Volume 3 of Aprhrodite's Garden: 1986 March - August  work & days: a lifetime journal project  









Rowen is about 10 months old when this volume begins, and 15 months when it ends. In part 2 I begin to work on a plot in the community garden. Michael meantime has rented and is cleaning up an old house above the southwest corner of Hastings and Jackson. Ramping up the war with T.

Halfway through part 3 I transcribe without regularizing for a while, so it's lower case and dashes.

Reading notes: agricultural politics, Buddhism, English garden history, Virginia Woolf Diaries and Mrs Dalloway, Walter Kauffman Goethe, Kant and Hegel, Michaux, Tantric ritual, Mary Webb Precious bane, Denton Welch journal, Roger Penrose, James Hillman The dream and the underworld, Brian Eno on compositional texture, Walter Kauffman on Goethe and Hegel.

Mentioned: Doris Lessing The diaries of Jane Somers, Al Reimer My harp is turned to mourning, Lis Rhodes Pictures on pink paper, Mary Webb Gone to earth, Starhawk event at UBC, 28-up, The Pargiters.

5th April 1986

Rowen bit my thumb hard. I screeched. He took it solemnly, put it in his mouth, bit it again very gently.


Watching Rowen's intensity learning objects. Crept to the edge of the top step, leaning over patting it, just balancing at the midline. I'm holding a fold of his sleep suit. He dares further, over the edge into the abyss beyond the first step, crowing with interest, talking, but precise with his limit, backing and turning carefully when he leaves.


In the laundromat with the kid standing holding the window ledge, whacking the glass with the flat of his hand pat pat pat his communication to it. Hollering. Turning his head with the big bus. Held up to see his clothes circling and falling. I like him for his demands to be given things to learn and his passionate eating.


"Having dealt with the betrayal of love sufficiently to release energy and attention"

I don't want anyone having secrets from me.

If anyone is holding a tension I feel it in the solar plex as a terror, and then unless I ask or say and it's cleared, I'm disabled.

Early waking, the kid still breathing asleep, trying to work with the solar. I found something! Going almost to sleep, got there by breathing in light, out toxin - suddenly felt it as a rapid pulsing of energy waves - because I'd got to the level where I could feel it.


In bed magnetizing the feet. Starts to drift. Saying there's another mind. She said "I've been wanting you to talk to me that way!" with such equal longing. As spirit was it. In essence. Oh are you there with them.

Then phone rings.


Dark, downtown into the malls, a man with worn teeth, on the compo. The woman lurching in dark mirrors, black face, hatred, spite, loneliness, fury that on a day of my time I'm so hounded by pain I have nothing to do but go ugly shamed disabled by shame, to a movie.

Everybody erased, only me left, to the whole earth. Would I like that? The pain wd be gone. Could I live that way now?

So what inferiority am I ignoring? Anger about the party. How many they have, that they did keep me out of this town and themselves.


Sitting. Later in the evocation of freedom from pain the sense of sitting taller, stretched or suspended in a wider darker space an even free fall.

D about the time she radiated waves of pure anger. Golden yellow maybe.

The sky was unlatched and flew, red scarf, walking blown in passageways in sight of towers of finely reflecting glass. Scarf unwrapping, so pleasant bright cold streaming.


Rowen in the bath. I'm at the table with the cards. Hear not a big splash, suddenly listening, a muted kicking sound, dashing in, looking down into the open eyes and open mouth of his face underwater. Drownd aghast. Seized, brought wet against my chest, turned upside down to drain, but he seems not to have taken any water, doesn't cough or sputter, cries, wrapped in towels, but not long. Big shuddering heartbeat, mine. Then is swimming on the floor bare bum, little singlet, pushing with the right foot, pulling with both forearms. Stopping and looking as a puddle forms underneath. A yellow carrot-fibre shit neatly extrudes.


He was hours in bed crying to get up, a horrible night with solar plex blazing and aches in muscles and joints, then the so light little voice saying ooh-kay ooh-kay, what I say when I do come for him.


The open ground. Walking like tundra, water, moss, gravel, reeds. Killdeer? with white and black collar bands. Cock pheasant planing up with feathers spread, robins on lumps, goldfinches (Michael said joyfully) jumping in a bush. Water crackle and glitter. Plot drawn in red string, with a gate. Around the periphery yesterday, and again, carefully looking at the rocks, granite setts found singly, large slabs of sparky white stone for seat and lintel. 50' carpenter's tape found yesterday at the pawnshop for 6 bucks. To measure out 5' across the top, 4 down the side, center path 2', ah, dig it up put the rocks in and it will be the drain. Pickaxe! Where. The shiny, heavy, poreless unhealthy clay, dumped in clods, dead stuff, though small worms, holding a month of rain in the top 8". Dry pan below (50# of lime) unbreakable with the spade.

Way across Prior a Chinese man in a picture window watching her work alone in the big, the vast, field. All the edges with hobo nests, hardboard from the produce warehouses, blackberry, broom, some little poplars rippling and glittering their beautiful way. Down in the corner a marsh, marsh grass. Cardboard tents near the pools, many paths, takeout styro platters.

Yesterday when I was laying string, rain sky, 9 fighters in a hawk shape buzzing the princess. And Josie! At the corner by Michael's. (And Trudy's plaster fell.) And Michael in his house and running across Hastings at the light. And Rowen in his puppy bed.

I can see the garden, I know how to make it. The work is sanity, blood acids gone, just being in the expanse with perimeters far away.


Sunday. The legumy dell, baby sitting in it, cumulous in blue, behind broom bushes a young boy's voice saying 'meadowlark' to his friend. Rowen with shoes in front of him. Knolls and dumped concrete slabs. In my site seeing when water pools, compacted subsoil. What I thought to do is called a French drain and can use all the little rocks.


The pickaxe. What has to be quick, dig all the beds and rock drains.


[We buy manure.] Tonight pink nightfall, copper blazing windows, with big black Mr Stiglich from Langley in a very slow three-quarter ton truck with rusted iron dump box. The kid in sleepers and red windbreaker (in the other room now, 9 o'clock, singing), his first time in a truck. Sat on the grass while we fetched the cardboard. Big slow farmer with what kind of mouth is that, a shy hard worker, with a ridged lip, swart, far over the line into man, so big he got out of the truck to get to the money in his pants, four crushed 2's.

Nice stuff, gorgeous, black, glossy, fibrous, warm.


Speedy, brutal. Burnt eyes and shoulders, cracked mouth from the weather. Brown face, bum muscles and forehead acid ache. A tearing organization mind won't stop, got its teeth into. Leaving Rowen coughing in the pushchair this morning, in damp cold, crying and then sleeping, I have to haul manure. Careless with people, don't care to impress, any talky mind, being like people, mindless. Conscience worried I'm not fine but loving the aggression, command, assembly, the plan, coming new to its materials, dirt, rocks, wild field, persons, events like Mr Stiglich and the manure, the keenness of the birds, map elucidating, tools, library books, seed packages sorted in plastic bags, doing something and body able. Sometimes refuses, then heats up, gets going. Will only work if fed.


We work till 6. The kid eats, talks, does little acts in the mid, is happy the whole while, four hours. What a good day. Sun. Laiwan coming with her childy clean face and nice slight clothes. Liking to look at a big bumble butting in the grass heads. Taking pictures of Tex's and Andre's houses and a man in a sleeping bag, who stirred. Oh the glitz on the reeds and little rocks. Two more sidewalks. We mention martins and see one zoom. M digs gate post holes and has got what he wants, she's nice to him again. Turkish peasant family.

He and Laiwan making the same kind of jokes.

Fork, spade and pick, seeds in their pots. Moon same color as those cloud things. A short rest. Seeing Rowen Baby's wool hat fiber clear in the deep blue. He pat pat and finger tip nibbled.

This evening! in the bath, Michael does a monkey scream, R laughs, screams his worst.

Last night the black woman, a lot of other story, but, big very bright mischievous and on, she puts her arm around me from behind, says I'm your grandmother. I say, A while ago I dreamed a black woman said she was my grandmother. (She was too.)

What else. One of my journeys to the south.


Out on the prairie my house and garden. Working with falling water, standing water, a dead small poplar, dead broom, swelling cracking seeds, especially the peas like nice fat babies. Heat in the beds, where from, don't know, warmer than the air. Transplanted herbs perky and reshaping. The Chinese gentleman's Sunday visit, curious, courteous, intimate, human.


Over the weekend the kid learned to pull up to stand. Did it at night. Crying, couldn't get down.

With Laiwan in the old green chop suey house. The perfect edges of her teeth.


Traveling there faint and disoriented from not having eaten, buy an orange juice, there's little time, go back for a small fruit salad, $2.25. Carrying it, some pieces fall off. I'm jittery, the boots with heels worn dangerous, I stumble on the stairs, most of the fruit jumps out into the water. Why do I forget the sadness of fearing starvation.

Explains fury at people I met (who can eat).


Michael and Laiwan help move the stone out of the corner. It's warm, new sprouts show from one half hour to the next. The pheasant hen and the cock twenty feet behind glide up the west perimeter. I see blood show and disappear in the earthworm's scribble vein.


Body body thank you for being back - blue jeans and bare feet - to dance in - across the street when the music keeping me awake is good -

June 1st

Kitchen cleaning he dreaded I'd overrun. Just start in one corner. Little nice dishes, agreeing which are the good ones, the beautiful cut glass square ashtray a mutual jerk forward. I sort, he distributes. Rowen in his brown plaid shirt with arms rolled up, peacock blue shorts barefoot dirty in the walker. "I'm having old-fashioned feelings, I'm hating dirt." "It's not old-fashioned, it's that there's too much of it." He's radiant bright eyed because I'm helping. The filthy fridge works.


I often don't know whether I've left them or they me. When I'm abandoned I want to leave.


Last evening lying in Michael's arms in the red armchair, my head on his shoulder, blue jean thighs up on the arm, near sleep in so unusual comfort, seeing the garden, images after a day in love working there. Clearing the south and making a seat and a wall. The wall's only suggested, by laying the green rocks up against the potatoes - lovely scales, the bit sift on the path, small rocks in the ditch running past, beyond it very small monument stones, buttercup heads floating, vetch rafts, sheen. If I turn sideways and look over the potato hill, it's down onto a cultivated field with fine individual beets, tiny carrot tops (basil buttons), effervescent California poppies. The cold frame like a factory over the road.

In the morning making love with the imagined one who knows how, coming into a lovely soft mind, the early mornings with Jam. Self presence quiet to see the one speaking in me is my other, like any other.

The gardens our homologies. Henry's long thin patch with malt barley seamed through. My neighbour's healthy altogether coherent effective square. Peggy's odd skimped little dust patch. Pam's half used material. Tex's shallow abandoned hole. André's deep abandoned hole. Gretchen's broad social experiment with cute seashells and liddle piles of stones, patient green manuring and glorious crush of rye, vetch and field-pea purple eye. David and Susy's pit methodically planted with 2 kinds of bought seedling.


Under a sky amazing with shapes of action, that I don't stop to see, in weather running change, undervest and jeans, setting stones, rain drops, screened heat, body pliable, narrow, stones surprisingly light (the green), from a little distance the part already done looks good and solid.

2nd July

Sitting with Laiwan in the garden - the trees are moving - if clouds were stones and fell - I'm not under one - if stones were clouds and we were falling - a small wind crashes the cold frame glass. Oh! and the Devon pitcher last week, was falling and still whole, I was whole with it, and then tho' it seemed the fearful moment was already past, it was shattered.


In my bed feeling the shape of the muscles of my bum. These days walking without weight in sandals many blocks, fierce dark & bright turning on people who stare at my foot, a street warrior, using my eyes like weightless perfect knives -

Or walking a block, Chinatown in proper heat & light, thinking of something & seeing no one 'til i'm stopped at the corner.

Rowen in fever lying in my lap in the armchair, chaircover turned up so he won't feel an icy breeze, solid hot head on my upper arm, quiet, while I turn pages with the left hand, in Oxford hearing of a good father.

The monster is away & Jam's hatred isn't in me either. I don't care about an intimate. What I wrote about Peter Epp was swift & unpredicted. Little marrows I brought with a feather of dill, Buddhist poppy, four little potatos. Handful of radishes, when I cut them had a clear sound tok like a thing in perfect molecular order.

Now it's the evening light, a black shadow inside a dormer window, the pear tree, hemlock, maple. Blackberry screen is orange stems still, orange green & black leaf moving like Rowen's hands when he talks. Power post's shadow there too, from here, a strong straight line.

Then that fire-light was gone. It's in an ember wash still, subtler, the stems brown not orange, no shadow in the dormer.


About power, is it that the place you're given in the community decides the strength of the mind you will have to work with?


The feeling as in all my acts of war of speaking crudely only a part of the truth - of puzzledly having to side with a crude self of village power struggle. It's an impersonating feeling. I'm not completely behind it, I project it like a whirling sword at a distance in front of me. A remote control. "This is stupid but I have to do it." Because for some reason it works.

Something else I'm noticing in my wars, the contrary voice that says oh, but .... I hear the voice but I'm not sure it's conscience. I override it, like father overriding mother I think. The overriding is abrupt, no, just like that. It seems to me that in the pain days I was that voice, or maybe more as if I gave myself to that (Christian) counsel.


"Poppies are such sexy things." Their little dresses.


When we lie down in the garden meadow we see ahead of us the most complex particulated something, dazzling and finely focused in every part, certain gathers of intensity seeming to give off another invisible color of light. Facing it almost in unbelief, in unbelief, can I see something so finely multiple.


But here in the blue pages writing sky and glass oh it endures and catches and is my companion made with a companion, in the new time alone.


I want to drive her out, as long as she's here I have to lock myself out of myself because if I'm here she'll kill me. Why don't I move? Because this is my place from before her time. I have to stay in it until she's gone, then I can move.

What it's like living in this house, my self, with Trudy downstairs and Rhoda across, apprehensive always, is she in, is she out.

How would it be if they left. I'd be safe at home. I could test and criticize myself and watch myself or not, with Rowen and Michael and friends.

What do you have against them. They defeated me.

Are you still defeated? I am until they go. Then they are defeated.


Rowen yest morning standing by the armchair in his pink short sleeves in sun and clean air through the windows hearing starlings says eagerly wuff.


We go to the garden through a magicked neighbourhood with such trees, such lit doorways throwing color onto flowers, and cross the road, Ammi boldly, the women timidly in such light from yellow sky with yellow new moon line and Venus point, picking out the tansy heads beside the path. We're on wet grass and clover and Elyse sees the sunflowers coming. Judith sits down on the sea. Elyse likes to smell the lettuce with roots. Ammi goes to the edge of the meadow and sees the shades of ... "shades of shades" ... of sky. With blimp. "This is the most beautiful garden I've ever been in." Yes, yes. A white summer squash like a baby to carry home.

Then Michael knocks because sky moon and blimp were too much for him. "Just stay here for a moment and be quiet" in the big dark quiet wet rectangle of park grass with keen blissful porchlights. His eyes seem to roll. "What happened to you." "It's impossible to say." "There's a nice smell." "It smells like an old farm." "Haying." "Yes haying." Have I ever said the glad comfort of being with Michael somewhere.