An adventure which, by the way, started on Monday, August 23, when I returned from my weekend on l’Île Secrète (Secret Island). But that’s a story I’ll be telling you in an upcoming post… promise.
For now, I’ll stick to celebrating. Because I’ve just spent two weeks trying to figure out how to get everything to work, over here, and after all this time, there are still things that need fixing.
Take for instance the “Subscribe to RSS” feature at the top of the sidebar: it won’t link to the Feedburner page. (UPDATE: the RSS feature works!) My friend Tina in Prince Edward Island — with whom I worked on Skype — had quite a challenge with that darn thing. It’s thanks to her if I got to renovate my site but for some mysterious reason (or maybe my theme is too old and has trouble adapting to the new WordPress generation), certain features simply refuse to function.
Eh, no sweat. I’m now the new and improved Mudd — letting go is my specialty.
As for the features that DO function, you can subscribe to my blog posts by clicking on the “Email” link at the top of the sidebar, next to the RSS link (yes, the one that doesn’t work). You can also subscribe to the comments and receive an email notice whenever someone adds to the conversation. Finally, there are icons at the bottom of each post so you can either share it, send it, or bookmark it.
And now a word about the pages:
I plan on having fun creating products that will be on sale in my “boutique,” either through CafePress or Zazzle. In the meantime, I decorated the page with a few of my drawings.
Same goes for the “etc.” page, though I don’t yet know what to do with it. If I don’t find a purpose for it within the next three months, I’ll trash it.
To end things off, you’re invited to take a look at the “about me” page where you’ll find a condensed version of my life story. It’s only the tip of the iceberg, of course, but hey… I need to know you a bit better before I show you the many depths of me.
Well I guess that’s it…
BYE BYE OZA!
A very special THANK YOU to Tina Stephen for her help, her patience, and most of all for her friendship. You ROCK, baby girl!
The World is at war – has been for over three years – but life goes on. February 1, Russia switches from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. February 6, Gustav Klimt dies. March 19, the U.S. Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time (which goes into effect on the 31st), and on the 29th is born Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.
April 6 – a chilly Saturday morning with lots of sunshine and a few cloudy periods – Meldrude decides to stop lying to herself and to finally face the cold hard fact: after 5 months, the baby’s stuck for good, might as well accept it, God’s will be done, she’s pregnant.
Sitting at the kitchen table, boning a pile of pigs’ feet to make the stew for supper, Meldrude cuts and stabs the meat with mounting fury as she prepares to tell her husband the news. Théodore, scared, silent, erased, who has been observing for a few weeks now the thickening of his wife’s figure, lets out a loud cough before leaving his rocking chair and rushing past the table to go put a log in the wood stove.
Meldrude stops focusing on the pigs’ feet and throws a cold, hard, disgusted look at her husband. She wants him to understand just how much she despises him for that darn Monday night (November 26, 1917, she’ll never forget it) when he came home, stone drunk, after celebrating the creation of the National Hockey League. His being sloshed isn’t what had made her mad. No. It’s the fact he had to go and ask her, all droopy-eared and teary-eyed, for a certain favour that she had cleverly managed to refuse him for a good six months – that’s how long it had been, if her memory was correct. Meldrude had felt guilty and, consequently, had given in and accomplished her marital duties.
May 2, General Motors acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware. On the night of 16/17 July, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his family are executed in Ekaterinburg. July 18, Nelson Mandela is born.
When August rolls in, the Spanish Flu has become a pandemic; there are hundreds of thousands of victims across the planet. Already disdainful of all insects and microbes, Meldrude has taken the habit of spending her days in the bathtub, soaking in lukewarm water to which she adds half a cup of baking soda, three tablespoons of boric acid, a big chunk of camphor, and one quart of holy water. Every week, two gallons of holy water are delivered to her straight from Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, thanks to her cousin Armand, a farmer living in the region, who picks them up at the basilica and then hands them to his brother-in-law who works for the railroad company and who makes sure the precious shipment reaches its destination. And so it is that on Monday, August 5, at 4:28 p.m., Meldrude has her first contraction, followed immediately by the baby who ejects himself like a trout out of a net and starts swimming, all gooey and bloody, stirring quite a mess between her trembling legs.
Once over the shock and horror, Meldrude grabs the baby – a boy – and proceeds to climb out of the tub, taking care not to get tangled in the umbilical cord. Before alerting her husband and the rest of her flock, who are outside doing whatever it is they normally do at this time of day, she has no clue and doesn’t give a hoot, Meldrude cuts the cord, wraps the baby in a towel, slips on her bathrobe, powders her nose, and starts picking at the strands of hair that are plastered to her forehead – one by one – in order to sculpt each one into a tight little curl. Tired of hearing the baby cry, she doesn’t bother applying blush, picks up the kid, steps outside onto the balcony, and there, in the bright late afternoon sun, she yells out for all the neighbours to hear, “Here’s your boy, Théo. Come take care of him!”
September 11, the Boston Red Sox defeat the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series. October 17, Margarita Carmen Cansino, better known as Rita Hayworth, is born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino, and Volga Hayworth, an English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl. And finally there’s good news, as November 11 marks the end of the Great World War; more than 25 million people have died from the Spanish Flu in the last six months, almost twice the number of people who died during the war.
The year 1918 ends off on a Tuesday.
P.S.: The baby is named Edmond, in honour of his great grandfather, a chicken farmer who is said to have been quite a charmer as well as a thief.
What Violette has been feeling for more than a week; what Meldrude has been seeing in her tea leaves for the last two days; what I’ve slowly been growing into for close to a month and a half; all this is validated, confirmed, and explained in a two-minute phone call from Doctor Hamel: Violette is going to have a baby.
Violette puts the receiver back down, smiles at herself in the mirror that hangs over the couch, and quickly returns to the kitchen where Meldrude is rummaging through every drawer, looking for the potato masher. Violette – who had rushed to take the call with the utensil in hand – gently pushes the old woman out of the way and starts mashing vigorously, pouring milk and dropping big chunks of butter into the mix.
Théodore comes out of the bathroom, lights his pipe, coughs something up, spits it in the kitchen sink, plops down in the rocking chair, and asks, his head trembling, “Who was it?”
After shaking pepper, then salt, into the pot, Violette puts the potatoes back on the stove, turns to face her in-laws, and announces, with a wave of her masher, “I’m pregnant.”
Georges (Violette’s brother) and Thomas (their cousin) arrive after a hard day’s work at the umbrella factory. Once they have washed their hands and seated themselves at the table, Violette belts out the good news. Potatoes and peas and hamburger steaks are served amidst laughter and joy.
Violette has done the dishes and is now folding the laundry that spent the day drying on makeshift clotheslines, in the hallway. She hopes Edmond won’t work too late, and maybe even skip his regular stopover at the tavern, tonight. He was so distraught, last year, when they lost their son. She thinks the sad event could be the reason why her husband spends so much time drinking with his buddies, or even explain his distant behaviour and lack of hygiene.
This baby just might be the answer to all her prayers.
The door bell rings: it’s Alice, Violette’s sister-in-law. Her husband, Henri, is Edmond’s brother. He’s also Edmond’s boss – owns a contracting company that does renovation jobs for movie theatres and nightclubs all over town. Henri calls Edmond his “right arm,” but in reality, Edmond is also the left arm, the painter, the carpenter and the foreman; he does all the work.
Violette likes her brother-in-law, but she hates her sister-in-law. She finds her arrogant and bitchy and downright condescending.
Without even so much as a polite nod to the rest of the household, Alice orders Violette to grab her coat – “Snap to it, the motor’s running!”- they’re going to Côte Ste-Catherine, on the other side of the river, where there’s something she thinks her sister-in-law should see.
8: 17 p.m.
Dragging Violette by her coat sleeve, Alice barges into the Pink Flamingo, ignores the doorman’s extended hand, rushes by the coat check girl, knocks down a fake palm tree, and coming to a halt in front of the band, points a ferocious finger towards the middle of the dance floor. There, in the arms of what her mother-in-law would call a “cocotte,” Violette finds her Edmond, swaying to the sound of Stardust– their song.
The womb is struck with a tremor so big that my 4 mm body is nearly ripped to shreds.
We are now entering a place some people call Bardo
and others call hooey.
(No cameras allowed…and shut your cellphones!)
It’s 1949, and I just spent the last hour reviewing my life with a panel of judges. Even though I’m fresh out of the screening room, I can’t remember a thing about who I used to be, where I used to live, or how I died. The only thing I remember is the sound of gunshots and then the panel of judges—all eight of them—laughing hysterically as the screening—i.e. my life—came to an end.
They say you get to choose your parents. This isn’t exactly true. You are gently yet firmly coerced into choosing the family that the judges think is best for you – best for you to learn, to grow. If you don’t agree with their choice, you’re stuck here for as long as it will take you to think it over and then supposedly “choose.” Some of these people have been here for over 800 years. This gives you an idea of how unappealing some of the possibilities for reincarnation can be. I’m dead set—pardon the pun—on getting myself a new life and moving on with my karma. I don’t particularly care what country I land in or what language I speak, all I want to do is go back and have another shot at being happy. I can’t bear to be around those who spend their in-between time trying on skin colours, exchanging eye shapes and nose samples, or even worse, debating on whether to be straight or gay or go for the combo. It’s driving me nuts!
So when the judges set me up with the Meilleur family in Verdun, Québec, I get all excited. It’s fun at first because it’s a privilege to watch them going about their humdrum lives; the judges want to make sure we know what we’re getting into before the final transfer is made. But watching this family quickly becomes very boring. The couple lives with the man’s parents, they’re cramped in a second-story flat, but still the woman insists on having boarders—her brother and a cousin who both left their small village in northern New-Brunswick to strike it rich in Montréal. The man’s parents seem like good, honest people—the old guy rocks in his chair all day, the old lady makes all sorts of intricate hats. And their son is obviously a hard-working husband because he always comes home late at night. Everything looks okay except for the woman; I can tell she’s not enjoying herself. She goes about—day in, day out—preparing the meals, washing the dishes, the clothes, the floors, making sure her in-laws are satisfied with the choice their son made the year before. A nice little robot, is what she is. A whistling robot, to boot ! She can whistle anything from the latest show tunes to the oldest church hymns. This can become annoying, I think to myself.
My thoughts are confirmed about a week later. I’m sitting in my usual spot under the tree of wisdom when Philippe walks up to me and introduces himself. He’s heard about my imminent voyage back to Earth and has information he feels I should know. It turns out he was assigned to the Meilleur family less than ten months ago. Being as eager as I am to leave this place, he signed up without even giving it a second thought. That very day, he was conceived and started growing inside the whistling lady’s womb.
Months go by, and Philippe realizes he cannot stand the whistling any longer. Though it’s muffled by the amniotic fluid and the fat around the woman’s belly, he can plainly distinguish the strident sound and occasional false note. Since it’s too late to abort, he comes up with Plan B: he’ll suck up whatever he can in order to gain a lot of weight, and when delivery time comes, he’ll bend over and come crashing through, butt first.
The plan works perfectly. The lady almost dies trying to get his ten-pound body to pop out of her uterus. Finally, the doctor has to cut him up and yank him out, piece by piece, all of them dead.
Now I know why the woman looks so sad—it’s only been a month since she lost her baby. Still, she gets up every morning before 6 and runs around all day, pleasing the people around her, whistling away the hours, the days, the sorrows.
And so my choice becomes clear: I shall be born into this family, and I shall try to make the best of it.
That’s it for today, my friends. I’m afraid we’ll have to stay the night, as we haven’t completed our visit yet. Let’s get the tents up and the fire burning—it will be bone-chillin’ cold soon. And don’t wander too far from camp, ‘cause you might not come back…at least not as who you are at the moment.