The new story

The new story has been started. It is called The Great Basin Relay. Don’t have much but here is a snippet.

The short stub of an almost finished cigarette twisted smoke demons in the light summer breeze. Paul was squinting from the high morning sun and smoke curling back into his eyes. He pulled the cigarette from his mouth with his thumb and forefinger and gestured with the butt at Harmon, “Come on, Rob, can the fat faggot even swim,” he asked then returned the cigarette to the corner of his mouth with authority.

“I can swim.” Harmon muttered eyes downcast looking hard at the scrabble of cracked concrete, weeds and charred bits of wood that made up the remains of the old dam.

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Finally finished

It was started November 27, 2013. The first draft was finished yesterday. Sometimes writing is also not writing. Most of the time it is writing though and once I got moving on the story again it came together, more or less. I have to package it up and send it off to people who will rip it to shreds and I will get angry at for no apparent reason before I recognize that they are making good points. Writing can be hard, rewriting is always hard. You can’t help but love what you created. It feels good to be finished the first draft.

The title has changed it is no longer called Britannia, it is called Concrete Memories. Here are the first few paragraphs. Anyone interested in helping edit drop me a line and I will email you a copy in the format of your choice.

He could have gone to her grave side. He could have gone to where she lived the last thirty years of her life. He could have visited with family and spoken words about how wonderful a woman she had been. He almost thought her death left him unmoved but for the sudden slowing of time and the insistent demands of memory. He did not plan to drive anywhere, not a conscious plan, he arrived and knew where he was and what he wanted to see.

He turned right off St. John onto Gervais. The turn would have been impossible when he was young. Forty years ago St. John dead ended just past Oxford with the Mahoney house on left and nothing but woods behind their place. The St. John’s dead end was woods but if he veered a little to the right he could walk between the trees and brush and cut by the Leary’s backyard to Laurier Street. He used that short cut when he delivered the morning Gazette or Sunday Express. Once on Laurier if he cut behind the Swallows’ place it was an easy walk through to Gervais and home. If he tried to go straight through from the Mohoney’s it would have been a good ten minute walk through fallen timber and scrub. Once through it he’d find himself at the dirt ruts which lead to the gravel road and he would be almost home. Home was a one floor house with a front and back door, black shingle roof and a silver aluminium chimney. There was also a white, clapboard garage with a carport after thought to the left and listing in the same direction.

There had been a creek running through the woods and a large pond. The pond croaked with leopard frogs and whined with mosquitos in the summer. In the winter the pond’s black ice hosted pick up hockey games. There was another pond farther back in the woods where the ice was bigger and better. He and and some other boys would sometimes go there to play. It was hard bringing shovels through the woods to clean the ice and the echoing cracks of the thick ice and freezing trees scared him more than he would admit. At other times of the year he would be on the look out for leg hold traps that Old Peter the trapper set for muskrat. When he walked the dogs he would steer clear of the water and Old Peter’s trap lines.

Harmon eased the van to a halt in front of the low white bungalow opposite the house he had grown up in. The bungalow had been built sometime in his teen years. A French family had moved into the house shortly after it was built. The woman had been nice but he did not like the man. He rarely liked men and never held it against the man that he did not like him. He looked across the street at the house in which he had grown up. The awkward burgundy and white two tone aluminium siding was now white vinyl and the front door had been moved to the side of the house overlooking the driveway. The Rusco aluminium windows and doors were gone but the house was still recognizable. It was where he had grown up. The sidewalk was still there, a narrow strip of concrete barely wide enough for one person to walk and dead ending against the asphalt driveway. It looked as if it might be the one he had helped build.

It was a weekday. The street was empty and there were no cars in the driveway. The closing door of his twelve year old minivan echoed loud in the emptiness. He felt like he was invading his own past as he crossed Gervais onto the pavement of 394 and took two quick steps to the concrete sidewalk beside the drive. The dark green inch wide dot at the bottom right corner of the sidewalk confirmed what he thought. He had put that penny there. He’d brought it back from England the summer of his cousin’s wedding. The old pennies weren’t worth anything then because the new money had come out. Instead of his hand print or writing in the concrete which his mother said would weaken it he had pushed an English penny into the soft wet surface.

The relief of Britannia was not visible, the penny could have been anything. Harmon hunkered down for a closer look. He couldn’t resist brushing the penny with his index finger. He looked up at the path. There were patches where it had been resurfaced but there was no doubt in his mind, this was, as impossible as it seemed, the sidewalk he had helped lay almost forty years before.

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Just me

Just me, happy at work on the weekend. I like the shot.

At the Google GAFE Montreal Summit

At the Google GAFE Montreal Summit

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Xmas season has started.

Took a little time today to put up and decorate the tree while watching the tail end of Scrooged then How The Grinch Stole Christmas then Prancer. Not a very productive day but it was a good day.

Tree is up for 2014

Tree is up for 2014

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Solitary mornings of quiet and tea


The early morning before sunrise is quieter than any other time of day. There are those of us who cherish that peace, that solitude, that quiet time of the mind before the world jangles us with the endless demands of life. A simple perfection of silence, a hot drink and ease of mind cannot be gainsaid as a way to start the day.

Such mornings are rare these days. Our early rising son has been getting up almost in concert with me as he works to finish off his first semester of theatre performance. By the time showers are done, breakfast and lunch taken care of and hes be driven to the train station it is our daughter’s turn to rise and the dog’s turn to be walked. The value of the quiet in the morning is as immeasurable to my keeping an even keel as it has been impossible to find of late. In such impossibility I am reminded of my small need for solitary mornings of quiet and tea.

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The world as but a world

The troublesome twosome our son and daughter.

The troublesome twosome our son and daughter.

Our son has an audition this morning for a film role and headed downtown early. He headed in several hours before the audition and on the way there I said “Well it will give you time to run lines,” trying to sound all fatherly and up to speed with the acting profession to which I’ve had absolutely no exposure.

“It’s not that kind of audition.” Wait, what? It turns out not all auditions are like what we see on television which crushes me since my vision of life was formed by the light box in the corner of the living room and the stories it has told me. Oh well, I’ll get over it.

This type of audition starts with just the actor and director having a chat about life, the universe and everything perhaps even the number 42. Later they run lines from a script that the actor hasn’t seen with the actor being asked to do the lines of several characters. Our son tells me he’s done this type of audition before and it is, for him, his long suit. Cool.

As he got out of the van I wished him luck and then corrected myself with a “Break a leg.” Some days I am so cool, and with it, I give myself frostbite.

No word on the biopsy and MRI results yet. As ever, fingers crossed.

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It has been a little while since I worked on any fiction. The NAIT teach yourself power engineering course has been taking up a lot of what passes for spare time. Earlier this week though I opened up Britannia to have a look at it. Weighing in at 15 000 words and 27 pages it is longer than I remember. I read the incomplete story to refresh my memory of where it had been left. It was good, at least to me it was good. I know where it goes from where I left it so all that remains is to get the rest of it down then hand it off to Helena in Hong Kong and Donna in Edmonton and wait to see what they have to say. Then comes the real work of writing: rewriting.

Here’s the first paragraph with a question: would you read on?

He could have gone to her grave side. He could have gone to where she lived the last thirty years of her life. He could have visited with family and spoken words about how wonderful a woman she had been. He almost thought her death left him unmoved but for the sudden slowing of time and the insistent demands of memory. He did not plan to drive anywhere, not a conscious plan, he arrived and knew where he was and what he wanted to see.

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The future is coming.

Trying to meet and network with people in a city 3500 k away is a different kind of thing to try and do. By nature I am gregarious when with people but reaching out over the Internet to try and create a network is more difficult.

Part of the difficulty is the disingenuous feel of the whole process of trying to network with people you don’t know. It isn’t that I don’t want to know them but the ability to get to know them is limited. I’ve made some contacts through NAIT and Facebook but it is slow going. There’s another 19 months to try and build a network. When you live decades in one place you take your network for granted, that changes when you decide to move. Add to the networking efforts the process of creating an online presence which will convey to prospective employers why their company would benefit from adding me to their team and the process becomes more interesting.

With luck, and a little bit of skill perhaps, it will all come together.

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CT done

My son’s CT scan was done last week. He was a little ill from the radioactive isotopes but other than that things went well. Results should be in within a fortnight. Fingers crossed.

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Small steps towards information

Our son got in touch with the doctor last week and found out that they have scheduled a CT for next week. They don’t want to discuss the results of the first test until they have the results of the CT which seems reasonable enough. No point in giving good news only to then have to give bad or vice versa. Best to keep the cards close to the chest and then see how it plays out. So we will have to wait but will know the results before the end of next month on supposes.

Our daughter went to the open house at Dawson College yesterday. She want’s to be a medical examiner – a forensic pathologist – which means pure and applied sciences and about eight years of university. If she’s lucky and gets in she will be working by the time she’s 26 or 27. It’s a long row to hoe. Yesterday she told me that she doesn’t want to move to Edmonton.

It is hardly surprising that someone who grew up in such close proximity to one of the most recognized cities on the planet with so much going for it wouldn’t want to move to a northern city where the snow hits the ground in October and only leaves it in May. Edmonton has half the population of Montreal but covers twice the geographic area. Montreal is vibrant all the time so if you are young and want to be out and about Montreal is somewhere you would want to be. I like Edmonton and it is a great place to go if you are looking for work but our daughter won’t be looking for work for a long time yet.

Since our son plans to stay in Montreal and Lynn’s mother still lives here it is possible that our daughter will be able to stay and still have support of family. It will get sorted one way or another. Just another hiccough.

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