Monday, June 28, 2010

Cleo and Hans.

Quarter to seven Monday evening house clean. Cat Power spins, my lipstick plant is blooming in Chanel rouge abundancy (good omen, non?) and things are in their places. This is a good feeling. Quick windows away from the computer (even now, between these sentences I whip away to clean Jess' wheel set with Pledge and a soft rag; clean the toilet with the pink stuff that smells like cologne [not necessarily bad cologne]). Fresh coffee with a little milk and a little honey on the right, one million pens on the left. A golden bird perches on the empty ashtray and I can't help but thinking of the bush. Golden light, loud birds, land aplenty. Here I am, after all of that.

With one gut feeling and the quickest decision I have ever made, I came home from there (again) for the last time. And suddenly life is normal again. At nine this morning I was called a 'city slicker' and later on in the morning after my little sister's convocation, M and I ate breakfast outside like it was nothing. Two cats in a diner picking at their eggs. This is everything these days. We are honeymooning, knowing that someday there will be really hard time lapses. But today is one of those really good days. Dear wind, thanks a cool mil.

Today after Mitch left for work, I cruised around on my bike with my new bike helmet (it feels nearly equestrian) and picked up the last of my photos from tree camp. Black and white. Five rolls (two of which have a few double exposure mash ups). I am incredibly pleased with the turnout, especially now that Creme has opened the doors of the darkroom. To be honest, I haven't printed a damn photo in a darkroom (black and white that is) since Grade nine. But I remember the feeling of exposing and cutting and slipping in the paper in that light tight room, digits moving dials in the dark just so, watching the photo paper develop in their respective plastic baths. The steps? Long lost information, but I am excited to experiment by myself under those familiar red lights. In retrospect, it was probably back then in Grade nine under those red lights in Morris, Manitoba where I first knew photography was something I would always do.

Tomorrow I am going to hit the studio because I want to, not because I have to. I found some canvas bags in our closet while in a cleaning frenzy and they will be available for purchase on Canada Day. Actually, I am kind of in limbo until work opens up again so I figure I might as well practice printing. The idea of even lifting a pen to paper has been too much (watching M draw seems to be enough for me) of late, but I can also feel something building. I am ready to build something. What? I have no idea. Today I saw paper flower chains on the internet and felt that familiar flutter rise up inside like a great wingspan. Feeling inspired is as close to being a cool millionaire I will ever come. I bet having a lot of cash money would actually be exhausting. Keep telling yourself that Megs.

But seriously, I am back on the poor again (especially since bidding the bush adieu). It is not that terrible. I don't mind being poor. We live within our means for the most part and eat out too often and laugh at our own simplicity. Maybe someday we'll be able to afford to grocery shop at Organza, buy film and records every week, eat Vietnamese anytime we are hungry for it, and have soy vanilla bean icecream in the freezer on the regular.

Topic change. Maybe it is the recent transition, or the air, or all the Little Mama's in my life carrying their own babechildren, but having my own babies has been heavy on the brain again. Yikes. A forever creeping shadow, this topic. It lurks in corners and jumps out in the form of that tiny portuguese girl eating mashed bananas off the table at Stellas, or that boy baby I saw on the street yesterday who looked seventy, I can't stop thinking about it. I am not ready. I can't afford my own life. I can barely do paperwork or file my bills. Apartment hunting is daunting as hell. Having a kid is out of the question at this point. But that is not to say that I don't think about it now and then. Now, more specifically.

Cleo, where did you come from? You do crosswords with your pops while he tells you stories about those bats on this right bicep: Lucy, Pierre and Hans. You love Hans the best. So do I.

And then like a dying balloon, back to reality I fall holding strips of negatives clasped tight between my hands. Tomorrow will be more productive than today. Oh. And for those interested, I have started cooking in the kitchen of the Black Sheep diner. Good women in there. To me, there is nothing better than cooking in a summer kitchen with good women. I have a feeling I have a lot to learn in the next two months. These are my last months, this is where I want to be. Winnipeg, you beauty!

Rebecca, I miss you.
Andrea, I think of you and yours every morning.
Loco, I can hardly wait.
JJ, I can hardly wait.
Ronny Rouge, you're the one.
Mitch, you're my other one.
Grandma, I love you.
Maya, soon.

Here are some new photos. Now, more than ever, I would really like to put together an exhibit. I need some funding. Enjoy.

With so much feeling, Margot.

Reading to planters while the laundry spins; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.
Hotel Kenricia; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.
Pware on the Ripper; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Day off at the Sioux camp; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Heacock you beauty; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Dylan and Kim in Kim's closet; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Fire and Theft as Jailbus; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Train time.

On the googles again. This is my beauty, Mitch. He is pretty awesome.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We are each other's home.

Pat Buchanan; Dryden, Ontario, 2010.
Grassby and Molly; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Emma does the wash; Dryden, Ontario, 2010.
Photo by Kim Masters; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
I am home. I am no longer on the end of a phone attached to nothing or something stationary, far, far, far away from the arms I longed to be tucked into. Fox tucked into a fox. We are just here, at home, as if there was no time spent apart at all. I walked into our home last night with my canvas bag sliding down on that familiar bedroom floor. Our home. My home, his home, ours. It was tidy and smelled like it always does and just that tiny bit was so relieving to me. One hot shower and a quick breath when I saw that there were two (not one) fresh bars of my favorite soap in the holder. Roses and peppermint, mixed together, two paper wrappers on the floor, spent. Besides the soap score, there was pink lemonade and health juice in the fridge, with eggs too! I towelled dry and walked around airing out the damp that has tucked itself into my body in the last few weeks. Springsteen's Nebraska made me realize how stubborn I was and with that, quick as lightening I called out. He came running, I heard him on the stairs and I sat like a cat on the bed waiting expectantly and averted, and with a great crashing he ran right into me.

Welcome home, thank you. This is my face two weeks ago. Soft and tired, relaxed in front of a conifer tree line.Getting here was something else. Molly and I slept inside King of the Road (work truck) with Klinck and each time I rose out of sleep into the confusing delirium of empty stomach and heavy hearted tiredness, I felt sad looking at Klinck asleep with his head on the CB radio like the hardest pillow in the world. We waited and waited for those damn Greyhounds to come from opposite directions of Canada whooshing passed each other on the number 17 at 3 in the morning. They never came. Klinck and the King of the Road shook us out like loose change at near five in the morning and I stumbled around the pavement with eyes unseeing in a dress while talking to my dad on the phone. "Dad, the bus never came" as I walked weeping. Hopelessness built. "It's okay, you are okay", okay, okay, okay. He sent the best rescue crew he could think of: my mother and her sister. With much honking and hooting like only Reimer women are capable of, they roared up to my place at the Village Corner in BF Nowhere, Ontario (Vermillion Bay) after many hours of attempted (and quite unconvincing) hitch hiking (with three outfit changes to boot) on my part. Eventually I threw in the hitching towel and suntanned in a bed of daisies on a ridge off the highway. Vitamin D is the best vitamin. Finally with my dirty body and tired face in the back seat, these women in the front tossed so many news items and all their favorite anecdotes backwards, into my lap on the three hour ride home. My hands were full, my heart fullest. One item of utter joy and one of utter sadness. The sad item was so sad but also somewhere in the back forty of my mind quietly appropriate. She chose, she used the last of her might to take flight. Good bye Marj! You were so interesting, I loved serving you and your mother! Fuck! What a woman, what a writer. And then the first item: one of great joy!

A new baby, a new tiny creation made by two of my favorite people out of all of the people I know. Tiny overalls in quick stripes, soon to be upon the shoulders of the wee tickly version of yourselves. Congratulations is just a word tossed (with much meaning), but this is so much more than words. These are the days of our lives. My friends are having babies, graduating and moving to BERLIN, my sister is getting married, Mitch and I are blast moving. Everyone is very alive these days. These are great days of a great year. Year of the fire breathing Tiger, you devil. I am learning at the speed of light it seems. I want to shoot everything. It was incredibly frightening when I realized a few weeks ago in the bush that this is what I want to do. This is the thing, the path. I am finding my way I think.

The Attack in Black with Baby Eagle split spins round, Mitch draws in the yellowness of 3 p.m. thundershower bedroom lamp light (Winnipeg is shrouded in a pearly grey weather system right now, wrapped up tight like new wool and looking at it from my position on the bed, I can't help but think of all those beauties planting hard right now), and in this environment I write with my golden hoops the size of the Cincinnati ghetto wagging to the rhythm of the drums. Good album, and how. We are working within the same room and damn, it feels good. He is drawing the tender face of a woman called simply "The Ladybug Lady" ripped out of the obituary section with conviction. He draws with conviction and I watch with awe. The first lines of her face are shaping up beautifully. It is always something to be privilaged to watch a person draw. Such intimate and brave lines, those first strokes. No no no, how can I translate the shapes in my head onto paper? Mitch's flow onto paper in a steady stream. Good man. It is nice to be back in our nest (understatement of eternity).

The first photos of the bush have come. Many more will come tomorrow and then again in a couple of weeks. I am very pleased. Already these faces have pressed themselves into all the crannies that should house book knowledge and quick mathematics. Practicality you're OUT. Portraits you're IN. Enjoy. I am thinking of putting together a Tree Camp photo show before I move. Feedback is welcome, as there are hundreds to sort through on Flickrtown.

Jailbus; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

Ric; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

Stu burns boxes; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Pat and Emma walk into the Block; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Birdman drives the bus; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Camp living; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.
Charlieman; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.

John Tyska is mysterious; Sioux Lookout, Ontario, 2010.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meggs and Bakey.

Hello to all.

"My face is cracked like a joke", Joanna says it best. I am cracking. Thank you for coming.

Thank you for coming back to this place again and again all you beauties. Time is flying here in the Trout forest. June 10th already. We have crushed the K Town contract (rude Kenora) and then the terrifying burn Blocks of the Sioux Lookout contract in the sandy Pine lands. Now we are living in a mud hole bush camp in the northern northern northern spruce land of the Trout forest down so many logging roads; we are not even a point on the map. The roads are unfathomable at times. Life is good. Hard. We (36 of us planters, six staff lead the way: Klinck our tireless boss, Birdman (my foreman), Joe, Bram, Molly, Christian the cook who saves the sanity of our palettes daily.

Good leaders here.

We laugh a lot. We are family now. Last night was Bush New Years eve, every one was savage and beyond dirty. Most of our ripper nights have themes of late. Last Ripper was Christmas with a secret santa exchange and the biggest slab of cake I haver never seen the likes. Eddie rolled me three perfect Toronto joints along with a box of Dream Tea and a 40 of booze. Merry Christmas! Okay, where to begin? I write on here because the idea of writing to all of you (you know who you are) undoes me. I will start with today:

June 10th, day off. Thank goodness. Shift seven is upon us, looming like a fire breathing demon and the idea of another day without contact was starting to make me crazy. Said upcoming shift is going to be a six day blast that will probably kill me. It is an intense life these days. We plant hard, we are gardening and pounding at the same time. Dad I think of you every time I plant a perfect tree (often, no big.... 'Quality Builders, Quality Planters', that will be my crew name. Quality Planters over here, which is imperative. Yesterday my spirit shattered while planting the back forty of this incredibly savage death muck swamp (no trenches, every step was potentially my last, there are no words; it was beyond anything I have ever planted in my lifetime)and I dropped my bags and fell into it, it swallowed my body whole and I wept for Mitch for three minutes. The hardest weep sweep of my life. I cry a lot.

Our amazing tree quality checker, Molly (incredible woman) has found me weeping in my land countless times. But through all the weeping I am learning so much. Mum told me on the phone today, "Remember Megs, whatever you earn you don't have to borrow" and upon hearing those words I have never felt more proud to be a hard working Kroeker. Okay mum, I will keep my head up, I will keep going. I am constantly drilling myself for my loose memory that allows information to slip through the cracks like a sieve (siv, strainer?). Who knows. Regardless, it looks very much like I will have my own crew next summer which is INTENSE and exciting beyond words. There are many jobs to be done at all times in a bush camp and thus far I have learned how to light pilot lights, fill propane, drive giant vehicles, use the cardloc, check the oil, drive the quad through the rude loaded with five passengers (that was an intense day I will not soon forget). Thus, I am well taken care of here. Bram, my secondary foreman has started taking me to the Block for lessons in cache building, land management, cutting land, map testing ("where are we on the Block map right now Meg?". I have to answer lightening fast using a twig from the road and point on the map between us with the butt end. Here. Right. Good. Phewph. Maps are tricky here. Lately, it has been my responsibility to drive the King of the Road (Klinck's truck, savage beast) or Bird's pickup home from the Block. I drive like the devil. Bird and Bram have both taught me to drive properly. We work hard, get up at 530, get our gear in order, check the vehicles, hammer to the Block, get in the land as quick as possible, plant hard in this crazy forest (clearcut) and then get the hell out as fast as possible to get home to eat and then sleep (like the dead). No one speaks in sentenses here anymore. We understand each other and there is such an incredible sense of community.

The camp is incredible (not the living conditions, I mean the spirit of the people). Last year was something else, but this year I understand what it means to plant, to be a person who plants trees. It is a package deal and everyday someone yells "PUSSIES GO HOME" at the tailgate meeting just to remind everyone we are in this together. And let me tell you, we are in the shit. Bodies are starting to fall apart. My boots have gone to die and my right foot is being held together by one thousand swipes of duct tape. And yet, I love it here. It is a special place where you can be whoever, whenever. Everyone I have met this season have these incredible qualities that I never knew existed. I think it is safe to say that we have a camp of superstars. Superstars for no other reason than we are all what we are. Fin.

And I am in love.

So in love with my guy it hollows me out and at times I walk or run around my land like a hollow stump of a girl, all willowy and lean and lonely. Molly has found me laughing and writing Mitch an audible letter, and also curled up in the softest spots of my land into my sorry limbs like a lost fox. Colt calls me Meggs and Bakey or Mama Bear. Bird calls me Swiper the Fox, Queen of the Road, Quad Girl, and sister (my favorite). That man. The constant Gardner, teacher, friend. This photo is for him and his family. Bird, I do not have words to express my appreciation for all you have taught me this season. Teaching with your right hand guiding and pointing and punctuating all the parts of the story you are telling through the windsheild of the bus and your left drawing an Export A to your mouth and down into your lungs. That man, always on the butts. What an incredible teacher. Just the other day, Bird and I rolled to town in the pick up to pick up the food order for the week and the amount of information I lapped up in that three hour window was nuts. How do tires work? How does an engine run? What is an air filter for? Why is grease the most important thing in the world? How do airplanes work? How did it feel to see Motorhead with your boys in matching leather jackets? Yikes, the stories are innumerable and I am writing down EVERYTHING this time.

How are all of you? I best be off to the laundry again. Fuck the wash. Sorry Helen, but seriously. I will leave you all with this savage admission: my clothes are soiled beyond belief and when I realized that all the washers were snapped up (devils) I didn't even think twice and threw my sweaty, damp gross closet into the dryer. Fuck the wash. I am on the soil, hard. The stink keeps the deer flies and the black flies a baby bit at bay.

Okay, one last thing, today at the Lakeview diner for breakfast (grilled cheese and a chocolate milk shake), Eddy, Pat and I ate the entire meal without realizing that Trudy, our server forgot cutlery. Off the cutlery. One of the planters, Tony, has long lost his plate and every day I see him eat from a new vessel. Yesterday he ate his spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, and cake out of a water jug cut in half. We are in it now, and there is no choice but to keep pounding in those trees. I love you all and rest assured that I think of each one of you reading this on the regular.

With so much feeling,

Queen of the Road.

Below, behold. Birdman and Charlotte, his little girl.

Like father like daughter; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.