Showing posts from 2017

Black Diamond

A little book found me a few weeks ago in a store in Black Diamond where we had wandered on a trip to Waterton. Somehow, I'd never seen unmediated Waterton. That baffled me.

The book is by Lewis Hyde and it's about the tricksters among us. Like all my favourite books, Trickster Makes The World has delivered the thrill of approaching something new, while also leaving a residue of regret that it has taken me this long to get there. And the sad certainty that I am skimming the surface of this book, and life.

It is by our likes and dislikes Hyde says John Cage says that we isolate ourselves from the wider mind and the big old world. Hyde:
Likes and dislikes are the lapdogs and guard dogs of the ego, busy all the time, panting and barking at the gates of attachment and aversion and thereby narrowing perception and experience.  My thoughts fire this way and that. Likes and dislikes—these are the words of engagement in social media. Lapdogs and guard dogs—Plato's Socrates says s…

On the streets where we live

I saw some things on the streets today. I heard some things, too.

That's Olga signalling a left turn above.  In her impromptu bike network master class, I learned about big green bike boxes and how to safely get across lanes of traffic on the 100 Ave portion of the downtown grid. What I heard: there is a safe place in the city's allocation of space for bicycle commuters.

I saw this dude's shoulder bag and heard him say he thought the new bike lane on 100 Ave was pretty good.

I saw no helmet on this bicycle rider. I saw her smile and heard her say hello as we passed.

"Whoa!" this pedestrian said as he walked on green and watched the car driver turn across his path.

A few blocks later, approaching the traffic signal on the Glenora multi-use path, I saw the green traffic light turn yellow and the yellow turn red, and, as I hummed some old April Wine as I always do when red and yellow seasons change in gear, oh yeah, I  heard the rev of a car engine behind me revea…

We are gathered here

A solemn scene surprised me this afternoon as I took the turn on Ravine Dr. and pointed for the 142 St. bridge. It shook me. It spoke the visual grammar of the ceremony at a graveside.

What I witnessed was the protocol of the aftermath of an automobile collision.

The sky was smeared with mascara grey clouds.

At the head of the procession sat a flatbed truck. It would soon be loaded with the damaged body.

Three people stood on the lawn. They looked up and down, this way and that. They swayed back and forth like metronomes. One held his arms crossed over his chest. Vehicles streamed by on 142 St. The sky sagged. This sudden congress was in no one's plans. 

On the sidewalk, apart from the standing congregation, clad in black jeans and hoodie, holding his hands over his eyes, lay, outstretched, a man consumed by an event that cannot be undone. 
I held my breath and pedalled through. 

Jasper bruin company

"There's your bear," Shelagh said this morning.

We were driving up to Miette, it was raining a little, and, there, right there, in the ditch off to the right, was a trundling bear. We stopped just ahead and looked back as the bear ambled out of the ditch and across the yellow line and into the woods on the other side.

We drove on a few hundred metres until we could safely turn around and then drove back looking, hoping to see it again.

We did.

It's usually good enough for me not to stop for wildlife beyond slowing down to pass safely. That's what we had done the evening before, coming back from Jasper, as a shaggy mountain goat stepped down a rock face.

But we had to stop for a bear. The poet says it just don't get no better than a bear.


Let's call the chance occurrence and development of consecutive Twitter posts from discrete tweeters, whether that conjunction is happy and beneficial or not, serentwitterpity.

This morning, for instance, @Penalosa_G celebrates open streets, while @TorontoStar reminds us of their fragility:

There is serentwitterpity when we reveal what we count:

Serentwitterpity happens when points of view about where viewpoints should be pointed clash: 

Serentwitterpity often leaves the one who experiences it with a residue of regret.

Regret and rue are worth sharing. Share your serentwitterpities with me. I'm @kub64. :)

The examined ride

The examined ride is worth reliving.

It started when Tim caught up to me on Jasper Ave this afternoon. By the time we reached Railtown, we had had a good talk about our public duties as bicycle riders. He shared a story. I shared mine about the day last week I watched, while stopped, a fellow bicycle rider fly through a red light, oblivious to the couple who had the pedestrian-walk right-of-way, narrowly missing them.

I told him I was surrounded by a double dilemma before I could check to see if my Go Pro had captured the scene. First, I routinely share images of automobile drivers showing disrespect to bicycle riders and pedestrians. Left turners, crosswalk deniers, bike-bus-taxi lane interlopers, middle-finger wavers and the rest of the fish in the barrel. But what to do now? Here was a member of the club behaving badly. Do I share the image, or quietly censor it? Then, what to do about the actual bicycle rider? Do I try to catch up and share my thoughts? I did. And when I got home…

There's no denying Clarence

At Andy's IGA we glided to a stop and Shelagh went in to get some groceries for supper. I stayed behind to mark the bicycles.

A tall figure rattled his shopping cart past the bench I sat on. He had just finished his shopping trip. His cart was overflowing with plastic bags bulging with the shapes of concealed packages and cans and pieces of fruit. He had spent a lot of money, I thought. The man was pushing the cart, but he also seemed to be steadying himself with it. His tan jacket was unzipped even though rain was falling. His pants flapped around his ankles as the wind blew. The ashy, orangey tip of a cigarette looked like a dead fuse as it hung from his bottom lip. He coughed. He stopped in front of me. I decided to slowly pick up and go to cleaner air. I have a chronic bronchitis condition.

"What's the trophy for?" he asked, pointing at the back of my bicycle. His voice was lighter than I had imagined.

Earlier in the afternoon I was at a team-building bowling co…

Sick day with a good book

Here, preserved in the brine of Twitter for as long as the container holds, is a selection of logogram/emoji I worked up this afternoon reading Chapter 6 of The Marvelous Clouds by John Durham Peters and considering writing, the wind, pens, pencils, lipstick, reading, ants, music, the dead, time, sound, birds, atonement, beauty and forgiveness. Thinking about the basics while watching the Raptors-Cavs game and fighting a sore throat and a bit of pain behind the eyes.


Cassini, Huygens, Carter

This is a remarkable photograph. At first, as usual, I missed what is most remarkable about it. Typically, I miss the remarkable. As usual, I rely on friends to point it out.

For those who have been living under a rock on Mars, and who haven't seen this image, it is us. The cosmic speck is Earth, viewed through the rings of Saturn, from the Cassini space probe.

I was talking about this photo across the desks with Dale Carter last week at work.

I was coming at it from above, half-remembering a Christiaan Huygens quote from Carl Sagan's Cosmos that inspired me as a high school student. The we're-so-small-in-the-scheme-of-things, the why-do-we-divide-against-each-other-to-rule-some-pitiful-corner-of-this-small-spot point of view so bracing for a Cold War child at odds with his teachers.

Dale was coming at it from below, from Earth.

He said: "The most amazing thing about that pic is that we put the camera there and got the image back."

Yes, I thought in kinds of sha…


Pauline Kael did it her way, Siskel and Ebert theirs, and each of IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and reviews movies in its manner. My way is simple. Am I still thinking about the movie when I wake up the next morning?

I woke up this morning thinking about Maudie.

It is the story of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis and her husband Everett and the tools they use.

It is about more, of course. It's about the small rooms we live and create in. And about the crooked being made straight, and the straight crooked. It's about light and windows. It's very much a love story. And it's very very much about the tools that Maud and Everett use.

Everett (Ethan Hawke) is a fisherman who uses a hatchet, an axe, a hammer, a spoon, a wheelbarrow, a scythe, and, memorably, once, his hand. Maud (Sally Hawkins) uses a hatchet, a cleaning brush, and, memorably, throughout, a paintbrush. And a cigarette. She holds a cigarette like a fuse.

The filmmakers who gave us Maudie built it out of …

Seeing trees

This is a pic posted by my friend Wendy. Wintry scenes like this are everywhere in Edmonton today. Wendy and the rest of us are contemplating the meaning of April in a city at 53 degrees north latitude.

Wendy is not one of the drippers. But the drippers are with us. I recognize them because I used to dripdripdripdripdrip, too. I understand why they call this weather horrible. The main reason is this: they have never considered what horrible is. And this: they haven't read enough Maya Angelou.

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you'…

Citizen Cane

This was the view from my bicycle seat as I came up on 121 Ave at 116 St this afternoon. The man with the cane had just used it as a baton to signal the driver of the left-turning automobile that it should flow across his path, leaving free his line to the opposite curb.

The van driver complied and combusted by me and out of view. The cane, it turned out, was also a wand.

The man took a step off the curb and started walking with a slow, jerky rhythm across the avenue. The snowflakes were so light they twirled up with the wind, seeming never to hit the pavement. The man turned his head to me. I said hello. He nodded and underlined his wordless greeting by lifting his left arm and waving the cane in my direction. The cane, it turned out, was also a kind of prosthetic and punctuation device.

Then the man again anchored the cane on the pavement and resumed his trip to the other side. One, two, three, one, two three. The cane, it turned out, was also a kind of accompaniment.

Face north

A bicycle ride to the north end is, unavoidably, intriguingly, deliciously, sadly, sweetly, a journey into the past.

The Byzantine rite domes of St. Josaphat Cathedral rise above the roofs of McCauley.

In the distance, through the arch of bare trees, Commonwealth Stadium sits waiting.

Simple and straightforward. No wasted punctuation. Eavestrough might be candidate.

Tran's Foodland, fading.

White door, black-and-white address sign, rust mailbox, black plastic garbage bag in the sun.

The Coliseum is ground zero of the Oilers mythology. 

The exclamation mark is all that's left of Edmonton's meatpacking district. 

A lagoon of winter melt mirrors the brick tower.

Like, later, words from foreign languages, train cars from beyond told boys riding bikes that there was a beyond.

We saw, we heard, we watched trains. I learned later that some words carried anhydrous ammonia.

A friend to the birds, wheeling and cawing above.

An incinerator used to stand right here. We played footbal…