Magna Magnolia

Fragile tenacity: That sums up the magnolia.

Unlike the flowering crabapple, whose parchment-thin petals come and go in a few days, the victim of any passing breeze, the magnolia blossoms hang on and on and on. That’s if they escape the notice of the neighbourhood squirrels, and aren’t bitten off before they rightly have a chance to be called blossoms. If they get past that first gauntlet, their leathery petals gradually fade and twist as they dry out and as the emerging leaves push them aside.

Opinions vary in my household, but sometimes truth is not determined by a consensus. In my book, they’re lovely throughout.

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Death, Timely and Otherwise

In the last few months we’ve lost David Crosby, Harry Belafonte, Gordon Lightfoot, and Tina Turner: singers I grew up with, although Belafonte (born in 1927) was a durable star from my parents’ generation.

At 71, I’m at an age where I should expect these losses: the singers and groups I listened to as a teenager and as a young woman were often about ten years older than I was. You do the arithmetic. I’m doing it more and more often.

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Say Wut

TF happened to the W?

Oh, sorry, I need one of those screen titles used for narrative effect in movies and TV shows to clarify where and when the action is occurring when it’s not presented in a straightforward linear path. You know the sort of thing, I’m sure.

A person clearly unused to holding a gun shakily points one at an understandably nervous doctor in an operating room and then the view pans out to an aerial shot of a big-city downtown and the screen says…

Eight hours earlier.

And then the story is told from the beginning, but with us knowing where everything is headed.

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Happy Victoria Day

How old am I? Old enough to forget about long weekends, that’s how.

Long weekends–especially summer long weekends–hold a special place in our culture and, dare I say it, psyche. Having three whole-days-in-a-row off work is a stupendous, momentous, not-possible-to-miss event. Especially in the early decades of my employment, I could never understand how some people never seemed to know when a long weekend was coming. How could they miss it?

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Random Juxtapositions

Save the children: Eat more cupcakes!

Email inboxes juxtapose messages incongruously as a matter of course: one of the low-level bugs of the system, I guess. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing credit-card-use alerts interleaved with jokes from old friends; electronic flyers I didn’t sign-up for nestled among posts from blogs I did.

But this screen a few days ago definitely took that weirdness-so-routine-it’s-hardly-weird-anymore to a new level.

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Wednesday’s Child

As they do from time to time, my birthday and Mother’s Day coincide this year. The last time that happened was 2017, six years ago; the next will be 2028, five years hence. I had to look that up.

The way that dates cycle erratically through the days of the week is not entirely clear to me. In theory, I get it: 365 days is not evenly divisible by 7, so we move by one day every year, except when we move by two for a Leap Year, but only after Feb 29. In practice, translating that into a pattern I can keep in my head has not yet happened. I’m guessing it won’t.

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Or should that be, sproing?

Yes, winter is done and Ottawa is into its compressed Spring, which operates much as  a compressed spring does when the pressure is released, sproinging into life, full life, all life all the time . . . for about 10 days. The flowers don’t last long, but they are spectacular while they do.

We started with the tulips in my own garden . . .

. . . and moved on to the slightly more extensive Festival of Tulips downtown.

Then the magnolia tree in our shaded backyard burst forth, less troubled by scavenging scumbags, er, squirrels than in other years.

Finally, the ornamental crabapple in the front yard did its 3-day-wonder trick. As I type this, these photos are from yesterday when the flowers peaked: Today, a light breeze is already lifting the petals off the twigs.

And so it goes: Beauty is transient and yet persistent. Fragile and yet utterly reliable. Gloriously diverse and yet one.

Something, I guess, like life itself.

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It’s Official

I have become my mother: I’ve started to use idioms that young people do not understand.

When my parents moved into an assisted-living facility, my mother and some of her tablemates played an ongoing game with the teenaged servers in the dining room.  It started innocently enough with the inadvertent use of an idiom that the servers had never heard, and then the old people got right into it, trying to stump the kids. With a sixty-year gap, it wasn’t hard.

This week, someone somewhere-south-of-forty encountered my advice on selecting team members. I had been aiming for “memorable but concise”; instead I hit “obscure.”

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It’s Formal

Charles is King.

Of course he’s *been* King since his mother drew her last breath, but today’s coronation service formalized that fact. Oaths were administered and taken: not in a write-your-own-vows spirit or express-your-unique-individuality style, but oaths prescribed by centuries of ecclesiastical tradition. Oaths codified in legislation. Symbols of office were presented and accepted. Vestments heavy with tradition and just plain heavy were worn and then removed: Dressed simply and on his knees, Charles-the-man was anointed King behind a privacy screen, slightly jarring in a world in which our whole lives can be public. It reflected the sacredness of the act, at least as understood by those participating.

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