Taken back: January 1991

I’ve just finished The Man Who Ran Washington, a biography of James A. Baker III, who served four presidents (Ford, Reagan, the two Bushes) in a variety of capacities, most notably as Chief of Staff and later Secretary of State. Authored by Peter Baker (no relation) and Susan Glasser, it’s a thorough and eminently readable book. I admired Baker as I read, though I can’t say I entirely liked him. But never mind that; what I especially enjoyed here was how a biography like this takes me back into events that are “history” already but happened in my lifetime and, thus, can be remembered, into consequential events that affected me too (and I recorded in my journal), if only because of the collective mood or tension they created. (Sort of like now, the day before the U.S. election. Sort of like now, months into a global pandemic.)

Take, for example, January 1991, which slid in on the back of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Our children were 15, 12, and eight, and the 12-year-old had written WAR in the square of the fifteenth day of the new calendar. The oldest child, when we discussed his new term schedule, said, “Well, if we’re here then,” and I could tell he wasn’t joking. Continue reading

“Put together”: A conversation with poet Sarah Klassen

Sarah Klassen is a Winnipeg writer, author of eight books of poetry as well as two short story collections and a novel. Her work has won numerous awards, including the Gerald Lampert Award for poetry. She’s also a long-time friend.

The launch of her new book had to be virtual on account of the coronavirus, which also meant I could attend, in spite of now living several provinces apart. And I’m honoured to be a stop on her subsequent “blog tour” with the following conversation we had via Messenger. Continue reading

Bowls

This isn’t a craft blog, but I want to show off some bowls I made. I was reading Gathie Falk’s memoir Apples, etc., admiring her paper mache dresses, remembering I’d once played with paper mache — didn’t we all? — and my fingers itched to try again. Something easy, like a bowl or two.

Is there, in fact, an object as lovely as a bowl? Both in its usefulness (real or implied) and its shape? In what it signifies — receiving, holding?

My bowls are thin (about three layers) and — in terms of bowlishness — a little wonky. Nevertheless, they gave me pleasure, making them. Still do, looking at them. For the three below, I used tissue paper: purple, white, yellow. I painted the inside of the white one and glued on pressed hydrangea flowerets.  Continue reading