Where I am

my new home

my new home

Saturday…and the sun is shining, though rain was promised for the weekend. I have had an a lot of activity today already… A trip to the farmer’s market, to a yard sale where I bought a solid wood side table which I carried home over my shoulder, laundry, bathroom cleaning, and an unsuccessful nap. I think it is fair that I sit around on my butt for a while, writing about nothing.

It’s a beautiful day and the tree outside my bedroom window has little pale green bouquets of flowers on every branch. The clouds look like clean laundry and the blue sky is just a spotless as a newly washed kitchen floor. I am taking it easy, enjoying my apartment, which feels like it was made for me… even the living room carpet is a peculiar blue that the sea sometimes is, and the rest of the rooms except for the bathroom and kitchen are hardwood, which i love… they remind me of a musical instrument, that the sun plays on. Because i am at the top of a house, and have windows on all sides, I have light all day from some direction. I am so happy to live here… and there is a garden all around the house, woodland violets on one side, bleeding hearts on another… it’s like finding easter eggs, to come across a patch of flowers.

I am working now,for 12 weeks, at the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association… my first choice of organizations to work for here in town, so I am very happy to be a part of it. My hope is that something will happen to allow me to continue there for longer than the 12 weeks. ACALA has a lot to teach me, about digital story making, video editing, tutoring and facilitating, working with others.. and i have some skills they need too, I think and hope!

There is so much more to say but now is not the time for me. I am thankful to have a weekend to get my head in order and rest, clean and putter, wander around outside if I wish… just to feel free. Even though this is the most grown up life I’ve led I still want run around outside in the sun like an untrained puppy and flop down on the grass with my tongue hanging out.

Me and the Solonely Sisters

home alone with a clean driveway

home alone with a clean driveway

The storm that walloped the Maritimes left a carpet of slush covering the considerable driveway here at my Antigonish home. Not enough to write home about, but enough to blog about. I pushed it aside with a nice blue shovel my landlord kindly provided, ploughing from the house to the side of the driveway, probably thirty or forty times. It wasa lot like using an old fashioned typewriter, rather than swimming lengths in a pool, because I kept walking back to the house to start a row rather than shovelling from the side where the last row ended. Not very efficient energy-wise but i didn’t want to pile snow against the house, because i didn’t want it melting and running over the driveway and freezing. My friend is driving up from the South shore on Tuesday and I wanted the drive to be as safe and ice-free as possible.

I liked shovelling the slush. It was warm and damp and envigorating, and not too much, just enough to prime me for a walk up to Cathy’s to put some poetry in her mailbox. Two boys next door to her were building a snow fort using buckets to shape the blocks like sand castles. It should have been a sign to me, that they were able to do it– that they weren’t building a slush fort instead. As I continued walking briskly around the block, it got cooler and drizzly and I felt the lack of mini windshield wipers on my glasses. I was glad to come home and put mincemeat pies in the oven!

A good day is one in which I don’t eat too much, get some exercise, and write some. Today was one of those, a three star day, the kind of day I hope most days will be. A four star day would be one in which I manage 500 words on the novel (not much I know but it seems to be my limit at one sitting) as well as a bit on the other projects I’m working on… and go for a long walk or a swim (still waiting to try the ST FX pool) And the much-coveted five star day… well, I will leave that to your most fecund imaginations.

I have been enjoying the solitude, when not lamenting the loneliness. Actually, just yesterday I learned to shake hands with both of them. They are like conjoined twins- the Solonely Sisters- you can’t have one for tea without the other. Solitude and loneliness are two faces of the same being, an entity that has become like a companion to me. What I mean by that is that it is something that exists outside of me, whose needs I need to think about, pay attention to, attempt to address. When solitude is talking to me, loneliness faces the other way, staring out the window. But when solitude turns away, loneliness is there, ready for a tete-a-tete. Over Christmas I didn’t like loneliness, tried to avoid conversing with her; but I am beginning to appreciate her, and not just as the price I need to pay to enjoy the company of solitude. Embracing loneliness is on the way to my becoming a free-standing, free-wheeling, neuroses-free, and just plain free human being, or so I like to think.

Still I would like to try to live with other human beings again. That time may be coming sooner than I thought, and what it will do for(to?) my writing I am not sure. I won’t be ale to sit at the kitchen table with my laptop and a huge mess of keys, books, paint brushes and pill bottles in front of me. Will I be able paint in the kitchen, talk to myself in the shower and use the bedroom floor as my desk? That remains to be seen. I once thought I could live with anyone, but I am not sure that anyone can live with me… me and my mess, me and my soloneliness.

A good day

Yesterday was such a good day. I didn’t get much writing done and was feeling sleepy, but I knew that instead of more coffee or a nap I needed a good walk. So I headed out, up The Heights Road to Xavier, which is where some nice Chinese girls live (I had looked at a room in their place.. I think of them every time I pass their little green bungalow) and kept walking through the subdivision (past a brown house with a huge church decoration and giant candy cane on the front lawn (tried to take a photo but manhandled my cell phone every time)… eventually ending up back on Hawthorne, and explored the convenience store bakery, which smelled scrumptious with iced christmas loaves and cinnamon and ginger… but resisted. I was looking for fruit cake. Made my way back downtown and asked directions to the Canadian Association for Community Living workshop, where people with intellectual disabilities work in social enterprises.It was the last day their bakery was open so I bought a light and a dark fruitcake… and lusted after some trays of squares. Met some of the staff, who seem like wonderful people, warm and friendly, and then off i went to knock on the door of the L’Arche house. It was clean and bright with artwork from the members on the walls and some of their note cards for sale… beautifully designed, and printed at the CACL print shop. I felt really good spending too much money, but it’s Christmas and i intended to buy fruitcake and cards… so there, I did and supported two great organizations….

Things seem to be shutting down for Christmas. The Women’s Resource Centre where I am today at lunch is open the last day before the holidays and won’t open again til January 7. I like to hang out here- free coffee and tea, a microwave to heat up lunch, and free wifi. Kind and interesting women on staff. I feel though like i shouldn’t be here… that I am going to become a bug eventually. Well I hope I will be told in a delicate way if I am overstaying my welcome…I don’t want to become an uncomfortable fixture anywhere, especially just starting out.

The sky is ominously heavy and grey… I will likely take myself back to the library after this and do a little more work on the novel…or maybe I will find my way back to the Opportunity Shop, the post office, the bank, etc. It’s good to be downtown! and then it’s good to go home… feeling good about today…

Antigonish’s Sunday best

Ah! home again, after a Sunday afternoon on the town in Antigonish. Snowy, a little but not so icy as yesterday. Did a little exploring of the campus (came across the chapel and the physical sciences building, each little lane neatly signposted as though it were in a little town of its own). Found my way up 61 steps to the Bloomfield Centre, which is where the art gallery is housed. The girl at the information desk seemed tiny and alone in such a big building, and the art gallery was open but empty when i got there. Aside from the vast and beautiful abstracts by Wayne Boucher and Don Pentz, there was a wall with three doors. One looked like a safe, another seemed to hide an elevator. Very mysterious. I wanted to open those doors but recognized that was not likely a welcome gesture.

Wandered downtown across the snowy river and went to the bank, holding the door for two suspicious looking men who looked at me suspiciously. Nothing came of it, unless perhaps they have robbed my bank account already with some card and pin reader. There was a cigarette butt in the corner and the smell of …something- sewer or subway. Went down the street looking for an open cafe but no luck… stopped in at the 5 and 10 and spent a little money on leggings and a glue stick (they didn’t have a totally flat hair catcher for my totally flat shower drain cover), then headed toward home. At 2:30 pm I was walking by the cinema and looked up at the sign. The Hobbit was showing starting that very minute! Talk about serendipity. I went in, pleasantly surprised by the 7.50 ticket and gritting my teeth at the 3 buck bottle of water which I was dying for. For some reason I found the film quite unengaging until the very end… and of course the scenes with Gollum, in his endearing creepiness. Still it was interesting to see again the landscape of Middle Earth which bears a striking resemblance to the place my mother is going to visit next year!

Walk home was dark but balmy- it’s warming up out there. Made myself some sweet and sour stir fried veggies and heated up the rice and ham. yum yum yum. I have been eating ham for days but am not tired of it. I will be sad when it’s all gone and i think it likely my first days in Antigonish will be ham-flavoured in my memory ! Tomorrow- post office. cafe or library to write. Will bring lunch to the women’s centre likely, unless I come home… though I can make tea there for free! and sit on a couch and talk to Tanya the receptionist, who has been very kind.

Welcome your emails and facebook messages… will try to remember to take pics next time!

Bloggily yours,

It’s not Aix -en- Pro-vence, its X in Anti-gonish!

It was the first snowy day of the winter… for me…. I forgot to ask Antigonishers whether they’ve had the weather before I moved here. For me, it meant a cold walk to the Farmer’s Market and back, 20 minutes each way. The Farmer’s Market takes place in a building behind the arena on James Street from May til December, and this time of year it’s COOOLLLDDD inside too! I wandered around and around, several times, before making purchases, looking for veggies and colourful mittens mostly. I found some pale pink ones for 5 bucks… which i was very thankful for on the way home when i put them inside the larger ill-fitting mittens I’ve been wearing.

new pink mitts

new pink mitts

Some wonderful things i saw and tasted but forgot to take photos of… honey sticks, plastic tubes of honey flavoured with things like ginger and watermelon. Chocolate rum fruit cake. Blue Hubbard squash, whose skin is a funny grey blue which reminds me of Wedgwood. I’d never seen one before! the same farmer also had fiddlehead pickles in a jar… and one man was selling kale by the leaf! 33 cents each. I think it hasn’t been a very popular item til recently.

I spent my money more quickly than I’d hoped, leaving behind the organic cheese, pecan tart and jalapeno pepper jelly that I hankered for. I had to buy hot drinks twice and then leave, because it was just too frosty to stay. I felt sorry for the vendors, some of whom were not dressed for the arctic as they should have been.

Had a phone call from a friend as I walked home, and the novelty of owning a cell phone continues to frustrate and delight me. I turned the volume down inadvertently, was interrupted by passing traffic, and froze my fingers trying to handle the thing in the icy wind. but it was worth it to be able to walk and talk.

Not that I haven’t been walking and talking. Just, walking by myself and humming, and talking maybe not as much as I would back in Dartmouth, where I knew more people. I like that I have to walk to get anywhere. The novelty of THAT might wear off but it’s been good for me so far, and makes coming home to my lovely apartment a treat!

Speaking of which, Kathi brought me here with every bit of the stuff I hoped would go with me. I was proud of her for fitting it all in. We drove and unloaded everything, and took stock of the place. I love the kitchen, modern and clean with a washer and dryer in it. The living room is a place I’ll rarely go but somewhere to put up art,the bedroom also, but the study, which is really a second bedroom, lets in the morning sun and is my favourite room in the place. We moved the book case in there and it houses all my home office stuff, and the closet is full of my boxes. Kathi convinced me the bed should not remain in what is the living room, and I am glad I have a bedroom with a door instead of an opening onto the kitchen.

We went to Main Street’s Chinese restaurant which has the romantic name of Moonlight Cafe I believe and had yummy almond guy ding and tofu with veggies. Yum. and parking in the downtown is free until January, which is convenient and hospitable. The next day we ran around to shop for things like road salt, aluminum stove burner liners. and a flashlight, as well as a load of groceries. We tired ourselves out really well, but came home and Kathi made a wonderful salad and I boiled up a ham and made pea soup. We puttered and unpacked. Kathi LOVES organizing and decorating. I see the appeal but am glad it’s not an everyday occurrence.

Kathi left Thursday and I missed her right away but had lots to do unpacking and organizing.Friday I made a lot of phone calls and went out in the afternoon to talk to Jeff at the Lyghtsome Gallery about my poetry books. He has produced some lovely books himself for poet Anne Simpson and artist and writer Linda Johns, both Antigonish residents. Perhaps my next little chapbook will get the Lyghtsome treatment!

Tomorrow I don’t know… the library and the Tall and Small Cafe will be closed… I called the library and the lady there thought perhaps McDonald’s was the only free wifi hotspot open on a Sunday! And there is no post office in any pharmacy downtown…so none open on a SUndasy that I can figure out. It is rather refreshing that things are not open, but for someone like me who doesn’t really know many people here, it might be tricky to amuse myself! But I am going to try the university… I don’t imagine it will be totally closed… even though the last of exams was, I think, today… I count my blessings that it wasn’t me, writing them. That I’m writing this blog instead. and tomorrow, maybe the novel? Brrr, I’m already shaking.

Anna Syperek's image of Main Street Antigonish

Anna Syperek’s image of Main Street Antigonish