Libby’s Crunchola


I’m making this now.  Lynn and me enjoyed this granola on one of our Toronto sleepovers visiting friends Ian and Iarra in their Runcesvaille home. Ian got this recipe from Libby. I eat a lot of porridge most mornings and this is a lovely change still using a lot of oats and even more good stuff. Works wonders with yogurt. I’ve also discovered Spoon Size Shredded Wheat and Bran has more fibre than bran flakes and no sugar and salt.
The original recipe:
1/2 cup oil with a little milk
1/2 cup honey (and/or maple syrup in my version)
6 cups oats (3 quick, 3 regular)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
Raisins, sunflower seeds, dried apricots (my favourite), dried apples or other fruit.
We also added walnut pieces and dried cranberries.

Mix the dry ingredients, except the seeds and fruit, in a big roasting pan. Boil the liquid ingredients.

Mix the hot liquids into the dry ingredients making sure each bit becomes a little wet.
Toast at 325 for about an hour, stirring thoroughly each 20 minutes.
Add in nuts and dried fruit. A total of 1-1/2 or 2 cups should do.


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Recommended Reading


The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God.”

So now post medication and looking through pages (many dog-eared) again I am struck by a book in two halves that can’t live without each other. Helen Humphrey has her latest start with an auto-fiction exploration of how she came to write A Machine Without Horses, And then tells the story in the second half. Ondaatje’s War light, and Divisidero before that also two halves of the apple. Michael Springate‘s 2014 novel The Beautiful West and the Beloved by God  stands well in their company.

The first half is set in Montreal including characters from or near Brandon, and the intentional family and diversity of friendships that are possible in Montreal. I was lulled into a comfort zone, even as the conversations in the first half were tackling the subjects of difference, war and religion. I like conversation like this in literature because they do actually happen in (human) nature. I like good sentences and good dialogue, which don’t always go together, but here they keep fine company. I realized how much things were going to change when Mahfouz is arrested and disappeared with the complicity of the Canadian government in Egypt, and I put the book down. I find passages of violence hard to read, and easier to write and here we’re back to what my life experiences bring to any text I read, being bullied as a kid makes me respond quite emotionally, especially or maybe particularly if it’s by unjust and oppressive power and force. While being suffocated in a snow bank as a kid is not like adult and professional torture, amndI’m still alive to bitch and moan about it.

Writing the inevitable isn’t as easy as it sounds, and has nothing to do with predictability. A story, even one with two halves, has an internal logic or rhetoric, if you like of its own. It is easy to bugger that up by working against what the story wants to do. I’ve had the predictable/inevitable discussion with David Bergen about his book Stranger, and it would be interesting to read these together. I know this is too much for facebook, but not enough people read what I have to say here so I’ve posted it here  and on Face-Book. This one I can alter more easily, and add too as I have other ‘thoughts’ about this book.  Now, back to Independent People.

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My listening continues to gravitate to classical recordings with heady mix of jazz and blues and rock.

Late string quartets by Shubert and Beethoven have my attention, as does Shubert’s Piano Sonata in G reaching for peace. Schubert and Beethoven’s late quartets were a revelation, thanks to Tom Allen and CBC. These require active listening, and are strange and wonderful and dark. Quartets Jimmy Bang appreciates.

Right now I’m listening to Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque, a complete album of Dylan covers, which is turning out much better than I expected. Older records I’ve listened to a lot are by Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Cohen, and the Talking Heads/Brian Eno. I continue to listen to Ry Cooder and enjoyed the music on The Prodigal Son his latest release, the singing not so much, and the lyrics even less, but damn he can play that guitar. Sue Foley released Ice Queen, recorded down in Austin, Texas, which really is her best yet. The only one that comes close is Love Comin’ Down, produced by Colin Linden.

Jazz has dominated my downloads, as what I want to hear cannot be found in my records or CDs except for the classics like Kind of Blue, which I have in all formats. So recently added the calming strains of Brad Mehldau’s Trio/quartet (Their Blues and Ballads release is superb) sets, to the wildness of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.

But always a return to Mingus, this year Blues & Roots on heavy rotation. I started a thing on hard bop, which remains unfinished. Not surprisingly it’s about the drums or drums and bass. Clifford Brown and Horace Silver with Max Roach or Art Blakely (whose work I thought I new) my big jazz discoveries. I mean I knew the drummers but had not heard about Silver or Brown.

I didn’t except to like the free form jazz, but have become accustomed to the dissonances and rhythmic shifts by listening to a lot of “new” music, which is still all 20th century for me. Listening to a lot of the Emerson, and Orford string quartets playing these later Shubert and Beethoven compositions. I am a fan of Alban Berg and the Alban Berg string quartet, and a lot of other composers of the “Second Viennese School” and Russians of the turn of the 20th century. I draw your attention to my favourite find in this area…Glenn Gould’s 1959 recordings of Berg, Schoenberg and Krenek.

2018 was also the year I discovered the James Ehnes recording of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, and Anne-Sophie Mutters recordings of 20th century music, especially Homage a Penderecki released in 2018, which I’m listening to now. Until next year.









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I’m celebrating Christmas by listening to music, reading and writing. These I happily do alone. On Thursday, the 27th I’ll be spending the day with family and I’m looking forward to that.None of this is very hard, and I’ve lowered my family’s expectation to reduce any anxiety levels over the holiday. The only difficulty is trying to explain to others, some who are spending the holiday alone, and others that are looking forward to a large family gathering, that I’m “not doing” anything for Christmas. So I’m listening to all 0f Beethoven’s symphonies, many concertos and all his string quartets if there is time. So I have a project, and everybody is happy. What I don’t say is “I’m working,”well I did that, but only once, clearly crazy talk. Nor do I say I’m working on two profane manuscripts that I’m scheduling to run to the end of January. I hope to have most of the existing writing up on the website by 2019. 


The advertisement in German on the right promises the cheapest fares from Glasgow to  Chicago. So begins The Crossing as I move forward on my Involuntary Tongue project. Initial posts included a series of video scripts, Angst a black & white film script, and Mother Tongue in English and German translation. For a paltry $1.00 or $1.50 a month you can have it all!


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Graphic Illustration by Murray Toews.

I’m getting organized for another work week; having had some Christmas (and my first turkey sandwich today) and going back to the city on Dec.27 to visit my brother and January 2nd to see my shrink. Somewhere in there kids possibly also, though we already had a lovely roast dinner, with the tree up, a week ago.

My plan is to write five days, 500 words a day on Boundary Creek. I will then ask for subscribers again…once the new posts are up for  January 2019. A good deal of November and December were given over to revision of my new poetry collection Love & Surgery, (forthcoming, fall 2019)research and writing towards my Boundary creek project, grant application and preparing a writing sample. Murray Toews has agreed to collaborate, and his image to the left is the opening image for Boundary Creek.

I will need to do some more cleaning. You should see my place. Yes the kitchen and bathroom are clean, but my general untidiness lends itself to the straightening up every slightly OCD writer must do before capturing that elusive first sentence, even a phrase might do. My Dickie Suspenders arrived today, I bought them at lunch on Saturday with Amazon one click, and there they were waiting for me…it’s only Wednesday. I bought my new jeans too big because I cannot tolerate to be bound around my waist or belly because of bad sciatica. I did wear a belt so my pants stayed up for today’s flurry of activity, but damn my side down to my groin hurts now. So suspenders and overalls will be the thing for my adaptive clothing.

Today I did some Christmas shopping at Tergesens, had lunch with Lynn and a very well behaved Alice, then off to the LWWG writing workshop session, with everybody bringing prose. The group today was me, Dorothy Adrian, Leah Isberg (host, in Matlock) and Pam Larner.  I stopped briefly at the Super A for fruit and a loaf of bread. (yes for the Turkey Sandwich)on the way home…and I’m waiting for it to be time for my meds and a good sleep. That is all.


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My Right Foot


For one brief moment I thought my uric acid levels had regained acceptable levels, so stopped taking my Allpurinol medication. A week or so later this is what my remaining foot looked like.

My uric acid levels were at acceptable levels because of my medication not because of eating more carefully and not drinking. Once again the diabetes alarm bell was rung, but no my sugars are fine, it’s my uric acid levels. Hell even my triglycerides are fine. High uric acid levels create the symptoms of gout, which I thought was related to arthritis and the pain meds and NSAIDS would also help.

Nope. It’s different. I have started taking  Allopurinol again,  doing its job, easing pain a little, but mostly allowing me to keep my foot on the floor when I’m working. My toes look funny because I had a procedure to straighten my hammertoes. I’ll spare you the photos of my kebabed toes. Bonus in this one in losing the nail on my little toe by jamming it into a sproinging, but not sproingy enough door-stopper. So, Polysporin to the rescue. Infections are never good, especially in the foot you have left.

Sadly, this foot, or more precisely my ankle will be reviewed by my excellent foot surgeon next Wednesday at HSC. A new custom-made brace will be prescribed, but I’m also asking about it’s likely future. The ankle is going the way of the left one, that is collapsing, or at best the bones are going through an unplanned reorganization. I can manage this pain because of pain meds for my back, but it’s not sustainable and I expect more surgery. I am more attached to my right foot (no adaptions needed for driving at the moment) but am an unlikely candidate for an ankle replacement and my last ankle fusion didn’t take, so I may loose this one too. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m leaving my body to science one limb at a time.


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Notes Re writing today


Have been able to write and work on my website for second or third day in a row. I have to be somewhat cautious, as usually there is a crash that follows, but always, well what if there isn’t?

Many influences today, contributing to my writing which includes correspondence with my siblings and friends. Hoping more website Patreon subscriptions will come when it’s clear they will receive new work most every day. Scheduling works, and now Patreon works, and now pasta is cooked. Just wait a minute.

That was good. So was the sunset. More Beethoven. Ludwig will feature in one of the pain room imaginings. Composing some sonatas, like my sister would play, and then mining his anger at his disability in the Grosse Fugue..including dialogue with his unhappy publisher. He is one of my intended Group of Seven or Magnificent Seven which includes Augustine (with Euripides), whose story is already begun, Menno Simons, Catherine the Great, Richard the Third, Beethoven, Queen Victoria and Sigmund Freud (with German poet Richard Dehmel). Each will be imagined by Corporal Ivy from the pain room. The first part of his story was added to the pain room Patreon supported blog. Murray Toews has been providing the visual images of each of the characters.

Today’s issue of the New Yorker includes an essay by James Wood, on the Norwegian author Dag Solstad, with more translations in English becoming available, with his comment “taking away someone else’s life lie also means you are taking away their happiness.”  My sister is sending me Helen Humphrey’s new book, Machine Without Horses: A Novel, just out in this September. I have been thinking the work I’m doing will have links of one sort of another, no matter how different the streams are. This goes directly to the Solstad comment; my connections of interest investigate how we make ourselves different and manage identity shifts and revise our story to function as best we can. Corporal Ivy imagines many lives and moments that side-step his pain bedridden-self. Susann with 2 nns started revising herself in grade school, and on her death bed said “I’ve had a good life,” not easy to tell from her own stories, or my experience or those of my siblings. I can hardly wait until I get there…that is the Boundary Creek story-telling, not my death bed!

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MT 4. Leaving the River


Dragon Dogs

Packed and upon us
they thinned our ranks.
We flailed about with dead limbs
dry sticks. We threw stones
dung and clods of dust
dried with blood of our children.
Their stink
all that was
left the sun
couldn’t burn away.



Leaving the river

Food from unfamiliar

Accident, the lack
of many skills

A subtle shift
in time

Left us

near a garden




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My Cod Piece from the Waterfront


So does the fisher look Icelandic? How about the cod?


I stop at the meat and fish counter, seeing Icelandic Cod for sale. I  wonder what makes this cod Icelandic? Maybe somebody behind the counter can tell me what makes this Cod Icelandic. Now this is a large chain grocery store it’s true, but it’s in Gimli, once known as New Iceland….Partly I wanted to know how fresh the fresh cod really were…did Icelanders catch them near Iceland?  Where they caught in international waters, taken back to Iceland then flown directly to Gimli? …Maybe only the company that sold them was Icelandic, or maybe the fish or the hooks were designed in Iceland but really came from China?

The first person I encountered behind the fish display, was a youngster just starting out …That is another thing I grant small towns, it seems you can still start working after high school or college without work being hamburger flipping…though there is always now the chance to become a sandwich artist…but they seem always to have a “help wanted” sign in the window.Many young people leave, but I am not surprised about how many people say “I have lived here all my life.'”

I wouldn’t send them a happiness survey but they make their way without measuring out their lives according to international cosmopolitan standards, and seem the better for it. I’ll come back to this if I remember. So I asked the young man lurking behind the fish if he knew what made these cod fillets Icelandic. He didn’t know. I mostly forgave him but perplexed him further by asking him to re-wrap a fine but small and inexpensive pork roast as I hold to the notion butcher paper is better for freezing red meat…There was no lamb. …

Today I went back to ask the butcher… the older regular butcher, and I stress butcher, if he knew what made the cod Icelandic…I have been eating this cod as often as once a week. …I feel slightly traitorous because the grocery’s pickerel is caught in Lake Winnipeg and processed in Manitoba…I’ll rant about the dismal first year of privatization of the commercial fishery another time…but pickerel usually more expensive than the cod…If the butcher could tell me that Icelandic cod was Icelandic enough not to worry about feeling bad for not eating pickerel in Gimli…after all…I like to do my part for the local economy…

…No he said. Could you look into it for me? I asked, finding it hard to believe there’s no-one in-the chain store’s meat section, did I mention staffed by butchers, who know their fish. Maybe someone starting out could become a fishmonger…mongering as their goal and life’s work… who knew fish… I suspect if the butcher was Icelandic he would know, but maybe all this heritage stuff is just for the tourists, the seasonal as opposed to seasoned, many with Brennevin’s …(now that’s the real Icelandic stuff) …schnapps, harder to get even than the number 1 whiskey, Northern Harvest Crown Royal brewed here often stinking to high heaven, which would be fine but then the distillate is sent to away to be educated into bottles before we get a chance to see it often wearing its fancy robes…

Truth be known I’ve given up drinking, except for water (even if we know what fish do in it) with my cod of increasingly suspect origins…lots of green beans…I have developed a taste for them, especially with fish, even if I know not its provenance. Now there’s a $25 word for you! …One most of us have learned from the Antiques Road Show.

I did ask around town about the cod and why it was cheaper than pickerel. Well you don’t buy pickerel from the grocery store, you buy direct from the fishers! …Ok another local fact I need to learn and follow up. The only Gimli Fish outlet I’ve seen is in Winnipeg. Think a little harder man…ok Smith’s on Highway Nine…and I think I’ve seen another sign, and they do sell them frozen at Kris’s Fish n Chips. Thing is I’m getting really comfortable here in Waterfront Centre, on the fifth floor, the tallest building in town. Delivery is easy.

I ran into Pascoe at the foot of the elevator, he was waiting for a ride, sitting in his wheelchair looking sharp in a crisp Ralph Lauren shirt. I envy his head of hair. I told him I had asked about the cod at my book club but no-one really had an answer. He suggested some local retailers found that the tag “Icelandic” on products increased sales, especially to tourists in the summer…that was what I was thinking, I said.

…But I talked to my sister yesterday living on the Sunshine Coast, about where she had gone for her birthday dinner… she said to a really nice new swish restaurant in Sechelt. Oh, what did you order? Well I was tempted by the “Icelandic Cod” that led the entrees at the top of the menu, but that seemed like a long way for a piece of fish especially when we can eat as much local seafood as we like. I had lamb since we don’t eat it much at home… Not spectacular. But the sides were nicely presented and the dessert was good.

So Wray, what I did finally is what I imagined the butchers would do; I looked it up on the Internet…

I entered “Icelandic Cod” in the search engine. I found some relatively good news and learned something. The store here sells fresh cod fillets usually wild hook and line caught in the “deep, cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean” surrounding Iceland. Iceland also markets to America’s East Coast and is served at most Cape Cod restaurants. Wray was trying to get a word on edh

I just kept on going as I do…What’s more there were three unheralded Cod wars between Iceland and Britain in the 70s. Britain conceded the 200-mile protected by Icelandic gunboats in 1976. The latter day Vikings didn’t fire a shot, but did cut some British fisher nets, which couldn’t be retrieved, a significant financial loss because of the lost fish, and the expense of replacing the nets, and turned back…I could have told you that, said Wray, but interesting about it being sold as far away as the West Coast and at Cape Cod for heaven’s sake! …Oh, here’s my ride, he said wheeling away. And mine I said as the elevator opened and I walked in. Walking is a good thing. More about that another time.

It’s Victor Enns coming to you from the Waterfront.



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Clothes get on my nerves. My sciatic nerve particularly. My back is degenerate, like mortal and pestle grinding my cartilage to dust. The nerves make me squeal, any waistband or belt draws the pain into my groin. Be aware of the naked man, spread-eagled on 400 thread cotton sweat shop sheets, me filling the queen size with my nakedness and pain.

My left foot has been amputated. To my surprise,  a great deal of my left foot pain has been eradicated. I didn’t expect it, and most health professionals, and people with lived experienced with amputation, didn’t either. I could no longer walk on my left foot, switching it out for a prosthetic will allow me to walk again, which is the outcome we’re still waiting for as my wound heels. Stage Four Flat Foot was the name of my condition, indicating soft tissue could not support my ankle from rolling in and under itself. Aye, there’s the rub. I have “lousy cartilage genetics,” and my foot was once described as a birth defect expressing itself now.

My pain continues being original to me, as everyone’s is; and there’s plenty enough to go around my body. The last couple of days were difficult because of my increased activity.  My remaining limbs are picking up all the slack. This is most notable on my right side, which already has an artificial hip. Hopefully, I’ll be walking soon, to reduce the stress on my better foot.

Bad cartilage genetics is osteoarthritis in my back that’s disk degenerative disease and spondylolylisthesis.  Sciatica (good name for a geriatric metal band,) is what my parents’ generation called it, though in that case it is primarily one nerve, the sciatic nerve that is pinched. There are more nerves between more vertebrae and disks collapsing and pinching nerves. Spondylolylistthesis.just a little different in that the degeneration of cartilage and genetics, or trauma have cause one vertebrae to tip over forward the one beneath.
It’s also damn hard to spell.

I don’t have scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine usually moving to the right, giving rise to a hump like Richard the III my Tante Neufeld (who lived to be 94), and my sister. Then there are joints with repetitive use wear and tear, which is accelerated if you don’t have good cartilage. My sister, a former pianist and me still pounding away on this keyboard as if it was the manual typewriter I used in the sixties, have bad hand pain. My sister is ten years older, and her hand pain is worse. I’m noticing my other pain centres and new ones now the biggest one has been relieved.

Doctors know this pain is often made worse by bad weather changes, though they don’t know why. So level 8 pain on Monday and Tuesday, dark and wet, only six and declining today. I do have a fantasy of a pain free day, but it is a fantasy. Today my right side is generating most of my pain for the extra use it’s had standing in and supporting my entire weight, and that of my wheelchair when I chuck it into my van. I hold onto to the van’s grab bar with my left. So today it’s my right knee, my right hip, my right shoulder wringing pain, add the hands, especially now that I’m typing again, and the sciatica thing. Well to sum up. I hurt pretty much everywhere. Hello chronic pain.

I’m grateful for the level of pain relief provided by the amputation. But I still hurt pretty much everywhere else, and on bad days it can still get to 8. No, I’m not looking for a reason to extend my handicapped parking permit, renew my pain meds, or to keep boring people with my bitch and moan.  That’s just the way it is. Pain is an everyday part of my “new normal.”

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