Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Loafer

Even though there are days when I want to send Dr. David Suzuki back to firing up his bunsen burners and goosing fruit flies, global warming seems to have arrived. It is December 10 and I'm out in shirtsleeves, doing my ten-mile walk.

Why a ten-mile walk?

Because I'm crazy. I like to walk the entire perimeter of my 20-mile- square mini-city with no other goal than chasing my own backside.

Activity drive, the psych prof used to call it. You can see it in kids and animals. My wife once called me an animal.

There are other drives of course, curiosity, the co-ordinates to get home, libido.

Ah libido.

What's that?

My old prof, who wrote a book called The Night The Gods Smiled (Collins) says two things are certain:

1) You will get laid

2) You will get your book published.

Well. I did get laid, but that was a long time ago. Now it's watching upskirt videos--"All men are perversts," said my last duchess.

As for getting the book published, I did, but I made a whole $5.00 out of it.

Ah activity drive, activity drive.

I'd better give you the tail end of Chapter Nine of my novel, THE BLACK ICON


Ordinarily, Sophia wasn't much for standing on a frozen river, shuffling from one foot to the other while a priest blessed the stream and offered holy water brough up through a hole in the ice. But today, she decided to take the children. Best to stay in good graces with the Almighty.

The family, muffled, multi-socked and prepared for the worst weather, stood on the ice and watched a sleek, dimpled little priest begin blessing the ice with a big ball-topped brass rod, while the muffled congregation watched his every move. Most of the parisioners carried buckets, these eventually to be dipped in the pre-cut hole in the ice. The holy water was an elixir, a cure for all ills and something to ward off evil. This particular winter, there was plenty of evil to ward off. The harvest had been poor because of a drought in early fall. A bad spring could make all the difference between prosperity and starvation.

Spring brought apprehension. Heavy rains, welcome at first, soon became a definite source of worry. Towards the second wek of steady dowpour, Sophia would look out the window, see the road in front of her house turn into a river, and begin worrying.

Genyk and Katerina could not get enough of the weather, splashing around on the flooded banks of the Towmach brook, catching frogs and watersnakes there, taking rides on rafts built by older boys.
The children would come home to find Sophia on edge. They got to gauge her episodes. She was apt now to hit them on any provocation. Like old Baba. Like Baba Yaga, it seemed at times to the kids. Sophia's grandmother had been a monstrous child-abuser. There was something of old Baba left in Sophia.
The kids tried to have fun, but they had no idea of the reality of their situation. Besides dodging Sophia's swipes.

Sophia wold visit her friend, Ann Podolan and share her fears. "Most of the topsoil is gone, with the river flooding.
We won't have any produce at all now. And you have neither pig nor cow, Sophia.
"Let's just hope your man and mine can send something from Germany."

After the rain, the washed-out filelds would not hold seed. By early sumer, weeds dwarfed the emaciated crops.

Famine. It could be seen approaching. People woud exchange uneasy observations, become tight with money and food. And in June the first casualty, a small child, belly distended and eyes bulging, lay in its coffin, surrouded by its gaunt elders. Sophia and the children stood in the church square and crossed themselves. MIchael had stopped sending money again.

Sophia did her chores and worried. Every day she would go out into her potato field and pull up a yellowed plant here and there in the hope of finding the little pea-sized tubers. On lucky days, she would bring home a handful of bean-sized potatoes barely past the stage of roots. "Do I have to share these potatoes with Katerina" Genyk would ask, selfish in his hunger. Katerina would always volunteer her share, quietly eating her larded pigweed while Genyk lapped up the fragrant, fresh potato soup.

On July seventh, Genyk's fifth birthday, Sophia was near tears as she once more made for the potato patch. Lately, Genyk had gotten whiney and irritable from lack of food. Katerina was on the verge of collapse.
Vainly, Sophia dug around the emaciated plants. Just roots. Here and there, pigweed.
"Roots and pigweed. Our lot," Sophia muttered.

She looked up at the sky where her God lived and was about to make
an imprudent curse when she saw Katerina running towards her through the thin rows.

Michael had send a letter. And money too.

...............end BLACK ICON, Chapter Nine


Josie said...

Goosing fruit flies? Ivan, you make me laugh out loud...! Suzuki lives a couple of blocks from me, BTW. I see him in the local shops. Our premier lives a couple of blocks from me as well. I see him in the local shops as well, but he never makes eye contact with anyone. Wonder why.

I'm going to have time this evening to read your latest chapters before they disappear.

Where's our pal Liz this morning?


EA Monroe said...

Hey there! I've been trying to look busy at work. I'm pretty good at looking busy. We seem to be on the downhill slow track. I can hope anyway!

Ivan, what's cooking?! I'll catch up with your latest chapter installment tonight when I can learn how to goose fruit flies on my time.

What's up with the robots today, Josie? I imagine they must be a festive mood.

ivan said...

Hi Josie,
You must live in some neighbourhood. All the luminaries there besides yourself. Heh.
Is Mr. Campbell still premier of B.C.? I've been out of touch.
He seemed like an intelligent, consumer- friendly guy last time I checked.
We have an unintelligent consumer-holstile guy here in Ontario.
500 tobacco related workers on the dole now because he believes in some unprovable medical orthodoxy.
World-wide lobby to screw smokers like me.
I guess Dalton believes everything the medical-industrial complex spews out. Or whatever lobby group spews out. Mothers Agains Drunk Driving. Thirteen per cent of the money goes to opposing drunk driving, the rest to $100,000-a-year "workers".
And as for public transportation, don't get me started.
Ontario is so corrupt that I want to scream.
At least the local Don just south of us has been defeated by a principled woman.
He declared the election a fraud and still shows up for council meetings as if he were the mayor.
One of these days it'll dawn on him.
Took a woman to beat Mafia Miltie, and that's something. Oxymoron: Balls.
I think we need more women like that; certainly not Ms. Stronach, whom I like as a person, but don't like as as a floor crosser to her political advantage.
They oughta start a Mothers Against Mobsters--at least that's working out in our neck of the woods.
Three men run all of Toronto, all of Ontario.
And we Ontario dweebs, until recently, go right along with it.

ivan said...

Never trust a naked fruit fly.
Especially a friendly one. Heh.

Josie said...

I must remember never to log onto Ivan's blog when I am drinking something.

Coffee in mouth + laugh = spitz all over monitor.

The robots are wondering what the hell I'm doing over here. (hah)


ivan said...

Giggling to herself, guffawing.
Laughing at her computer screen.

"Good Ford," says one robot, "She is not like us."

ivan said...

Other robot says, "Fordy me!"

EA Monroe said...

oohhooo. Naked Fruit Flies now that's quite a visual. And aristocratic ffs at that!

I wonder what Sophia will find in Michael's letter? What's he up to in Germany anyway?

ivan said...

Michael's fortunes took a nosedive, at least further on in the book.
He tries to run away from being a slave labourer. Gets sent to Summer Camp. Yikes! Those fascists ain't foolin'.

ivan said...

Ah well.
On with the jogging adidas.
Got a weird feeling about returning.

"Oh he never returned
Oh he never returned
Though his fate is still unlearned
He will ride forever in the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned."

I guess when they see me with my backpack and my butterfly net and bird watching binoculars, one Redneck in the bushes will surely say, "Come over here professor. I'll show you a bird."
Oops. Too much time in the Service.
Barraacks humour.

Josie said...

Omigosh, I was singing that song just the other day. I got stuck on an elevator that wouldn't stop at my floor, and one of the doctors got in and asked me if I remembered the song about the man who rode forever 'neath the streets of Boston, and he and I started singing it at the tops of our lungs. Hysterical...!

Gawd...! It's so quiet in our office right now and all you can hear is the sound of me laughing. I'm choking.


ivan said...

I once tried to show my awful depth of learning by asking my German typsetter, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"
He did have big hands.

He lifted one and clapped, fingers on palm.
I swear, there are times when I think everything German is a bit overdone!

leslie said...

Hi Ivan, Josie suggested I pop over to check out your blog. I don't know if I'll have time to read all the chapters you've written to date, but I see everyone is having a wonderful time laughing and spitzing all over. I'll have to check in every so often to see what's up. Nice to meechya.

ivan said...

Hello, Leslie.

Pleased to "meet" you.

Don't know about this blog.
We veer between the sublime and the ridiculous.

Ah well. Your pal Josie is here for sure.

Hope you enjoy the goings-on.


Josie said...

The sublime and the ridiculous? How about the ridiculous and the more ridiculous. We have fun...

Glad Leslie found her way over. Actually, she and I had lunch on Saturday and I told her that you and Liz and some of the other folks are actually a bit more intelligent and intellectual than some of the sappy blogs out there. So you guys had better be on your best behaviour, for a while anyway... Hah.


ivan said...

Or mother will spank?

Oh, I wish!


EA Monroe said...

IVAN HELP! This Ridiculous Sap has posted the Christmas Story. You better head over there in a few minutes and tell me if it sucks, stinks, and I better ditch it if I know what's good for me! I can't stand to read through it one more time!

ivan said...

Love the lampoons of all of us.

It's a bit razzle dazzle, but perhaps fitting for the season.

EA Monroe said...

I don't want to offend anyone, but now everyone will know what an idiot I am!

Shesawriter said...

"The holy water was an elixir, a cure for all ills and something to ward off evil. This particular winter, there was plenty of evil to ward off."

Loved these two lines. :-)

ivan said...

Thank you, Tanya!

ivan said...

Liz, you're no idiot.
Just gotta keep that continuity flowing and make sure your characters are identified quickly, without the reader pondering, viz

Hal and I shot through a snowdrift and tumbled into a clearing.

“Sacré nom d'un chien!”

I didn’t know what Hal was sputtering — French I guessed — other than blowing snow from his mouth and nose.
Hal is really someone I call the Hallelujah Man, a wigged-out professor of English and Biblical studies. He is wont to get drunk and preach to all and sundry from high-railed bannisters at Holiday Inns.
Sort of a cross between Elmer Gantry and Hunter S. Thompson. But more odd.

“Sorry about the rough ride, Hal.”

I checked the GPS gizmo that I had lifted from the Old Man while he was too busy to notice. “Nope, this isn’t France. According to the Old Man’s GPS, we’re somewhere in Michigan

The fancy GPS we're playing with ordinarily whizzes the Old Man around the world on that One Special Night of the year. That’s the magic captured in the Old Man’s GPS Navigator. I had wondered why he was always so right-on: People locator, geography locator, and a whole plethora of mysterious buttons,one of which flashes an instant Naughty/Nice when you point at a sleeping child below and another that gives off lightbeams like an aurora borealis.

“Are ya sure, Queen 'Lisbeth?”

“Yeah. We’re not lost. Blindfold me, spin me till I’m dizzy and I can always point North.” But that’s another story and Hallelujah, um, Hal and I have important business tonight.

Michigan wasn’t our first stop of the evening though. Once a year the Old Man lets us escape the Asylum, I mean The Shelter, for a couple of weeks of mischief and mayhem. Our first coordinates landed us somewhere in Ontario outside the gate of a house. Stone and ceramic frogs populated the yard. Hal and I had heard the lady who lived in the house was a magic weaver. My nose twitched. Magic was brewing inside the house all right.

I grabbed Hal’s arm before he pushed open the gate and stumbled into an enchanted web. I pressed the GPS navigator button for our second destination. Off we zoomed. Stars twinkled and we tunneled toward the light.

.....I can't edit onscreen worth beans, but I think you'll get my drift.

(The story itself is on e.a's blog)


ivan said...

Sorry, Liz.
I am starting to over-edit.
What you have up on your blog now looks good.

EA Monroe said...

Thanks, Ivan. You are the best! I added your Hal description (since you said it!) ;-) I just fly by the seat of my pants and learn as I go. I grasp what you say about identifying the characters early.

Let's grab the GPS, zip over to Josie's place and eat some of that shortbread! We might have to lick it off her computer screen. ha!

ivan said...

Yeah, let's go over and raid Liz's fridge for that shortbread.
It does sometimes seem that the shortbread is on us as she spritzes onto our screen.

ivan said...

Oh Lord,
I'm losing it.

I meant JOSIE'S fridge!

I need some sleep, I think.

EA Monroe said...

Good morning, Ivan. I'm hiding out in the trenches today until the coast is clear!

ivan said...

She be clear.

Josie said...

Hey, you guys wanna come over for coffee? I'm making scrambled eggs.


ivan said...

I remain master of the non-sequitur:
I love scrambled eggs, Josie. Liz and I will come around.

Can you swim?

Josie said...

Of course I can swim. My dad taught me to swim in a river when I was four years old and I spent all my summer swimming...


ivan said...

Oh dear.
That was a shaggy dog.

Women have a hard time with shaggy dogs.
Liz actually owns a shaggy dog.

Josie said...

Women never understand shaggy dogs.

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