You’d be 76 today.
Here’s the first thing in my current WiP, “Dried Flowers”:
Dedicated to my dad, JJ, the way I want to remember him.
He introduced me to some of my favourite authors, mostly by forgetting to send back the “no I don’t want the Selection of the Month” card to the Science Fiction Book ClubThis is how I first encountered, among others, Michael Swanwick and William Gibson..
And the final thing in “Dried Flowers” (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler; just a post-text epigraphPostgraph?):
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.—Jorge Luis Borges
…and now, back to writin’.
This weekend was, more or less, the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death. So we went to Smitty’s and had eggs Benedict, and then I bought myself a very JJ parka.
Having noticed the auspicious anniversary, I was thinking a bit about Dad. I thought I’d told this story already, but I couldn’t find it in a search of my site. Maybe it was just in my eulogy.
For most of my life, Dad had a beard. If you dig out the really old SRCI yearbooks, you can find photos of him clean-shaven. I think he grew the beard in about 1980 or so, and he must have liked the way it looked because he kept it for a long, long time.
He told me once that his plan was to win the lottery, do all the necessary publicity, cash the cheque, then shave his beard off and become invisibly rich.
It was a solid plan, too. If you saw a photo of him pre-beard next to one of him with the beard, you might be hard-pressed to say the two photos were the same person. JJ : Beard :: Superman : glasses.
Then one year, when he was working up in Lac Brochet, he and Mom came out of the north for the summer and… he was clean-shaven.
The first thing I asked him, when I saw him, was, “Is there something I should know?”
I just realized a few minutes ago that it’s been
three four years plus a day.
(Thanks for the math lesson, Mom.)
I watched some Rocky & Bullwinkle and dozed off on the couch, both things I think Dad would approve of.
I overheard a mother today telling her kid, “Remember, silent suffering”, and I thought of Dad and I smiled. It just seemed like something he’d say.
Dad loved cop shows from the ’70s and ’80s. He wasn’t a big fan of ’80s and ’90s music, though. So imagine my surprise, one day, when, home for a weekend, I heard the dulcet tones of the Beastie Boys coming from the TV that he was watching. It was such an odd occurrence, in fact, that it took me a moment to recognize what I was hearing.
Then it clicked: it was the breakdown in “Sabotage”.
I came out of my room just in time for the lyrics to start up again, and Dad, realizing he’d been tricked, switched the channel.
I get it, though. It sure does look like an ’80s cop show.
With some of the money I inherited from my dad, last year, I bought an 11–16mm f/2.8 lens for my camera. In plain English, it’s a nice fast lens with a nice wide field of view, which means that it’s great for astrophotography.
Tonight, the stars aligned for me, as it were. There was almost a 50/50 chance of some aurora sightings, per SpaceWeather. The temperature was a balmy ‑1°C, which was a pleasant change from the ‑25°C and ‑35°C nights we’ve had for the last couple weeks.
Long story short, there was a faint haze to the north. Editing with Gimp brings out quite a bit more than the naked eye could see.
As my camera clicked away, I leaned back against the car. At one point I thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote: If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
On my way back to work after lunch, a City of Brandon truck passed by on the street, carrying a load of freshly-cut evergreen boughs. Just for a second I smelled sawn pine, faintly, and I felt a momentary touch of nostalgia, because pine was the wood of choice for Dad, whether he was in the shed at home or teaching shop class. It was common wood: soft, inexpensive, and ubiquitous.
I grew up smelling cut pine.
Then it passed and all I could smell was winter in the city again.