Raising Charles Joseph’s Totem in Montreal

'Residential School Totem Pole' carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, BC, being raised at the Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts 2017
I happened to be passing as the ‘Residential School Totem,’ carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, BC, was being raised outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Of course I had to stop and watch even though it was Continue reading

What is ‘Home’ for a Writer?

Bridge House, Ambleside, Cumbria, EnglandA writer friend who had recently moved to Montreal asked me where home was for me. Was it Montreal?

I was surprised how complicated it was to answer that. Yes, my home is in Montreal. I’ve lived here for years. But Montreal is not totally “home.” There are ways in which I’ll never feel I completely belong. For one thing, I only have to open my mouth and people know I’m not from here. I certainly don’t sound like a francophone Canadian. I don’t sound like an anglophone Canadian either.

Where are you from? I’m asked that at least once a week.

But where I came from isn’t home either. That country has changed so much that when I’m there, I’m definitely a visitor. I even have trouble working out which coin is what value when I get on the bus or go shopping.

So is home being with my husband? With my family? Or is it…

I’m clearly not the only one to have trouble pinning down the idea of ‘home.’

The panel discussion “What is Home” at the recent Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, Continue reading

Opening the Door to Backstory

Backstories are always fascinating to a fiction writer. How can you know the characters in your story if you don’t know what’s happened in their past and how that’s affected them?

Is that why I feel so sad when I see yet another of Montreal’s beautiful old mansions bite the dust? Because when we’ve lost Montreal’s old buildings, we won’t know Montreal?

I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was of this building Continue reading

If Only This Were My Secret Door To Writing

near Beaver Lake, Mount Royal, Montreal

Just looking at these quirky little lopsided buildings in the trees to one side of Beaver Lake on “the mountain” (Montreal’s Mount Royal) makes me want to sit down and write.

I’m sure I’d finish my next story collection so much faster if I had one of these as my private writing nook.

Unfortunately that little sticker says Continue reading

Atop the High Wire

Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop
Atop

I’ve always had trouble watching artists take daring risks, such as this tightrope walker crossing St. Denis Street during Montreal’s Cirque Festival in 2016. Usually I cover my eyes and ask my husband to tell me when it’s over!

Montreal Cirque Festival 2016

But he was having so much fun that I couldn’t not watch! Even though there was nothing between him and the hard street below.

Montreal Cirque Festival 2016

Ice Boy Wants Out

ice sculpture in Place Jacques Cartier, Montréal, March 2016

Ice Boy wants out. Enough of living in an ice cube. There has to be more to life than sub-zero temperatures, icicles and snow.

He wants change, something different. Very different.

He wants sun and warmth. He dreams of a desert island – sand, palm trees, a tube of SPF 30 suntan lotion, a straw hat. Soft twangy music. He’d get himself a grass skirt, dance a little. Shades. He definitely wants shades. The mirrored kind that turn from blue to green to magenta and stop other people knowing what you’re thinking. A cocktail of course. He’d have to have a cocktail. A red one in a curvy glass with a yellow umbrella perched on top.

Ice Boy chips and scrapes and wriggles all night. His fingers are raw, his fingernails broken, he’s exhausted. But by morning he’s gone.

*****

This is Blurt#38 in my Year of the Blurt! My new year’s resolution was to write one Blurt – a quick, spontaneous story – each week through 2016. Thanks for visiting.

Ice sculpture ‘cut out’ – Place Jacques Cartier, Old Montreal, March 2014.

Seeing Strange: The Horse With No Eyes

Notre Dame Cathedral, Vieux Port, Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral, Vieux Port, Montreal

I’m waiting for a friend in Place d’Armes, the plaza in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal’s Vieux Port.

A great place to wait! So much to enjoy!

Narrow cobbled streets, the imposing cathedral, the surrounding historic buildings (which include Montreal’s oldest building: Saint Sulpice Seminary dating from 1687), a guitarist and singer performing under a shady tree, tourists…and of course, the calèches – the horse-drawn carriages festooned with flowers or feathers.

calèche opposite Saint Sulpice Seminary, Vieux Port, Montreal

Three young kids break away from their parents as they catch sight of the queue of calèches, shrieking with delight. They run across the plaza towards the horses, eyes shining, arms open.

Halfway across, the smallest, a boy, freezes, a terrified look on his face. Continue reading

Snow Rage: Writing Lesson From A Snowy Sidewalk

I’m clumping along on my ‘grippers’ – grampons attached to boots for icy sidewalks – to the pharmacy. Only a narrow strip of sidewalk has been cleared between the two banks of high snow.

Inevitably I’m going to come face to face with someone heading in the opposite direction. Who will be the one to step aside, into the snow, and wait for the other to pass? Me? Or the other person? Continue reading

When Someone Reads What You’ve Written

well salted Montreal street outside Montreal General HospitalYou’d think that celebrated award-winning children’s author David Elliott couldn’t possibly complain of a shortage of readers. But in a recent post on his website he shares his disappointment with a particular publishing experience.

I was impressed that an author with such a large following would be so honest about a less than stellar publication experience, and was as happy as if I’d written the book myself when I learned that all was not lost… that David had received Continue reading