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Portrait #3: Bald man all in black and white save for his royal blue sunglasses - jacket says "DUCATI meccanica". Motorcycle helmet on chair. He emanates self-sufficiency: he is "encased" (in leather, in his decision to shave that head - shiny & hard - in his black scarf snarled with deft pizzaz around his throat). But something vulnerable persists in the deep blue of his glasses, and he's reading a novel (now that he's stopped checking his phone).

Ducati Meccanica 300 dpi

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From sketchbook April 28th, 2014

I find it hard to read in a cafe, or to wear headphones to listen to music (impossible), as everything real and in-situ is far more interesting to me than the works of artistic genius through the ages.

...Even the No Parking sign and the pylons lined up at the market are more interesting to me than the W. of A.G.T the A.

Pylons 300 dpi

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From notebook, April 23, 2014

Now I am going to describe some people by their emotional or atmospheric emanations. I realize this is all very subjective. I am in a bookshop cafe two floors above the main street, having enjoyed a good (for once!) haircut, a matcha latte, and a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing. Small.

1. Woman in green scarf, tapered fingers, mischievous upslanted brows, elegantly spooning cappuccino froth into her lips on the end of a wooden stick. Young.

2. Sprawlywhitehaired (curls, long) woman slouched on her table, hunkered down like an animal crouched before the kill, purposeful. Tired but with a lot of fight left. Remembering things not too fondly, yet she remains far from defeated. (Moved before I could sketch her.)

Woman #1

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midnight at the candyass cabaret
Stories can-can at the Candy-ass Cabaret...
umbrella shop
More stories duck into the umbrella shop...
and the following young man
The writer wanders and finds and sees...

300dpi lettieri
...finds stories in the streets
Cuban lamp post fragment 300 dpi colour
lit by lonely broken lanterns

bookshop rat
until books scatter the streets' flowering secrets.


I've donated the price of a downtown taxi ride to http://www.projectbookmarkcanada.ca/ and I hope you will, too. Project Bookmark gives story fragments back to the places where writers found them. It honours the stories that connect us with each other, and makes the wandering heart unlonely.

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Dear One sugar shack farmer pan evaporator syrup maple hot little window makeshift table fragrant steam outarde geese in the corn stubble three robins the call of an owl long hoots and a gurgling down-note hawk transparent wings soaring circling slow tall reeds how did they survive the winter silver birch arches bowed from the ice storm fire logs moustache dark and sweet paddle compartments poutine Chez Paulo general store old truck maple smoked salmon Frelighsburg miel oeufs green eggs garlic farm mud melted brook bridges oh god how did we ever survive that winter congregations of birds everywhere; small birds, fat birds, large birds all singing singing singing... La Bonne Franquette, said Dear One, is a simple blessing that you could not have planned - it flies where it flies...

general store photo

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This man on stilts walked around the market commenting on the crackers and olives up on shelves too high for others to see them. He played his flute. I'd seen him around the metro stations but avoided him. But today a woman who knew him asked how he was doing.

"How many grandchildren have you now?" she asked him.


Imagine having him for a grandad.

grandad on stilts

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I dreamed I saw Margaret Atwood tucking into a panini on Avenue Mont-Royal, at a sidewalk terrace. She was alone and I resolved to pass without looking at her. It was probably the first panini in decades she'd managed to eat alone in public. It was imperative I look away and keep my mouth shut. I could write a book on what I might say to Margaret Atwood, something like "Dear Bruce Springsteen" only more like "Dear Stately Auk Who Escaped the Great Extinction." I managed to pass by but could not help sidling behind the first lamp post to watch her eat. Unobtrusively, I thought, but she was onto me. "Do you really," she said, "have to do that?"

Margaret AtwoodpaniniAukAuk sweater
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A woman holding a garage sale in the fall foliage of the Eastern Townships sold me some family photos for $2 each. This one's a photo of Alice Rousseau with Rita and Rejeanne Martin (clockwise from top left), of Sherbrooke. Would you say it's around 1940? Look at their homemade clothes and their faces bursting with character. Who would sell old family photos? I don't understand it. All I know is, with my trusty Italian magnifying glass and these photographs, I'm going on a journey beyond my own place and time.

Alice, Rita, Rejeanne
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I was going to Lakefield and my brother Michael sent my daughter a sketch he made of Margaret Laurence's house eight years ago. So when I went there I made another one so Juliette could have a pair. The aerial seems to be holding up pretty good.

Margaret Laurence's house Michael

Margaret Laurence's house Kathleen
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"I'm not really happy with 'scents'," my editor tells me: I've written of scents of seaweed and crab and shells flung by the gulls. Scents, he writes, is a word that has connotations of sweetness and perfume. So what am I going to write instead? What is a word for that sweet stench of briny bladder-wrack mixed with rotted fish, stinking yet lovely enough to ignite all the forlorn longing of the heart? My editor is right - it isn't a scent. It's more like a salty shock you breathe in with all your soul, and it roars and permeates your lungs and overflows them and spills into your blood, all the while salty and fishy and weedy yet horribly lovely and you can't do without it or you'll die. It's a horror and an exhilaration, and it reminds you that you're part of the world's wild and living death.

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