Le Weekend

Today is Sunday. For some reason this afternoon as I drove home from visiting my elderly mother at her retirement residence (or what she prefers to call the “Nut House”) the traffic on Baseline Road from Carleton University to Bells Corners was bumper-to-bumper, utterly clogged in syrup.  It went on for miles. At first I thought it might have been the Sunday shoppers flooding the malls along the way.  Then I imagined people jamming the highways to get to the Palladium in Kanata where normally there are events like NHL hockey games and rock concerts. By the time I reached Terry Fox Drive (which essentially separates Kanata from Stittsville) the traffic had abated but I still had no inkling of the reason for either the swell or the dip. It had taken me at least an hour to cover about fifteen kilometres at the most.

At that point of my sojourn I detoured to Booster Juice in one of the large Stittsville malls to have my customary “Ginger Hammer”.  It costs just shy of six bucks.  To pay for the drink I have lately methodically begun to drain the accumulating change in my car. Change – like cash generally – has become a nuisance and one must formulate a design to dispose of it before it starts burgeoning from the most unlikely random containers. But today I decided instead to leave the remaining change for future use in parking meters and charge the drink to my credit card.  When I discovered later that I didn’t get a notification of the credit card charge I investigated my on-line banking site and found that the “Alerts” can only be triggered for amounts ten dollars or more. Anyway the drink has a startling flavour afforded by the raw ginger and always energizes me. It may have some healthful effect but if nothing else it refreshes me.

While traveling to and from my mother’s place I listened to a combination of traditional news channels (MSNBC, CNN, BBC and Bloomberg) and various stations on Sirius XM radio including some preposterous “electric” music and old-hat Beatles tunes. In addition I indulged the South Florida saxophone schmaltz of Watercolours, somehow a perfect companion to the whisper passage of my recently washed sedan into the early evening sunset, a bubble of abstraction.  It occurred to me that I have begun to exhaust my interest in Matters Trump. For all Trump’s touted novelty his current remonstrations have become repetitive and predictable.  We can count on him saying something stupid, then hearing his Republican colleagues respond in a combination of alarm and dismay, and finally slowly witness the evaporation of the United States from the international scene while America is incrementally falling into darkness and backlog concerning the improvement of its national affairs. Basically there is no longer anything extraordinary about Trump’s idiocy and more and more the developing story is what if anything thinking Americans intend to do to stop the bleeding. Certainly Trump’s refrain of fake news, contradiction of his White House advisors and the undeniable failure of every election promise is becoming boring if nothing else.  For someone who insists on burnishing his public image Trump is rapidly declining and being viewed as the old man past his prime that he is. The public isn’t even entertained any longer by the incestuous machinations of his immediate family who increasingly appear to have distanced themselves from the inner workings of the American government. Trump’s suggestion that he would “drain the swamp” is turning out to be laughable in the face of his ubiquitous billionaire appointments to every office of government. He has compromised himself, his family, his platform and the entire nation.  Following the G20 meeting Europeans are standing apart from him (the bumbling and worn out television personality), already aligning themselves to fill the gaps left by the American departure from authentic issues such as climate change, global trade and international protection. Germany and France are rapidly emerging as the new and ethical alternatives to isolationism, nationalism and far-right thinking generally. The G20 leaders’ meeting was capped by Ivanka Trump sitting in for her father – between the British Prime Minister and the Chinese President – during Trump’s temporary absence. The distance between Trump and Caligula is narrowing.

As I tooled along the smooth open roads from the country to the city I diverted myself by making a telephone call to an ancient friend in British Columbia just to catch up and reconnoitre. As usual nothing much has changed. For either of us to be honest.  One of us is still dreaming about “going out feet first”, an idle aspiration which will inevitably fly in the face of good planning but which for the time being surprisingly constitutes acceptable authority for avoidance. The only more ludicrous ambition is to “spend it all before I die” (as though any one of us were capable of orchestrating the exact day of our death to correspond to the final depletion of our bank account). Meanwhile there persist the themes of “stay in my own home” and “continue to do what I’ve always done”.  You’d think we’d know better!

I round out this routine performance upon returning home by settling into my so called study in our tiny apartment. Though I have a formal desk at which to sit it is too cluttered for practical use, instead a graveyard of favourite mementos and photos. In addition to a mini sound system with wooden encased speakers, the desk harbours a desktop computer, a relic from my law office days.  I keep it because it has everything on it I once consulted on a daily basis.  Its utility is almost fully amortized though from time to time I am asked by a former client to look up some detail; or I need to recall the name of someone; or I want a document I once constructed.  Now for my personal projects only I have an Apple laptop computer which I’ve placed at one end of the dining table where I perch and from which advantage I can occasionally gaze thoughtfully out the drawing room picture window, a metaphor for quizzical contemplation. I fulfill my daily existential desideratum by writing, an enterprise which is not merely a spiritual necessity but a practical exercise with a thrust similar to Nike’s “Just do it!” catchphrase. I’ve at last discovered that the facility of writing like almost any other undertaking improves with repetition. The recurrence of fault inevitably lessens in the same way any other effort becomes streamlined with repeated application.