Saturday, 30 April 2011

Grind Writers meeting dates 2011

Please email me before you attend, as we sometimes move the venue -

Sun May 29
Sat June 11
Sun June 26
Sat July
Sun July 24
Sat Aug 6
Sun Aug 21
Sat Sept 10
Sun Sept 18
Sat Oct 1
Sun Oct 16
Sat Oct 29
Sun Nov 13
Sat Nov 26
Sun Dec 11

AMBER STONES by Lilija Valis

Amber has been washing up
on Baltic beaches a long time:
pine-resin preserved life,
Ice-Aged for posterity
a leaf, an insect

connecting us to a past
millions of years back,
turning it into gold
Gintaras is what they call it,
(the Greeks named it “electron”)
made into jewelry, it has been
traded since 7000 B.C.

associated with the Sun God,
the Awakener, symbol
of happiness and healing,
purifying and protecting,
it permeates the body with light

the Baltic coast dwellers,
people of the sacred stone,
older than history,
dedicated themselves
to guarding the Sacred Fire,

through centuries of invasions,
deportations and forced conversions
by the stronger and more numerous,
they kept the Sacred Fire burning,
as did the Persian Zoroastrians,

something ancient
and essential to life,
hiding and shielding it
from the changing winds,

taking it with them
to the corners of this earth.

© 2011 Lilija Valis


REAL by Lilija Valis

          Someone was asked if there were any real atheists.
         Do you think, he answered, that there are any real Christians?

— Denis Diderot (1713-1784)

Is anyone real?
I mean, is anyone One?
Or does everyone
and everything
have the opposite mixed in?
A saint commits a sin,
a criminal acts generously,
a soldier brings about peace,
a pacifist invites war.
Good can produce bad,
and bad bring forth good.
Certainly carries doubt.
Love can turn to hate in a split second
and hate can fall into love
against the will of the both.

Maybe that works best.
Don’t blame me.
I didn’t create the world.

Though I did my part
in reshaping society
and, forgive me, if it’s not
all the better for it.

© 2011 Lilija Valis


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wine & Write with Grind Writers - May 20, 7pm

Wine & Write

“Ernest Hemingway loved the Mojito, William Faulkner had his mint juleps, and F. Scott Fitzgerald was convinced gin was the way to go (he thought its smell would be undetectable on his breath).” ~NPR

Could a little sip from the bottle help all of us writers? We’ll find out at an experimental Wine Tasting/Writer’s Workshop on Friday, May 20 at 7pm.

We’ll sniff and sip before we get set on a variety of writing journeys. There will be reading aloud of stories, but don’t worry, the wine should unleash your confidence, inhibitions, and brilliance… or so this is the thought. Very experimental! Definitely fun! I will be leading this as the writing facilitator.

When the wine is in, the wit is out
~Proverb floating around the Internet

I guess we’ll find out.

*Seating is limited so please sign up early to save your spot.

Friday, May 20, 7 to 9pm
Harvest Table, Legacy Liquor Store (yes, a liquor store with a beautiful wooden table where we can sip and write).
1633 Manitoba Street in Olympic Village. Five minute walk from Science World/Main Street Skytrain.
$25 for Wine, Bread and Cheese
Who: For writers and aspiring writers led by writer and writing facilitator Gloria Chang (
How: Sign up through Gloria’s recently launched meetup group for eaters and drinkers:
Or send Gloria an email:
What to bring
A notebook and pen or laptop to write on. 

Here’s a link to a special web feature by NPR on writers and their cocktails

More info:   Gloria Chang

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Vachon to Seattle Grey by Pamela Swanson

vashon to seattle grey
stone and tarmac muttering –
a shopping day of here to there
garlic oranges apples peas –

a windless rain of back forth  -
ferry hopping groceries –
the streets are washed to half a pace
carrots lettuce yogurt tea

from paper shops to cutting boards –
the giant man still hammering
a steady background silhouette
for lemon juice and anise seeds

the banks are closed against the fog
on this monday eastering
through memories of here and not –
avocados broccoli –

my mother born a sigh away
inside the Swedish hospital
more than eighty years before
bananas ice cream cinnamon –

i feel an echo of her now
in videos that cross my eyes
reweaving ancient yesterdays
vanilla coffee envelopes –

and as i pause a waiting breath
between the stops of here and there
i almost see her smiling
seattle rains and postage stamps.

(c)2011 Pamela Swanson

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Their Painted Faces - by Bonnie (c)2011

Prompt:  If you could start your life over what would you do differently?

            Maybe I would start wearing makeup at a younger age. I know, I know…most people would probably choose something like:  I would spend more time in the garden or I would judge less and listen more.  But do you have any idea how hard it is to learn to apply makeup when you are in your forties?   
           When I was younger I never had need of it. I was always athletic and fit and looked great in just my skin. Now, even though I am still in fairly good shape, still healthy, I need whatever help I can get to make me look a little more attractive, or at least a little younger. So I have decided to start spackling my face with colour.  Makeup!  Now there’s a minefield.  Who knew it was so complicated?  
            When I was a kid, my sister had one of those Barbie Styling Head toys. Have you ever seen one of these things?  It creeped me out then, and the thought of it still makes me shudder a little.  It’s basically a large, plastic doll’s head cut off at the shoulders and fitted onto a base. Little girls create hairstyles and apply makeup to it.  My sister would spend hours playing with this thing, experimenting with colour schemes and dressing the hair in different styles, but I never really got it. 
            “This look is for when she is going out on the town,” she’d say very seriously, standing back so I would have sufficient room to appraise it properly.  Or, “here she is going to work in an office.”
            I would roll my eyes at her and head outside to play with the boys. War was the name of our game.  It involved sticks and running around trying to use them on each other.
            Even as a teenager I became disoriented whenever I walked into the bathroom at school and found myself confronted by a line of girls jockeying for space in front of the mirrors.  There would be a noxious cloud of hairspray hovering over them as they applied yet another layer of sticky lip gloss onto their pursed lips. 
            I preferred sports, and still do.
            But now I find myself crawling back to those very same girly types I distained, sadly in need of some help.
Twenty year old makeup counter girls explain to me the absolute necessity of concealer and discuss the pros and cons of shades of brown vs. shades of green eye shadow with my skin tone.  I try to focus when they’re talking, honestly I do—but I find myself staring at their painted faces and wondering if I dragged my finger down their skin, would it leave a trail? 
            Maybe if I had spent less time running around in the empty lot behind my house, trying to ambush Mike (who really was a little shit and very deserving of whatever he got), and more dressing up with my sister, I would be having an easier time of this whole aging thing now.
            Maybe, if I had played with the doll’s head I wouldn’t feel so out of touch when I look in a mirror today and wonder about the middle-aged woman staring back at me, or why her hair is such a mess. Would that have staved off the rapid decline of my skin, or the graying of my hair?  Or worse still, the downward migration of my breasts?
            After a day navigating the perfumed makeup counters or the over-priced hair salon that has suddenly become de rigueur, I find myself tying up my sneakers with anxious fingers, desperate for a run, or packing my swim bag and rushing to the pool.  Afterward, in the showers, I notice the sideward glances of teenaged girls. They’re thinking what I was thinking at their age.
            I am never going to look like that. 
            I just smile and turn around to give them a back view of their future horror. And the potions I buy – the lipsticks, the face creams, the powders – just keep accumulating in my bathroom cabinet while I go, go, go.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Talking About Your Fat - by Bonnie Sim (c)2011

A 10-minute free writing exercise

Prompt:  Is it more difficult for you to speak kindly of honestly?

“Do I look fat in this?” Suppose the answer is yes.  Maybe the answer is, “a little bit.” What do I say?  How do I say it?
You know, I wish I could just say, “Yes, you do, just a little.  But never mind about what you look like, stop being so damn insecure!” That’s what I wish I could say.  But that will never happen.  I’m a nice girl.  So it’s obviously more difficult for me to speak honestly than to speak kindly.  But is it really?  I’m terrible at small talk.  I choke on the words because they sound phony.  I don’t think people care what the weather is so much as they care about having a distraction from revealing too much of themselves…truth.
I do it differently.  I don’t talk at all.  I’m against small talk.  I cut straight to the chase, but I won’t tell you you’re fat.
You don’t look fat.
Just big-boned.
Ridiculous.  I won’t say that either.  What the hell is big-boned and why is it better than being fat?  I’d rather be fat.  Who wants big bones?! Sounds like a medical horror to me.  At least fat melts away, or it can.
Whatever.  I won’t tell you you’re fat.  I’ll probably change the subject…tell you I like the colour of your dress and ask you where you found it.
I don’t care about the dress that makes you look fat.  Why would I?  It makes you look fat.  I definitely don’t want to know where it came from.  Or perhaps I do, so I can avoid that place always.
Well.  It seems there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get an honest answer from me.  If it’s not, then at least it will be kind.  Probably not both though… especially if we’re talking about your fat.

Bonnie Sim: