Tag Archives: Nova Scotia

Extract from a work in progress

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I am at last working on a story I had started way back in 1994! It’s also my first novella set in Halifax. I have written one short story set in Lunenburg County in Nova Scotia, and you can read that here, it’s titled A Rhyme and a Reason, the first thriller I have ever attempted.

And now, here’s a peek into a tale to be…

As she approached Scotia Square, Meera looked around seeing everything afresh. She marvelled at the old buildings standing amiably next to newer glass and concrete structures. The red brick and the sombre grey, articulated doorways with raised eyebrows looking forever down their noses at the large plate glass of some upstart new high-rise. Thankfully, there weren’t too many high-rise buildings here. There was an olde-worlde charm she hadn’t noticed before. It’s quite a beautiful old street, she thought. I’ve never really looked at it properly. A bit like Calcutta. Almost straight out of Dickens! Then she smiled, trust me to think of Dickens. I used to think it was a dreary grey English sort of street, which it is, but now I have a job and it takes on a romantic air. I am so, so, lucky. It’s been less than three months since we arrived and I have a job. Part time too, the most wonderful part of all. I can fix dinner, do the housework, make lunch… the plans started to fall into place. I’ll tell Ajoy that now we must do the laundry just once a week. Oh, God! A number two. My bus!

She almost shouted out aloud. Then lifting her sari slightly, displaying silver anklets worn over skin-tone knee-high nylon stockings, she ran to catch her bus. ‘I have a job’ the chorus in her head came to a crashing crescendo as she clambered up the steps and tossed the coins into the receptacle with a flourish. I’m an expert at doing that already. How Canadian will I get? She wondered. Will I ever wear pants? I may have to when it gets really cold. A dress? Never! It must be so strange to have all that cold air going up your legs, oof! She shuddered at the thought of it.

When she reached her stop, Meera almost ran up to the strip mall on at Lacewood and Vimy, where Ajoy had recently established their video rental store. She pushed through the door, he had a couple of older customers and was deep in conversation. so she wandered to the side and looked at the list of videos on offer. Through the corner of her eyes, she watched him speaking with animated gestures to his enchanted audience. Her heart skipped a beat, he had grown old so suddenly. The hair at his temples had begun to grey and there was a thinning patch at the crown of his head. His large soulful eyes, usually edged by laugh lines, had begun to droop in the three months since they had come to Halifax.

Shenanigans gone awry

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When I chose to work in advertising so many years ago I had no idea at the time that it would prove to be so much utter, unmitigated, idiotic fun. Someone, somewhere looked down on me and decided that I needed to come out of the shy shell (yes, those of you who know me now mayn’t believe it but I was once painfully shy) in which I enclosed myself. It was a self that smiled and giggled internally. The giggling I must confess sometimes burst out of control. And then I laughed with such abandon that those around me joined in even when they didn’t know what I was laughing about.

School friends, classmates… you remember. don’t you? In fact recently I met an old friend who asked me, “What happened? When did this personality change take place?”

Blame it on advertising. Blame it on the Creative Department. Read the rest of this entry

Corporate Dance

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It happens in every office. You notice it especially when the first half of the year draws closer to its end. The little dance. The schmooze sessions. The “let’s do lunch!”

These little scenes prompted a poem called Corporate Dance in my collection Corpoetry. See how the ‘chaps’ fall in step with the boss. Watch the ladies sashay along. They’re so in sync that it’s like a choreographed performance. Not Bollywood dancing. This is more subtle. Like a tango. The challenge. The turn your face the other way, but exchange a look. It has all the verve of old-fashioned ballroom dancing and a lot of very clever footwork – both literal and metaphorical.

Putting together the collection of poems that grew into  Corpoetry was so much fun. Once the poems began to flow I couldn’t turn a corner in the offices that I worked in when I didn’t find yet another situation that prompted a poem. Sometimes reading the news – especially during that financial crisis – brought on a poem like Big Cheeses which prompted Bob Cubitt’s wonderful review. I still keep thinking that if you, as a reader, have a situation, do please send it to me and I’ll create a poem for you. Who knows, we might end up with Corpoetry Two!

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Desert Flower blooms!

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As with so much of my writing, a chance remark, a question, a comment, often sets me off and before I know it, usually out comes a poem, sometimes a rant, sometimes a story.

And that’s how I came to write Desert Flower.

I had just started working at the Chronicle Herald, we were based in Dartmouth at the time, when I was surrounded by some colleagues all mildly intrigued by me. I guess I was something of a curiosity. The fact that I was “from away” in itself was strange. India, they had all heard of. But, Bahrain! “Where on earth was that?”

Some colleagues told me they couldn’t comprehend the heat I was talking about. And there I was, in the throes of trying to wrap my mind, my arms and my shawl (worn over my sweater, further fortified by stockings on my feet) around how cold it was and that was the middle of May.

“So, how hot does it really get?” One colleague asked me.

I started to explain it to him and then I thought. ‘I’m a writer. Why don’t I write it down for him.’ So that day over lunch, I started to write. And before I knew it, this romance story, jumped on me, like a devil on my back and every lunch hour for the next two weeks I simply had to bash out this story. Until it was done.

By then it was June. The story had gone galloping off in its own direction, so of course the colleague who’d asked the question never saw this. But I did share it with some of my other colleagues who thoroughly enjoyed it. It was too long to be a short story and too short to be a novella so it lay with me until I returned to Bahrain and shared it with some of my young Bahraini colleagues.

“You have to publish it”, they insisted.

“How do you know about so many of our old traditions? Like the ‘mashata, the dallal…”

“These are being forgotten…”

Finally, I was able to publish it. But that’s why, the opening lines are…

How can I explain that sort of heat to you?

Dry. The air so hot you can hardly breathe. The sun: a high, burning, intense fire in the heavens. You can’t look up to see it. It is shrouded in a heat haze, so that although one is aware of a single heat source, the entire dome above seems like a pulsating radiator reflecting that relentless heat back to the baking earth below.

In such a land nothing lives, save a few daring palms that would cheat the heat, and not let it extract their moisture by thickening their trunks and shredding their leaves, or scrub trees, those tenacious acacias – gnarled and thorny, husbanding their water and sap, even their chlorophyll into the tiniest imaginable leaflets – extracting from the unforgiving environment more cleverly than Shylock, life. In this inexorably cruel environment, is it any wonder that trust is a precious commodity, almost as valuable as water?

And love? It is a rare jewel. It lives as the cactus flower, bright, showy and flamboyant, but only for a brief while. It is a thumbing of the nose, from that plump succulent stem with its spiny leaves, at the heat and wasteland around it.

Such was the love that I had found so very long ago on a tiny island, just east of Saudi Arabia, called Bahr’ein, because of its two seas, the salty one that flowed around it and the sweet water sea that lay hidden both underground and beneath the seabed. So much like us, we who call ourselves Bahraini, with our salty and crusty exteriors hiding the sweet softness beneath.”

You can read the rest at any of the links provided at my publisher’s page here: http://www.ex-l-ence.com/Desert-Flower.php

As for the pen name? Ah, that’s another story.

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The birth of Corpoetry

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About eighteen years ago a chance remark from a colleague at the Chronicle-Herald, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, sparked off a buzz that has now eventually found expression in a collection of fifty poems that I’ve titled Corpoetry.

We were discussing an ad concept, when we heard that extra boisterous forced laughter that one associates with laughing to please. “Ah!” my colleague and friend said, “Corporate Laughter”. I found the phrase amusing and apt. But it entered that odd space that exists inside our minds where tunes get trapped, phrases beep-n-bop around, lyrics of songs we don’t even like buzz and we can’t get rid of them. So ‘Corporate Laughter’ bumped around inside my head.

I tried to dislodge it by listening to old music. Next I recited old nursery rhymes. Nope. It was still there. Grinning like a gremlin, ‘Corporate Laughter’ it said and hooted into my sleep, my dreams, my quiet space. Nothing helped until I sat down and wrote the first poem in what is my now published collection: Corpoetry. Then, like a deflated balloon it shrank to nothing.

The ‘thing’ didn’t disappear. But, I had found its weak spot – to write it out of my system in a poem – please understand I use the term: poem, loosely. These poems aren’t your highly artistic, searching-for-the-meaning-of-life poems. They’re just fun.

After that, every so often I’d see a situation that gave rise to another poem and then another. During my lunch hour, I’d sometimes use the clip art available and mix and match it with word art to create doodles to complement my poems. I had so much fun doing these that I soon began to see more and more situations, office dynamics, gossip, etc. that gave rise to ever more poems.

And that, dear friends is how Corpoetry began. You can find out more on my Facebook Page.

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Morning blues

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by Patsy Mills

Every day I wake up at nine
My feet hit the floor
A shower cleans me up
Now, I’m doin’ fine

Standing in my closet
Wondering what to wear
I find something decent
and do something with my hair.

A Timmies and a muffin
is on my mind
I reach for my keys to go
But alas, I cannot find!!

I retrace my steps
what did I wear last night?
After minutes of searching
My relief replaces fright!!

Out the door I go
Climb in my car and drive
I hope I make it,
my gas is very low!!

I detour to the gas station
and pour the gas I need
Tim Hortons is right next door
That’s my next stop, indeed!!

My choice is Medium coffee
and a muffin to go,
I wait and I wait,
Oh, the line up is slow!

Believe it or not
this is my morning brunch.
I know it won’t keep me fueled
I will soon be ready for lunch.

Halifax Streets

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From a place called Leeds Street

You can see the ocean

Behind an institute of technology

That spawned engineers and builders

The kind that mauled the hillsides with roads

And marshalled the trees

Into soldierly rows

Gouging out in a mere two centuries

What Nature had husbanded

Soil on rock, soil on soil, layer upon layer

Too thin a soil belt to hold a redwood tree

It bravely sustained pines and hemlock,

Birch, maple, elm and cedar

Too few to people the hills with now

They have become mere street names.

Memories of Nova Scotia – Cape Bretonese

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Cape Bretonese! The article below has been recovered from an old copy circa 2002 of The Chronicle-Herald, the renowned daily newspaper that has delivered news of the world, Canada and Nova Scotia to the people of the province since 1875.  I am proud to say that I worked there as an advertising copywriter from 1994 to 2003.

It is now several years since I left the Herald – as I moved to the Kingdom of Bahrain – but I still feel that I belong to that great community known affectionately as the Herald Family.  In addition, as any Bluenose Nova Scotian will tell you, once you become a Nova Scotian you’ll always be a Nova Scotian no matter where you go… or as they like to say “you can take the Nova Scotian out of Nova Scotia, but you can’t … (take Nova Scotia out of the Nova Scotian)”.

I dedicate this section of the blog to the memory of that most beautiful part of the world where the friendly warmth of the people can dispel even the coldest winter day.

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A Nova Scotia summer in the country

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A bunch of lupines, bending in the sun

Holding their sides and laughing just for fun

Too hysterical from giggling at Life and Lunacy

To stop and share their little joke with me.

A crowd of lupines, gathered in a field

Gossiping in knots of purple, pink and green

Smiling at the clouds, chatting on their knees

Unmindful of the weather and the sudden chilling breeze.

Read the rest of this entry