January 16, 2016

You do know I'm dead, right?

Early this morning, I woke with a start and a strong yearning to print. With the negative in mind, I rose, slipped on yesterday's clothes and put on water for tea. With the Blue Betty and cup settled on the shelf, I got busy setting up the trays to print. There is nothing better than being up and around in the early dark morning hours of Winter, working on a project I feel free and compelled to complete at the time of day when I am usually heaving my body, bicycle and saddle bags over the Maryland bridge towards No Man's Land of Lindenwoods.

Happy at work in the darkroom, I put a favorite Iris DeMent tape into the player. Infamous Angel makes a good soundtrack when an empty brain is necessary. After Iris came my usual darkroom standby: John Prine's The Missing Years which always makes me think of Matt Seftel, Iain and my dad at the same time.

Years ago, Craig encouraged me to use blazing hot water in every tray. Blazing hot Developer. Ca va! The Schleddog told him so and I trust their wisdom. It is quite satisfying to see that magic appear lickety-split thanks to the hot temps. While exposing my first print around 7 this morning, it suddenly came to me why I felt so compelled to print twelve 5 x 3 3/4" prints of the same photograph. Marj!

Early this morning, I dreamt of Marj.

The original rascal at work.

As per usual, I announced my wonder over her striking beauty in a shouting voice, with urgency. While her physical body has been gone from this earth for five years now, I feel her spirit often in nature though the sighting of a wing or the brush of wind at the cheek is not quite the same as one of her crushing hugs. Thus, these Marj sightings are rare and precious. Perhaps this explains the consistency of my shouting habit in the dreamworld.

In a flash she was there, in my presence. No idea where we were gathered, but that doesn't matter. I yelled at her, "Aunty Marj you look gorgeous!!". And did she ever look lovely. Close crop pixie cut, high and healthy cheeks, laughter all over her face. Green outfit as always. Whenever I do meet her in my dreams (the last time was over a year ago), she always has an effervescent glow about her, along with a true-to-form air of confidence, warmth and pride. There was laughter in her eyes when she answered, "You do know I'm dead, right Megs?".

Yup. I do. And damn does that fact ever make my blood boil (when I allow it to). I had to laugh at her nonetheless. Her humour is just as wicked dead as alive. Still got it Marj! I miss you, you beauty.

I printed twelve copies of the same negative with love. One for each Reimer woman present in the photograph Marj herself should have been in--or at least photographed. I love that it was my grandfather Syd who captured us here. Grandma Helen should be front and center, Aunty Daryl's eyes are closed and Ziggy is missing, but other than those minor details, we make up a clan of strong women who love as fiercely as Marj did and miss her all the same.

From left: my mother Kim, Marj's girls: Kate, Jen, daughter-in-law Meaghan, Sara; my sister Erin, Grandma Helen, Nally, Aunty Daryl, Alex, myself and Aunty Christine. We are Reimer women, hear us ROAR!