sistering

Older homes often have floor or ceiling joists that have been damaged during the life of the structure. Sistering is nailing a new joist of the same size and length to the old one, or sandwiching with strengthening material on both sides.

Older homes often have floor or ceiling joists that have been damaged during the life of the structure. Sistering is nailing a new joist of the same size and length to the old one, or sandwiching with strengthening material on both sides.

Eve reminds me again. She always does. It's like one of those pop-up circus trailers and the small man with the hoofed legs did tricks with a ball like a seal and when you stepped through the backstage curtain Voldemort was waiting with a rat and somebody else's wand. Buddha whatever. Go build something and send me pictures.

We talk about body parts and heavy cream and blindness and how when you leave stuff in the car it turns homogeneously into something that smells like something that's been left in the car no matter what it was to begin with. We assign each other homework: reading and wines, gods and shoes. The phone bleeps. We are 5,043 kilometres apart. There is nothing like fresh sawdust. We are sistering.

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On the north shore the sea, stirred up through Fundy mud, is chocolate milk. The dunes are precious. STAY OFF says the note tacked up by the cabin's front door. Little lights mark worn paths. I pick up razor clams and lay them down again in a tidy messy pile. I drag my boot underwater over perfectly unending ripples of sand bar, rare in the rocky south. We park cars on sopping grass and blow inside with a wet gust to a chorus of hellos and hugs. We bring tinned olives; hard cider; sleeping bags; tempeh; cherries; garbage bags; slippers; fishermans' slicks; a pack of tarot.

"I'm still getting the hang of this," says Bon. She shuffles the cards. "It's the worst when everything lands upside-down and you can see right away it's a tough spread but you have to say something. Like You are going to be... learning some... lessons. Yeah! Lessons."

She tells me to think of a question. I do. She tells me to be careful how I word it because the universe is a hoof-legged trickster. I reword and reassert. I shuffle the cards—not well, but all I need to do is touch them, infusing them with doubt and guacamole. She arranges them on the table. Every card lands upside-down. We laugh for a while. Then we talk about the upside-down.

"You are blocked," she says, not so much with earnestness but because she knows, and the cards line it up. "That's all."

Like the Ghost of Christmas Future and Princess Buttercup's dream with the witch and Rufus telling Bill and Ted to pass the history exam and Marty McFly jumping on the hoverboard and grabbing the tailgate of a Jeep because in 2015, they still have Jeeps.

She is getting the hang of this.

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Fixing on stacks of 3/8-inch plywood and caulking and battens and deadlines. Friday, the night that Liam died, will be packed lunches and the schoolbus, exterior installation, a party supper for kids, an early night. Saturday morning (he was gone by then) will be three-to-a-bed. Kisses loves wishes, elbows to my head. Then buttermilk crepes with banana jam. Then the belt sander.

It takes a while to straighten without the aid of distraction or tantrum or close-at-hand metaphorical drug. I want to do it myself. I try different angles, buttressing fresh true wood against structural sag. I will whisper Grandma Joe's cheerio to the wind with a hammer in one hand and something blindingly creamy in the other. Breeze feels good. So does sweat. The creek rushes by and the grass is up to my knees in the forest, except for the new path worn through. The phone bleeps.

The hair-pulling of a necessary photo setup for the book, finally happening, almost ready to be drawn. Left it late. Wanted to keep either editing or sanding. Both are about the same. It takes a lot to stop and let go. You have to have an idea then move out of the way, into the right spot, and not mind the sight of all those mistakes.

Show me what you're up to. Your weekend, plain stuff, your face, or your three worst and three best things right this moment, like you're sardined onto that old couch on the Pictou shore and it's your turn.