Monday, April 25, 2016

Weed’s diary, April 25, 2016

Weed’s diary

April 25, 2016,

I am started to get tired of Mike again.   It’s been that way since we first met at Western on orientation.  He’s a good guy, but even for a stoner like me, his work ethic is crap.  Sometimes he’s a fun guy to be with and sometimes you want to spend the day slapping him silly and saying, “Get off your lazy butt.”

He got beat up by Mrs. Dingle’s relatives for plagiarizing most of her life for his book Stone Season.  I don’t know why that book sold, but we live in an age where “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a best-seller and it is total garbage.  If you make money, everyone’s looking for a way to cash in too.  I don’t blame Mrs. Dingle.  I remember her telling us those stories about her ex-husband when we roomed in her house.  When I read Stone Season, I knew exactly where Mike got that story. 

We came back from Japan, where Mike tried to get Brian Enjo to tell him his family life story.  Brian basically threw us out of his house.  Now Mike has the outline of a novel and that’s all he can talk about.  “I have an outline, but I don’t have an ending. The thing that keeps me from writing a novel is the arduous task of actually writing a novel! Also, after writing the outline, I realized I’d have to do a significant amount of research on the BC railways in the 1970s. I’ve started doing that—sort of.”

BC railways in the 1970s.  They say, “Write what you know” and for Mike that’s like he is a senile Canadian woman in her late 60s.  The story is about a middle-aged married woman who rides a train in BC in the 1970s to visit her married ex-boyfriend from art school and how she finds herself after shacking up with him.   It’s like The Bridges of Madison County except in British Columbia.  Michael is thinking about calling it “The Trains of British Columbia”, but I think people would think that’s a history book and not a romance novel. 

Here’s the funny part.  When Mike was doing his last book, he said the exact same thing.  Outline.  No ending.  Then he goes to spend a week with his mother and magically a book appears.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that his mother is the one writing the book or knows someone who is writing the book.   Mike says things about how novels often “write themselves, because characters often tell you things you didn’t know, and the story will sometimes take on a life of its own. The ending is sometimes changed by the muse, which takes over, and the author simply goes along for the ride!”  Well, eh, if someone’s ghosting the book for you, then I guess it would feel that way.  For the rest of us, creativity is hard work.

I love the guy.  He’s great in bed.  But then there’s the rest of the day.  I take my own photographs and run my own studio.     You have to have some kind of personal integrity with your art.  You go and do it.  You don’t say, “All I have to do is sit down and begin to write, but I haven’t yet found the energy, the time, or the courage.”  I have to get away from him when he starts talking like that.

I slept with Carleen last night.  It was the first time in a month.  She keeps hoping we’ll get married someday and have babies, but I am not that kind of guy.  I think she would have married another guy, but she keeps hanging around.   She puts up with it when I sleep over with Mike.  She doesn’t even mind when I sleep with my studio models.  My sister Sophie thinks Carleen is only hanging around me so she can get my money or my father’s money really.  She could be right.  There’s nothing creepier than hanging around and being nice to somebody because you hope they will make you rich someday.

The guy with my drugs is here.  I’m out,

Josef Myron Weeder, Jr.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Iris’ diary, April 22, 2016

Iris’ diary

April 22, 2016

Jim would be 95 this year.   There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about him, but sometimes the life with Jim seems like it was a long time ago, even though he died just 6 years back a few months after his namesake, James Allen was born. 

Now that I live in Barrie with my daughter Sarah and her husband Adam in the “granny cottage” attached to their house, the only time I get reminded of life with Jim is when April comes to visit.  She’s in school all the way over in Guelph and she still manages to drop in.  When I was living in Milborough with Jim, she was also the one who always seemed to find the time for us.  She would bring over Dixie, Jim’s dog and she would play guitar for Jim.  What a sweet girl she is.  I can see a lot of Jim’s kindness in her, which is more than I can say for the rest of her wretched family.

I know when you’re the second wife, once the partner tying you to the family dies, it’s not unusual for the tie to the family to be broken.  I never would have expected it to have happened as swiftly as it did with those Pattersons.  One moment they’re bringing a newborn great grandson to visit and the next, it’s like they never knew you.

But I can’t say I wasn’t forewarned.  A cousin of John’s, Fiona Brass, came to visit with me at Jim’s funeral and she told me they would abandon me completely once they got what they wanted out of me – someone to take care of Jim.  It was what happened to her when she came to help Elly with April after she was born.  Once April was big enough, no more Fiona Brass.  It turned out she lived in Milborough the whole time we were there and I never saw her at any family events ever.  I didn’t even know she existed.  Sure enough and she was right.  Elly and John came by after the funeral and cleaned up a few of Jim’s things and that was it.  It’s not like they visited a lot when Jim was living, but it was so strange the way they just moved on from me.  I mentioned it to April when she was here, and she said that her mother and father have not visited her once in Guelph.  Apparently Elly has some kind of “I don’t visit my kids in university” rule.  Frankly, it’s no wonder April visits me then.  The poor dear needs a friendly face that’s family.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to depend on Elly and John.  Sarah and Adam moved me into their place in Barrie, which is not that far from Milborough and life has been good with them.  They never had kids, but because she was a geriatric nurse and Adam was a doctor, they were not lacking for money.  When I think back to the times when Elly used to complain about how poor she was living on John’s dental private practice salary, I just chuckled to myself.  She always liked to pretend being poor when she had millions in her bank account.  Thinking about her just makes me cross.  I need to think of something pleasant.

We had a visit from my granddaughter Emma a few days ago.  Now she’s out of university, married and I have great grandchildren.  Her daughter wanted to get her ears pierced and Emma was against it but she finally gave in.  She said, “I must have holes in my head”.  We all laughed when my great granddaughter said, “Everyone has holes in their head mommy.  That’s how eat and see and hear.”   Emma meant to say something like she needed to let her daughter get her ears pierced like she needed another hole in her head, but it was a lot funnier the way she said it, even if it didn’t make any sense at all.

Emma said her brother Aydan and his family are doing well and they had some pictures from Christmas when their whole family including my son Jordon and his wife Anna (their parents) were at the family ranch in Alberta.  I wish I was in good enough health to travel like I used to, but it was good to visit with Emma and her kids and good to see those pictures.

Maggie and Jesse still live in Arizona but they are thinking about buying a summer home in Barrie.  Jesse is retired from the golf circuit now.  They say Arizona is great for the winter, but it’s hot, hot, hot in the summer time.  It’s funny how a retirement home for them is what a regular home would be for Sarah and Adam.

Life is good for me.  I can’t complain.  I miss my sweet Jim and the way he would say, “Boxcar” whenever he got excited.  Maybe someday I will see him again.  Until then, goodnight diary.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dee's Letter, April 21, 2016

Dee's Letter, April 21, 2016

Hi everyone. I'm sitting here at my sewing school writing on my lunch break.  I'm watching the clock because I have to be home in time for Merrie and Robin after school.  I can't help but notice that we live our lives by cycles. In Daoism there are a lot of cycles observed - the greater cycle of the year, and the smaller cycle that is one day, for example. We live by calendars, by moon phases, by our watches. Humans are cyclical creatures; even our lives follow a pretty standard cycle - we're born, we grow, we reproduce, we age, we die. There aren't many possible variations on that theme. Sometimes it seems we're trapped by it all, but really it's just the environment in which we exist.

Anyway, my little girl is following the way of the teenager - she's got a boyfriend named Ethan. Like me, and my mother before me, she'll be walking apprehensively into a new environment where her man rules her life.  I hope she enjoys it.  I try to picture what she'll be like when she gets married.  Will she have kids? Of course she will.  Will she be happy? It's such a monumental thing to contemplate.  Happiness in marriage.  Are women every happy in marriage? 

I had a long talk with Carleen about it and we weren’t certain.  In many respects marriage is a case of a woman saying to another woman, “I just wanted to show what I’ve got that you haven’t got.”  Of course men can be hard to sleep on sometimes, but a single woman wouldn’t know because they don’t have a man.  Men can be like a good pair of blue star earrings that match your shirt and look good, but don’t contribute any benefit to your life aside from being able to show off to other women and tease them and make them feel bad.    

When my thoughts turn this way, I often come to the realization that I'm one of billions of people who are living the same sort of cycle. There are millions of moms out there around the world worrying about their school-aged kids, worrying about their husbands, thinking about the future.  So many of us, and individually we're so small. What a place, this world we live in. We're not that much different from the other animals. Anyone who's ever seen a chimp looking after her babies and husband can see that. One advantage of being a chimp is that you don't worry about the trivia that comes with civilization. Of course, you miss out on the good winter-coat sales, but chimps don't wear parkas.  The ones on TV do, but you know what I mean.  I guess that was a stupid analogy.

I am lucky. I have to see this and know this and appreciate everything in my world that makes me so. I have a loving husband. Yes, he's obsessed with his work, but a writer is obsessive. He’s sleeping with his best friend Weed most evenings, but he's a great dad and the best partner for me.  We’ve set up a bed in his office, so that what they do at night doesn’t bother me or the kids.  It doesn’t affect me.  I'm independent. I enjoy my career.  Sewing is quite different from pharmacy work, but it has its rewards, especially when people show up for class - and it's wonderful to come home to a cooked meal and kids whose dad works at home. He's there when we all need him, and Weed is actually a great cook. 

Our children are happy and healthy. We live in a good neighbourhood, close to family. We have good friends. Well, we sort of have good friends.  The Mayes rarely have time for us anymore and Lawrence Poirier was never really my friend.  There’s Carleen of course, but I think she’s moving on.  She thinks she can find a better man than Josef.   It's not like he ever agreed to marry her.  I wish her good luck, but I doubt she will find someone.  All the good guys are taken by women like me, who like to show off their husbands and our blue star earrings.

I often wonder what it is or was that has set me on such a solid path. Did I do something right or - as thoughts digress, could it all be taken away from me?  Will Michael divorce me to marry Weed and move to the States?  It’s not illegal there anymore.  Sometimes I wonder about those things.  It's uncertainty that makes me hold my family to my heart and appreciate everything we have, everything we are. Yes, I am indeed blessed.
When I'm done my lunchtime flights of fancy, I'm left with the overwhelming feeling that, no matter what happens, we're all significant to the greater universe on an individual basis, we're all part of cosmic cycles we can't even begin to envision, and everything is going to be just fine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Anthony’s Diary, April 19, 2016

Anthony’s Diary,
April 19, 2016

It was not a good day today, diary.  James asked to have his ears pierced as soon as he saw other little boys with earrings.  Yes, boys.  I guess little girls are wearing them too, but there was a time when a boy didn’t wear earrings unless they were a little bit fruity.   Even Lawrence Poirier didn’t wear earrings.  My father would never have let me wear an earring and I don’t know what I am going to do when he sees James with his.  He won’t be happy, but he never is.

Elizabeth told James he could have them pierced and after that I couldn’t exactly take that back.  I hate it when she makes decisions without consulting me, but she says her mother never consulted with her father about anything and so she does the same.  Sometimes I also hate when Elizabeth thinks I am the same as her father.   We are not alike.   I know Sigmund Freud would be delighted, but I am not.

We took James to the local jewellery store and he was almost too excited to sit still.  James happily chose the studs and he said, “All the boys in my class got studs but me.”  For some reason Elizabeth started beaming and said, “I was the same way in Grade 1.  I didn’t have studs either.” and she started crying from those memories I guess, but I didn’t like the way she was looking at me when she said, “studs”. 
POP!!!! The piercing gun made the first puncture in James’ right ear lobe. He winced, blinked, looked straight at me, and howled! His sister was delighted. When he’d regained his composure, James refused to have the left ear pierced. He’d had no idea it would hurt so much, and wasn’t about to go through the procedure again. We had a problem. He could have the first stud removed so the ear could heal over, he could live with one pierced ear, or he could put up with another "pop" like the first one. James’ tantrum continued. The jeweller suggested we go home, think it over and come back later.

The four of us left the building. James walked ahead with Francie who pranced with glee at her brother’s dilemma. Half way down the street, James suddenly turned and pulled me back in the direction of the store. "Let’s do it." he said. The second stud was placed without a fuss, and off we went to get ice cream and groceries. "What made you change your mind?" I asked him. "She did." he said flicking his thumb in his sister’s direction. "She was enjoying this too darned much!"  As he said that, Elizabeth gave Francie a look that could freeze hell over.    Francie is getting close to the terrible twos, since she just turned 11, and she and Elizabeth are constantly fighting over something, usually something involving James.   I didn’t need another reason for them to fight.  I wish Francie got along with Elizabeth as well as she gets along with her mother Thérèse.

Afterwards we put up the groceries, we went to Elly and John’s place so James could show off his studs to Elly.  Elly went on about how Elizabeth got her ears pierced when she was four years old.   Then she said Elizabeth got her ears pierced on her 5th birthday.  Elly get confused easily.  

Elizabeth insisted it was during Grade 1, because she remembered her friend Paula had gotten her ears pierced and was showing them off to her to make her jealous.   Paula from school.  The “fashion goddess” we used to call her.   The one who spent all her time hanging around Melody Morrison.  They were best friends from Grade 1.  I didn’t even know Elizabeth knew them.   She never mentioned them before.  Even though we went to the same school, I sometimes think I really didn’t exist before I fell in love with Elizabeth in Grade 8 and I knew I wanted to be Elizabeth’s husband.   Sometimes I feel the same way now. 

That’s all for now diary,
Anthony Caine

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Robin’s Diary April 12, 2016

Robin’s Diary April 12, 2016

I was jumping on our old couch and Grandma Elly says our old couch belongs in the new sense grounds.  I asked Merrie what that means.  She says Grandma Elly likes to talk Canadian.  It means “rubbish dump”.  I don’t get that.  If you sense something and it’s new, then that’s new sense grounds.   Merrie says the words are spelled “new cents”, like a penny and because pennies are rubbish, then that’s why it means “rubbish dump.”  I love pennies.  I don’t think they are rubbish.  I asked Françoise if pennies are rubbish, and she said they are still money, even if they aren’t worth very much and they don’t make them anymore.  Françoise is so smart. 

I asked daddy what new cent grounds were and he said, “with the word ‘grounds’ in it” and with your grandma using the word, it has something to do with coffee.”  I don’t know why Grandma Elly said our old couch had something to do with coffee, unless it’s because she spills so much coffee on it when she comes over.  I asked mommy why Grandma Elly said our old couch belongs in the new cents grounds, and she just said Grandma Elly can buy us a new couch if she doesn’t like the old one.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Brian’s Diary April 11, 2016

Brian’s Diary

April 11, 2016

Finally, the kureiji has left.   My wife, Junko, is very happy for them to be gone and even more happy that no one is calling her “junk-oh”.   I haven’t really kept up with Michael Patterson since I moved to Japan, but every time he comes to Japan he has to visit me.  Every time he comes with his “friend” Josef Weeder.  Junko would really love for him to come with his wife sometime.  Same-sex marriage may be legal in Canada, but it is not legal in Japan and many here would not be accepting of Michael’s relationship with Weed.  It’s not just my wife.  Just like last time, they have to stay in a hotel.   My oldest Tamika is 11 years old now and I am not ready to explain why Michael is married to a woman but travels around with a man, and we do not want to explain any noises at night.

How did we find out Mike was coming?  He sent us a small bouquet of flowers, along with some refreshments and a copy of his book, Stone Season autographed to me.  There was a letter telling him how much I meant to him and how having been in Japan before, he knew a few presents would be welcome.

He was flattered and giddy with excitement when we set a time to meet.  I couldn’t believe that Mike was once someone I admired.  He eagerly shook hands with everyone, congratulated Junko for her outstanding renovation of our house, he asked me to talk to him privately.  He wanted to tell me that he knew my parents well and since my parents are good friends of his, and with that connection made, Mike invited me to answer questions about my parents and grandparents’ time in the United States.  He said he knew they had seen some truly difficult times, both privately and professionally.

My grandparents and great-grandparents were in a Japanese internment camp in Canada during World War II, and it was so odd that Michael seemed very intent on getting stories from me about their experience.  He said, “There are millions of people in Canada whose lives are steeped in Japanese culture. How do they do it, where does it come from, and how can you find more? Some people live on the periphery of being Japanese, imagining themselves able to perform that most perilous craft. I am one of those people. I will never take for granted the honour and the joy it was to have been part of your parents’ circle of friends.  I mean something to them. You can’t get much closer to heaven than that!”

It was so weird, I had to go to the internet to look up Michael Patterson.  He just settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit from his Stone Seasonbook because he took stories from his old university landlord about being a World War II war bride and did not credit or compensate her.  Then I called mom and dad.  They were shocked Michael was here.  They said he had some sort of deadline for a new book and he was trying to steal material in order to make the deadline.  They turned him down because they didn’t want our family paraded on the best-seller list. 

The next day I told him I knew what he was trying to do.  He said he had a deadline for a new book and he hadn’t even really started it yet.  I asked when he got the contract for the book.  He said about a year ago.  I said too bad they didn’t give you more time in my most sarcastic voice, but I was not going to tell him any more stories about my grandparents.  Then he started complaining how it wasn’t his fault.  My parents wouldn’t talk to him and his wife didn’t buy him paper and his kids kept using his pens.  Then he started talking about how important it was to have to adhere to a time limit and that he would never have been able to do the book, if he hadn’t learned some discipline back when we were in school together. 
I had forgotten what Michael Patterson was like.  He is the worst procrastinator I know.  He was that way in school in Milborough and he’s the same now.  He got a book contract when he had no experience writing books and then it turns out the book he did was copied.   He actually thinks it’s all right to copy other people’s work and sell it as his own.   He’s willing to travel all the way to Japan to get stories from me, but he’s not willing to sit down and do the work himself.   Eventually I had to ask him and Josef Weeder to leave.   It was such a relief when he left.

Junko suggested that we put up his autographed book for auction.  I thought that idea was very funny.  I wonder if anyone will want it?

Brian Enjo

Friday, April 08, 2016

Liz's Letter, April, 2016

Liz's Letter, April, 2016

In just a couple of weeks, we will be back out of school.  I'm excited and nervous.  I’ve been teaching school for 14 years now, and I wonder if this will be the last year.  It’s not unusual for men to have jobs that last most of their lives, but it is less common for women.  Mom sold Lilliput’s after owning it for only 6 years.  Deanna quit her pharmacy job to run her “sewing school.”  Sometimes I can almost feel everyone in town thinking, “You're a married, middle-aged woman with a child.  Why are you still working?” 

I am still working because I think I am finally becoming a good teacher.  I got some bad advice in the beginning.  “Single out the unruly students and put a lot of time and energy to put them in their place because they are worth it.  Let them know you have respect for their intelligence and therefore so should they.”  That’s great for the movies or maybe a comic strip written by someone who doesn’t know the first thing about teaching, but in real life I am teaching 30 kids a class and not one or two. 

I think it all became clear when I went back to Mtigwaki the last time to see Jesse Mukwa, like I had promised him.  He was the unruly kid who wanted to be a shaman.  He took Grandpa Jim’s harmonica from me and then I gave it to him because he confessed he stole it.  I thought that would teach him about the importance of giving and forgiving, but it seems to have taught him it’s all right to steal.  Paul, I mean Constable Wright, said that Jesse was following in his father’s footsteps and is spending most of his time in-and-out of jail.  I went to see him and he was scary.  He’s big and dark and so angry.  I couldn’t see the cute, little kid I knew at all left in him.  I failed him completely.  It was then I realized just how bad that advice from mom was.  Her idea of a good teacher was the exact opposite of what a good teacher should be. 

It was because of that time with Jesse, I found I like teaching the kids who want to learn.  My ratings from my students and from my supervisors improved a lot.  It's quite a feeling, knowing that kids I taught will make something of their lives and they think I am a good teacher not just because I am white.  Anthony doesn’t seem to get that.  I think when we got married he expected me to quit my job and take care of the kids.  I remember he had the same problem with his ex-wife Thérèse.  I looked down on her then, but now I get it.  I hope he doesn’t make me quit teaching.

Anthony is so irritable all the time.  Even when we go ballroom dancing which he used to love, if I go “Yum, pum-pum” when we are waltzing, he yells at me for making too much noise.  Then he starts going “Yah, ta-ta” to the beat, like that’s quiet.  I liked ballroom dancing with Dennis North, but I am never going to be able to match Thérèse, who was good enough at ballroom dancing to do it in competitions.  I hate it when Anthony compares us.  Thérèse never went “Yum, pum-pum”.   She probably never made any noises that weren’t French and elegant.

Anthony has two weeks' holidays this summer, so I thought we would get to spend some time to ourselves, with just us and James, and maybe Thérèse could take on Françoise again.  I think we need the time alone to get things straightened out.  Françoise is a sweet little girl - I think she's got the best of both parents, but I would never tell her that or it would go to her head.  Thérèse is quite pretty (apart from the sour look she had on her face whenever I was around). That little girl is going to do just fine in life - it's true that your looks can grease the social wheels, so to speak, but being bright and even-tempered will help Francie more than anything.  Francie will get along better in life, if she’s not like her mother.

I think Thérèse is close to wanting to take Françoise all the time.   If she does, then we can eliminate this whole business of going back-and-forth to her house to drop Francie off.  Anthony spends too much time over there when he visits.  He thinks I don’t know what’s going on, but when you marry a man willing to cheat with you, then you are going to get a man willing to cheat on you.   It’s seems so obvious now and it makes me wonder why I found cheaters to be so attractive when I was single.  Anthony, Eric, Warren, Paul.  Every one of them a cheater, but this cheater is the father of my James, and my parents adore him; so he’s a keeper.

There was a funny thing that happened the other day.   We were over at Caine’s Accounting building to meet Gavin Caine, the biggest pain in the butt father-in-law in the world.  Naturally he kept us waiting for him.  We were supposed to go to his house for some kind of party.  While we were sitting there, I saw Howard Bunt, the red-headed nitwit who assaulted me at Lawrence’s business all those years ago.  I guess he finally got out of prison.  And get this, he was working on the bushes and the flowers.  Gavin Caine actually hired the guy who assaulted me to do his landscaping.  When Gavin finally was done with his business, I asked him how he could possibly hire Howard Bunt.  And what did Gavin say? “He did his time, and he’s the best landscaper in Milborough and I only hire the best.”  I couldn’t believe it and let Anthony know, not that Anthony ever does anything about his dad.

Then can you believe I ran into Howard again.  The local theatre group was doing “The King and I” and needed kids to play the part of the King’s many children.  They were looking for teachers to volunteer to find some kids who wanted to do the show and to volunteer to keep them in line.  I had wanted to do something creative for awhile, so I volunteered.  James, my own son, was just the right age and makes the perfect son of royalty.  Naturally, Francie wanted to participate too, so I had to bring her.  We went to the first rehearsal and who was playing the King but Howard Bunt?  You could have knocked me over with a feather.   When he saw me, he looked pretty nervous; but not as nervous as I was when he came up to me during a break.  He said he understood I wouldn’t like him to be around, and so he told me he would keep his distance.  And he did.  And it’s good thing he did, because I was going to watch him like a hawk.

It was so weird.  I hate to admit it, but Howard can really sing.  Thanks to working outside all the time, he is in really good shape and the King runs around shirtless for most of the show.  So many women in the theatre group were flirting with him.   Howard is nowhere nearly as good-looking as Eric Chamberlain, or Warren Blackwood, or Paul Wright, or Anthony, or 3-day-old roadkill.   He’s probably the ugliest guy I ever met; but he is pretty ripped, and these women were after him.  The weirdest part is Howard was the same old Howard I remembered.  If some woman said, “I need to move this prop, Howard.”  He would say, “You can move my props anytime.”  Or if some woman sort of play-punched him, Howard would say, “I like a lady who hits back.”  That used to make me so mad when he said things like that to me when we worked together for Lawrence, but these women just laughed at him and said, “Oh, Howard.  You are such a flirt.”  What is wrong with them?  Can’t they see he is just waiting for the moment to get them alone and assault them?

Naturally, Francie loved him.  At 11 years old, she is just at the age to notice boys, even ugly, middle-aged guys like Howard.   All the way home, she went on about how he told her she was good at acting and dancing and singing.  It was like she had never gotten a compliment before in her life.  It figures that the man I hate most in the world is a man she would like.  Francie can be so contrary. 

Well, it’s time to get James to bed, so maybe I’ll write something next month.