by Marie Wilson

She’s An Artist

One of the most extraordinary young women I know thoughtfully places a dot at AGO’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit.

She’s the drummer for two bands: Prom Nite (with Anya, Ivan & Scooter), described by Vice as: “punk tempo with a glittery ambition”, and Anti-Vibes (with Sean & Claire), who’ve drawn accolades from music reviewers, including: “The drummer completely owns their set through crisp, accented handiwork, backing everything else wonderfully.”

Sometimes, she sits at the keyboard in our living room, teaching herself to play: the tinkling notes of Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies float up to me as I peck on this other kind of keyboard, making my writing contortions easier to bear.

She’s also a part time pearl diver at a popular vegan hash house. And she’s my youngest daughter.

In her little kid years, she drew oodles of cartoons: “Attack of the Household Appliances,” “Toast Patrol”, “Abraham Skinkon” (yes, the Prez reimagined as a lizard). Here’s a toon from when she was 7:

She’s a voracious reader who spends a lot of time in T.O.’s neighbourhood libraries. In school she tested as gifted and her science teacher suspected her of being an eidetiker (possessing a photographic memory). So, her brain is a marvel. But her intuitive/emotional aspects are pure gold. She lives true to her heart & her heart beats true.

She loves dogs & befriends them wherever she goes.

Now, see her shoulder bag in the first photo? It’s a quilted purse in the shape of a dachshund. Sourced at a secondhand shop, she chose it for the gallery outing because it matched artist Yayoi Kusama’s colours, patterns, aesthetic. She got a lot of compliments from strangers that day who noticed the fun bag. On more levels than I can express here – symbolic, sartorial, magical, maternal, etc. – I love her puppy dog purse.

One day, when she was 3, her big brother Tom and I woke her from a nap. As her eyes fluttered open, she proclaimed: “The king of rock’n’roll is dead.” We had no idea where that came from.

At the same age, she did a series of paintings, giving each work a title. A splatter of orange paint with a daub of brown, she called: “Trees in a Graveyard with a Symbol of Terror”. They all had similar titles; it was a series after all…and she was 3 after all.

In 2017, the solar eclipse occurred on her 21st birthday. Drinking pink champagne and watching the moon cast shade on the sun, Tom snapped a selfie with her and Instagrammed his little sister as “Goddess of the Solar Eclipse.”

The above image evokes Bob Dylan’s lyrics: “She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist/She don’t look back/She can take the dark out of the nighttime/And paint the daytime black.”

While on tour with Prom Nite, she found a dress in a Chicago vintage shop, perfect for her big sister Anna’s wedding. At $12.99 the price was right. With floral crown, she made the most beautiful bridesmaid. Doug (born next door 2 months before her) went with her, and they had a fantastic time.

Bride & bridesmaid –

Her name is Chloe. And she’s my little eidetiker.

And of course, she’s her own woman.

 


Ya Gonna Eat That?

In two different movies, Bing Crosby mucks about with a turkey dinner. As Father O’Malley in “Going My Way” (44), he has a lot of lines to deliver during the Christmas feast at the parsonage. While he speaks, he endlessly cuts a slice of turkey on his plate. He saws away until that slice must be a thousand pieces each the size of a grain of sand. And he never takes a single bite!

There’s some consolation: Barry Fitzgerald, as Father Fitzgibbon, gets to voraciously gnaw on a big turkey leg while his dining partner pontificates. But honestly, you just wish Bing would put that fork in his mouth – just once!

The Academy didn’t seem to mind though. They honoured Bing with Best Actor for his portrayal of Father O’Malley. Bing was up against his co-star, who was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for playing Father Fitzgibbon (the rules were changed immediately following that bit of nomination abomination). Barry won for Best Supporting Actor – way to chew a drumstick, Mr. Fitzgerald!!

“Ya Gonna Eat That?” is a new feature wherein I examine movie scenes in which food is present but ignored (except by me).

Next up: the other film in which Bing mucks about with a turkey dinner.


Ya Gonna Eat That?

Because of the upper-crustiness of Douglas Sirk’s characters and the melodrama in his scripts, food is always getting left uneaten in his films. In “Magnificent Obsession” (54), Rock Hudson sits down to a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, the whole shebang. But Rock’s host, an artist played by Otto Kruger, waxes philosophical as he salts and peppers his eggs. Then, having not even set fork to food, Otto abandons the meal and walks to end of his charmingly-set table. There he lights his pipe and delivers some mystical wisdom. Rock eats just one forkful before he’s moved to join Otto at table’s end. The amazing breakfast grows cold as Rock skims his soul.

I like Sirk, and in some of his flicks they eat the food. And there’s always plenty of “hot coffee” for guzzling or sipping. For your own eating pleasure, Sirk’s lush mise en scene & campy style pair well with popcorn & champagne. Or you could enjoy a cup of hot coffee and eat vanilla cake while watching any lavish Technicolour, Cinemascope Sirk-us.

Marvel (and salivate) as Agnes Moorehead turns down chicken salad in “All That Heaven Allows” – blithely, via good acting chops. Mmmmm, chops…

“Ya Gonna Eat That?” is a new feature wherein I examine movie scenes in which food is present but ignored (except by me).

 

 


My Sister Terrill

She was named after a character in “West of the Pecos”, a Western novel by Zane Grey. There are big differences between the fictional Terrill and my sister. But of the former, a cowboy declares: “Yu’re the real stuff, Terrill.” And this too could be said of my big sister. Here she is, the real stuff and the real cute stuff, at age five –

When Terri was a teenager, I was an admiring little kid and she was my heroine: a track and field star, who won countless trophies and blue ribbons and accolades in the press, she of the dark brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. She also had a charming gap between her two front teeth which she eventually got filled. I still miss it. But gap or no, her smile could light up any stadium.

And when she became a young wife and mother, she was still my heroine – a beautiful woman with four beautiful babies. So many babies in her life! She now has ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all benefiting from her talents and love. Terri is a caregiver extraordinaire – here she is with great-granddaughter Anjali:

Here’s a story that I love: When Terri’s son Jon was in grade nine, he was enrolled in a new alternative program that was supposed to inspire learning in kids. But Jon was not inspired by the curriculum. Au contraire. So Terri went to the school one morning and had him taken out of the program. That same evening was parent/teacher night and she and Jon went to see the teacher. Terri instructed Jon to keep quiet, but she needn’t have, for the teacher dominated the meeting by listing everything she found bad about Jon. When she’d finished the litany of perceived failings, Terri asked her, “Do you have anything good to say about Jon?” The teacher replied: “No. I recommend Jon be removed from the program.” With steely resolve, Terri said: “I beat you to it. I had Jon taken out of your program this morning.” Then, affirmed in her decision to free Jon from this teacher’s clutches, she stood up. “Let’s go, Jon,” she said. And they walked out.*

That’s the kind of mom Terri was and is. And that’s the kind of person she is: keenly independent and not suffering fools gladly. If, on occasion you behave foolishly (as we all do), she’ll pour you a cup of coffee and make no judgments, but if your idiocy is constant and eroding, well, she might still pour you a cup of java or even a glass of wine but her heart would no longer be present.

She saved my foolish teenage ass a few times but offered no commentary nor lectures, just support and a cuppa and a few laughs after the fact. Here she is with our brother Dean whom she looked out for and loved (still does) just as much as those little kittens (maybe even more) –

All her life Terri has kept and cared for animals – dogs, cats, rabbits…and now chickens!  That’s Terri patting our beloved family dog Suzie (L to R: me, Dean, our sister Leah; I’ve no idea who those pirates are in the BG).

Terri probably got some practice for her role as mom by being a caregiver to her three younger siblings when we were small. Among other great capers, she led us on forest adventures where she taught us to make crowns from bright green ferns. In winter, she (along with Dean) hauled a sleigh-full of little sisters –

Terri had this amazing doll collection. Each doll was about 8” high and wore a costume from a different country or from the doll maker’s imagination. The big sister would kindly let the little sisters play with these dolls. My favourites were the Spanish beauty and the enchanting redhead who wore a gold Mata Hari costume.

My big sis sewed a beautiful dress for me for a grade 8 school dance: forest green with bell sleeves lined with satiny lemon-yellow. She gave me a strip of the lining so I could fashion a headband – it was 1967! Terri always gives the best gifts. One Christmas when I was a kid, she filled two tall decorative bottles with Smarties, tied ribbons around their necks, and gave them to Leah and me: endless candy in a green Genie bottle with a teardrop stopper!

Another Xmas, I unwrapped her present  to find a pink satin cushion with the Spanish doll sewn onto it, the black lace mantilla sweeping out across the shiny ruched fabric. Terri was always artistic, and when not running around the track, she was painting or drawing. Our family home displayed her youthful masterpieces on the walls.

Here’s a painting she did last year of her Australian granddaughters, whom she regularly flies across oceans to visit –

When her youngest child, Ron, was old enough, Terri enrolled in college and went on to become a social worker in order to help people. I can’t imagine having a nicer worker and used to wish she could be mine when I was a single mother myself. But I lived 3,000 miles away, still do. She’s in BC; I’m in Ontario. So she sends me snail mail, magical stuff – a fabulous hat she saw that had my name all over it, and more recently, a lovely wooden egg made from a favourite childhood tree that got cut down years ago.

Who else, I ask you, saves several rounds of wood from a beloved tree, then has it crafted into a few eggs for those who loved that tree, then sends it through the mail in the cutest little package, with a note saying: “Who knew maple trees could have eggs?”? My big sister, that’s who.

Here she is with her firstborn Bill and our Mom and our Grannie:

Terri has kept me apprised through the years of things happening back home. She even put my picture up in a relative’s hospital room once, so that my presence would be felt as the healing took place (successfully). I really appreciated that because it’s hard to be so far from a loved one knowing they’re playing chess with the grim reaper.

And I’ve witnessed Terri take care of plenty of ailing people (and pets) – like that time her daughter Leanne was so sick with pneumonia at age four. Terri kept vigil. She does all the usual things to bring healing to a body but also helps with recovery by telling the patient stories – often tales from their own lives that remind them of the good times when all seems far from good.

All through the years, Terri never once got mad at me – at least, not that I am aware of – that’s another genius thing I discovered about her: a capacity, for the sake of others, to not indulge in anger (this doesn’t mean she never gets angry; she does). And I never once felt angry with her. I don’t know how that can happen between siblings but it is our case.

Turn-of-the-century pic of me and Terrill –

There is so much more to say about Terri – I could write a book! It would be called “The Marvellously Terrific Ms.Terrill Marlow”. Yup, pardner, she’s the real stuff alright. And, she’s still my heroine.

***

Old photos are from the Wilson archives (thoughtfully maintained by Terri).

*Jon’s uninspiring teacher was fired later because so many complaints came in about her. Jon remembers: “The teacher was a very nasty lady, kinda like the principal from the movie ‘Uncle Buck’. I guess you could say mom played the part of John Candy pretty well.”


My Sister Terrill

She was named after a character in “West of the Pecos”, a Western novel by Zane Grey. There are big differences between the fictional Terrill and my sister. But of the former, a cowboy declares: “Yu’re the real stuff, Terrill.” And this too could be said of my big sister. Here she is, the real stuff and the real cute stuff, at age five –

When Terri was a teenager, I was an admiring little kid and she was my heroine: a track and field star, who won countless trophies and blue ribbons and accolades in the press, she of the dark brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. She also had a charming gap between her two front teeth which she eventually got filled. I still miss it. But gap or no, her smile could light up any stadium.

And when she became a young wife and mother, she was still my heroine – a beautiful woman with four beautiful babies. So many babies in her life! She now has ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all benefiting from her talents and love. Terri is a caregiver extraordinaire – here she is with great-granddaughter Anjali:

Here’s a story that I love: When Terri’s son Jon was in grade nine, he was enrolled in a new alternative program that was supposed to inspire learning in kids. But Jon was not inspired by the curriculum. Au contraire. So Terri went to the school one morning and had him taken out of the program. That same evening was parent/teacher night and she and Jon went to see the teacher. Terri instructed Jon to keep quiet, but she needn’t have, for the teacher dominated the meeting by listing everything she found bad about Jon. When she’d finished the litany of perceived failings, Terri asked her, “Do you have anything good to say about Jon?” The teacher replied: “No. I recommend Jon be removed from the program.” With steely resolve, Terri said: “I beat you to it. I had Jon taken out of your program this morning.” Then, affirmed in her decision to free Jon from this teacher’s clutches, she stood up. “Let’s go, Jon,” she said. And they walked out.*

That’s the kind of mom Terri was and is. And that’s the kind of person she is: keenly independent and not suffering fools gladly. If, on occasion you behave foolishly (as we all do), she’ll pour you a cup of coffee and make no judgments, but if your idiocy is constant and eroding, well, she might still pour you a cup of java or even a glass of wine but her heart would no longer be present.

She saved my foolish teenage ass a few times but offered no commentary nor lectures, just support and a cuppa and a few laughs after the fact. Here she is with our brother Dean whom she looked out for and loved (still does) just as much as those little kittens (maybe even more) –

All her life Terri has kept and cared for animals – dogs, cats, rabbits…and now chickens!  That’s Terri patting our beloved family dog Suzie (L to R: me, Dean, our sister Leah; I’ve no idea who those pirates are in the BG).

Terri probably got some practice for her role as mom by being a caregiver to her three younger siblings when we were small. Among other great capers, she led us on forest adventures where she taught us to make crowns from bright green ferns. In winter, she (along with Dean) hauled a sleigh-full of little sisters –

Terri had this amazing doll collection. Each doll was about 8” high and wore a costume from a different country or from the doll maker’s imagination. The big sister would kindly let the little sisters play with these dolls. My favourites were the Spanish beauty and the enchanting redhead who wore a gold Mata Hari costume.

My big sis sewed a beautiful dress for me for a grade 8 school dance: forest green with bell sleeves lined with satiny lemon-yellow. She gave me a strip of the lining so I could fashion a headband – it was 1967! Terri always gives the best gifts. One Christmas when I was a kid, she filled two tall decorative bottles with Smarties, tied ribbons around their necks, and gave them to Leah and me: endless candy in a green Genie bottle with a teardrop stopper!

Another Xmas, I unwrapped her present  to find a pink satin cushion with the Spanish doll sewn onto it, the black lace mantilla sweeping out across the shiny ruched fabric. Terri was always artistic, and when not running around the track, she was painting or drawing. Our family home displayed her youthful masterpieces on the walls.

Here’s a painting she did last year of her Australian granddaughters, whom she regularly flies across oceans to visit –

When her youngest child, Ron, was old enough, Terri enrolled in college and went on to become a social worker in order to help people. I can’t imagine having a nicer worker and used to wish she could be mine when I was a single mother myself. But I lived 3,000 miles away, still do. She’s in BC; I’m in Ontario. So she sends me snail mail, magical stuff – a fabulous hat she saw that had my name all over it, and more recently, a lovely wooden egg made from a favourite childhood tree that got cut down years ago.

Who else, I ask you, saves several rounds of wood from a beloved tree, then has it crafted into a few eggs for those who loved that tree, then sends it through the mail in the cutest little package, with a note saying: “Who knew maple trees could have eggs?”? My big sister, that’s who.

Here she is with her firstborn Bill and our Mom and our Grannie:

Terri has kept me apprised through the years of things happening back home. She even put my picture up in a relative’s hospital room once, so that my presence would be felt as the healing took place (successfully). I really appreciated that because it’s hard to be so far from a loved one knowing they’re playing chess with the grim reaper.

And I’ve witnessed Terri take care of plenty of ailing people (and pets) – like that time her daughter Leanne was so sick with pneumonia at age four. Terri kept vigil. She does all the usual things to bring healing to a body but also helps with recovery by telling the patient stories – often tales from their own lives that remind them of the good times when all seems far from good.

All through the years, Terri never once got mad at me – at least, not that I am aware of – that’s another genius thing I discovered about her: a capacity, for the sake of others, to not indulge in anger (this doesn’t mean she never gets angry; she does). And I never once felt angry with her. I don’t know how that can happen between siblings but it is our case.

Turn-of-the-century pic of me and Terrill –

There is so much more to say about Terri – I could write a book! It would be called “The Marvellously Terrific Ms.Terrill Marlow”. Yup, pardner, she’s the real stuff alright. And, she’s still my heroine.

***

Old photos are from the Wilson archives (thoughtfully maintained by Terri).

*Jon’s uninspiring teacher was fired later because so many complaints came in about her. Jon remembers: “The teacher was a very nasty lady, kinda like the principal from the movie ‘Uncle Buck’. I guess you could say mom played the part of John Candy pretty well.”


We Were Born Before the Wind

I met Star Parsons when she sat in front of me in grade six. We fought foot wars beneath our desks as the teacher droned on at the front of the room. These silent battles were like arm wrestling only with feet: my toes pushing up on her heels, which were pushing down on my toes. I don’t think there was ever a winner but then that wasn’t the point. From this clandestine game a friendship grew.

In grade seven, Star was placed in a row for A+ students, while I was exiled to some random row across the room. Star’s intelligence was dazzling to me. Once, in grade six, we had an assignment to make calendars for people in an old folks home. Each student had to draw one picture to go with twelve tear-off months. I drew a house with a picket fence and a cat. Star drew a cross-section of a brain.

With so much distance between us in class now, our hands had to take over from our feet as silent communicators: we invented our own language of gestures, which we used whenever the teacher’s back was turned. Our signs were often preoccupied with our emerging curiosity with sex.

After school, Star and I sometimes headed for the ravine beyond the schoolyard to read aloud from “Candy”, a novel published in 1958, scandalous in its time. Now in the mid sixties we were discovering its forbidden content in the paperback version which I’d lifted from my big brother’s room.

Sitting on rotting logs, inhaling heady scents of skunk cabbage and pine resin, we giggled over the raunchy language and titillating imagery. Then we got out pencil and foolscap to create our own smut. These co-written bits of juvenilia were buried after each session along with the book in the cool dark earth, to be dug up the next day for more explorations into the unknown world of carnal relations.

Star Parsons was not her real name. But one night I dreamt that name for her and the next day a Star was born. (Well, she was always a star and always will be). In my rec room, Star & I belted out brassy show tunes: “Let Me Entertain You” and “Big Spender”. She played a mean piano. I sat on the piano top or danced, as we sang in our best trashy New York accents: “I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see!”

When grade seven ended, we boarded a ferry for Pender Island, where my grandmother lived in an enchanted house known as The Glade. Road crews, firemen, hydro workers all stayed at The Glade when they came to the island to work, and Grannie often told us stories about them, casual chatty stories that we turned into something else altogether. Refracting every word Grannie spoke through our pornographic prism, her utterances were full of double entendres.

Lighting up a long slender cigarette, Grannie would intone, “I give my men the best deal on the island.” One flash of Star’s ocean blue eyes in my direction and we had to stifle our teeny bopper laughter. Of course, Grannie was talking about room and board but to two tweens with their minds in the magnificent gutter of girlish imaginings, she was a brazen madam, fresh out of the pages of “Candy”.

The subject matter of that book edged ever closer to us as we headed up to junior high that September, wearing for the first time bras, nylons, garter belts. Soon I was sporting a Twiggy cut and walking to school in sling back shoes.

In grade nine when Star turned fourteen I made her a sock monkey accompanied by a poem I’d written in which the monkey’s facial features symbolized our budding lives: “Ruby red lips for our days of ill repute/whether they have gone by or are yet to come.” Gone by? Such innocence!

And then, Star and her family moved away. There was no easy transport between our towns so we kept in touch with weekly letters and monthly visits. The summer after we finished high school would be the last we spent together.

We hitchhiked to Tofino and set up camp on Long Beach. The sixties had just ended but hippies still lived in their jury-rigged A-frames and beach lean-tos. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” album drifted over the land from car radios to mingle with the sound of the pounding surf.

By summer’s end, the government forced the hippies out so the area could be turned into a national park. In true anti-establishment defiance, the squatters burned their glorious homesteads to the ground. Another death knell for the sixties. For Star and me, it didn’t matter the decade – these were the timeless days of our adolescence, the sweet tail end of our long and glorious childhood.

Star Parsons and I, we were born before the wind.

*
Happy Birthday to my best friend forever, Shirley Connell (aka Star Parsons), pictured here on Long Beach in a double exposure which I shot before double exposures became a thing (that’s my sister’s horse on the right, in another time, in another place).


Natalie Wood’s Bracelets

Due to an on-set accident when she was small Nat always had her left wrist covered in her later movies and publicity shots: opera gloves, long sleeves, watches, bracelets – lots of bracelets: demure for Maria in West Side Story (’61), flashy for Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (’62). The arm jewelry is designed to wrap her wrist tightly and stay in place thus hiding a severely protruding bone.

In a film called The Green Promise (’49), the child star goes through a raging storm to rescue her lamb. The storm was created on set, and a little wooden footbridge was to collapse once she’d crossed. But the crash came while she was on the bridge and she broke her wrist.

The only time I didn’t see a bracelet or gloves hiding the misshapen wrist is in The Silver Chalice (’54). She plays a Biblical slave girl in a toga with no adornments, and the bone is obvious. (An aside: How do you change wood into mayo? You can’t, but believe it or not, they cast Virginia Mayo as Natalie’s grown up self in The Silver Chalice. Not even close!)

Why have I become so totally preoccupied with Nat’s left wrist? As I watch her movies or scroll through stills, I am always trying to catch a glimpse of that imperfection she was forced to hide. Catching sight of it is like seeing a rare bird. But it reminds me that these impossibly perfect creatures of the silver screen were/are actually real people with real flaws of flesh and soul and heart, except that maybe they aren’t “flaws” at all.

 

Photos from Top: Gypsy, Rebel Without a Cause, The Great Race, Rebel Without a Cause.


Among the Stars

Gord Downie was our neighbour. The house he lived in for most of his Riverdale years stands just behind the Bain Co-op where I live. Some in the neighbourhood knew him only by sight or reputation, some knew him more intimately; sometimes he passed by unnoticed with the brim of his hat tipped down, other times he could be seen joyously raising a pint at Dora Keogh. Maybe we skated past Gord at the rink in Withrow Park or played hockey at Riverdale with a masked goalie we weren’t aware was the Tragically Hip’s frontman.

Or, we only knew him by his music, which meant sure knowledge of his heart & soul: Wheat Kings, a song about David Milgaard’s wrongful conviction, offers some of his best lyrics. Gord’s honorary aboriginal name, Wicapi Omani, is Lakota for “man who walks among the stars”. We’ll miss Gord in the neighbourhood and in the world but we’ll see him among the stars, and we’ll always have his music, and the wisdom and joy and solace it bestows.

*

Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

In his Zippo lighter, he sees the killer’s face
Maybe it’s someone standing in a killer’s place
Twenty years for nothing, well, that’s nothing new
Besides, no one’s interested in something you didn’t do

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what the morning brings

There’s a dream he dreams where the high school’s dead and stark
It’s a museum and we’re all locked up in it after dark
The walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents’ prime ministers

Wheat kings and pretty things
Wait and see what tomorrow brings

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”
They add, “You can’t be fond of living in the past
‘Cause if you are then there’s no way that you’re gonna last”

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what tomorrow brings
Wheat kings and pretty things
Oh that’s what tomorrow brings

Gord Downie 1964 – 2017

*

Listen to Wheat Kings here: bit.ly/1TYtIy6

*

Special thanks to Jennifer Hazel & Slim Twig

photo: Withrow Park by Marie Wilson


World’s Most Amazing Dog

All through her childhood, my youngest daughter wanted a dog. I finally said yes when she was 15 & she wasted no time finding a pup on Kijiji. The owner was asking $100, so my daughter & her friend pooled their cash & went to meet the dog. It was love at first sight.

The owner told the teenagers to keep their money, saying he only advertised that amount so he wouldn’t get irresponsible people picking up a free dog for who knows what purpose. That first night in her new home, we made every effort to make the confused pooch feel comfortable. Pretty soon she was wagging her tail & settling in. Her name is Nixie.

On the couch in our sunroom, Nixie used to sit like a person gazing out the window. As far as we’re concerned she is a person! But in the dog park, she’s all dog, playing with a ball or other dogs & running as fast as possible. Her favourite game has been to lead other dogs on an obstacle race, charging around logs & under picnic tables, performing quick turnarounds & tricky deeks. In all seasons, the fun never stops for her in the park.

Until recently, that is. A couple of months ago she started refusing to go up stairs, which was challenging, as we live in a 2nd floor apartment. Then she’d yelp with pain when jumping up on the couch or bed. She is only 5 years old. She’s been homebound now for almost 2 months and stays almost all the time on her blanket on the floor. We hoped the rest would lead to healing. But it hasn’t. She’s seen two vets but they can’t diagnose without an MRI.

MRIs are expensive. And so, a fundraiser! I am so grateful for all who have donated to & shared our campaign to help Nixie thus far. To us she is truly the World’s Most Amazing Dog. Let’s keep this funder going and get Nixie a diagnosis & on her way to better health!    https://www.youcaring.com/mariewilson-885356


City Saplings, Urban Ancients

For many years, this tree has given shade to sinners & angels alike, judging neither. Churchyard trees bear testimony, provide shelter, give life. Children who’ve hopscotched beneath their boughs grow up & go away but still the tree stands, noble & uncomplaining. Its leafy past commingles with the ancient moon & the old church & together they form a trio of historical importance on First Avenue.

We revere the ancient & pander to youth, often forgetting how important the latter are to the planet’s future. Like a gangly but bright child, this sapling might go unnoticed by passersby. But to those who stop to take note, it may remind them of the great cycle of life. Its presence enlivens the solidity of the great wall on Bain Avenue near Withrow School.

Like pigeons, urban trees hang in there despite all the concrete & pollution. This maple thrives in a laneway near King & Yonge, just around the corner from the Beer Bistro. It reaches up to the sky-scrapered sky with leaves of almost-impossible-green and beckons to the rush hour traffic to slow down & take a breath of the air it helps supply.

The Rooster Coffee House provides field glasses for anyone caring to play spy or ornithologist while sipping java on Broadview. With or without binoculars, you get a vast view of Riverdale park & the downtown core (this must be how the street got its name!) Front & center is this grand old lady – her natural splendor compliments the unnatural splendor of the city beyond: in summer her emerald finery blots out buildings but in winter she welcomes the great grinding metropolis into her boughs; woven throughout her majestic branches are bank towers, City Hall, the CN Tower.

Photos: Aaron Schwartz