Archive for July, 2008

This ain’t no Webster’s

July 31, 2008

I keep a dictionary on my desk at work to help me with spelling but also with some vocabulary words that seem to pop up regularly here but which were practically unknown to me for the first 50 years of my life. (“Secondment” is one that I keep having to plumb the subtleties). In a quiet moment today, I flipped through it while letting my mind roam; this is not atypical of how I start a project–a couple minutes of thoughtless page flipping while the new work’s shape settles into that skull of mine and I can start weaving.

The dictionary in question is the Paperback Oxford Canadian Dictionary, 2nd Edition, and the subtleties of secondment barely touches the tip of its iceberg of information. I can look up “Parental Guidance” to get the Alberta take, as well as “parental guidance” for the more garden variety take. The primary definition of “gay” is not “carefree” (although that is the second definition), and “fuck-up” is nicely defined–actually eloquently so.

It’s a far cry from the argument I had with Michael Oris, back when we were about 8 and 9, about whether “ain’t” could or should be in the dictionary. But, today, I neglected to look that one up.

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Local eats

July 30, 2008

Today I got to visit the locally famed Chickenburger, and it lived up to all the hype. Being a pescatarian, I can’t speak to the namesake dish, of course, but my lunch companion clearly enjoyed hers, along with a milkshake, while I had fries and clam strips–and the grand total for all that together was under $10.

I didn’t get to try the add-on Little Chicken this trip, but in appearance and concept it was straight out of my own childhood: the ice cream shed at the back of the drive-through on the highway.

Small–so small–parade

July 29, 2008

A replica of the Amistad is in port, part of a week of festivities around the 225th anniversary of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. We walked down to see it Sunday evening. We’d seen it a few years ago, when it was anchored at Monterey, some time after it “played” in the film commemorating the 1839 shipboard rebellion.

Here, the focus is different, as the descendants of the Black Loyalists who got to, and remained in, Nova Scotia view its symbolism as predating the ship’s launch.

There was a parade of small ships advertised for late morning today and I checked out the window from time to time but saw only the Amistad itself in the harbour. (And, oh yes, a Navy ship and a cruise liner, and assorted other “working” craft). Bob went down to the waterfront and saw little else in the way of parade material either. Oh well.

Given the day’s weather, it’s too bad neither of us actually got to be on the water, which was glass under a bright blue sky. But I’m sorry that the parade seems to have dwindled to nothing, as its impetus seems so parade-worthy…..

Hot dogs

July 28, 2008

Do folks in Berkeley take their dogs for longer, or more circuitous, walks than people do here? I remember seeing the same dogs–and there are a lot of dogs being walked in Berkeley–cruising a variety of far flung (relatively) neighbourhoods there, while here, a five-block move on my part has constituted a wholly different dogscape. Or is it the weather?

The dogs I saw regularly while living in my apartment to the south were large: a couple of golden retrievers, a pair of pretty big terriers, and so forth. In my new immediate surroundings, the pair (well, at least they are still being walked in pairs!) is composed of slightly edgy dachshunds (short-haired). They seem to be ruffled by half the folks they pass on the sidewalk, but ignore me. And the terriers and retrievers have disappeared. Gone north for the summer, while the hot dogs moved south?

Hoisted by my own petard

July 27, 2008

In an effort to save a trip, I suggested to Bob that, once we were finished collecting paint chips on Quinpool, we do the staples shopping at the Quinpool Atlantic Superstore, rather than driving and reparking at Barrington. This was all well and good until we got to the checkout and I realized that the new folks from eco-conscious Berkeley had managed to come to the one store in Halifax that has gone bagless–bring your own or carry things home in an unwieldy armload–yes, that would be flour and olive oil and tissues malt vinegar, mustard and cereal….Oi!

Party hearty

July 27, 2008

There’s a tiny dog-leg of a street, near our new house, called Wright Avenue. It’s the kind of street Bob would love as it has no reason to bear any traffic except for its residents; however, the only place for sale there, during my brief real estate crawl, wasn’t the “it” house. Wright Avenue’s prospect, as well as its diminutiveness, reminds me of Brookline’s White Place, although the latter is older and has outlets at both ends. So, it’s just as well that we don’t live on Wright as I might mistake it for White and get horribly confused emerging onto Morris and finding it to be other than Davis….

This afternoon and evening, Wright has an important looking barricade across its access end and an official sign proclaiming “Street Closed – Block Party.” I’ve happened past two or three times and it doesn’t seem to be an overly boisterous party–but then, maybe it will get cranked into high gear in the predawn hours, which seems to be Halifax’s Saturday night standard.

The Pride Parade, on the other hand, was quite the hopping and happening scene this afternoon, when I walked along South Park, past the Public Gardens, as the “floats” and marchers were dancing by. The bystanders were true throngs, wildly varied in age and station in life (by all appearances) and cheerful. Outside the parade, however, I saw the most stunning couple: a man and woman, by all appearances well into their 80’s, were strolling away from the parade, he carrying an enormous rainbow umbrella (against the sun, I suppose, as it was bright and the day muggy) and matching suspenders, she proudly carrying a rainbow flag in her right hand and a Cuban flag in her left.

Caroline and the Lake Dwellers of Ron More Skerry

July 25, 2008

A trio of books I have unearthed this week are standouts from my earliest book-acquiring days.  Somehow, through all the moves I made both in childhood and since –and there were more than half a dozen before I started school, more than three times that in adulthood–a cloth book from infancy still hangs with me.  But the three childhood books that really, really count are a large, colorful collection of stories, Pierre Probst’s Caroline and Her Friends; a prehistory tale called The Last of the Lakedwellers; and The Secret of Ron More Skerry, which was, a bit more than 10 years ago, made into the almost-but-not-quite-satisfying film, The Secret of Roan Innish.

What is it about a book you’ve read dozens of times, across decades, taht still can pull at you like a living, breathing person?  Friend?  Family?  Alter ego?  Shadow? In every case, I remember reading and rereading the book in various rooms, in a wide assortment of places, at different ages, with different understandings.  And yet, it never is enough. And, thank goodness, these books don’t get lost, aren’t in the box that gets left behind–and never seem to lose their magnetic attraction.

A big week in Halifax

July 24, 2008

Several civic events arre happening through this week: there’s the Africville Anniversary host of programming; a dragon boat event on the past weekend has lots of folks still in town sporting nicely embroidered fire-breathing serpent jackets; and it’s Gay Pride Week.  US Gay Pride week is deeply attached to the anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, but nothing I’ve read or heard so far here explains how the celebration here has come to br placed a full month later, as it has been for now 20 years.  It appears that celebrations and commemmorations in Ontario, including Toronto, are scheduled for late June.

Last week there seemed to be much made of Rosie O’Donnell coming to town with a GLBT tourist cruise.  And several weeks ago, the business community was announcing pleasure at Halifax’s recognition as gay-friendly.  So, what happened more than two decades ago in July? The Other Librarian has posted notice of the week, and an assortment of editorialists have written in favor of it (as though there were a vote to be had?!),  but my preliminary digging hasn’t brought the “why late July” to light.

And a hard rain’s gonna–continue to–fall

July 23, 2008

Although we had a reprieve today, the sky looked bruised and anxious to dump more water.  In parts of Nova Scotia, yesterday’s rainfall equalled and surpassed rainfall for the typical July as a month.  Locally, it wasn’t quite so dramatic, but 40-80 mm is still plenty of rain.

But it’s still quite warm, as much as 10 degrees warmer than the Bay Area. I think of all the folks out there who presumed we were moving to the Great White North.  And I had to chuckle on behalf of what the locals would think had they heard Bob expostulate on Monday–after a night of hard rain followed by a morning of the same–that the weather here is “just like California.”  Each place has its myths about the extremes of the other.

The moving process is playing havoc with my telecommunications again.  I have little access at home, for lack of desk or table top, and only have recently gained a place to sit (Fred’s bed) on which to balance the laptop.  By the weekend, however, I hope to have my “real” computer moved because it will have a surface on which to land.  Unless the rain keeps me from the dragging that precious “imported” monitor down the street….

The wheels–and conversation–on the bus

July 22, 2008

We are having wet, wet weather, with a tropical storm headed our way.  I can’t imagine how much wetter it can get, so imagine it will bring more of my least favorite weather form:  wind.

Yesterday morning, still uncertain where my rubber boots might be amid the boxes, I surrendered my necessary morning walk and took the bus. It being the off-season university-wise, the Dartmouth-bound route brought a fairly empty vehicle; anyone wanting a solo seat on which to drip with abandon could ahve it.  However, directly behind me, were two middle aged men in deep conversation.

The topic was cleaning.  The aisle-side guy was offering a catalogue of sage advice on how to efficiently scrape down windows, showers, and tubs.  It became quickly apparent that the two were headed toward what was to be the window-side fellow’s first day as a cleaner.  Aisle-side went through about seven stages of induction:  explanation, boasting, complaining, begrudging, and so forth, as he thought aloud through how window-side guy’s presence at the same workplace would be both a help and a hindrance. It was a momentary flash on border politics….