July 1, 2020

Canada Day: Celebrating “Nice”

It is in the nature of Canadians to be meek and self-effacing. Just look at the colors of vehicles Canadians drive! An official survey* of cars, SUVs, and pickups swishing past on a major Canadian highway, 8,406 vehicles were identified as fawn, taupe, oatmeal, cream, beige, écru, tawny, biscuit, grey, off-white, and (screaming ambulance ... doesn’t count) white.


* Methodology: Browsing through Canadian muscle-car mags, combing car lots, staring at parked cars, zooming along the highway, inventing stats …


Divergents from the norm? One car was teal, another, blue. WHOA! Scientific psychological profiling suggests their drivers are the rebellious, “out there,” pot-smoking type, typically basking naked in mountainside Vancouver hot tubs. 


My pencil broke midway through the survey, so I wasn’t (vroom-vroom!) fast enough to add summer’s muscular black motorcycles to the count, but my best guess is that there were there were 548, give or take 373.  


A few drivers (perhaps of the gangster persuasion) flashed past in shiny black Cadillac SUVs, (the better to stash the body in, my dear …) but they’re an aberration. (Who washes those cars every day? These guys probably have underlings named Rocco or Carmine do it: “I’m on it, Boss!”)


The SUV tough guys and motorcyclist maniacs aren’t “typical.” Most of the cars, pickups, and SUVs on Canadian roads look as pleasantly staid as their kind-hearted owners. 


Travel to the States and you’ll find audacious, brazen vehicles in candy-apple red, lacquered lime, jazzed-up purple (“I never saw a purple cow … I never hope to see one …”) and don’t-mess-with-me orange (reading this, Tom?). As much as I love Americans, I haven’t visited the US since the Madman of the South took power, and won’t until he’s gone.   


I am Canadian. I chose my citizenship; I wasn’t to the manner born. As a Canadian who arrived as a toddler and committed to citizenship as an adult, I am neither meek nor self-effacing. I am brash, loud, and sometimes sharp-tongued. I occasionally roil around kicking my legs, screaming: “Hah-hah-hah-harrrghhh!” which is not typically “Canadian.” 


The typical Canadian is kind; reaches for a hankie instead of a gun; considers family, friends, and neighbors; gives before taking; empathizes with those who suffer. Canadians help - even when those helped are nameless, faceless, sexless strangers of unknown ethnicity in countries never visited. Canadians do this because such traits are embedded in our DNA and in our tax system. 


“I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like.” If only that were so. But the mean and the selfish and the cruel and the racist are the minority. 


I think it fair to say most Canadians are “nice” - but we could be nicer. We all need to better understand and respect those who differ from us through heritage, language, ethnicity, sexual preference, and viewpoints, just as they, in turn, need to understand and respect us.


That is who we are and must aspire to be, in this place and dream we call Canada, all of us sharing rights and freedoms under the law.


On this Canada Day, just as we celebrate Canada and Canadians, we also celebrate the opportunities this country offers those who are honest and good-hearted; those who seek refuge; those who desire to make Canada even better, just as they hope to make the world a better place.


Today, we celebrate Canadians’ “niceness.” It’s a helluva place to live, this place I chose. And yes, I drive a cream-colored car.


June 29, 2020

The Theory of Appetizers

Timing is everything. My personal exquisite timing meant buying 10 (count ’em, 10!) five-piece place settings of china with every accessory anyone, anywhere in the world, could ever imagine. My timing was exquisite because this truckload of china landed on my doorstep five minutes before we heard the world was in the grip of a pandemic. 


Once in a lonely while, I’ll remove a plate, or one of several serving platters, or the matching water jug, or the 10 appy servers I also bought, admiring and replacing them in the china cabinet, unused. And here we are today, months later, still on lock-down and still cautious, looking like bank robbers on the lam in our masks. 


So here’s some self promotion. I also write a recipe blog. I borrowed from it a couple of days ago, in my post about Linda W.’s Daughter’s Miso Chicken Recipe. So now I’m borrowing again, from a post that appeared four years ago, almost exactly to the day. 


Why? It’s a fun piece. Canada Day and the Fourth of July will soon be upon us. If for no other reason, let this post serve as a reminder of better days to come - days when guests will grace our doorsteps, days when life will return to a semblance of normal, days when I can use my new china. Here’s the post from Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes. https://nicoleparton.blogspot.com


A friend of a friend in Washington, DC, where some pret-ty fan-cy par-tays take place, sends along The Theory of Appetizers, which she very cleverly happens to have invented. The friend of a friend is Rebecca Scott, formerly the special events manager of the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill. I’m indebted to Rebecca for this succinct and clever summary of all you need to dazzle the masses:


A thing on a stick. A thing on a thing. A thing in a ball.


Translation?


A thing on a stick: Examples? Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce or Chorizo-Bacon Bites or any thing that connects to any other thing with a skewer or a toothpick. 


A thing on a thing: Examples? Cheese-Stuffed Apricot Bites or Cucumber Shrimp  or Smoked Oysters in Tomato Cases.


A thing in a ball: Examples? Ball-shaped things such as the too, too delicious Basilica Torta or Brie en Croûte.


And that, folks, is all you really need to take you through a summer of potlucks and barbecues and Washington, DC, par-tays. When a potluck, barbecue, or par-tay comes your way, you will be ready! 


Appetizers: How Much and How Many Per-Person? 


If you’re having an early meal, expect guests to eat four or five. If the meal’s going to be late, count on six or seven. If you’re not serving a meal, your guests will consume eight or nine appys, on average. 

June 25, 2020

Insensitivity ... or Ingrained Racist Bias?

We were walking hand-in-hand when I spotted a handsome young couple. She was filming him as he spoke into the camera. Then she talked into the camera, filming herself. They were Chinese. 


I don’t understand Chinese, but guessed they were tourists - an assumption I made only on the basis of their ethnicity and the fact that she was filming him and herself.


I did what I always do when I see tourists - smile and be friendly. “Would you like me to take a picture of both of you?”


Himself squeezed my hand - hard. A warning. I wanted him to stop. I squeezed his hand even harder.


The couple looked up and smiled back. 


“No, thanks!” she said. 


“Happy to do it …” I offered again.


Himself tightened his grip. “COVID!” he said, within their hearing.


“COVID!” I shouted. For a moment, she stopped smiling. 

Walking on, I suddenly felt intensely awkward. What if they thought I meant …?  I turned to face them. Because we’d walked on a little, I had to shout.


“Not COVID because of you! COVID because of everyone! It’s everywhere!” She smiled. He didn’t. I’m not sure he spoke English. Another assumption.


And then, to be extra friendly, I shouted: “Welcome to Canada!” 


Himself gasped. “That sounds racist! They could be Canadian!”


Would I have said that to a white-skinned couple? Probably not. Deeply embarrassed, I turned again, shouting: “I didn’t mean ‘Welcome to Canada!’ I meant …”


With a little shrug, she smiled again. “It’s okay …” she said.


Knowing we were out of earshot, Himself said: “How could you have said that? You’ve made it worse!” 


And I had. Insensitivity? Racism? If so, it was unintended. 


Words matter. I need to remember that, as do we all.

June 24, 2020

Linda W.’s Daughter’s Miso Chicken Recipe

My friend, Linda Walkem, would be embarrassed if I revealed her full name as the source of this recipe, so I’ll refer to Linda Walkem only as Linda W. to preserve Linda Walkem’s anonymity. 


Five or six years ago, my friend Linda W. gave me her daughter’s Miso Chicken recipe. I wanted to make this dish right away because Linda W. has always said her daughter’s a great cook. Naturally, I lost Linda W.’s daughter’s Miso Chicken recipe almost immediately, and forgot to tell Linda W.


Five or six years is a long time. I seem to recall that Linda W.’s daughter’s Miso Chicken recipe was “paleo.” I’d always assumed paleo was a game Prince Charles and his pals played on horseback, but Google set me straight: 


“A paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.”  


Some of the food in my fridge is definitely that old, so this recipe probably qualifies. Hurray, because Linda W.’s daughter’s Miso Chicken recipe recently resurfaced in my sock drawer.


This recipe requires a large whole fryer or roasting chicken, some miso paste, puréed peaches, and applesauce. 


How difficult can that be? Still, I fretted about the recipe’s instructions to broil the chicken until slightly browned; transfer it to a slow cooker for three hours on “low”; and then leave it in the slow cooker for two more hours on “warm.”


Let’s just say visions of pathogens danced in my head. Forget the broiler: Leaving the chicken on “low” for three hours and two more hours on “warm”?  I was nervous. 


I asked my friend Lorna’s opinion, but she hadn’t used her slow cooker in awhile. Lorna asked her daughter, Arlette, who’s never cooked a roasting chicken and didn’t know, either. 


Linda W. didn’t know, and asked her daughter, who didn’t answer. So Linda W. sent her daughter a second email. Linda W. cc’d me on that email, headed “Miso Soup.” 


“SOUP??? This is a chicken recipe!” I emailed Linda W. 


Snapped Linda W. back: “What chicken?” 


I was now very nervous. I’d bought the peaches and the applesauce and the miso, and had a honking big roasting chicken dripping salmonella all over the kitchen counter. Linda W. and Linda W.’s daughter said they’d never heard of Miso Chicken. More to the point, they said they’d never cooked it. 


Linda W. and Linda W.’s daughter knew nothin’ ’bout nuthin’. This was not encouraging.


Whimpering, I set out to make Miso Chicken on my own. Things did not go well. 


• Chicken spits and crackles under broiler.

• Smoke detector starts screaming. 

• I start screaming. 

• Run for ladder. 

• Cancel alarm on smoke detector. 

• Stash ladder in cupboard.

• Race to remove chicken from oven. 

• Smoke detector renews screaming. 

• Instantly forget chicken. 

• Grab ladder. 

• Disconnect alarm. 

• Portion of smoke detector crashes to ground. 

• Hastily assembled ladder collapses. 

• I crash to ground. 

• Limp into kitchen. 

• Chicken burning with enthusiasm.

• Extract chicken from oven. 

• Curse Linda W.’s daughter’s Miso Chicken recipe. 

• Curse pathogens.

• Bake chicken in regular oven.


“New recipe?” asks Himself.


“Shad-dup,” I say.


June 20, 2020

Must the Show Go On?

So six campaign staffers setting up Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa tested positive for COVID-19, today. A warning sign, to be sureTrump’s rally is in the “great state” of Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma’s health unfortunately not so great. Just today, Oklahoma reported 352 new cases (and counting) of COVID-19 infections. The show must go on!


So Trump consiglieri Bill Barr Friday fired Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Berman was actively investigating Trump associates including personal lawyer and friend, Rudy Giuliani. The show must go on!


So Trump claimed Barr acted on his own and “I knew nothing about it.” Barr, on the other hand, said Trump personally told him to fire Berman. The show must go on!


So Trump - master of the three-ring circus in his head - falsely bragged “nearly a million people” sought rally tickets. The arena that was to hold 19,000 instead held 6,000. The outdoor venue intended for the overflow crowd was quietly canceled when no one showed up. Trump earlier said he wouldn’t be “shamed” into canceling or postponing the event because of COVID-19. The show must go on!


So despite warnings that the indoor venue would be a virus “spreader,” Trump told rally-goers he ordered COVID testing “slowed down.” Trump’s not a fan of science; he’s not a fan of social distancing; he’s not a fan of masks. The show must go on!


So later this week, showman Trump takes his act to Arizona, where the number of new coronavirus cases has risen more than 147% over the past two weeks. Maybe the naive and the trusting will buy what he’s selling, but the smart ones won’t be hoodwinked again, knowing the ol’ pea and shell game when they see it. The show must go on!


So now it begins. “Step right up, folks! Step right up! See the World’s Greatest Con Artist, right before your eyes! 


I half-expected to hear that. So there he stands, naked before the world - capo dei capi, the 45th President of the United States - a shambling, lying, unfit, unstable revenge-seeker whose preferred governance is through bullying and intimidation.


How dare this egotistical blowhard be so easily willing to sacrifice human lives during the most serious global pandemic in written history? And for what? So he can preen at a rally


Trump can order a Berman fired, a Mueller probe redacted, a Bolton sued ... But just as they and others have recorded their observations, so will future commentators. Donald Trump can lie about - well, everything - but whatever the art of his deal with the devil, Americans have the right to know and will know


The show must go on - even as the court of public opinion prepares to render judgment in November, and even if it’s not to the liking of America’s Thug-in-Chief.

June 18, 2020

America is Burning

The old expression used to be that if someone’s behavior tipped toward the dangerous and bizarre, “the men in the white coats” would haul that person away. Where are they now, those men in the white coats? 


This has not been a good week for President Donald Trump. In interviews advance-publicizing author John Bolton’s forthcoming 592-page book (The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir), Bolton has been singing like a canary freed from its cage. 


“Memoir”? A legal dodge, I’m sure: “That’s how I remember it …” Bolton - by all reports an assiduous note-taker - remembers a great deal.


As Trump’s handpicked former national security adviser, Bolton remembers that Trump didn’t know if Finland was an autonomous country or part of Russia; that he thought Venezuela was part of the US; that he solicited China’s help in the upcoming US election; that he called China’s concentration-camp incarceration of its persecuted Muslim minority “exactly the right thing to do.”


The cruel, wanna-be dictator who is Donald Trump floated the idea of executing journalists who don’t divulge the identities of their confidential sources. That is breath-taking.


In threatening to sue, Trump calls Bolton’s leaks “highly classified information.” That Donald Trump is a self-serving fool is highly classified? 


The President has yet more problems. 


In a 4-to-5 ruling released this morning, the Supreme Court repudiated Trump’s mean-spirited desire to send America’s 700,00 dreamers home - even though they’ve never broken the law, even though most pay taxes and are gainfully employed, even though “home” is a country they’ve never known. 


Given the news, Trump tweeted this morning: “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?”


Me-me-me-me-me-me-e-e! Always “me.” In a compassionate consideration of the dreamers’ situation, President Barrack Obama signed an executive order allowing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) an extension of their stays. Obama did this? Get rid of it - just as Trump has rescinded other Obama executive orders and legislation intended to move the country forward.


People around the world have protested in the streets for the three weeks since Black American George Floyd’s death. The message is loud and clear: Black Lives Matter. This week, the US Supreme Court made it clear LGBT lives matter, too - something with which the Trump administration disagreed. 


Earlier today, Facebook removed Trump campaign ads containing inverted red triangles identical to those the Nazis used to identify political prisoners. The Trump campaign denied doing anything wrong. Is the statement evil, or merely stupid and insensitive? Because those are the only options. Using inverted red triangles can hardly be termed a “coincidence.” 


In recent weeks, Donald Trump criticized the Voice of America for its news coverage of China during the coronavirus crisis: “Voice of America is run in a terrible manner. They’re not the Voice of America. They’re the opposite of the Voice of America.


The VOA News reported today that the newly appointed chief executive overseeing the Voice of America fired two agency heads and their corporate boards, this week. Their replacements? According to the News: “... unqualified political people, fundamentally undermining the mission and work of the organization. It’s now obvious why the White House wanted (the new appointee) so badly, so they can transform the agency into their own personal mouthpiece.” 


Tuesday, a New York Times editorial stated: “The specter of turning VOA into a propaganda tool of the White House should be frightening to all Americans, regardless of political leanings.” 


It’s not like Donald Trump doesn’t already control the news as he sees it. Until recently, Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump (wife of Trump’s son Eric), hosted the propaganda-style Real News. The YouTube channel recently disappeared - or perhaps I need a subscription and credentials to view it; I don’t know. 


It would be stretch to claim Donald Trump isn’t racist (“I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.” - President Donald Trump, July 30, 2019). His comments about Muslims, Mexicans, Jews, Blacks and White Supremacists speak for themselves. His views on women, immigrants, and people with disabilities are despicable.


Wherever he goes, whatever he does, Trump missteps, drawing attention to himself and further dividing the country and the world. 


This weekend’s Tulsa campaign rally was originally scheduled for tomorrow - the day known as “Juneteenth,” marking the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States. 


Knowingly or unknowingly, Trump’s campaign committee planned the rally in Tulsa, site of one of the worst episodes of racial violence in the US: The 1921 Race Massacre. Using guns and explosives - some dropped from planes - white mobs targeted Black residents, their homes, and their businesses. More than 300 Blacks died; 10,000 were left homeless; no one was charged.


Initially reluctant to change the rally’s June 19th date, Trump is shameless, claiming to The Wall Street Journal that he made Juneteenth “very famous” and that “nobody had ever heard of it before.”


And finally, the coronavirus - the pandemic Trump wants you to forget, and which he scarcely mentions these days. On Saturday, each of the 19,000 Trump supporters packing Tulsa’s Bok Center rally will have signed a waiver, disavowing Trump and his campaign from liability should anyone later develop COVID-19. 


This week, Trump allegedly acknowledged to WSJ White House reporter Michael Bender that “a very small percentage” of rally-goers would get probably develop COVID-19 following their attendance.  


Which is it - a political campaign rally, or the value of human lives - that tip the scale more, in Donald Trump’s me-first world? The President seems not to care. He doesn’t wear a mask. He doesn’t display social-distancing. He promotes phoney “cures.” He false claims the coronavirus is “dying out … We’re very close to a vaccine … It’s fading away …”


Trump claims “more than a million people want to attend …” his rally. Donald Trump is a practiced liar detached from reality. Why should anyone believe him?


So here’s what I believe. I believe there will be riots, this weekend in Tulsa. I believe Trump will flee the stage early. I believe the man who  says COVID testing  is “over-rated” and “makes us look bad” will immediately be tested himself, as he regularly is.


I also believe sanity will prevail and this disgusting, disgraceful, delusional President will be kicked out of office in November.


America is burning: Donald Trump is the pyromaniac who struck the match. Bring on the men in the white coats.

June 14, 2020

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

We bushwhacked in the cemetery, the other day. That’s not a reference to sex. We took a walk in the woods at the edge of our village-that-calls-itself-a-town, wandered onto what we thought was a shortcut, and got lost. 


We didn’t choose the cemetery; it chose us. Not in a Just a Closer Walk with Thee sense, but in a “Help! Help! I’m lost!” sense. 


Not in a “Help! Help! I’m lost because I’ve lived my life in sin!” sense, but in a “Help! Help! I’m bloody well lost and can’t find my way out of the woods!” sense.


That these particular woods border the cemetery was semi-comforting. At least, we knew where we were.


On one side of the cemetery was the road into town. Between it and us was the cemetery’s high iron gate, its heavy chain and lock visible despite the day’s bright sun. 


And so, with the gate locked, we returned to the woods and began to bushwhack. The forest was dark and dense. As long as we heard cars, we knew we were near the road. Our village-that-calls-itself-a-town is the size of my coat pocket. We heard no cars, that day. 


On the other side of the cemetery is the ambulance station. We heard no ambulances, that day. Alone in the woods, we heard no birds singing and no bears huffing. The only sign of life was an empty vodka bottle, over which I tripped and had a little cry. I did this twice, over the same stoo-pid bottle. 


It was hard, plunging through those woods. Not quite an hour later, we found ourselves back in the cemetery. As can happen to lost hikers, we’d traveled in a circle. 


(My mind’s eye pictured two sad little skeletons, found in the cemetery next August. Neighbors we’d never met would say: “They kept to themselves … They died doing what they loved to do.” Our kids would shake their heads, feeling vaguely guilty for assuming we’d snapped and gone to Vegas, unable to take mask-wearing and social-distancing one day longer.)   


To my wails of “What can we do-o-o-o?” Himself said: “We’ll never give up! We’ll go to the gate and plead for help through the bars!” Neither of us said anything, but in this village-that-calls-itself-a-town, we prayed someone - anyone! - might come along to hear us. 


Mumbling: “I’m hun-gry …” I trudge-trudged behind Himself, drawing ever closer to the gate. 


With the sun now behind us, we saw  we saw … we saw …! 


The gate was locked, for sure, but between it and the woods was an expanse of grass so broad and so welcoming that a whole herd of village idiots could easily pass from road to cemetery and back.  


Indeed, we were only two village idiots, and easily walked through. With the sun in our eyes, we hadn’t seen this corridor earlier. 


Our parked car was where we’d left it - near the entrance to the well-marked trail from which we’d strayed, in this village-that-calls-itself-a-town.


©  Nicole Parton, 2020

June 12, 2020

Icky Sticky Licky ...

Whats on my mind? Ive been eyeing one of those Costco sticky toffee puddings - the kind available only at Christmas. It somehow made it to the sanctuary of the deep freeze, probably assuming no one would ever find it. Wrong-o! I did. It was cowering behind a package of two-year-old frozen blueberries.


Day 1: Chip pudding from ice. Stare at pudding until I freeze and it thaws. Replace pudding behind blueberries. Envision pudding in icky sticky licky tortuous overnight dreams.


Day 2: Reposition pudding to upper basket of freezer. Fondle packaging as one might a long-lost lover, musing: Why didnt I find you sooner, mein Schatz? Conceal pudding under bag of frozen peas. Calmly close freezer lid.


Day 3: Lick packaging of frozen pudding for 30 minutes. Tongue sticks to picture of pudding on package front. Lose portion of tongue. Thay five Hail Maryth ath penanthe. Calmly clothe freether lid.


Day 4: Himself questions bloody tongue bandage. Employ non-sequitur to minimize finding: That thupid toffee pudding wath taking up thpathe in the freether and ... 


Himself interrupts: Are you kidding? We bought that pudding three Christmases ago! Throw it out!


Yeth, I lie.


Day 5: Pudding gone. Thith ith true. Thkip over dithpothal method. I think Im going to be thick ...


©  Nicole Parton, 2020

June 10, 2020

Waltzing on Sand

What’s on my mind? We had a picnic at the beach, this week. No one was there. Two folding chairs. Two clip-on umbrellas. Two ham sandwiches. Fruit, shared. Cheese, shared. Love, shared.



We walked and walked on the hard, flat sand, never reaching the end. We asked ourselves: Where do we go from here? We weren’t thinking about the beach. 

It’s only June. Maybe thats why the beach is so quiet. That’s what we told ourselves, complicit in the lie

I’ve changed. Sos he. Fingers laced, I tightened my grip on his. He began singing - quietly, as he always does, to calm me down. Loosening my fingers, he extended our arms as I leaned into his body. We waltzed on the sand as the waves crept closer. 

Florida has been seeing 1,200 new cases a day. Arizona, more than 1,000. Texas, 1,500. South Carolina, Oregon ... All in trouble. The President demanded every State open. Money, first. Lives, last.

Stay home. Stay calm. Stay safeWe’ve stopped having dinner parties, of course. We always had dinner parties. We heard on the morning news that a family reunion of 30 led to 15 new cases of COVID, not far from where we live. 

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on ... Carl Sandburg wrote that in 1916. 

Have you read On the Beach? Nevil Shute’s brilliant book about the end of the world? If you haven’t, do. If you fear death, don’t. 

Have you read T.S. Eliot? The Hollow Men? When I read it years ago, it was immediately etched on my soul: 

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, but a whimper.


As the President rages and tweets, we waltz on the sand with our little cat feet, the fog and the waves ever closer.

©  Nicole Parton, 2020

June 8, 2020

One Moment, She was Fine

What’s on my mind? An old friend died, a couple of weeks ago. It was actually a couple of years ago, but who’s counting? I didn’t see the obit, and knew no one in her circle. She just ... died.

I told two women who’d vaguely known her. Neither knew she’d died. Each said the right things even as I said the wrong ones. As much as I admired and respected her, she had deep problems she’d hidden until our friendship neared its end. 

I once invited her and another woman on a brief vacation. With neither warning nor provocation, the first woman - the one who died - suddenly went berserk. One moment, she was fine; the next, she tried to kill us. 

In the middle of a not-unusual conversation about not-unusual topics, she grabbed a kitchen knife, began screaming, raised it high, and ran straight toward us. Terrified, we locked ourselves in a bedroom. 

Fully clothed, my friend and I jumped into the bed, trembling in fear as the the first woman raged and pounded on the door for what seemed like hours - until suddenly, she stopped.

There was a phone in the bedroom; I could have alerted the front desk. Someone would most certainly have called the police, who would have come instantly. I couldn’t bring myself to do that to a friend, but nor could I understand why she’d snapped. 

Opening the door after a very long silence, we found her on her back, unconscious. Knife still in hand, she’d peed her pants. My second friend cleaned her up, put her in fresh clothes, gave her a pillow and a blanket, and left her on the floor, still unconscious. 

In retrospect, we should have summoned medical help. We were too afraid to move her - afraid she’d come after us, again.

My friend, wiser than I, methodically searched for a bottle, finding it behind a stack of towels in the main bathroom. Although I’d known the woman who’d tried to attack us more than three years, this was my first realization she was an alcoholic.

Later, came other alcohol-related clues ... Her hospitalization for the DTs; the throat ulcer that nearly killed her; her frightening, irrational rudeness to another friend when I foolishly tried to repeat the ruined vacation. After that, we lost touch. And now she’s dead. 

I wish I’d known, sooner. I could have scribbled a few words of condolence on the online obit - now closed for comment.

Over the past few days, I’ve been surprised to find myself grieving. There hasn’t been a day since reading her obit that I haven’t thought of her with fondness and sadness. She was a wonderful woman - tough, smart, wise, giving. 

She volunteered selflessly for the poor and down-trodden on Vancouver’s mean streets, asking nothing for herself. She was supportive when I went through a life crisis years ago, and others turned their backs. Friends like that are hard to find, and harder still to lose. I miss her.

©  Nicole Parton, 2020

May 27, 2020

Patience is Its Own Reward

What’s on my mind? A study in patience.

When they ask: “What did you do, during the plague?” I’ll say: “I learned to cut my hair!” (The results of that  will never, ever become public. Now, my sister’s attempt, Ill show you. She didn’t respond to blackmail.)


What has Himself been up to? Himself has been using his time to enhance his gardening skills, as well as teaching himself astral photography. Despite all of that, if anyone were to ask, hed shrug and say: “I did a jigsaw puzzle.” 

Being the modest type, he wont say the puzzle required a magnifying glass and a ruler to examine its 1,000 tiny pieces. He wont say his wife tried, failed, and stomped off in frustration several times, unable to find even one piece of the puzzle.

For him to say: “I did a jigsaw puzzle,” minimizes the feat. So this is how things went:

May 5: Gung-ho. 

Purchase, unpack, place and sort puzzle pieces on dining room table. Begin with edges. Hmmm ... (Muffled cuss words will occasionally escape this room. Hours will meld into days, with all becoming a blur. Himself doesn’t know this, yet). 



May 9: Cautious. 


May 11: Measured.


May 16: Persistent. 


May 18: Undaunted.


May 22: Tireless.



May 23: Again. And again. And again.


May 24: Relentless.




Early morning, May 27: Bathrobe. 



Mid-morning, May 27: At last!



Victorious!


©  Nicole Parton, 2020