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I haven't written here in a while. I'm working on what seems to be a stupid princess story, and really, who works on a princess story besides a princess writing a diary, which I'm not, or someone who's entirely dillusional? I don't think I'm dillusional, but if I were, I wouldn't be able to tell, would I? Hmm. At sixty-four words. I'm tired of counting words, but it's better than counting sheep, which I've never had to do, which is a blessing. I usually just go on a run around the block. Yes, at one in the morning. Really.
Buckets. What do I know about buckets. Not a whole hell of a lot. There's the whole-in-the-bucket issue and dear Liza, and I know that, and by and large, there's the idea that people make buckets out of plastic now,and you never see buckets that are wooden with iron slats, like you find in the streets of a 'Sherlock Holmes' movie, or traipsing down a London alley in 'A Christmas Carol". I have a red bucket myself, and the mop drain always falls off. That is probably the blandest character statement that I can think of.
What does a character statement linking yourself to a bucket mean? I think I have to drop it and concede it doesn't mean ANYthing. No, it doesn't and that's a relief. But there is always the idea that you could divide the world into those who have a bucket and those who don't. Perhaps it should be a census question. It's tricky because in some places you should own your own bucket, and in others, somebody else should own it FOR you. The difficulty is, you can't know if you're a bucket-holder or not, traveling down the birth canal.
And....SCENE. Time to see the glass half-full. Hmmm-what's that like. Well, there's a lot of light on top, the part between the liquid and the end of the glass...and that could be, well,...bright...bright if the sun is shining through my kitchen window and it's catching on the flecks of dust dancing in the shaft. I think it is. I think it's quiet and warm in my kitchen, and although I'm by myself, it's contemplative-good people are coming home later, when we'll share wine, and talk about who they ran into on the streetcar.
I'm not ready for action, or plot. Too much plot. So, I'm sticking with the glass for the moment. I never talked about what's IN the glass. It's mid-day, a kitchen, so I'm thinkin' juice...milk...but lately there's been a bit of milk intolerance, so it's juice, and it think it's frozen, or it's been made from concentrate, the other stuff is just too Yuppie. Not that I don't buy it- bring on the wheatgrass- but just not in this scene. It's simpler. There's a fish bowl and a fish tank, and one is in the adjacent livingroom.
But back to the bucket. I have to say, something is intriguing me about the subject. If you had a bucket in Africa you could use it to catch the milk from your cow, and to get your water. But I guess you could do that on any continent- save perhaps, the Antarctic. No cows. But that's obvious. She was a women who had a cow in Africa, and who- wait a minute, is that already impossible? I have a suspicion it is- I think it's not the women who own the cows in Africa. But I have no idea.
It's not the women who own the cows in Africa- potentially, I'm not sure- and I need to be more well-read and well-versed in the ways of things of which I know not. I guess if you're in Africa and reading this, you could correct me. Please DON'T. Get me to pick up the slack a little! Research. G*d, lazy, I am. Better yet, crazy. But, I think the woman WAS someone who owned a cow in Africa, and in the midst of this, she grew into the Canadian kitchen scene- she came knocking at the door.
You're about to read an entry, next section, about not being organized, and entering these pieces in a haphazard order and the amount to which I care about that. A bit. Basically, so far, there are themes of water-bearing implements, inescapable inequalities in our shared existences and the potential held in waiting, in a world that's still and warm. Still life, with Oranges. I think I might get into the fact that there's a candle burning in this kitchen, even though it's the middle of the day, and it's warm, in a home in North America with central heating.
I started in the middle of the month, so this is the beginning, or the second day of the beginning, and I'm not going to put it all in order to make it make sense. SO be it. Yes, I'm too honest. It's my flaw, even when the general consensus is to lie, change the numbers, patch it up. My failure. But then, maybe it's time for a change: take ALL the coins from the "Leave-A-Penny-Take-A-Penny", the whole damn thing because the guy behind you is about to, he's already got his bucket sitting, ready.
I didn't know there was a woman at my door because I'd been staring at my glass on the counter, contemplating the light as it danced around on the top of the orange juice. I'd placed the glass right where the light hits the tile. I'd been sitting there for a few minutes- maybe a minute too long, but sometimes you need the break- and I thought I heard knocking but I attributed it to the work of the neighbours downstairs who were putting in a new washing machine that day. It was good- now they wouldn't borrow ours anymore.
It's just that when they borrow OURS, we have to make sure we're home or lend them the key, and I'm always buying extra laundry detergent because they secretly use it, and I'm not REALLY holding it against them-not REALLY, in the forefront of my mind- but it's a pain in the ass and I'm glad it's almost over. But it is only laundry. Nonetheless, when I heard a knocking I took a while to finally answer the door and when I did, there was a woman standing there with a basket in her hand. It was straw. Mmm.
I could smell it. It was like a summer field- or a hint of one, I hadn't been in a summer field in ages. It was fresh, she'd just woven it. (Which in itself was an event- how often do you meet someone with a basket in their hand, and it's a basket that's so fresh that you can smell it? This was a first.) She had a shawl over her shoulders and it lay there, plainly, and she wore a faded skirt around her hips that was worn by the sun. It bore a beautiful pattern of woven branches.
Her t-shirt was thin-something bought here, something on sale from Suzy Shier, something going as a permanent sale for fifty-percent off on the sale rack. I could use a couple myself. I wanted to ask her exactly where she'd got it. But she spoke first. "Hello miss, I'm sorry to bother your day. I am collecting recipes for a community cook book and I was wondering if you'd like to contribute." She seemed honest enough-sincere, we get some real characters at the door. I looked at the basket, and it didn't have anything in it yet.
But it was a bit like Little Red Riding Hood. The basket and the shawl and all. “Um, a community cookbook?” I asked. “Well, I don’t have anything handy really, I don’t have anything written out, but if you come back another time-“ I said, and she cut me off. She cut me off straight. "Aiee, that's what I thought you'd say. Let me in!"she said, and she invited herself into my kitchen. She pushed her way through the doorway. "Erma Brombeck, The Joy of Cooking, The Moose Wood Cookbook...yes, blah, blah-well, you've plenty here!"
she said, and she sat herself at the table. I was pretty impressed with her statement- she read my shelves at such a quick glance. And she was exactly right. But she could see my admiration and checked it. "Those are the books you all have," she said as an absolute thought. "Every single one of you ladies, but it's time you shared something of your own." I wasn't sure exactly how to take her tone of voice. She sounded accusatory. "I suppose so," I said, not wanting to start a disagreement- she was after all a guest, sort of.
But it was my apartment. “I’m sorry, it’s just that if you’d like something written down, I don’t have anything written down right NOW,” I said. “But if you’d really like to, you can come back tomorrow and I can try to have something waiting for you,” I explained. “Always living in tomorrow,” she said. “It’s exactly that. No, I don’t wish to come back-write something now!” she said. She took a paper recipe card from her purse- she had a stack of them- and passed me a pen. "Write." she said.
She passed me a pen and I took it. It said 'United Airlines' on the side. And it was something about the way she sat on my chair, part of a set of four that I'd painted and re-finished last fall, that gave me no choice but to obey her. An imposing authority, that moral presence some people have that makes you acutely aware of your own frivolous details. A priest and a top-notch pitcher rolled into one. Poised on the mound, ready-she knew how ring in the crowd. But she didn't need one, it needed her.
"Apple Berry Crisp", I started. It was the first thing that came to mind and I had no idea what else to put on the card. I wasn't even sure that it was "Apple BERRY Crisp" that my mother and I used to make- were there berries? Berries would have been summer, and apples fall, usually the two aren't blended. So maybe it was two SEPERATE crisps, but it was past the moment. I listed everything I could remember- the flour, sugar, butter, how to chop and peel- and then I guessed at the oven temperature and time to finish.
I passed it back to her but kept the pen. I had an inkling. "Do another-" she said abruptly. "A MAIN DISH." She said it like it was a challenge. Another recipe card surfaced from her purse. But I couldn't remember any real main full meals that I could call my own- or 'within the family', which seemed to be the mood of the event-that I could put down, my mother and brother and I had always made desserts or Christmas cookies together, which now seemed so cliche. So, I made something up- I called it 'Canadian Kraft Dinner' .
But the second I finished the 'r', she yelled out in protest. "KRAFT DINNER??! YOU'RE GOING TO PUT KRAFT DIIIINER IN YOUR COLLECTION?!" "Well, it's just that I-" but I didn't bother, I erased it and went for something entirely improvisatory. "Pecan Pelican Soup", I called it. I started with the shelling of the pecans and then detailed the backbone of a winter soup ripe with pumpkin and deep December spices. I stretched it a little- I said you could dry your own grapes for a star-touched sprinkling of raisins as garnish, and to grind your own mystical cinnamon.
But she didn't seem to mind. She seemed to appreciate the new energy the room was giving off, like a vacation had come as it most rightfully should-without being asked, but by being let in. I'd let it come in and the length of its stay was entirely up to me. She'd relaxed and she smiled. 'All right," she said. and we were on our way to a deal. 'Now just some kind of drink. Or a sauce-" she added. "It doesn't really matter what it is, something extra," she said. And so I put down Art's favourite slammer.
It was a cocktail mix he put in a pitcher to watch the game with the boys. Art was my brother. And then, she took the cards and straightened them in a stack and she walked over to my window. She stood in front of it. "You know THAT man, on the fourth floor with the terrible balcony?" she asked. There was someone who kept all their spare bicycle tires and two rusty refrigerators across the way. She gestured their way. "He has three perfect ukeleles, but they never make a sound because he doesn't know how to play them."
"And you know THAT lady over there, with too many plants- you know, the one on the end-" I knew where she meant, and I nodded. "Well, she's been playin' for YEARS, but she hasn't touched a single string since last summer when fire destroyed everything she had at a cottage. Someplace up north." She looked at me and pursed her lips. "No, they've never met. It's a ridiculous shame," she said. "And someone over on Euclid has twenty-five pairs of shoes but no laces, and someone else over on Pine has a whole TONNE of string sitting around."
"They've wound it into colourful laces in their spare time because they're bored on the weekends.I asked them what they used themselves- with all there is you wouldn't ever have to buy a single lace again in your lifetime, let me tell you- but the person had the emptiest answer. They said that they only wear slip-ons because tying something is too much bother, they said. I tell you it's beyond me over here!" she shook her head." The world isn't round like the moon, it's a topsy-turvy place. No, maybe it's a blob," she decided, resolved.
"What do you mean?" I asked. She straightened her t-shirt and cleared her throat. "Well, things can get a little...disconnected...in Africa, but they're never THAT bad," she said explained. "I'm glad my government sent us over. Now I see what they meant! The lot of you need a lot of help!" She smiled a bit and patted me on the shoulder. "It will come. First things first, and the very first step is your cookbook!" she reassured me. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I felt like I should give her a gift.
I reached for an unopened box of tea sitting near the wall on the counter, it was an organic Kenyan blend and I didn’t even think as I handed it to her that it was probably something she encountered every day at the market. Well, but in a different box. But she took it with gratitude. “Thank you, that’s very kind,” she said with a warmth that just about glowed. It was natural, seeping from her like air. “Have you been to Canada before?” I asked. I felt that we should talk. I felt that there was more.
That there was more I was intended to reap from this interaction. "No, I haven't, but I'll be back- I'll certainly be back!" she said, again with an over-abundant smile. And then, she was heading for the door. She turned a quarter-turn just as she reached it and her hand was on the knob. "Thank you for contributing to the project," she said. "And I'm not sure when the first issue will be out, but I'll be sure to let you know." "Great!" I said, like I'd been waiting for this all week. And I wasn't sure how
she'd reach me with the news- e-mail? Again at the door? But something blew away my circumspection. And then she was marching down the hallway. The elevator always took a while. She waited in the pale light of the afternoon that came in from the long window covered with a white curtain at the end. I waited with her, watching from my door. And just as the elevator landed and opened its doors for the final exit, a question came to me. One that needed an answer. "Do you have a bucket??" I yelled out. "And a COW??" "Yes!"
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