I don’t like the passive aggressive tone of “Be nice to me…” but when you’re down a pint of blood it’s hard to resist a sticker enthusiastically slapped on by a volunteer.
The first time I gave blood was in Perth, Australia. I was wandering around downtown and saw a huge banner flapping on a building, “Give Blood Today!” I thought “Why not?” I found out my blood type is A positive.
A few years ago I started going to the mobile clinic in town. Under a table in the middle of the room there was a cardboard box with “Fragile” in red letters and the image of a full wine glass. I turned to the nurse and said “Sort of gives a mixed message as to who the blood is for, eh?.” She said she’d never noticed that before. The boxes have all been tucked into a far corner of the room since.
I assumed my veins were hard to find and my blood was thick because it always seemed to take at least a half hour to pump out a bag and several nurses would prod my veins looking for a “good one”. I worried when they see me walk in, they collectively groan and draw straws.
52 days ago, my blood was flowing slowly. A nurse came over, adjusted my wrist, and the needle popped out, blood started spraying. “Ohh shit shit!” she put on gauze, and called for help. They couldn’t continue but said my half pint would still be useful. I felt like I let them down.
This time was different. I silently appreciated the nurse was wearing converse sneakers. She complimented me on my skin tone and said directly and in earnest “You know, we love you here.” I let out a little laugh and said that’s very kind. She found a vein easy and smoothly taped the tubing to my arm. I settled in with a few zines, assuming I’d be there for a while. Half way through Katie Johnson’s, “What a Beautiful Face – A Neutral Milk Hotel Fan Zine”, the nurse checked on me and said “Wow! You are almost done. If it was going any faster, I’d worry I hit an artery. This might break a record… wiggle your fingers more… yeah it’s speeding up… Oooo, come on, go go go!” She was leaning over my blood bag, rocking back and forth in it’s sling, cheering the dark red sack on.
I was a few seconds off of a record. The nurse said “Well that was fun” and walked me over to the transition table where I got the sticker and a bottle of water.
On walls, leaning up against walls, or waiting for frames.
Many Christmas’s ago, my Brother made each of us sisters 2 portraits, out of cupboard liner, then sealed in resin. My middle sister got a portrait each of her pug and french bulldog. The youngest had two of her blue nose pit bull. As Luka hadn’t come into my life yet, he naturally made me two wolves.
This is really big. It deserves a professional frame job but I don’t want to know what it would cost. I’ve had a hard time finding an old frame, it’s an odd size I guess. I should just put my carpentry skills to use.
Walking along the creek to the book shop in a stormy mood, swirling grey clouds of mehhh. I saw my Dad, 6’5″, white beard, parked behind the store, under the maple tree. He waved at me. I lumbered my shitty self over as he pulled open the side door and heaved out a stone slab.
It’s called “The Stranger”, painted by a girl, around my age, in the Similkameen. Dad got it from a friend at the swap meet. It weighs about 35 pounds. I haven’t figured out where to put it.
On the floor to the right there is a long scrape. Three weeks after re-finishing the floors, it still stunk like urethane and we were sleeping with all the windows wide open. At 2am I woke up to the sound of a vicious cat fight outside and a loud – thump – thump – thump – scuttle.
I ran downstairs to find the neighbors furry white cat, freaked the fuck out, perched high on the couch and Luka thinking all her dreams had come true. The cat bolted through the kitchen to the mudroom, then back through and upstairs. Luka was so excited she dug deeply into the still curing floors trying for traction.
Blood from the cat – my neighbor said she fights racoons – was speckled all over the walls. After trying to coax it out of the attic space it darted past me and back out the window. 3am I was still washing specks of blood off all the recently painted walls. Our floors are fucked but the cat turned out fine.
Sister gave me a shower curtain. I had to perch on the sink and still couldn’t fit it all in. It hangs in the barely functional upstairs bathroom. People visiting usually state “Wow you really like wolves”. When they look behind the door in that bathroom, a mumble of “Oh Jesus” and I feel them quietly assess how well they know me.
This big, beautiful, boofer. Descendant of the wolves. Found at the Enderby flea market. I looked up at D with pleading eyes “We haft to have this”. The seller seemed pleased he’d put 15 bucks on it and we thought it was worth every cent.
What does a family with a bookstore, with a daughter who is mad about wolves give her every birthday? Books on wolves. One day I’ll read the lot. Til then they take a special place on my shelves with Elf Quest – which I’m guessing spawned the wolf love as a child, learning to read by studying Dad’s Elf Quest collection – and my favorite illustrator John Bauer.
This one I possibly cherish the most. I’ve read again and again and take up to the farm for comfort.