“Women who sit, unwashed” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Wednesday April 22, 2020
5 minutes
Do You Know Any Lazy Women?
Cynara Geissler

Dina sits, unwashed, at her kitchen table in her red terry cloth robe. It’s three in the afternoon. She spent the morning in the garden with her hands tickling worms and dandelion roots. She’s never had a garden before. She’s also never spent five weeks alone, untouched, unmarked by the whiskers of connection with her Mom and Dad, her best friend Dan, her neighbours Ellie and Mark. She decided she wanted to grow peas and lettuce, carrots and tomatoes. Start there. She sprouted things in little pots on her window sill before transferring them to the raised beds she built out of old wine boxes. She is not a handy person, or doesn’t consider herself to be one. Maybe she is. She built those beds and used drill and even got under her sink on her back, screwed and fiddled and fixed a leak. She took a shower after coming inside, watched the dirt circle down the drain.

“Pink Pearl” by Julia on her couch

Sunday April 12, 2020
5 minutes
from the Dixon eraser

They called her Pearl
she liked to wear a string of them to dinner when her grand babies visited

Her grand babies were all grown up and and she took great pride in filling their glasses with red wine

She liked that they could raise a glass to one another, laugh at the same jokes, and see each other as friends

Pearl would often mix Cocoa-cola into her wine
she liked things sweet as can be
added a teaspoon of sugar to her water, same as she did for her grand babies when they were still babies

Sometimes she would fall asleep at the table in mid laugh
her dyed blonde curls grazing the glass

Sometimes they would shake her awake and others they would leave her there

“we should not trust the masses” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday August 15, 2019
5 minutes

“Do not trust the masses”, Domenic says, drinking his dry white wine and scratching his chin. His beard is turning grey. I haven’t seen him since I was a teenager, and he looks the same but a bit more pickley.

“I don’t, I’m just trying to – …” Domenic puts his hand on my hand, rested on the tabletop.

“You must follow your own sense, or one day you’ll wake up and you won’t know how you got to where you got to. That is not a good feeling. Take it from me.” He finishes his wine. My mother tops him up. She’s been sitting quietly across the table, watching.

“I believe that we can have our own sense, and be contributing members of society,” I look up at the starry sky.

“while whittling cedar” by Julia on R’s couch

Friday, November 30, 2018
5 minutes
Finnish Schooling
Kayla Czaga

I know a woman who is in the woods right now teaching other women how to wield an axe, chop lumber, and defend themselves against bears and maniacal cretins from the underworld. She is a close talker- a rub your shoulder with her shoulder and make your space smaller type. She is a wine woman. She has cracked purple stained lips and her teeth to match. She doesn’t know her breath smells like the combination of stale and obvious. She is the one in the woods. She also knows about authentic movement and healing through the art of not dancing and not nothing. She was nice and I could talk to her. She explained it once after she had some wine. I think she was wearing a fanny pack made out of a rabbit’s foot or the rabbit’s foot was hanging from it? She was the kind to be wearing either. For the story’s sake I’m succumbing to hyperbole but believe me I was there. I saw her stand beside the chandelier. She was bigger than a tree.

“Three hundred years” by Julia at her desk

Friday September 28, 2018
5 minutes
From a quote by Barack Obama

Tonight I walked by a raccoon party. There’s some symbolism already, K tells me, and I should probably start looking this stuff up. It’s 3 raccoons at first and then I look to the left and there are 3 more in on it. One skunk. There is symbolism about skunks too, I’m sure, and I take a photo cause I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do. K tells me to look up skunks and raccoons and snakes. Together? No, K, says, just when you get a moment. Don’t make it your life’s work or something. Like you? I joke, but K isn’t laughing at all. K has drank most of her blood red wine and is asking if she can have what’s in my glass. I give it to her cause she bought the bottle and I care more about looking up the goddesses and whatever associated with the little lawn party I feel like I was a part of. No snakes on the lawn, mostly in text books and on medallions, and in stories. K wants me to write the story of my first day on earth. I don’t want to tell her that it might be pretty boring. It’ll start with Cold Cold Cold and then maybe lead into Cry Cold Cry. K isn’t impressed with my comedy. She says I am wildly talented but have a chip on my shoulder and sorry for saying so but it’s true. I think she might be right. I wish I didn’t give her the rest of my wine.

“Mangiamo Italiano!” by Julia at Starbucks

Tuesday June 14, 2016 at Starbucks
5 minutes
The front page of the Westender

They are sitting around a long table, glass bottles filled with fresh spring water from the well down the road. They are drinking Limoncello before noon. They are cracking jokes in dialect, English, Italian, and a combination of all three. They are sprinkling extra Parmigiana on their pasta shuta, adding extra wine, cheaper than water, to their tiny cups. Some of them add sugar. Some of them fall asleep while drinking it…
They are pouring olive oil on everything, going up for seconds before there are none left, and passing the soft bread, still warm from the hands that broke it just seconds ago. They are telling the same stories that have been told for decades, still expecting the same laughs, the same response even though everyone there has heard them in rotation. They are quiet and trying not to eat as much, or quiet and trying to take it all in, or quiet because there is so much love and it speaks volumes in the moments where only faint chewing is audible.

“No need to hurry” by Sasha on her porch

Saturday, July 18, 2015
5 minutes
From an email

No need to hurry, Si. You’ll trip! Your shoelaces are undone… Silas! Shit. Come here. Come here. You’re alright, you’ll be alright. Shhh… Sh… Mikey and Lizz are coming for supper. What shall we make. Burritos? How bout burritos? And you and Mikey can have fizzies and me and Lizz will have grown-up fizzes with wine. Oh. I guess we should stop at the liquor store, then. Or… No, can’t ask Lizz to bring, she’s always so low on cash. Not sure why she doesn’t ask Greg for more spending money. It’s not like he doesn’t have more than enough! And then he takes the kids to Marine Land and gets all the glory while Lizz is left – … Silas? Nevermind. Honey, don’t pick that up. That’s garbage! SILAS! Don’t you dare put that in your mouth. There’ll be no fizzy for you!

“I got my new hair” by Julia at Grange Park

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
5 minutes
Overheard at grange park

Well Lacey left the bottle of Carnivore at my house and she knew I would be helpless against it so now I blame her for everything that happened after she left me alone with it. We had been talking about hair cuts and just doing it ourselves. You see where this is headed? You blame Lacey too? Yeah. She thinks it’s hilarious but she doesn’t have to walk around like this freak show that is now my reflection.
Anyway, it went like this:
I drank the wine. The rest of it. And I’m a light weight. So I was wasted.
I saw the scissors. Sticking out of the knife block. They called my name. I answered them.
I went to the bathroom. I laughed at my blood mouth. My jungle attack mouth. I pulled my hair out from the messy bun on top of my head. I said out loud to the mirror, “Let’s do this.”
I snipped one piece at a time. It was going well. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was playing.
The next thing I knew, one whole side was completely missing.
So then I had to even it all out…

“always more for less!” By Julia on Jessica and Rick’s couch

Thursday, April 15, 2015
5 minutes
A Food Basics store sign

Shondra decided to leave a half drunk bottle of Trapiche right beside my computer. It was a nice thing that she did until the contents of the bottle found its way in all the cracks of the keyboard. I was mad at Shondra for being so thoughtful, cause if she had just finished the bottle, there would have been no spillage, or ruinage of my very expensive new laptop. However, she is a good person and it’s not her fault, per-say, that now my life is in shambles. No, that’s not fair. It’s not the worst thing to happen to me. It’s not like I lost a limb or a loved one. Just all my pertinent information, work, and browsing history. I hear how it sounds. I’m the dirt-bag for even saying it. I spilled the wine. It was me. I can’t be trusted. I can’t do anything. Shondra, I’m sorry. I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at me. I’m always more mad at me than anyone but.. I guess I like to first put blame elsewhere cause I’m so fed up with being so bad.

“For the Canadian Girl!” by Julia at Parco Delle Energie in Rome

Sunday September 14, 2014
5 minutes
From a note from a new friend

When the light in the room was enough to make out who was who but not distinguish any defined features, we traded partners after the daze of wine had begun to take shape, and the after effects of the powder we dropped into our glasses started to tingle our skin. I had wanted him from the beginning but I never let on because it felt unfair to her. She had no idea that he had wanted me too, so I pretended not to notice that our looks across the pool the night before had lasted longer than they maybe should have. Tonight when it was her idea, in love with the drug and the moonlight giving her courage, none of us said no for fear of complicating an easy reward. We moved slowly, finally to each other’s lover and sat slowly down beside the new arms and legs, the new heartbeat, the new pulse. She wanted mine and I wanted hers. I always always wanted hers.

“you have been invited” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday Aug 11, 2014
5 minutes
from an e-mail

You have been invited to the convergence of beauties
You will come wearing a blue cloak
The stars will twinkle
You will come in glass slippers
The earth will sigh
You have been invited to the convergence of beauties
You are one
No matter how you try to forget it
Sipping and smoking and snorting
You are one
I’ll remind you
Over jars of mulberry wine
Brewed by brothers
We will dance
When the moon rises high
When the darkness is at its most dense
We will dance

“train service is suspended” by Sasha in her garden

Friday June 6, 2014
5 minutes
A tweet by the TTC

All I can hear, over and over again in my head is that automated voice… “Train service is suspended between Ossington and Dufferin with a passenger emergency onboard a train. Shuttle buses will be operating between – ” Are you okay? Are you going to be okay? All I can hear is the sound of my heart in my ears, in my throat, the pulsing. “Chloe? Chloe! Are you alright? Chloe!” We were just playing around. We were just… We went to the kegger at the Sorority that Vanessa’s sister was apart of. We didn’t know that… “Butt chug it! Butt chug it!!” There were guys there, too, you know. Not just… She’s a daredevil. I have that caution gene but she… doesn’t. I went into the walk-in closet with her and this sister there… or whatever you call it and… Half a box of wine went up her ass. Sorry. But that’s what happened. And the other girl was laughing and I was like, “Chloe? Chloe! Are you alright?” And she said that she was. She felt wasted but “all good”. We left about an hour later and I didn’t know that she went into the bathroom and did another… one. Then, when we got on the subway she blacked out and she fell and on her way down she smacked her face on the edge of a seat and it gave her a bloody nose and…

“roasted fennel” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 15, 2014
5 minutes
A post on Instagram

Sam made salmon and roasted fennel last night. “I’m gonna make you dinner,” he said, a carry bag over his shoulder and the car keys swinging around his index finger. He returned from the market with a grin and a wink. I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be an Oscar,” he whispered into my ear. “Don’t be a grouch,” he means. What a dweeb. I was working on a deadline for an editor I am desperately hoping to impress. “I’m going to keep the house exceptionally clean,” said Sam, mopping the kitchen floor. “You’re an angel,” I repeat daily. He is. He is an angel. “Dinner’s ready!” Sam calls and when I enter the kitchen, a few minutes later, he’s using his grandmother’s dish-ware and has lit three candles. He’s turned the lights down and he’s poured me a glass of wine. “You’re so dedicated. You inspire me,” he says, kissing me. He tastes like he’s been testing things, making sure they’re flavoured just right. A dash of paprika, a stroke of miso on the fish, roasted garlic, fennel brushed with olive oil and rosemary.

“everyone is committed” by Julia at her kitchen table

Tuesday March 18, 2014
5 minutes
from an essay by Deborah Stein about collaboration on howlround.com

Round the table we sit, Liddy pissed off because she still has to sit at the kiddy table made worse by the fact that her name rhymes with it. Adrianna can’t move her face because of the recent Botox and so Ed keeps making jokes just to see her not laugh. Darla is still in the shitter after eating a wad of mashed potatoes because Tyson dared her to defy her lactose intolerance. Mom is singing her happy song because she’s trying not to go insane and Dad is trying to get the kids to stop trying to undred Liddy’s hair. The food is mediocre and I’m trying to give Liddy looks of encouragement but she hates me most of all right now. Maybe because I left. Maybe because I came back. I never know with her. I sneak pour her a glass of wine and try to pass it over without anyone noticing.

“primarily unoaked” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday January 16, 2014
5 minutes
the drinks card at FRESH

She’s been unoaked by him
She’s been de-barrelled by him
She’s been popped
She’s been bubbled
She’s been released by him
I watched it all from behind the lens
From under the table
From the kitchen
(Them in the living room)
I saw the lights dim and the candles glow
I heard nothing but the whisper that says
too much
She’s forgotten about her bunny
Her love of roast beef dinners on Sunday
She’s distracted by the quake of her chest
Against his
She’s dreaming only of the freckles on his back

“modern doughnuts” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday December 21, 2013
5 minutes
From the Jelly doughnut store sign on College

There’ll be sushi
baked brie
figs and honey
you and me

I’m going to make you a spread like you’ve never seen before

I never thought I’d delight in setting a table
In finding an antique table cloth at the flea market
And stitching it where it was worn
In lighting the candles
And decanting the wine

I wish I’d been there when you were born
Maybe that sounds far out
I wish I’d been the one to catch you
To wash you
To see you first

“there are many who are experts” by Julia at Cafe Pamenar

Friday October 18, 2013 at Cafe Pamenar
5 minutes
The PACT Conference 2007 Keynote Speech
Brian Quirt

According to Zara’s research, and by research I mean her general observations of random people in her German class, she had concluded that most people with problems concentrating were not merely under-stimulated, but boring individuals. Zara’s mother used to say, There is no such thing as boredom! Look around you. Don’t you see a world of opportunity? Then she would pass out and drop her half-full wine glass onto the rug and stain a new section of the living room, creating a beautiful array of disappointment and tactless parenting. Of course, people who drink in excess, were never bored, Zara speculated. How could one with so much fear of living in reality ever be bored? She meant it as sarcastic judgement at first and then re-evaluated. Maybe drinkers weren’t truly bored… but scared. Maybe the two didn’t go hand in hand after all. Zara watched her mother drape herself across the lounge chair she made her father buy her three summers ago when it got “too hot to stand”.

“happy hour” by Julia at the Mariot in Montreal

Saturday , August 17, 2013
5 minutes
from the sandwich board at McLean’s pub in Montreal

Kaleigh came up to the terrace with her lap top and a bottle of merlot. She was expecting to finish everything before Aidan came to join her for a drink and a shrimp skewer. Aidan had promised Kaleigh the shrimp skewer ever since losing a bet about Swiss Chalet and the contents of their gravy. Somehow the shrimp skewer was more of an acceptable payment. Maybe because Kaleigh liked Aidan, and maybe because she hadn’t eaten since last night thanks to her refrigerator that was on the fritz again, along with her water, her Internet, and her cable. She was greeted instead by a group of idiots without shirts, enjoying their own personal happy hour overlooking the city, popping not bottles, but cans, of Coors Light.Kaleigh waited to start her wine but also felt like an exhibit, still dressed in her blazer and heels.

“What the hell was I looking for, anyway?!” by Julia at Sambuca Grill

Monday, July 22, 2013 at Sambuca grill
5 minutes
99 Ways to Tell a Story
Matt Madden

I think you and my mother would be best friends, so call her, and when you try to hang up, she’ll tell you her life story or just reiterate the entire conversation as if you didn’t just listen to her say it for an hour, and then when she says she’s got to go, you’ll literally do the exact same thing. So then at the end of it, you’ll know everything about her, and she’ll know everything about you, and the next thing that happens will be a date for just the two of you to go on a wine tasting in Niagara On The Lake where the both of you will not drink even a little bit of wine because neither of you really enjoy drinking or being drunk, and instead you’ll just walk around in circles talking about how nice the vineyards are. She’ll laugh at all your jokes and then try to get you to tell all the same ones she just heard again because that was fun enough so why bother with anything new? And you’ll listen to her tell you all the jokes she knows from the Reader’s Digest, only she’ll leave out all the punchlines or tell all the punchlines first because she’s never been that great with telling jokes that require the listener to follow along. And when I finally get put back into the equation, I’ll ask if the two of you had a nice time together, and you’ll both just nod and smile and say, “yeah, it was nice.” And I’ll be mad for no reason because I was hoping you two would have bonded better, but instead you just talked about accents and blueberries.

“Don’t ignore” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday May 1, 2013
5 minutes
from a sign on the subway for Bladder Cancer Canada

Don’t ignore the signs, he tells me, braiding bread before brushing it with egg whites. I don’t believe in signs, I say, peeling a sweet potato. You’re ridiculous, he says, closing the oven door without looking over. His parents will be here in two hours. I’d hoped we’d have sex, to ease the tension. Hey, I say. Wanna…? He furrows his brow. Later, he says. Okay… I spin lettuce dry. I whisk together olive oil, lemon, honey, dijon, salt. He comes up behind he and puts his hands on my stomach. I suck in. Babe, I’ve got to put the chicken in. He walks away, slowly. Where are you going, I call. I need to run to the wine store. He’s out the door quickly. He must be wearing sandals. I hate it when he does that. There’s still snow on the ground for God sake. I get a call ten minutes later, as I’m shoving cloves of garlic up the chicken’s butt, and dousing her in butter and rosemary. Italian? He asks, the connection bad. Spanish, I shout. Why are you yelling, he asks. I thought…

“As a last word” by Sasha on her couch

Sunday, April 7, 2013
5 minutes
How to Shoot a Movie Story
Arthur L. Gaskill and David A. Englander

I dreamt in Spanish, finally. I’ve been waiting for it to happen, wondering, wishing, for years. Since 2002, April, when the cherry blossoms filled the park. It doesn’t matter that that was the year we met, it’s simply irrelevant. I’d taken a bath before bed, a hot one, and I’d laid there until I was prune-y and half asleep. I’d drunk half a bottle of wine, cheap, given to me as a gift. “Never buy yourself wine, chocolate, cigarettes or marijuana,” my mother frequently told me. “But use each, in moderation,” she would wink. You’d taught me how to count in Spanish before we went to Seville. I didn’t want to have to rely on you to pay for things (even though it was my money) or negotiate. I was better at both. I would practise counting on my bike ride to work, while eating my lunch, making dinner. I didn’t like your hair short, the way you had it then, but I liked your clean-shaven face so… I was trying to be less picky. I learned more as we travelled through Spain, as we stayed with your aunts and uncles and second-cousins. “I want my last words to be this language,” I’d said, late one night, lying beside you, trying to only touch toes because it was so hot. “No, no…” You’d said, “Your last words should be in your mother tongue.” The beginning of the end, I suppose. The beginning of the beginning.

“supplement” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
5 minutes
the Emergen-C packet

My grandfather says the following. It treated me well. Trust it.
“Supplement your post-secondary education with travelling the globe, especially to the tiny spots that are mostly untrodden and left alone, the ones that are small dots on the map in unbolded script. Go to a restaurant there that is not on a main road and ask the waiter to order you his favourite dish, as well as a glass of their best wine. Try their coffee or their fish or their pesto or their lamb shank – whatever the specialty. Talk to your waiter. Ask him about his family. More often than not, this will result in an invitation to his home. If so, buy a gift for his wife and a toy for his children. Here is where the magic will take place. They will want to practise their English and you will want to try more of that delicious local specialty! Stay late, after the children are asleep. Share that cigar. Take the long way back to your hotel and stop to look up at the stars, or listen to the ocean, or smell the laundress hard at work pressing tomorrow’s shirts and slacks. The next morning go for a long walk, around the winding streets, up the mountainside, down to the water. Find me a postcard in a shop. Even though I’ll be long dead, mail to me, I know it will find it’s way to wherever it is that I am.”

‘estate-bottled Italian wine’ by Sasha at her desk

Saturday, December 15, 2012
5 minutes
La Storia (Italian Wine Then and Now)

It didn’t matter that she and he don’t speak the same language language. They both spoke wine and pasta, they both spoke kisses and gnocchi, they both spoke rain and skinny-dipping off the edge of the pier. They’d met at the beach in Manarola, she reading a book in English (ashamedly a trashy bargain bin find that she’d actually spend way to much on) and he, hoping to learn her… language. “Where you from?” He’d asked. She’d been used to it. She’d also been used to keeping Italian men at bay by brushing off the question and returning to her espresso, or her pizza, or, in this case, her Poor Little Bitch Girl. He’d persisted. Then she’d realized that he had a scar going across his stomach that she wished to learn about. Scars had been a life-long interest for her, maybe because she had a fifteen inch one of her own on her back from a scoliosis operation when she was fourteen. They’d gone for wine and fish that night, at his uncle’s small trattoria. Now it was twelve days later. She’d cancelled three hostel reservations and four train tickets. His mother called her, “Bella”.