Ebola Might Not Be a Sneeze in the Park

26 Oct

image of a mask on the ground

image of a mask on the ground

The recent outbreaks of Ebola in the US brings me back to another contagious time when people were actually doing something about it.

Despite massive preparation (mostly just worrying) on my part, I got fucking H1N1 while driving from Montreal to Boston (my then regular weekly commute).

I’d heeded the calls.  I’d read the posters.  I didn’t dismiss the email from the scientist, old as dust, that MIT circulated admonishing us to do everything to avoid getting the flu.  He’d apparently barely survived the Great Influenza of the early 1900s.  I got the N1H1 flu shot. I made myself a robot whenever I needed to sneeze.  It went like this: crane head to the side. Ready appropriate arm. Secure perimeter by stepping away from any person nearby. Allow the sneeze to happen. Direct all force into said arm, with a continuous moving down and away force.

I washed my hands like a surgeon and kept hand lotion on me because my hands kept drying out.

I was ready. […]

Franco follies

24 Jul

The Director almost laughed when our visitors announced they were from L’Isle.  It was what I used to call the town where I spent some quality time as a youngster myself… the chicagoland version, that is.  But I was a sad imitation, whereas they?  They were four hearty, healthy, good-looking youth who spoke English better than I spoke French.

It was the first time we let out our home.  We usually just stuck guests upstairs in our ramshackle atticle.  Where everyone but these bitter, hungover French people from Lyon enjoyed their stay.

The L’islians tried to build a fire last night.  “Watch they don’t know how,” the Director paced.  “Leave them alone.  Maybe they’ll just talk outside, relaxing if they can’t make it,” I said.

“Who wants to just talk?” the Director said.

image of a yard with fireplace


Enter Gnome

11 Jul

image of mushroom

A gnome visited our house yesterday.

Before we met him, we wondered what he did for money, as he was evasive over the phone.

“Maybe he’s a dealer,” I said.

“Or a criminal,” the Director said. […]

Flipping the Bird

9 Jul

image of a bird in a tree


Ah, I didn’t pay attention to the bird chirping differently when I tossed the ladder under the staircase.

Then a series of smaller cries erupted right in the ladder / decrepit fence material area. Shit, I thought. Shit shit, I thought again again.

The Robin on the pine branch kept at it.  I tiptoed closer to the pile, lifting junk with my pinkies raised, and saw a moving chicken part with some yellow fuzz on it. Then more: a disoriented baby flapping its new parts and hobbling.

I looked up at the discreet nest in our 2nd story staircase to confirm: bobbing fur in the nest, baby bird down. Baby was nestled in between the steps of the shorter ladder that I didn’t use.  Nice. Too many siblings flipping the bird out of the nest and onto a metal ladder, only to get nearly pummeled by another ladder.

I got some stale bread and balled it up into bits before tossing it to the mother.  Who didn’t take the bait. She just stared me down.  I went back inside to consult with an expert.


Roadtrip with an angel

22 Mar

angel painting

We took the roadtrip slow through the ugly Eastern townships.  A few weeks prior, I’d been busted for scooting along a little fast, 70km rather than 50km, which in dog years is slow.

“You’d never know from this stupid road how nice the towns are,” I told rider X, next to me. He smelled like patchouli, which I hoped would not set off the border guards. They seemed to consider that, in the 2000s, the Beatles’ hair was too long. […]

Riding in the car, mesozoic version

15 Mar

The street was lined with bricks, and the car, being from the Mesozoic era, made special noises driving over them. Riding in the car with my father, I sat in the front passenger seat, no seatbelt. I opened and shut the metal rectangle attached to the door handle – the ashtray that my parents never used because it was too small. It was not the usual way home so the car didn’t often make the sound. But sometimes it did because the street or streets were nearish enough. Bumpy bumpy, the car went, but it was musical too. I set my ears up like a dog to a whistle.

I sat in a diner booth with my father on the bumpy street. He gave me a coin to put in the mini-jukebox that sat against the wall on each table. Each table could have its own concert, and the diner would be awash in noise if everyone did so. But we were the only ones interested in the music. It was morning, I think. It was early in my reading career. I flipped the flipper to find it, the song I loved, You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. I pressed the letter button and then the number button to indicate my interest. I willed the music to enter my body as I stared out the glass plate window ahead.

The waitress worked behind a counter that was separate from the booths. She could press the lever and make soda pop appear. It was like a dream come true. When the song was over, I told my father that I wanted to be a waitress when I got older. “Why is that?” he asked, blowing his nose in his cotton handkerchief.

“So I can drink as much soda as I want,” I said, my eyes not leaving the dispenser.

When we moved out of our house to another one, maybe a year later, the streets offered up different sounds. Not so melodic.

I Feel Awful: How Not to Make Falafel

15 Dec


“Turn it up,” Lola yelled from the kitchen.

With the Hosers International tv show blaring, Lola felt able to turn inward.  She was devising a way to get the falafel to be both crispy but not grimy.  Baked things meant to be fried didn’t always translate.  Lola guessed that with a few tablespoons of coconut oil remaining she would have to suck it up and use canola – which as many helpful doctors on the internet advised was poison.

She turned on the exhaust fan. […]