Fertig’s new poems

“Poet, publisher and long-time supporter of the writing community, Salt Spring Island-based Mona Fertig (left) has released her first collection of poems in 14 years.” FULL STORY


#33 Handshakes R Us

April 28th, 2015

Hi, darlin,’

We’re having another glorious “sucker hole.” Sun is shining brightly; already the roofs are starting to steam. The wet on the leaves is glistening; my lawn looks as if it’s covered with diamonds. My cat has demands I open the door so he can streak outside to do cat-things.

It won’t last. All too soon the black clouds will race in from the sea, block the sun, and dump absolute gallons of water on us again. But we’ve had such a long spell of absolutely magical weather that I was overcome by optimism and headed out into my non-garden.

I’ve learned the hard way that over-anything leads to three days of bed rest and an increased intake of pain pills, but I did persevere, day after day, a bit each morning, a bit each afternoon, and fight the urge in the evening.  Got the winter weed dug and hoe’d out, turned soil, hoe’d soil, raked soil, fuss fuss fuss. Then I planted a row of bok choi and another of chard.

I soaked some sugar peas and planted them, too. My daughter warned me. She always insists anyone who plants anything before May 24 is just asking for disappointment. But did I listen? The weather witch turned her other face on us. The skies opened, the wind howled. There is fresh snow on the peaks. My daughter was nice enough NOT to say, “I told ya so.”

At least my beets are poking through the dirt in my non-greenhouse. The salad greens are doing well, too, and the red-bordered mustard greens are getting ready to take over the known world. When they’re small they make a great addition to a salad, they have a pleasant almost peppery taste, added to cole slaw they are incredible. If you haven’t tried them, you should. Let them grow a bit bigger and you can steam them like chard or spinach and while, sadly, the red disappears in the steaming, they are excellent, just butter them well and maybe a drop or two of malt vinegar.

The pink fawn lilies have been glorious. The ornamental Japanese plum and cherry were beautiful until the weather changed. Now the street is decorated with pink blossom confetti.


I’ve wondered more than a few times how some people wind up “stars” and some don’t.  It’s a question that arises each time I see Nicholas Cage plodding through another movie.  He’s the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, so that probably explains him. I just found it out. Everyone else in the known world was probably already aware.


There’s a local independent on-line magazine/newspaper The Tyee which comes in my e-mail. Some of the articles are so-so, others are very good, and it’s always a treat to read a film review done by Dorothy Woodend. Pity there’s no market for a published anthology of her critiques. She’s an excellent writer, getting better all the time.

Getting a book properly published is increasingly difficult. I put it down to the proliferation of chain bookstores. I could go on at length about that. Better not to. Better to just ask people to please, PLEASE, when you buy a book, get it from an independent bookstore, not from a chain outlet.

I just went to the post office. There was an “item” for me.  Got it home, wrestled with the strongest and most resistant staples I’ve encountered. It was the 40th anniversary issue of Raincoast Chronicles from Harbour Publishing with an introduction by publisher and inventor, Howard White. Go get it!!

Harbour, Howie and Mary and I go back a long, long way. For years we didn’t even have a contract of any kind, just a West Coast handshake. Then some lawyer or something insisted so we sign papers but, for the life of me, I couldn’t even begin to guess where my copy of those papers might be. If you can’t trust someone’s handshake, then best you don’t do any kind of business with them.

I’m up to my ears in the anniversary issue, laughing at times, shaking my head at other times. If the BC department of education had any hint of good sense, the complete collection of Raincoast Chronicles would be in every school library in the province.

Of course, with this pack of Philistines in Victoria, we’re lucky if there’s still a school library at all. I’ve been told I’m “too political” so I won’t delve into that pot too deeply either.


We have a “free store” in Tahsis. It’s basically a shed, open at the front, and the idea is if you’ve got something you don’t need or want, and it’s still working, rather than deep six it in the landfill, take it to the free store, someone else might make good use of it.

People who are moving out of town often take furniture and appliances there because our road out is often horrible and it’s more expensive to ship stuff to the new location than it would be to buy replacement when you get where you’re going. Unfortunately, into each pat of butter, a fly.

There are a couple of absolute arstles who go to the free store and snip off the cords of appliances, so the article becomes junk and has to go to the landfill. These gomers take the cords home, burn off the insulation, and save the copper wire which they eventually take in to Campbell River and sell. Cheap creeps!

Some of us know who these scum are but there’s no proof.  Be nice if the Village would install a camera so we could show CCTV footage identifying the barrel-bellied scum suckers.

One human fireplug delves into the recycling bins, as deep as his arm can reach, and hauls out cans and bottles which he puts into black garbage bags and then stores in his yard until he has a big enough load to make it worth his grimy while to take them to ‘town’ and collect the deposit on them. That deposit should go to the Village to help offset the cost of the recycling programme, so this tub of guts is really stealing from all of us but, amazing to me, he still has the bald-faced audacity to go out in public.

What disappoints me even more than his perfidy is that other people, nice people, actually still speak to him as if he was normal or acceptable. To me, he’s a parasite.

Take care, darlin’.

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.

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