Western idea

Sarah Howlett, forced by her family’s circumstances to emigrate to Canada in 1908, trades the factories of Birmingham for the lone prairie north of Saskatoon. Despite the weather, the privations and the unwanted attentions of no fewer than three remittance-men, all of whom are encouraged by mischievous relatives, she learns to train horses, shoot a rifle with accuracy and raise cattle. Correspondence courses and the companionship of a soft-spoken, sweet-tempered Quaker provide her with the moral and psychological strength to make her own way through the world and contribute to it as her strength allows.

More surgery for Paul

Man, to have dental surgery on your birthday.  I walked him home yesterday at his request (and Keith’s, the text I got from him was so nervous granny-like it was sweet as heck), and we hung around his place for the afternoon being lazy. Molars make damn big holes.  Now he has to wait a month to get the sutures out, and then be healed enough to get a post and implant.

140/82 is my blood pressure, I checked yesterday.  I won’t say what Paul’s blood pressure was since it was somewhere between ouch and boing.

I made pulled pork.  It is nommy.


21. A god among men

Jesse woke at noon.  The landlady was at work, thank God, or she’d have been doing something useless and noisy and to interfere with his sleep.  The requirement for sleep during the day had been made so clear to the landlord, and it was so opaque to the unfortunate person who was his wife. The landlord was unfortunate too, but he at least was a decent human being, so the bad luck didn’t run all the way through.

He made breakfast, coffee and a smoothie and scrambled eggs with cheese, ate it and did the dishes.

Once he’d dealt with the coffee, it was time for his workout.  His extra-special payday had allowed him to buy some upmarket exercise equipment. Two hours later it was time for a shower. There was no air conditioning in the house and although the apartment was usually cool, it now felt like a swamp. He knew his worshipper was going to bathe him again tonight as part of her ritual, and as with everything about the situation, her devotion could be viewed many ways; with amusement, with dread, with sympathy, and most usually with the flat and uncensorious incomprehension which, in the face of a human experience so different from his own, was his resting state.

He spent the rest of the day binge-watching Fringe and eating snacks, healthy and otherwise. He didn’t usually hit the bong until about four, since when he made that mistake it would completely fuck up his day. Today he didn’t bother, since tonight he would likely be impaired and staying over, with his Evil Villain mask at the ready so he could get home.  How the landlady had yelled the first time she’d seen it! It had almost been worth it, although he’d been so wretched from alcohol he felt her voice going through his head like a scrollsaw.

Since her first tentative suggestion a few months earlier, he’d had lots of time to think. He got the creepy feeling that if he were a god, he might possibly be Attis or one of them other godly dudes and maybe going to get sacrificed, but Lark (whom his sister, not knowing how unconventional their relationship was, referred to as ‘Larp’, while smirking that Jesse was probably calling her that now too, at least mentally) had assured him that human sacrifice was never acceptable to her gods without being freely given for the welfare of the group in the context of a community-threatening conflict. Or so he hazily recollected, he’d been plenty high at the time. He did remember the part about ‘enthusiastic consent’ and relaxed, but not much.  He was trying so hard to be a good sport about it, and clearly remembered saying something like, “So you won’t sacrifice me to make sure Stephen Harper gets kicked out in the next election,” which had made her face go red.

Doubt swayed and pivoted in his chest. She was going to ask him to drink honeyed wine, which sounded barfulous.

The sun was low in the sky when the taxi came. Transit would have been cheaper, but he was tired of the stares, and finding nastily captioned pictures of himself on the internet, worse now that somebody had been able to figure out what his name was. He’d lost count of how many of the Skytrain Stasi had confronted him; one had tried to hit him up with pepper spray, and another one had tried to rip off the mask, which given it was dawn on a brilliant day, might have killed him.  Repeated nasty letters, including one pro bono from the BCCLA to Translink, hadn’t helped.

He tried to picture what was going to happen next, and failed. He felt as horny as a floor mat.  The driver nearly drove off, but Jesse held up the cash for the fare and walked around to the driver’s side, where he showed his ID and said, “I explained this to the dispatcher!  Sir, can you please call them?” He stifled the urge to hop around yelling that he’d report him if he drove off. After a long, unblinking moment, the driver put up his left hand and said, without enthusiasm, “Okay, get in.”

Jesse got in.  He put his head back, closed his eyes, and told the driver to turn up the bhangra full blast as a concession to the fright he’d inadvertently given him. The driver complied, and they travelled without conversation for most of the twenty-five minute ride. The driver knocked Jesse out of his doze to take evasive maneuvers when an SUV pulled out of a parking space on Commercial. Whatever he said, Jesse assumed in Punjabi, sounded quite pungent.

“You can let me off here,” Jesse said, and tipped him five dollars. Word would get around that the crazy guy in the goggles was a trouble-free customer and good tipper.

He texted Lark upon his arrival and then, as he looked down the side street, acknowledged the waning gibbous moon that had just risen in the east. It seemed foolish and somehow appropriate.


Yes, I’ve already posted this. It was a long time ago; I was still working at Schneider.

As I walked the thoroughfare communing with me soul
I heard an ugly, grating voice that issued from a hole
I don’t mind looking stupid, so I bent down to see
It was an troll who took a mind to remonstrate with me.
“Your walk, your laugh, your mode of dress —
you’re going straight to hell!”  “Damn straight,” says I
“I’ll see the friends I loved in life so well”
Says I “That’s your opinion! and it has not been proved..
But I’d die for your right to say that crap
and I will not be moved.”
So swift to say shut up, so swift to say no fair
So swift to claim the firmament with nothing but hot air
Be careful who you censor, be careful who you squelch
And slow to mar the human rights of anybody else!
The troll was most offended, and said I misconstrued
his words and his intent and that besides I was quite rude
I said he had a kingdom that ended at his nose
And my support of his free speech was not some moonbat pose.
I can’t expect imagination from a common troll
Nor yet appreciation — that would be something droll
But if you can’t agree with me, try something on for size
And make a proper argument and not just yell out ‘Lies!’
The troll was even more put out, in fact he was quite pissed
and then remarked as homo sap I was quite prejudiced
When troll boy came out with this tosh I laughed most heartily
And said “I read SF and think — it’s all the same to me!
I’ve no right to deny you rights, so kindly think it out
With the gift of speech you also get the benefit of doubt
As long as we are talking, we may be hopeful still
So let’s get something fine to drink, and put it on my bill.
Don’t be so fast to shut me up or tell me I’m not fair
I’m really not that bad a sort It’s not like I don’t care
Be careful who you censor, be careful who you squelch
Be slow to mar the human rights of anybody else
And now there is a coda
The flourish at the end
Harsh words will make you enemies
and very rarely friends
But when I speak of censorship
I know too well the cost
For if you have to censor me….
you have already lost.