exhausted by worry yet hopeful and proud

ignoring winter salt stains on the boots and the grit by the door for a little while longer until the sun warms and melts and the green shows through

perhaps revealing some

solutions

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Rockie Times Ahead

The dog moves back

soon

A dog in a bit of a crisis because her father is soon packing

a light bag of socks

and maybe a change of business

attire

dashing off

a plane trip or two

leaving

her with me

again

Arrangements to pack up the dog for the final leg of the journey to her new, exciting and distant home, her vast collection of chew bones, her crate and moderately smelly dog bed have yet to be finalized.

She has no idea

of these plans except for the odd flurry

activity

going on

in her usually quiet and calm hangout

in the artsy village

Suddenly

change is upon us

old story

new chapter

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Write Now

When I see a recently retired friend, neighbour or complete stranger I rarely bring up the fact that they are retired. I don’t think I’ve really ever made much of the fact that they are retired as it really isn’t my business and there are so many more things to talk about. However ,when I am out and about and run into these folks I am almost without fail asked about how I occupy my time these days in retirement.

Answers vary. Sometimes I say I do artsy things but that really confuses people. Sometimes I list things like…I go to the theatre, visit friends, read, write, putter around, cook, take care of things, pay bills and play with my sister’s grandchildren.

This really concerns some people.

They wonder if this is enough for me considering that in the years previous to retiring from teaching elementary school, I worked non stop, raised my son as a single parent, dealt with a very difficult divorce, helped my elderly mother, lead drama workshops, gardened, walked my dog, supervised a couple of cats, had a tearoom, baked pies and tea biscuits for the tearoom, did community theatre things such as organize, write, direct and perform as well as volunteer for front of house, usher, set dressing, costumes, dresser for actors and promotion of productions, taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir, exercised with friends, fixed ( as in paid for) a never ending pile of old stuff in and around my very old house including several vehicles, rented a couple  of cottages, drove up north on adventures to entertain my young son on his summer holidays, cut grass, did yard work, took dance classes, drama and professional qualifications courses, hung out with several very good friends, tried dating again with very limited success because I am a” jerk magnet”, lost a pile of weight, gained the weight back again, worked on never ending decluttering projects, scrounged and saved to put my son through university and support him in his theatrical pursuits and generally coped with stuff.

Now I continue to do theatre things with my adult son, enjoy my extended family, visit libraries “for fun”, read obsessively, blog, write a bit here and there, go to book talks, poetry nights, theatre outings with the girls, stay up late, watch foodie programs, cook a little, go to small farmer’s markets, visit a bit with my closest friends, supervise the golden years of a very old cat, provide dog babysitting for my son’s bulldog at the drop of a hat, do errands, fix things as usual, grow a few things, sit on my recliner, my porch and my yard swing watching the world go by, cope with my arthritis issues, try to be as healthy as possible and sometimes I even make it to church.

However, I don’t make a big deal out of finding out what others do in their retirement because I am a tad sensitive to the judgement of such an inquiry.

I never ask. I just write.

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Catching Up With Appearances

The last couple of days I’ve been getting ready for visitors. Preparations involve cleaning, tidying up, decluttering ,shopping and watching the weather forecasts. The cleanup should have been ongoing like a routine already established but it is easy to overlook cleaning when I’m mostly reading during the day and watching international cooking programs well into the night.

Suddenly, with the realization that things need doing and how I have interspersed my reading through the day and food show watching during the evening with laundry, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush, polishing up the cutlery, hiding old pots and pans, considering buying new pots and pans, buying nice fresh stuff to eat rather than making do with whatever surfaced, cleaning out the refrigerator, attempting to de-ice the sidewalk, buying extreme de-ice melt salt, giving up on improving the miserable chunky ice on the sidewalk and realizing that although things are significantly cleaner, better organized and presentable I could go on like this for several days before reaching the desired level of whatever I hope to achieve.

Considering that the weather is turning slightly foul and my visitors are travelling a far distance it is chancy whether or not that they will arrive tomorrow or postpone until next week. Either way, until they get here I can continue to move piles of neglected tasks around, scrub more corners with a toothbrush moderately improving my environment while finishing up reading the current three novels I’m engrossed in and binge watching foodie programs.

If this pace is maintained I will soon be worthy of starring one of those trendy home makeover programs that shame the  messy culprit with the before scenario and then praise the final results. Not only that, but another showcased skill  I could aspire to also would be a so called expert on cooking in New Zealand, Iceland, England,France, Singapore,  and diners and dives in the States, lifestyle and cooking tips from Toronto, Canada and  a soon to be informed individual on African cuisine. Not only that but I could discuss the merits of older style books by Thomas Hardy,Margery Sharpe, Willa Cather and Laurie Lee, just to name a few. I think the program would have an appeal, especially  among those of us truly glad to have visitors, only once in awhile.

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Wait Time

part of the day

a certain amount

of  business

the necessity brings it to the front of the line and it surfaces for  consideration

something must be done and so

the cycle continues without much

assistance

nevertheless the projects carry on as usual

waiting for the relief of a solution or an inspiration realizing that although broken and run down and grinding to a halt

the main drive is to endure

and

push

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Case Studied

The little boy was one of those

kids

that just made you

wonder.

At home he was a challenge but the parents didn’t let anyone know until the day before enrollment. A very cute and sweet little guy but not easy in the classroom, but not the worse case either. This type of child, the one you just wonder about comes along and it is just up to the teacher for the time being to think of strategies that might work. After all. when I was hired I was told rather point blank that I was being hired to be a thinking person.

So I did

just that and even tonight,

years

later,

I continue to

think about

the child and hope

all that has been tried

since then

is helping him progress

The thing is, the very heart of the matter is that he was just a small child with a comfort level in my classroom and knew I was a reasonable and kind soul that allowed him the understanding of his connection to his two toy cars and his  leather New Testament inside his metal toolbox.

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