Allegra Rivett Sloman's blog

"Furor fit læsa sæpius patientia" ("An over-taxed patience gives way to fierce anger")
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I’ll be off to Ottawa tomorrow and flying Tuesday.  It has been superlative, but it’s over.  Sandy has been the kindest and most welcoming host imaginable, and I really don’t want to go home, except of course I want to catch up on Longmire and I miss Jeff and Miss Margot.


Barry’s Bay

July 17

Today we went in to Barry’s Bay and in short order ditched the empties and got more IPA, went to the bank, got Sandra into a newly cropped set of hairs, visited the two grocery stores in town plus the health food store, and saw Clem.  Clem has a fine homestead on 120 acres just south of town. There’s a dock and lake and geese who march up and down and eat all the bugs and a dog with his own sandpit, (he was completely recessed in it when I came out, imagine being a dog encouraged to have your own little sandy pit) and an enormous garden and quaintly rusticating farm machinery and cars and a bunkhouse overlooking the lake and two big old wooden barns and fields of wildflowers including milkweed which meant there were monarch butterflies to be seen flitting among the flowers.  It’s like somebody took two generations of rustic Canadiana and mashed them together; the whole place was a photo op, and me with just my memories and neither camera nor smartphone. The message on the wind told me to go there and once I got there the beauty of the place put me into a high state of aesthetic intemperance. I mean this is a guy who can throw a busted geranium stalk at a wall, and it blooms. Entirely amazing. I am glad that the message on the wind did that.  And when I got back the message on the wind said CALL YOUR MOTHER and I did and when she didn’t answer I fretted.  Yes, I did, such a sap I am. Because you should call your mother, and certainly not assume the worst when it’s a lovely day and they are journeying in their VEHICLE OH MY GOD THEY’VE BEEN IN A CAR ACCIDENT THAT IS WHY THEY ARE NOT really, Allegra, wait upon events.

Now it is Friday already.  I’m going to go play with George.  Ah, 610 words later  I scrubbed out Sandra’s tub (I got the impression it was the epitome of filth and I’ve taken baths in tubs that were FAR less clean) including the interesting purple marks, and once it’s a better time of day to have the hot water on I’m going to have a soak – it’s a massage jet tub and working much better poor lamb since the filter was put on the water system.  The water is good but a tad too much iron.

Still kvelling on the radishes Clem gave me yesterday.  He pulled two ordinary sized and four potato sized radishes out of his immense garden and I IMMEDIATELY took them home and cut them up with a) rather more salt that you’d think justified or necessary b) fresh ground black pepper c) enough pecans to make it interesting, two palmfuls say and d) drizzled all over with white balsamic vinegar.  I ate ALL of it in two sittings and nothing repeated because fresh radishes don’t repeat.  Also amid yesterday’s comestibles was the amazing beef liver and pineapple with onions and ginger. The beef liver was barely thawed and barely cooked, set aside, then the fresh cut pineapple was added to the reduction and then the onions and ginger were cooked in what was left over from that and then it was all added together.  The first bite had me sliding off my chair with my eyes rolling back in me head, ’twas of such surpassing excellence.  mOm, you would have been enchanted.  We ate it over noodles from the previous day’s linguine and beef tomato sauce.  Then we watched the Bobby Darin biopic, in which Kevin Spacey once more reveals himself to be an actor of such calibre that I can’t imagine there’s a role he couldn’t convincingly play.

Wrote a little ditty on the 17th – think I’ll go practice now.

Life is beautiful, for the guest…..

Earlier in the day I watched Sandra work.  Apart from being her driver, turning a few lights on and off, scrubbing the tub and pulling some weeds I have loafed and lazed with startling ease; I have neither touched a dish nor cooked a meal since I got here (I don’t count tea and toast).  It’s marvellous.  I wish the bedroom door closed all the way, but since Shadow isn’t in at night there’s no cat to come importuning and shedding half a campground of debris all over my bed at night. She was fresh off a catnip buzz when she came nuzzling this morning as we stood outside.  I performed a brief interpretive/vocative dance, addressing the spirits to send business Sandra’s way.  It’s glorious, and the campground is practically empty.  Sigh.  As soon as I finished my dance a car pulled in but it was somebody in the cabins. Sandy really could have had me going there….


Trip to Bancroft

Flying squirrels have a really weird distress call.  There are plenty of them here.

Yesterday we made the trip to Bancroft since the weather didn’t cooperate with respect to grass cutting.  We provisioned and avoided big piles of junk food or beer.

Military aircraft just went by about 30 meters off the deck.

The cat here, Shadow, is an elegant longhaired tortoiseshell who hides in the catnip bush and minces through the tall grass.  I’ll have pics later.

Today I pulled tall grass out of the rose bed and deadheaded the roses.  They will probably set on more blooms.

The Least Flycatcher female sat still and let me admire her, then her hubby came by and told her to move along.

Sandra made me roast lamb and red wild rice and I just et a really fabulous mulligatawney soup.  World is a tasty place here.

I hope everybody is having a good day.

A child I once went on a camping trip with has turned out to be an evilly-reputed international call girl.  What a world.


I’m a little behind – July 13

Live blogging from 3 am to 5:34 am July 13

I have arrived safely and soundly at Red Deer Cabins, where my body clock is saying that it’s 3 am and local time is 6 am, but I’m up because the gentle rain is bringing out some very insistent birds.  I have already learned, without getting out of bed, that the crows in Madawaska call a third higher than the crows in Vancouver.

The trip was characterized by patience and was rewarded with success. The plane went mechanical just prior to pushback and one of Paul’s confrères trotted over and fixed it within twenty minutes, but we lost our slot time and the crew had to flog it to make it up. I got the last window seat on the flight and one of my seat mates was a charming ten year old boy.  He was obviously an old hand at flying, brought a lunch and immediately fired up a couple of movies. I spent most of the flight tightening and loosening all my leg muscles to keep from seizing up or having circulation issues but did not otherwise get out of my seat.  The flight was interrupted by what I considered to be trivial amounts of turbulence (as terrified as I am of flying, and really, I am, and apart from the Lake Amphibian crash back when Katie was in utero I have also survived one horrifying near miss on the runway in Toronto (that was the flight that took us out of Toronto for the last time to move to Vancouver, and it would have likely killed a couple of hundred people as it would have been a full on t-bone between two fully packed airliners one of which was full of fuel) I don’t mind turbulence, nor landings, nor takeoffs.) There were not one, not two, not three but FOUR screaming babbies on the flight.  They were thoughtful though, they tagged teamed and we only got two screaming at once, and the one sitting closest to me saved her meltdown until half an hour before we landed.  Air Canada headset ear buds are the most uncomfortable I’ve ever worn.

I watched Captain America 2.

The Budget rental is more than adequate for my purposes. It was a long fucking drive from Ottawa after the drive in to the airport, and the wait which, and then the flight, and then the trivial amount of time to pick up the car, and then the stop in Eganville. I accidentally called OnStar while attempting to adjust my rearview mirror, which was embarrassing and comical, and happened, god damn my eyes, less than a kilometre from my destination.

Sandy greeted me with hugs, Oka and IPA. Walked outside into the dark and in the first second saw a firefly.  Then another.  Walked down to the water so Sandy could soak her feet. Played Otto for a while by fire and firefly light.  The sky looked to rain the next day, which it did.  There are so many different birds and birdcalls.  The Least Flycatchers nesting in the eaves have already rebuilt their nest once; they put the nest too close to one of the enormous logs holding up Sandy’s square dance sized deck, which faces on the river. A raccoon  … holy cow a hummingbird just fed at the fuchsia in the hanging box over the deck.  Okay, where was I with that raccoon.  So many dead yearlings on the highway, and SO many porcupines I lost county.  Dead yearling deer 15k east of here.  The raccoon, damn, the raccoon climbed up the log and ate the babbies.

I’ve had two ginormous cups of sedately ferocious coffee.  Sandy’s generating smoothies which (one piously hopes) will assist in the generation of verbiage, since I’m all about the writing for the next week.

Life donates its riches whether they are fireflies or storm surges.

I send fond greetings to Jeff and merp-inducing hugs to Margot.



Jeff very kindly gave me a lift to the airport so I am now at the gate and waiting to board, which will be in an hour.  In a couple of minutes I’ll get up and go grab something to eat and drink.  I ordered a bit of food for the outbound flight as it’s cheaper than ordering on the plane.  In Ottawa I’ll grab a booked car and then drive to Sandra’s place.  If everything goes according to plan then I’ll go to Toronto and possibly London.

If that doesn’t happen I’ll go to London in October – Phyllis will be 90 and I’d like to participate in her birthday festivities if she and family consider it appropriate.  I’ll give her a call when I get to Red Deer Cabins. Hey, book a vacation there, you won’t regret it… it’s like a little piece of Canadiana from the 40′s.

There was a lot of hate for the movie Transcendence when it came out and I don’t get it; I watched it and quite enjoyed it, although I think Johnny Depp was miscast (not that he cares, he’s never watched a single one of his movies which is wise.. and he’s reputed to have gotten a heck of a payday also wise now that he’s paying alimony). Everybody else was good to very good.  It just wasn’t a big box office movie and the special effects come late and weird in the movie unlike Noah where the SFX were front loaded.  I quite liked the Pfister version of Grey Goo.

45 minutes before we load.  Wow, I didn’t know that it’s airport fashion to walk around with your flipping travel pillow around your neck (bleugh) or that you can get Spiderman™ themed travel pillows, although technically I guess you can get Spiderman™ themed anything. I got a reasonable night’s sleep, which is good, because I have a hell of a day in front of me and 3.5 hours stooging about at YOW and getting the car and driving to Sandra’s into the sunset (yes I brought my hat and sunglasses) which will be tiring in and of itself.  And somewhere in there I need to stop for beer and cilantro, a bizarre but brief shopping list which I imagine I should be able to do on my way out of town.  I’ll wrap it up now I guess.

Tomorrow Paul and Keith and Jeff are going to get together and watch The Internet’s Own Boy, which I am hoping to watch at some point, and I can’t think of a nicer way for them to have a late celebration of Keith’s b-day – they are apparently planning on participating in ritualized cooking of fowl over flames.


Off to Ottawa

I’m going to see Sandy and spend some time with her.  I’ll be back in about ten days.  I’ve rented a car and will visit various people if the fates are propitious.


Anxiety coming in waves (this condition)

That’s a quote from a Lupine Howl song, by the way, but it covers the situation nicely.  Every time I go to book the flight I am overcome by anxiety.  I have been waiting for a sign and when I emailed Sandra this morning, she cut through all the bullshit and provided a prosaic and unjudgemental reason to fly east, so after Jeff takes me to brekkie (yay) and I empty the dishwasher and refill it, I’ll book it.  Don’t know the day yet, but at least I know I am going.

Yesterday was that feeling of impending doom day, but today is much better.


a reasonably satisfactory day

I got to hang with Katie and Paul, and it was lovely.  We ate on the deck overlooking the Fraser at Wild Rice at the Quay. I didn’t think much of the kangaroo buns (kangaroo meat is gamey) but the chicken wings were the best I’ve ever eaten, and the lamb gyoza and vegetarian spring rolls were esculent, and the gluten free chocolate cake served a la mode was nommers.  Prior to that I hung out with Suzanne (we ARE going to be joint grandmothers, so…) and that was also a most satisfactory visit. Prior to that I hung out with Katie and visited Village de Valeurs and picked up travelling clothes as I don’t have any summer weight pants or shorts.  Prior to that I took Jeff to breakfast.  It was a really really tasty day.  Also showed Otto off and practiced lots.

Today, laundry and packing for the trip east.


A little piece of a story from somewhere else

In the beginning, there was nothing.  There was nothing to see, and nothing to see it with; there was nothing to feel, and nothing to feel it with.  We don’t know why the nothing turned into something.  We have asked science, and science tells us what might have happened, but we don’t know; nobody was there.

So when the nothing became the something that became the world we see, science measured and measured; science made equations and formulas; science thought of theories and hazarded hypotheses, but we can never know why the nothing became something.

Science is where the story stops.

That is the first beginning, but it is not the best one.

I will tell you the story, but if you believe it you are a fool.  Science tells us not to be foolish.  I will tell you the story, but if you disbelieve it, you are a fool.  Religion tell us that without a story, true or false, the people will wither away.  It is a story that keeps us rooted; it is a story that makes us real.

As I was saying, in the beginning, there was nothing.  Now the great thing about nothing, is that it’s very small.  It is also very large.  Nothing is like nothing else, and the reason it is like nothing else is that it doesn’t need a container.  Nothing, by definition, can’t have a container; if it had a container, it wouldn’t be nothing anymore.  It would be the space inside a container, but it wouldn’t be nothing.

That is why nothing is so hard for people to understand.  We all want the nothing to have a container, but it doesn’t.  It can’t even be contained by our minds.  That is why some people think the nothing is God; nothing, not even our minds, can contain it.

It was nothing for a very long time, without flaw, without a container, without being or thought or meaning; it tried and tried and tried to be the same, always being nothing, but it failed.  To be nothing is to be perfect; there is no flaw, no feeling, no reality.

How did nothing change into something?  My dear friend says it got bored.  I respect my friend very much, but I have to disagree; there was nothing to get bored, so that is not what happened.

I think that the nothing got bigger and bigger and bigger until it hit something, and the thing it hit was itself, and from that collision came everything we see.


The Further Adventures of Keith as told by Keith

Work: Hey Keith, clean out the Fire Urchin tank.

Keith: Can do!

Work: Also, fyi, Fire Urchins are lethally toxic.


-Five minutes later-

Keith: Ouch… uh oh.

Work: Oh you’re okay. The long spines aren’t toxic, just really painful. Are you having trouble breathing? No? Yup, you’re fine.

Keith: Working in an exotic fish store is fun!

Yeah, my brush with death for the day.




This is for Keith’s 28th birthday.  Love ya!


today was hot and sunny

Jeff and I braved it twice, once to mow and weedwhack and once to pick up a replacement part for Jeff’s computer.

We watched The Railway Man; Colin Firth was excellent as always.

Yesterday we tried but could not finish Noah.


Millicent AB

Thank you SO MUCH to Paul for accompanying me to see Lois and Bob.  We had a wonderful time.

One of our adventures was pretty adventury and I won’t talk about it because no matter how I tried I’d just sound petty, but one of the days I was gone we went to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a world heritage site, and it was stupendous, spectacular, amazing.  We went to the Centrosaurus Bone Bed and Bone Bed Number 50 and saw an owl nest (no baby wols, although they had been spotted) and did NOT see a rattlesnake, phew, and walked where every honey coloured rock was a dinosaur bone.

We also went to Lake Newell where I got into a big argument with a Ring Billed  Gull (it was very funny, it kept flying back and squawking at me in an attempt to get the last squawk) and mostly we hung with dogs (Harley is a black lab and I LOVES HIM, I brushed him repeatedly and he loved on me right back…. and Lazzy is well, a terrier, and I watched the two of them play keepaway with a stick and I laughed until I HURT MY RIBS and the last day I was there Lazzy presented his belly for my approval and strokes) and people, and Bob cooked me an organic local beefsteak that brings tears to my eyes as I recollect it and we had Cambodian style food in Brooks and I admired how enormous the trees are that they planted 30 years back and enjoyed the comfy bed and quiet at night (except when somebody started spraying Roundup at dusk Thursday night, snarl) and really enjoyed the Nissan Maxima I rented and exclusively drove thanks for asking and OMG JULY 1ST.

We drove into Rosemary at dusk July 1st and set up chairs and blankies and watched a small town fireworks display.  It was neither cheesy nor short; it was one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen and I got to be really close to it.  It was a really sincerely trulio Canadian experience and it made me happy. A local country cover band was playing as we pulled up and they were good

Apart from how very hot I was for the second field trip at DPP (I got very tired of the field interpreter and spent a lot of time sitting in the bus) and the mosquitoes as we walked up to the Centrosaurus bone bed (black, ferocious, completely painless as they bit, and perfectly able to handle 30 degree C weather and 40 kph breezes) I enjoyed the entire trip.  Paul as always managed the travelling portion perfectly and all the getting thither and in and out of Calgary was slick.

I brought neither my computer nor my instruments and I brought no cameras.  I wanted memories, happy ones, and I am topped up currently.

It was SO GOOD TO SEE THEM.  I miss my inlaw rellies and I am glad to have sat in their kitchen and caught up with them.


The Good Lands

The good lands are any where the family is. I was in the badlands, walked among the dinosaurs, under the sentinel hoodoos.  I was in nature and the birds flew over me; I got into a very long and impassioned discussion with a seagull

As you all know, English is a language so deficient in terms of kinship that it is as if it has been strip-mined by capitalism. What do you call the former spouse with whom you occasionally travel and are fraternal with? What do you call former and longstanding inlaws, when you were never married to one of their siblings but had kids, mortgage, all that stuff? What do you call a longstanding family friend whose friendship and love demonstrated over time came to be part of the structure of your family? What do you call the relatives you stay in touch with after a really bad breakup?  How do you twist English, which despite its size is short on nuance, into words to which take the experiences of relationship and bind them into something useful and contemporary without being twee or clinical? How many of us have relationships which somehow aren’t important enough to have a word assigned to them and yet are everywhere once you start looking?

I call people who belong to my church my churchsiblings or churchsibs for short; we have us and our trust and our time and our food and our travails and our finances and our deaths and births and miraculous recoveries and dreadful runs of luck and kids who make the world finals and play in Junior A in common; we follow illness, divorce and mature student MAs and wonderful, hilarious children’s pageants with a wonderful sense of being in a large, complex and engrossing dance, which moves along in perfect time with all that is and yet is a very special subset of that Big Dance of which one can imperfectly say, That’s All Folks.

I’m thinking of the word breadrellies.  Can you tell what kind of relatives those would be?



Side trip

Although I am still going to Ontario later in July I’m actually leaving with Paul to go see Bob and Lois for three days this morning.

Since it won’t be confirmed space I’ll not be taking Otto, which will be strange…  We’re flying into Calgary and I’ve booked us a car.

I may be too busy to post or somewhere I don’t have easy access so I may just be doing mini posts.

Margot is washing herself right outside my door.  I can hear her little grunts of effort and concentration.  She sounds like a little pig sometimes.  Other times, like a duck.

Katie sent me a link to these two lovely women dancing.



Only Lovers Left Alive

We watched it yesterday.  I adored it.  Flat out, moony, dreamy adored it.  Happy sigh.  The scene where Hiddleston and Swinton dance made my week.

Today, more letter transcription for mOm (they are short so it’s easy), and some food shopping.

Leo and Linda are grandparents! All well, she’s a little girl, name yet to come.

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