I’ve been working through the late American fiction writer Bobbie Louise Hawkins’ One Small Saga (Brooklyn NY: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2020) lately, a novella reissued from its original 1984 publication. I hadn’t read her work before, but somehow managed to discover a copy of her Almost Everything (Toronto ON: Coach House Press, 1982) on our bookshelves downstairs. It even still has the January 1999 price-sticker from the late, lamented Toronto staple, This Ain’t The Rosedale Library. I remember finding and purchasing that book, some two decades back. Why did I never open it? Too many other distractions, most likely. Too many other items picked up on that same Toronto trip, or whatever it was I was doing. What was I doing? That was back in the days when I would tour and scour bookstores across the country, mailing home boxes to myself that jwcurry would collect and go through, before I returned. Her work is prompting some slow movement through prose. A couple more short stories completed and sent out, sketched and sketched and re-sketched during my mornings lifeguarding our wee girls during their e-learnings.
The last time this piano was moved was in 1976, when my father, his hired man and my six year old self hopped into the pick-up to drive the two-plus hours from the farm into Kemptville, to collect it from my great-grandparent’s house. Family lore has it that my mother’s maternal grandparents, Joseph John and Mary Caroline Cassidy Swain, purchase the piano new so my maternal grandmother (and most likely my grandmother’s sister) could take lessons as kids. It needs serious cleaning, and possibly repair. Tuning, certainly. One thing at a time. Rose was extremely excited at the prospect of lessons, something I’ve been whispering into her ear for more than a year now. Right now, the young ladies plink at it, and perhaps get comfortable with it in our space, and get comfortable with playing, learning. Seeing how it feels. Hearing how it sounds.
The other night, the young ladies took turns playing while the other one would dance. It was a whole thing. Each played, while re-telling a story. I think Aoife’s was “Cinderella.”
Anne of Green Gables novel at bedtime, which I’m a bit surprised she’s taken to so heavily. I suppose she’s the right age for it. Usually we take turns putting each child down for bedtime, reading stories and such, but Rose and Aoife “made a deal” across a couple of nights so she could get further bits of it read to her, and Aoife prefers when Christine puts her to bed, so that worked out for everyone. I’m surprised at the language; rather ornate, really. Pretty interesting to read aloud, especially when one considers it was published in 1908. I mean, my only experience with prose of the era, pretty much, are those semi-religious novels that Glengarry-esque novelist Ralph Connor was putting out, and those were only a couple of years earlier. Glengarry School Days was 1902, after all. His was a very different kind of prose. There’s a lovely music to her work I wasn’t expecting, and a language that occasionally requires me to explain a word to Rose (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given she absorbs everything). I never did read these when I was young. I went through the Narnia books, Pippi Longstocking and Doctor Doolittle and even Cheaper by the Dozen, and and latched onto comics pretty early, so went over in that direction, instead. My eldest daughter, Kate, in her turn, went through the Green Gables novels when she was young, but said she preferred the Road to Avonlea books, saying they were better written. Not long after that, she burned through a stack of most, if not all, of the novels by all of those Austens.
And finally, after weeks of prodding, poking and excitement, Rose lost her first tooth the other night. She’s already composed a note requesting it back, a note we found in her room. Apparently she didn’t get a chance to show her lost tooth to Aoife. Might the Tooth Fairy require the money back?