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Psalm 23 on Stony Plain Road

I stopped to record this fragile scene yesterday. Motionless, protected from the December sun by a giant black umbrella, a figure wearing black boots sat pointed at a gravestone in the snow.

The poise and publicness of this silent communication were remarkable. Out of the frame, automobile traffic streamed by.

What is happening? Are memories being replayed? Answers sought? The news of the day shared? A promise kept?

And what is happening as I stare at the image, itself a recording of time vanished into the dark?

Today, I pedalled back to Westlawn Memrorial Gardens and added my prints to those that led to and from the marker.

One person, Johanna Hancock, is buried here. Johanna Hancock was born in Prospect, Clarendon, Jamaica in 1932. The gravestone is inscribed with the final line from Psalm 23: I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

According to an online obituary, Joan Miller leaned into the world. At age 24, she left her island for England, where she was accredited as a nu…

Word games people play, now

Joe South said it pretty well then: Oh, the games people play now/Every night and every day now/Never meaning what they say now/Never saying what they mean.
Eliot found words for the way words don't want to be found: Words strain/Crack and sometimes break, under the burden/Under the tension, slip, slide, perish/Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,/Will not stay still.
I listened to South as a boy. My parents had cool LPs. I found Eliot as an undergrad. I love those lines from Burnt Norton. The poet uses perish and decay to talk about words! As if they were alive. And that word still that ends the line, what connection is there to the plea in Ash Wednesday to teach us to care and not to care/Teach us to sit still.? 
(Perish. St. Francis Parish. Larry Parrish. Parrish played for the Expos before the parish had perished, and before the Expos had, too. Perish/Parish/Parrish the thought. Anyways.)
I was considering these and other things yesterday as I rode along the tired …

mcdaveni, mcdavidi, mcdavici

In the event that Oilers captain Connor McDavid scores five points in a victory at home against [insert opponent team name here], I offer this verse, with apologies to L. Cohen, to capture the scene as high-spirited fans wearing #97 sweaters stream out of the rink, high-fiving each other, on the way to the Edmonton night. And to get this out of my head.

Well, they looked up at the big scoreboard
That McDavid made and it pleased the horde
Because winning is quite therapeutic for ya

He got four points and then a fifth
The [insert opponent team name here] he did away with
Leaving dazzled fans approaching Ford Hallelujah...

This will happen. I want to be ready.

I am still trying to figure out how best to combine in verse McDavid scored with Taylor Hallelujah. That will have to wait for another day. 

Thank you, Sapporo! ありがとうございました

There must be imperceptible valleys of isolation between us.

Email has revealed this communication gap. You email me. I see it drop onto the top of the ladder of messages on my smartphone. I am content for now to know that your message has come in. I do not respond. You may feel slight anxiety with my delayed response to your call. I respond later. This is called asynchronous communication.

But it is all asynchronous communication, isn't it? The email version is just easy to see. Like the interval of white space between communication in the previous paragraph and It is at the start of this paragraph is easy to see. After I had hit the enter/return button.

Yesterday, Coffee Outside was marvellous. Most Fridays for almost three years now, summer or winter, for 10 minutes or two hours, a group of us bicycle riders in Edmonton have met in Faraone Park to drink and brew coffee and talk about the weather, the city, our travels, the media, bicycle components, issues of the day, works of…

Long live Leonard Cohen

It is now after midnight in Montréal. Leonard Cohen has been dead for one year. Is it ever November 7.

Tomorrow, I am off to Calgary for an evening bicycle ride with friends I haven't yet met to mark the first anniversary of the poet's death This may seem a strange thing to do. 

But I remember driving alone in the rain through the Rockies. It was night. I was on my way to Vancouver to start a new job. Taillights ahead comforted me. And Jennifer Warnes sang Joan of Arc from the cassette player. Into the smear of red and black I sang so loud. 
I remember running down Clinton Street with Shelagh on the way to see a play and I remember how we stayed in a restaurant afterward and ate fried chicken and drank and listened to music. 
There should be a plaque at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. Something to the effect of: From this bar Leonard Cohen was kicked out one winter night after making too much noise and without this expulsion he never would have met the University of Alberta …

Scenes from Saturday in Edmonton

"Are those AVOCADO earrings?!" the server asked Shelagh.

"Yes, they are," she replied with a bit of a head tilt to the right.
We were sitting for lunch at the Local Omnivore. I was a quarter way through a double burger so good I later walked up to the guys in the kitchen to say thank you.

The main wall at the restaurant is for writing on. I took a fat felt marker from the next-door table and, with squeaky ups and downs and crosses and loops, printed this: The poet's head is in the clouds. To which Victor Hugo replied: So is the thunder! I read that in the McLuhan biography I am close to finishing. Our server smiled when she read the words. She told us she plays violin. There is a Victor Hugo quotation in her studio at the University of Alberta. She read Hunchback of Notre Dame as a girl. Her father helped her. 

I started the day at Hap's. It was Fitz's turn to buy break…

See you at home!

"I'm gonna stop for some groceries," Shelagh said. "See you at home."

We were leaving, she in her little car, me on my bike, after having coffee at Iconoclast by the graveyard this morning.

I got home first. To a locked house. Unless I have to, I don't carry keys anymore. I still can lose keys if I don't actually have them on me, I have proven that. But it is more difficult. I took my phone out of my pocket to text Shelagh and get her ETA. Dead phone.

Locked out of house and phone, what do I do?

For whatever random reason, my first thought was to pedal to Meadowlark Mall and go to Tokyo Express for a double chicken rice bowl, with skin. Why this came to mind I have no idea. Then I saw the orange plastic ball by the stump of weeping birch in the middle of the back lawn. I keep the ball there on purpose. It's a reminder of boyhood. We used those iconic balls to play road hockey and indoor ball hockey and we also used them to play baseball at this tim…