Sunday, April 26, 2009

By Journal to Inle Lake, Burma

Today my characters are taking me on a tour of Inle Lake, Burma or Myanmar as it is officially known. But someone is having memory issues. I think that might be the writer. What did the drive into Inle Lake feel like? I remember it as amazing. But the picture in my mind is not so clear.

Then I pull out that trusty travel journal. Written in penmanship that would give my early teachers hives, but the cramped and uneven writing is more a product of place rather than skill. Written on planes, in airports, in the backseat of cabs, it’s a window into the lives of another people and another country - a snapshot in time from the viewpoint of a voyeur.

I can see clearly the water buffalo that seemed to look right at me as he stood morosely in the field. I remember the speedometer of the cab settled so far left I thought it might be impossible to drive any slower. And then the transport truck appeared from nowhere on the narrow road meant only for one vehicle and it was a relief to know that the driver didn’t have a heavy foot as he pulled over and the truck passed so close that I could feel the heat from his engine through our open window. It was a truck filled to capacity with produce and passengers, they rode inside and outside wherever they could find a place. I remember the woman who waved before stepping down the wooden steps to the water filled ditch where she began to wash clothes. I can hear the shrieks of the little boys who ran naked, splashing in water filled ditches, their laughter echoing over the fields. And closer to town the ditches opened up into swampy grassland and the occasional fishing boat, and always the inevitable water buffalo.

What would a stranger’s travel journal say about me and the place I call home?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009


It's been a crazy month. We all get them I'm sure. Months when everyone wants something and they all want it now. When the peace of that last vacation seem zillions of miles away.

So how do you deal with all the craziness? I know some people colour code file folders and fill their calendars with reminders of all kinds. But I find that just complicates everything. Besides, I'm trying to get my brain fit and I heard a little remembering goes a long way.

Although, I have to admit a bit of good in each system. After all I can only remember so much. So I try to incorporate both systems - calendars and memory. But even that hit overload this month. Apparently the dog may not be attending his agility class as I forgot to follow up on a tentative commitment - oops! Sorry Rourke.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prairie Deadlines

It's the season of brown snow, where rivers of mud mesh with rotting ice and snow. It's a great season for anyone with a complete set of waterproof gear and those under the age of ten.

What's interesting during this season is how anyone male seems to have a fascination with storm drains. Don't ask, I don't get it. But every year finds a group of the neighborhood guys hunched over the storm drain trying to get the water to drain off the street. The kids splash in the rivers that flow in the newly created channels and the guys create more channels and monitor the drain as if by diverting their attention for even a second would cause the whole thing to clog up and we'd all drown in the backwash.

And it's not just the guys. Everyone is so desperate to hurry spring along that the other day I saw a woman attempting to use a garden rake to take down a very large snowbank.

Yes, I have seen the pictures of those of you flaunting spring tulips and crocuses. Here, spring is just a bit slower. So without a tulip in sight and nary a tree budding - that season of rebirth is upon us. The thing of it is, out here on the prairies winter loves us and right now, despite what the calendar might say, it's only offering a reflection of spring.

But when spring finally arrives it will be in a rush - one minute we will be griping about brown snow and the next we'll be rushing to get the flower beds planted. And summer - well same thing all over again. Except for winter, every season is under a tight deadline. So you'd think I'd be used to deadlines.

Despite being a child of the prairies - being used to the limits of spring, summer and fall - a deadline is a rather an intimidating thing. Maybe because I think of it rather like the end of winter. You always think you have lots of time and yet in your gut you know that one day you will wake up and the snow is gone, and the robins will be singing "times up".

And please someone tell me what is the fascination with men and storm drains?

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