BY Joel

09/01 Direct Link
Home for a mental vacation. I haven't been home in ages. What do I find on my mom's computer? A favourited link to my 100 Words account. I haven't been here in ages. I spent the evening reading my old batches, surprised at my old self, my old preoccupations. I was such a sad sack. How relieving to realize that problems pass, how good to be reminded that writing helps them to pass more quickly. I'm going to try to be less maudlin this batch. I am learning so much these days. Vacations are so necessary. I love you, Mom.
09/02 Direct Link
I've stopped using Facebook once again. I thought that I could come back and use it in a more meaningful way by posting "Notes" with thoughts on issues that matter to me. That was fine for a while but it degenerated into me craving attention through comments, me performing like some deranged cyber clown. Whew. I'm glad that's over with. Meanwhile millions of people are still using the site. I'm tempted to declare it the biggest timesink in human history but I'm trying to practice live and let live. Others may find great meaning it in where I do not.
09/03 Direct Link
I learned so little during my undergrad, and not because I was stoned most of the time, either. My first year they warned me that the world would end because of an environmental crisis, showed me how to think critically, how to dissect every little idea and action. I spent the next three years and this past year after graduating judging my professors, family and friends for not being green enough. I was so self-righteous. I alienated myself from so many people. No more. I am tired of being angry and afraid. I will let unconditional love free me.
09/04 Direct Link
I spent the day walking around my hometown, Adele singing that beautiful song in the back of my mind, encouraging me to hum and whistle in time.

I should have known that the shops along 13th Avenue would be closed on a Sunday, but no matter: it's an excuse to come again later in the week, and the ice cream stand is still open.

I love that there are so many First Nations people here. There are always some in the downtown parks relaxing, laughing, maybe drinking.

Are the wonders of my world...

Regina is all I needed.
09/05 Direct Link
I went to Value Village and found a book called Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, Zen Poems by Ryokan. Two bucks, but worth much more. What an interesting guy, this Ryokan. He was trained in a monastery but ultimately decided to live as a hermit. He built a hut in the mountains and spent the rest of his days making love to the moon, gardening, perfecting his poetry and calligraphy, drinking rice wine, and sometimes making rounds to nearby villages with his robe and bowl seeking sustenance. A good man, but I think he was just as lost as anyone.
09/06 Direct Link
I took my nephews to the local science museum yesterday and we took in the Hubble 3D IMAX movie while we were there. Most of the content was too advanced for their youngster brains, but it was so satisfying to watch them reaching out toward the screen, trying to grab at the stars and planets floating toward them.

I would have preferred to see the show about animals but it wasn't playing yesterday. Learned about galaxies and nebulae instead. The universe is the same under a telescope as it is under a microscope: orbs whirling around other orbs. Infinitely beautiful.
09/07 Direct Link

A teardrop falls from your eye onto the surface of the lake, sending ripples emanating, but you can't see the beauty of the ever-expanding arches. Sad, sweet thing, you cannot see anything past your own sorrow.

Besides, it is drizzling, and teardrops and raindrops are all the same to the lake.

But not to the spirits in the water. One telling drop and the whole pool knows the depths of your sadness, knows how and why you got there when you yourself do not.

Water spirit, lake mist, vapour stream, clouds part, RAINBOW.

Awe, belief, sun, love, God.
09/08 Direct Link
Tonight I went to the little library theatre that plays independent films. I saw a low-budget feature called Hank Williams First Nation. It made me cry. When the screen faded to black, I left with my hood up, my head down, and my eyes trailing tears behind me.

I grew up in a neighbourhood full of Indians so I understand their pain. I look into their faces and I see nobility, even if they are wandering the streets drunk.

As an environmentalist, I believe that their culture and tradtions is medicine for all the ailments of the modern world.
09/09 Direct Link
Lately I've been trying to rid myself of negative opinions, to take deep breaths when something irritates me, to remember that I don't have to produce an emotional response to every stimulus.

Practicing this kind of awareness makes me hypersensitive to the negative opinions of others, however. Yesterday my mom complained to me about the girl who served her at Tim Hortons. "She could barely speak English!"

As a son, I want the same kind of inner peace for my mother. I want her to be able to calmly repeat herself 1000 times until that sweet girl understands her order.
09/10 Direct Link
I made perogies with Mom today - cottage cheese, my favourite. She sure complained about it, though. She complained when I first mentioned the idea, while we shopped for ingredients, about flour on the floor and stuck to her pot scrubber... She won't complain while we eat them.

Butter, sour cream, fried onions, bacon, salt and pepper on top of delicious, hand-rolled, hand-cut, hand-pinched Ukrainian dumplings. This is not diet food but if you eat them mindfully, in moderation, they won't do you harm. Instead they'll have you dancing, the taste of tradition making music on your tongue.
09/11 Direct Link
five rabbits

i will never forget
the silhouette
of long, tapered ears
against moonlight

i felt loneliness pass
as i sat near in the grass
after bowing to him
in the moonlight

i don't blame him
for moving away
as who can say
what humans might do
under moonlight

but he soon settled in
under a cautious gaze
and watched rays
illuminate my whiskers:
the moonlight

another one came
and did the same
and yet one more:
for the moonlight

in japan it is thought
that a rabbit and pot
can be seen on the stone
that makes moonlight
09/12 Direct Link
You love to ride your bike around the city. Simply riding with no particular destination is a kind of meditation that easily evolves into ecstasy.

Something in the circular rhythm of the pedal, something in the hum of the aligned wheel, something in the whirr of the rushing traffic, something about the air echoing in your seashell ear as you flow through it, in the ever-morphing scenery, in the beating of the blood...

You find yourself whistling in time with this music of motion. You fishtail languidly, you balance with no hands and you are snapping, clapping, dancing, flying...
09/13 Direct Link
All I did was move a few things on the bookshelf at midnight and then suddenly it's 2am and I'm still rearranging the furniture. I thought I was being quiet, slowly sliding the couches, lamps, and side tables across the laminate flooring.

He's still sleeping, I think to myself in a tone of self-congratulation. Wait until he wakes up tomorrow and sees the living room transformed, renewed, refreshed!

I hear the bedroom doorknob turn and my stomach sinks. He looks at me, sweat on my brow, dust bunnies clinging to my socks.

"That's enough now, Brad. Come to bed."
09/14 Direct Link
Poor little Rudy, our year-old Red Boston Terrier. Lately he's been giving frustrated snorts when I let him out in the morning, when he realizes it's not as warm out as it could be. I doubt if he remembers snow, or the long winter nights spent inside, hiding from cold.

Maybe this is what tempers a puppy - the changing of the seasons, watching things grow and then die away, becoming more and more humble under nature.

These days he'll innocently pull on the leash, as if to say "Faster!" but soon he'll be at my side, savouring each step.
09/15 Direct Link
I must continue on with studying French or my university education will have been a waste. I must find a way to learn the language on my own.

Last winter I took up a correspondence with a young man from Toulouse but it did not take long for us to realize that we were both unhappy in our respective relationships, and an email love affair would not bring any solutions.

I must find books that interest me. Gay books, full of gay sex and gay despair. What was the name of that author? Ah, oui. Bonsoir, M. Genet, mon amant.
09/16 Direct Link
I saw a ghost in the library today. I caught it in my peripheral vision as it floated past me, whooshing and whisper-wailing in typical phantom fashion. Looking up from the book I was reading, I saw it linger in front of a shelf across the room.

I'd been waiting for something like this to happen. I'd always known there was something more, you know? Something otherworldly to which only a gifted few in this realm are privy.

It beckoned. I went, ready to receive its message.

"Yoouuuuu faaaarted in theeee liiiibraaaryyyy!" said the ghoulish gas from my ass.
09/17 Direct Link
The neighbour boy is in our yard, playing with the dog. He is five and still has so much to learn about the world.

For example, you can only throw a ball at a dog's face from a foot away so many times before the dog stops trusting you, stops wanting to play with you.

I'd like them to remain friends, so I tell the story of Tommy, my childhood cat who disowned me for many years after repeated tail pullings, laundry basket trappings, and bathtub near-drownings.

I regained Tommy's trust when I was old enough to understand suffering.
09/18 Direct Link

the pot plants
in his yard
smell of skunk
a smell
no tall hedge
can debunk

the neighbours
are whispering

when you've got
what the chinese
call the sugar pee
a needle in the tummy
can make you feel
kinda funny

better eat
something quick

friends are smoking,
laughing, joking
it makes me feel
kinda funny
am I high
am I low
sorry friends
gotta go

shouldn't have eaten
all that chocolate

friends smoking
laughing, joking
isn't funny

in holes
without goals

sorry to kill the buzz
blame my acidic blood
gotta do these dishes
and walk the dog
09/19 Direct Link
Running on the pier with Rudy in the post-sunset glow. Orange and blue and gray in every shade on the western horizon. On each side of our panting and leaping, concrete crumbles and disappears into this lake that is an ocean. We are bounding toward that third dissolving side, where we will rest for a brief moment, our backs to civilization and language. All there will be is this light, this water, this light on this water, this water on this light, each laboured breath sending the waves on a new trajectory, the clouds in a new dazzling swirl.
09/20 Direct Link
The matriarch in his family is just over 90. Her favourite drink is Sprite, her favourite food is cookies, and strawberries aren't strawberries unless you sprinkle sugar on them and let them sit for a while in a sunny window. "Keep on the sunny side" is her motto. She wears two hearing aids and can't walk very far but hey, she's 90. She never eats tomatoes. She won't eat pasta because it's too ethnic. She likes hats, jewelry, furs, Florida, and decorates her retirement room in Royal Doulton. Sometimes I call her Marion, sometimes Nanny. We like to play Yahtzee.
09/21 Direct Link

I'm up early to see him off -
A three day conference.
I will miss him
So I lean in to kiss him
But he turns his head
And my lips meet his cheek.
Haven't made love for a while.
Maybe a few days' absence
Will make the difference.

I watch him drive away
And realize it's garbage day.

In my robe on the back deck
I'm unscrewing bottle caps
Unscrewed, twisting ties
Hiding egg cartons under newsprint
They don't recycle egg cartons
In this county.

I'd send this in
But who would publish it?
It sucks.
It really sucks.
09/22 Direct Link
You are making banana bread and you think it might be nice to put some walnuts in the dough mixture. You walk to the pantry to see if you have any and WHOOPS! You slip on a slick freezer-blackened peel that you didn't see fall as you were fervently beating the eggs. Your legs fly from beneath you and suddenly you are turning through the air, defying gravity, weightless backflip over weightless backflip. You realize you are shrinking! You are shrinking and - OH NO! - headed for the bowl of brown banana batter. SPLORK.

What the hell is going on?
09/23 Direct Link
Through my cloudy mood, through the clear window, through the still, silent metal cylinders of the windchime hanging on the porch, through the lazy afternoon drizzle, I see a woman with an umbrella in one hand, camera in the other, taking pictures of the young maple tree that stands bright orange and red-orange in front of our house on this cold September day.

Carol is this woman's name. A local poet-photographer who sometimes sits at the desk of the local art co-op gallery.

I feel the urge to invite her for tea, but oh, she is gone.
09/24 Direct Link
Tomorrow I'm going to be in the Fall Fair parade!
I'm going to laugh and smile and wave and relish every minute of it.
I'm going to wear an orange sweater, the colour of the NDP.
I'm going to become a fool for my political beliefs.
I'm going to become a fool for my spiritual beliefs.
I'm going to hand out literature to support my local candidate.
I'm going to toss red and orange maple leaves into the air and they will fall like a most beautifully symbolic confetti.
I'm going to do high kicks.
I'm so horny for this.
09/25 Direct Link
They're demolishing these old cottages down by the water and we got a tip to go down there and hunt for treasures before everything goes to waste. We went with his dad's truck and got a bunch of lumber, some perennials, a few kitchen things, some clothes hangers... Never too many hangers.

I look around our home and realize that very few of our belongings are new. They're all hand-me-downs, rummage sale fortunes, gifts from the side of the road. It need not be new to be beautiful. Beauty is in quality, in the care of the arrangement.
09/26 Direct Link
Dear members of the 100 Words Community,

I read your words. Not all of them all of the time, but here and there I like to think I visit everyone.

I'm often altered by what is written on this site. Writers young and old educate me.

Please don't ever feel alone here, as if your efforts are pointless, as if no one but you has a relationship to your writings.

Keep sharing. Share here, share your best with loved ones. Share.

Somewhere, sometime, someone is hitting "Random" and your beauty is suddenly lit from behind, glowing inside your lantern-reader.
09/27 Direct Link
Nature Profiles/Epiphanies: Daucus carota

Wild carrot, Queen Anne's or bishop's lace, bird's nest.

In summer the white wonders are everywhere - in ditches, in neglected corners of the yard, flat like doilies, like a child's palm stretched open to the sky.

Epiphany 1: A warm water infusion of the flowers is useful to control blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Epiphany 2: In most specimens, a single purple blossom can be found at the centre of each flower.

Epiphany 3: In fall, the dried blooms draw up into a nest shape, making homes and hangouts for lady bugs, beetles, spiders, grasshoppers...
09/28 Direct Link
The point has been made again and again, but we forget so easily so it is worth repeating and repeating: all we have is this moment. We can't change our past, and we mustn't worry about the uncertain future.

We can and should make goals for the future, of course, but we must realize that these goals might change, be thrown off track, or totally obliterated.

Emotions are real and valid, but they can easily become unreal if we give them too much air time.

How can we remind ourselves to live happily, hopefully in the present?

Tattoo? Mantra? Ritual?
09/29 Direct Link
He sneers, says he doesn't like ornamental grass and my arms fly up in frustration. Suddenly I'm in the house, clearing/clanging the dishes from the lunch I made him.

He's been getting gardening books from the library, enjoying the Canadian Gardening magazine subscription that I got him for his birthday. Have I created a monster?

He follows me in, half-heartedly apologizes, tells me how much he's been reading, how he wants the yard to have a more classic look.

"Classic look, my arse! Don't ask me for suggestions if you don't really want them, you... you... you worm!"
09/30 Direct Link
Dear Baba,

I'm sorry I haven't written to you lately. I haven't been writing to anyone - just a few private thoughts to kind strangers on the Internet.

The world is full of great pain. If I could, I would stuff it all into a big varenyki and make the Devil eat it. Or I'd seal it inside a huge goose egg pysanky and let a goose carry it up to God.

I got a job at a café. I start Sunday. This time I will let no one tell me it's not good enough.

I love you and postcards,