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I was in Calgary recently for a dear friend‘s wedding. It was the first time in three years that I’d been there. In the first couple of years I lived in Ontario, I went back to Calgary three times. So it was Calgary all the time, then nothing for so long.

It surprised me. It was disorienting. Familiar, home-like, but different enough to confuse. Inner-city neighbourhoods I’d loved to wander through were packed with jarring, blocky infills. Were those new? Or had I just forgotten? At the wedding, I spoke to someone about Casa Loma with such familiarity for the longest time, until I realized that I was not in Toronto. My two old worlds existed in one place.

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Despite the disorientation, the trip was filled with the best things: Long, relaxing visits with friends (and a wedding, which was beautiful), good food, that fantastic drawn-out Alberta sky. Driving and walking around, making lists of what was different and what had always been there.

In 2005 I had a poetry blog. It’s strange for me to think that I wrote poetry, but I did, and I used to post the (mostly unpublished) poems on my blog. That’s another thing that’s strange to me now.

I recently rediscovered the blog thanks to files I’d saved years ago. Aside from the many, many poems I’d forgotten about, I found this old writer’s purpose statement of sorts:

I like oldness, I like brick buildings, creeping ivy. I like winter imagery and visceral imagery. I like to write about coldness and bones and bodies. I like dreaming of lakes and stones and tall trees. I like a little teeth in my poetry. I like it when poetry is a bit brambly around the edges.

Much of that’s still true, though now I write some of these things in fiction rather than poetry – except for bones. Apparently that was a phase. It’s interesting how many of these things are accepted in poetry, but not so much in fiction. I think it’d be considered confusing to walk up to someone and say, “Hi. I write fiction about coldness and bones and bodies.”

However, I still do like brambly-edged poetry. Fiction too, for that matter.

From today’s coffee and stroll at Hamilton Harbour:

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From last week at Christie Lake Conservation Area, taking a walk with some visiting family members from Germany:

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From 2004, visiting a friend’s hometown of Brentwood Bay, BC:

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(I’m a bit sad that I only found a dozen or so photos from this trip, and none from the docks I enjoyed so much, where we dipped our hands into the water at night to write our names with bioluminescent plankton, the letters disappearing just an instant after sparking into life.)

Classes I have researched this summer:

  • Bird identification
  • Sailing
  • Golfing
  • Flower arrangement
  • Gardening
  • Tennis

Researching these classes brought up so many questions. What led me to be curious about some of them? For instance, I have never been interested in golf in any way, shape or form. What made me think of it? And what is the true cost of pursuing these activities after the initial lessons? Sailing lessons were much more expensive than I’d anticipated, but I imagine golf comes with a hefty list of supplies for later on. And does one golf alone? Would I have to make separate golfing friends?

Sometimes I feel the process of research is more fun than the actual results.

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Whenever summer rolls around, I start to crave a visit to Port Dover. About an hour’s drive from me on the shore of Lake Erie, it’s been a favourite day trip destination for several years. I even named one of my blogs after that particular coastline when I was homesick in Calgary – and I wasn’t the only one to have that idea. The name is also used for an “adult lifestyle community” that was built in the area recently.

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It was cloudy when my husband and I went, but still hot enough to attract crowds, some opting to swim, some to fish for perch off the pier, others to sail around. I wished I could be doing the latter – I’ll never understand why I love being around and on the water so much when I can’t swim and am afraid to ever learn.

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Instead, we got our customary lunch – poutine and a cheeseburger – from the usual place, instead of the seemingly more popular Arbor, below.

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Here’s how the pier looked on my first visit, a rainy April day nine years ago:

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Much as I’ll always prefer to visit a lake when it’s a little cold and rainy, there’s just something deeply satisfying and right about the combination of humidity, French fries, and boats.