Friday, July 31, 2015

Dialogue with aConcerge

"I've got a packet here for a Carlos Antúnez.  He's going to drop by around 11:30 to pick it up. Can you make sure someone's here to pass it to him?"
             "11:30?  He won't be here at 11:30. This is Chile! For us Chileans, 11:30 means 2 o'clock, easy."
            "You think so? Carlos lived twenty years in Australia. He'll be here - right in the ballpark. 11:30 to 12:00."

            "But he's a fellow Chilean. No way in hell."
            "A can of coke either way, then."

            "It's going to taste delicious."
            (simultaneous) "Ha!"


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Please Join me in a Moment of Silence

 - In the memory of my dear, departed Elna 3003.
It passed away on Tuesday last at 7:54 in the evening, with three seams left to sew.

Sympathies have flooded in:

Rest in Peace, dear old machine!
You left an uncompleted seam.
Now go to your eternal rest
while I hand-sew the arms and chest

Tessa telephoned and sang Mandy -

Ohhh Elna...
How you gave and you gave without failing-
How I neeeed youoohoo 

Ohh Elna…

One tasteless wit even offered a pun - "say it ain't sew."  It was briefly considered, but then a firm decision was made: we can't encourage that sort of thing.

It was all very moving. 

And now, pray, bow your heads with me and give a muffled curse in the name of the sewing machine that after all the tender love, care, fresh bobbins, fresh spools, screwdrivers, damp q-tips, machine oil and delicately voiced entreaties in Santiago, could not graciously consent to last just one more damned half hour.

(Epithets will be acceptable in lieu of offerings.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today was a Very Rainy Day

A large city surrounded by mountains is not necessarily a pleasant place.  Santiago's air has been foul this winter. The contaminación has been at its absolute peak - the worst it has been in sixteen years.  When the sun hits the air, clear vision extends for about twenty meters, and then there's haze. Across the street is fuzzy, the air tastes foul and scorches your throat and causes nasty gnawing headaches that linger for days.  Wheee.

            Since our one decent rain back in April, we've had nothing.  Bone-dry and static cling. Sweating through these last months before the winter rain has become an exercise in spiritual endurance - closing one's eyes and closing one's windows and steadfastly - for want of alternatives - not thinking about the air. We've had driving restrictions (40% of license plates ordered off the roads) for the first time in almost a decade, but as a solution it's cosmetic, and ignores the lumbering elephants of root causes and tacit acceptances of levels of industrial and auto output that could (and probably has) choke a horse.
            But last night the rains came. We were woken at 4:30 this morning - a tremendous gale had set off car alarms up and down the street.  The rain began, and the wind began to howl and whine and squeal through our (closed) bathroom windows and set the curtains on our (closed) living room windows flapping and billowing. (Living in an earthquake zone renders perimeter seals more of a theory than an actual thing. It doesn't help with the
contaminación either.)
            By ten this morning  the storm had blown itself out and settled down to a persistent, drenching rain. The streets and sidewalks were invisible - you could hardly tell where one started and the other stopped, because the platano orientale trees, which normally hang onto their brown leaves all through the winter, had had almost everything blown off at once!
            The poor concierges of all of the apartment buildings have had their work cut out for them.  Santiago possesses (in the spirit of possess insisting on too many esses) a mania for keeping one's pitch impossibly immaculate. A gentle autumn breeze is the concierge's bête noire- the most particularly dedicated sort will spend whole afternoons hovering just outside the front door, rake in hand, primed to pounce on each leaf as it drifts to earth.  It's personal.  

            Solid freezing rain wasn't going to put them off clearing their lawns.  No, Sir -
            But the rain fell and the leaves kept dropping, and wet sacks of sodden leaves in a sea of more leaves took on the most sad, futile aspect - 

            And by mid-day pretty much everyone had given up.
            Mr Tabubil and I splashed out through the rain and leaves up to our local supermarket, and came home and made the best brownies in the world and roasted a chicken and left the window open while we ate.  Fresh, clear air is worth dinner in down jackets - 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Copa América

Anyone foolish enough to run out of dish soap on the day Chile plays in the final of the Copa América deserves what they get. The shops are bananas.
            With extra banana.
            This is the first time in 99 years that Chile has made it to the finals, and the whole city has gone joyous fruit-salad levels of happy.

This afternoon I needed to go hop the metro for a run to the divine Tostaduria Talca.  The metro was utterly mad- trains slow, trains interrupted, trains jam packed past the gills with vuvuzelas spilling out the doors!
            The streets were even madder.  Hoots, horns, every other male in a tricolor hat or Red National Team Jersey.  team shirt. No tacos (traffic jams) however; that would interfere with getting home in time for kickoff.  It was the politest set of crazy streets I've ever seen!
            The wooden shelves of the tostaduria (a hole in the wall paradise, home to the best nuts, spices and dried fruit in the city, and purveyor of  dry-goods otherwise unknown and unobtainable in Chile) - were bare and echoing.  Not a single thing that could be even vaguely considered to fall into the category of a snack product was left.  The staff were weary and pushing shut the doors - I grabbed three packets of pecans (Pecans! Pecans in Chile!) that had been overlooked in a corner, and bolted.
            Coming back, the metro was even more ridiculous, but no chance of a taxi - the few yellow-topped cabs on the roads waved me off - they were heading out of the city and home as fast as polite traffic would carry them.

So I went back down into the metro and patiently waited for a train - and sat and dreaded my next stop, the supermarket  - for dish soap  - where I'd been reliably informed that the queues were worse than Dieciocho (18th of September - Chile's national day) or Christmas.
            In the crush of the train, there was a young man beat-boxing with a microphone.  The sound was bouncing off the walls, gonging off our eardrums, but he wasn't busking - just riding so high on anticipation that not singing was entirely out of the question.
            The supermarket was worse than I could have anticipated. Checkout queues half-way to the warehouse, and carts piled high with cuts of meat, crates of booze, and house-size packets of potato chips like the world was coming to an end and it was potato chips that would see us through the apocalypse and out the other side.  More potato chips than I could have believed possible.
            And I walked home through waving flags and car horns.
            And my whole block smells like BBQ and beer.
            Life is tremendous.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Six Shots, Three months, Sleep.

All of them, backdated to yesterday. Or there will be repercussions. Morning breath - lots of it. All the time.

via. catmoji

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Introducing Surf Sounds: Poems by Roger Higgins

Today is all about a party invitation – 

I am very proud to be introducing Surf Sounds, the newest volume of poetry by Australian poet Roger Higgins!

Tonight we’re celebrating the book’s south American launch.  Please join us the Café Musetti in Providencia for an evening of fine wine and finer words!

Jenno, the fabulous new owner of Musetti has selected some seriously nice wines to sip on his primary-colored sofas, and the evening is going to be as solidly pleasurable as Roger’s poetry. 
Come on by!

Date: Thursday 23 April 2015

Time: 20h30 – 23h00 

Venue: Cafe Musetti, Santa Magdalena 87, Local 1, Providencia, Santiago 

Roger Higgins is an Australian who has traveled widely and lived in (alphabetically) Canada, Chile, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, and the USA.  Roger is an engineer by vocation, and has utilized his pen rather more than his camera on many of his travels, bringing together his physical and emotional responses to the environments and situations which he has encountered.  First versions may be written on paper napkins or pieces of paper tablecloths, the backs of boarding passes or the notes screen of a mobile phone. Roger has been published in both magazines and journals. His irst collection Hieroglyphs, was published by Friendly Street Poets 2008. His most recent collection Surf Sounds, is published by Liquid Light Press 2014.

Roger Higgins' poetry is both day by day and exotic. The poet washes his socks and jocks when he showers. He prefers description, narrative and irony to self-dramatization; there’s a lot more to Surf Sounds than ocean, beach and desert.
~ Graham Rowlands, Poet

Surf Sounds can be purchased through amazon, Liquid light Press and Lulu.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Autumn Rains Bring Unexpected Gifts

Thunder!  Lightning!  Power Outages (small ones). RAIN!
            We have had our first rain of the Autumn season and it was a good one - howling torments and running around like mad closing summer-open windows as the rain poured in.

The morning after, I sent this email to Mum: 
            This morning we discovered that our open windows had let in a piteous trail of refugees - all the summer spiders and pill bugs, coming in out of the rain. As for ants  - the ones that live in the bougainvillea outside the bathroom window got flooded out and headed straight in a body towards dryer pastures.
            Mr Tabubil met them before I did. There was much howling.
"They're coming in EVERYWHERE!"  
            "What are? From where?!"
            "Ants!  Lots and lots of ants!  I don't KNOW!  EVERYWHERE!  Do something!"
            I squeezed a lemon so I could break their trail with citric acid and went in. I've found.... six ants so far.

            A very large part of me would love to see Mr Tabubil go work for a year in Papua New Guinea for a while, just for a sense of perspective.

Mum wrote back:

            Mr Tabubil needs a good tropical experience all right - with ants and cockroaches and spiders and geckos - and snakes of course. Did I tell you what happened to your father when he opened his suitcase on our return from PNG last week? In front of him and myself, a gigantic cockroach climbed out of his valise. It was awfully big and I had to go thumping after it with a shoe. 
            This cockroach had hitchhiked its way across  border crossings to lend to strut its stuff in front of all the not quite as gigantic, Australian cockroaches. The bold effrontery of this specimen.  I am sure it had plans to improve on the gene pool of Australia's cockroaches. I did eventually lay waste to its plans with a final and more enraged assault. I suppose in a way, it's speed and cunning, pitted against - ???  --  I guess I could only offer 'size', gave it the huge advantage.  My size meant nothing against its deviousness.
            Have you noticed how hard it is to exterminate a determined insect!?   

Yes, I surely have.  Mr Tabubil has as well.  Mum and I can't really talk, of course.  My deep-freeze Canadian Mr Tabubil might be climbing the furniture but he holds cards of his own.  When the giggling starts, all he has to do is mention Mum's Canadian Bear bells.  And bear stick.  And bear flare.  And the car she picked out because it looked square and solid enough that a hungry bear wouldn't be able to roll it on the first go...