Category Archives: Musings & Miscellany

General musings on life, whatever doesn’t fit anywhere else

I’ve Moved!

You can find the new blog, The Trouble with Doorways, on my official author site at

If you’ve come here from the new site, feel free to browse the Art by Mark and Poetry Archives.

To contact me directly, please do so through the new site (comments on this site have been closed).

Thanks for dropping by!

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Mark Pic: Bee on Burdock


Burdock may be unwelcome in a farmer’s field, but our backyard bees are loving it! (Click through to see the high-rez version.)

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Filed under Art by Mark Harrison, Musings & Miscellany, Pics

Piano in the Alleyway

There’s a piano in the alleyway
beside Black Honey
three people are gathered around it
as I walk by;
One of the guys is sitting
on the piano stool, not playing;
Seems criminal, to sit
at a piano and not play.

It’s a nice day for walking
downhill in the shade
not so much uphill,
weighed down
by borrowed books.

The girl ahead of me
matching steps with a boy
has tattoos all down her right side;
the left is pristine, unmarred;
But then, I’m only seeing her
from behind; perhaps she’s
a mirror image from the front.

When faced with imbalance,
we all compensate in one
way or another;
I keep mentally rearranging
the tattoos, redistributing them
evenly on both sides;
From this distance, they are
unintelligible, amorphous
smudges of darkish brownish green.

When faced with imbalance, we
all compensate in one way
or another, lest we all

– T.H.

(Sept. 16, 2015, walking home from Black Honey after visiting the library)

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Distracting thoughts, continued

From my reams of F&C novel notes:

“Consider: The universe is a mathematical construct that is ultimately definable, vs. It’s possible for something to be greater than the sum of its parts. Also: The ideas of a micro-universe without mass, and non-deity-based spontaneous creation.”

I’m starting to think it might be genetically impossible for me to come up with a simple story idea.

On the more mundane domestic front, I have to say that having the plumbers over five times in one month is a bit much.  On the up side, our shower is no longer limited to scalding us with a thin trickle of blazing hot water.  Hooray for the return to refreshing cold showers on a wiltingly hot day.

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Beautiful Creatures

Just finished watching Beautiful Creatures, the movie all the kids should have (IMHO) been obsessing over instead of getting hung up on the Twilight saga. Surprisingly sweet, touching and decently written underndeath the melodrama, with plenty of magic and nifty visuals to go around. I was genuinely surprised to see that it only garnered an average score of 6.2 on IMDb. Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons are in top form, and the kids do a great job of portraying believable teenagers wrestling with a tricky supernatural conundrum. All the richness of the South that True Blood drew on, without the graphic sex and gory violence. Kind of a True Blood meets Witches of Eastwick that kids under eighteen can actually go to see. And yes, there were some over-the-top moments, but it was all in keeping with the genre and the mood being set. Think I might have to track down the book the movie was based on and give it a read.

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MKF Anniversary Tribute, Part 2

Remembering our girl, who we lost one year ago today, when she was only six years old. These are some of our favourite photos from when she was all grown up.

MK at her finest, luxuriating in a sunbeam.

MK with big brother Dude, in the brand new porch enclosure built for her.

Our girl, always full of beans. M. was in serious danger of being pounced on when he took this.

Our lovely lass with our two lovely lads, the best of friends.

MK checking out our boutiful grape harvest from August 2013.

And finally, a more sedate MK posing for M. in a sunbeam, one of her favourite spots to be.

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MKF: An Anniversary Tribute, Part One

Little Miss Kitty, first day home

Sorting through the digital boxes in the virtual attic of an old & cluttered computer may not have the same smells and dust-covered memorabilia to trigger memories the way a real attic has, but it can unleash unexpected floods of emotion all the same.

The following is a transcript of the journal entry I wrote on the very first day we brought Miss Kitty home (click on the link for the full version).

I can’t say why it’s so much easier to write (and ultimately, share) something like this than it is to give the same tribute to the human family members and friends that we’ve lost. Maybe it’s because it’s uncomplicated – no strings or baggage attached, no thorny complications. Maybe it’s because we don’t have to share her with other people, who have their own ideas of who she was, and what she meant to them. She was our girl, plain and simple – and we’ll miss her forever.

MKF – Day One (Original Journal Entry, Full Version)

– T.H.

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Give them bread and hippos

Ah, Valentine’s Day. One of those things that can turn a dark day bright when you’ve got someone to share it with. For our part, M. got a cuddly hippo (adopted through WWF) and a chocolate teddy bear (since devoured), I got a new linen tablecloth and the driveway shovelled (by someone not-me), and we reached the end of the day with all errands successfully run and two magnificent fluffy loaves of fresh-baked Anadama bread ready and waiting to be pounced on the next morning. Not bad for a recovering-from-the-ick day.

Newest family member, Zeus the hippopotamus, gets to have the first nibble.

Patience, it turns out, is the key to many doors – good home-made bread being one of them. Especially when it comes to using the sponge method. Yesterday’s adventures with baked goods saw a re-acquaintance with an old favourite (if you have the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook and haven’t tried the Anadama bread yet, do – it’s worth all the careful measuring, multiple stages and long waits in between). Normally I’m too impatient to make yeast bread, but I’ve been rediscovering the concept of patience lately, and the culinary milieu of Hippo Corner has vastly improved as a result. So it seems there are some advantages to having to constantly experiment and plan in order to stock the house with food that is (a) safe for both of us to eat, (b) nutritious enough for someone with an (involuntary) less-than-normal-calorie-intake, and (3) still yummy enough to inspire immediate consumption. (See what I did there? Take that, list sticklers!)

Fresh from the oven, late Friday evening.

Another check-mark on the plus side, is that making your own food is way cheaper than buying the pre-fab grocery store variety. Today was a pancake morning, followed by an afternoon of soup making, and baking in the evening. Hearty, home-made blended veggie soup with good thick bread to dip in it has been my salvation these last couple of weeks. Feels even better knowing that most of the ingredients involved are organic and locally sourced. Although let’s face it, yumminess and the full-belly factor are serious rivals for top tier where priorities are concerned these days. (Did I mention that the cake experiments have begun? Tonight’s gold medal goes to a mouth-watering and ridiculously easy orange-almond-Kahlua vegan sponge cake.)

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The Benevolent Stranger

Dropped by the store of the same name today, and it got me thinking….

The idea of a benevolent stranger is a compelling one – all the more so for how rare it is these days. The perception of strangers in this media-hyped era of terrorists and school shooters, disappearing kids, abused elders, and the powerful wantonly abusing said power with no attempt at subterfuge, is of someone to be wary of, to keep at a distance – an unknown quantity, capable of anything, at any time. The erroneous assumption that if someone looks and sounds like me they’re safe, while the “other” is something to be feared, makes things far worse. Because as any sane person knows, there’s zero connection between skin colour, language, accent, number of tattoos or place of birth that dictates how a person will act in any given moment.

We are all galaxies and worlds and universes on the inside, the uncountable parts comprising a whole unique in all of time and space. Opaque, to all we’ve not yet met. Which is why universal connectors like art, music, and stories are not frivolous, pointless exercises, but absolutely vital to our understanding of ourselves, and our ability to connect to that idea of “otherness” – not as a frightening, potentially deadly antagonist, but as a benevolent stranger. Something to approach with a due amount of reasonable caution, perhaps, but with mind and heart open to the idea that, at their core, each stranger is more like us than they are unlike us.

We are all human beings on the one and only habitable planet in a solar system much larger than any of us can really grasp, in an unimaginably vast galaxy, with lots and lots of empty space in between. There is only so much room on this crowded Earth, and we can only push each other so far away.

So play a tune, paint a picture, put on a cheesy low-budget community play, teach someone something new, give something away for free – even if it’s just a smile. It might just help tip the balance to bringing us back together again.

– T.H.

(Written Mon. Jan. 26, 2015, at Black Honey on Hunter St.)

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Filed under Articles & Opinions, Musings & Miscellany, Prose

Flat Pack Wrangling

Another thing checked off the long-overdue-to-do list: A new filing cabinet for the music room!

New cabinet, unboxed

Frame construction in progress: tightening the cam locks.

Almost done!

The only thing keeping it from completion at this stage was a stuck runner. So naturally we called Mr. Fixit (aka Grond), and he basically went: look, poke, wiggle, look some more, wiggle some more, all done fixed, in about two seconds. Which is precisely what we figured would happen.

Completed cabinet, in situ.

Ta-da! The finished project, in place and ready to go. Music filing, here we come.

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