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JC's work isn't known far and wide, but she's had a number of her plays performed at local venues and in small festivals. With restrictions easing up on social groupings (and being blatantly ignored-- I passed recently one group playing cricket in a park while another played volleyball. Neither observed social distance. I was quite surprised. I rarely ever see anyone playing cricket in Canada), she decided to gather nine people at a property belonging to a friend. We were to perform and discuss the creative process.

The meeting took place about forty minutes away, roughly the triangulation point to a couple of nearby small towns and one smaller one. That third one gets identified as a "community" by Wikipedia, which doesn't bother to comment on its population. I can only surmise it wasn't worth anyone's effort to find out, though I suspect they could be counted fairly quickly.

The yard where we met strived for rustic, a secluded lawn beneath summer blue skies. We sat, spaces between, near a small summer house and a sizeable pond with a flower jet fountain. It felt like the sort of occasion where one should be eating smoked duck.

Well, one always forgets to bring something.

Neither my wife nor I knew any of the others, save for JC. One participant was an actor. She delivered a couple of monologues, dramatically in character. My wife sang. The others read poetry. I was the only prose writer. I read a piece of flash fiction I recently wrote for a contest. A small and conventional sort of piece, it contrasts nicely with the slipstream craziness of my forthcoming book.

The dogs stirred and barked.

Someone arrived late and read a rant against our desire for perfection. I considered it a highlight of the afternoon.

A lot of what we heard, predictably, drew heavily on the current state of the world.

Last week, I entered my physical workplace for the first time since March. You may have heard about that Oklahoma City school where they took down a wall in 2015, and discovered it had been bricked up over a chalkboard no one had erased. The drawings and lessons from autumn, 1917, and an enigmatic list of students' names, all remained intact. Locals scrambled to preserve the board as an archaeological relic. Walking the halls and sitting at my desk reminded me a little of that. I'll be returning again this coming week though, for the most part, I will continue to work from home.

Protests continue in the streets and, inevitably, some people turn to violence. Recently the controversial, retired Roman Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ² sent an open letter to the current occupant of the White House, whom he sees as the only defence against the coalition of Deep State Operatives and assorted "Children of Darkness" who plan to institute the Freemason-inspired New World Order, and have organized the protesters as a part of their Evil PlanTM. Obviously, people wouldn't ever be genuinely upset about anything like, say, the killing of innocents or the degradation of whole classes of people. Sort of like how the by-then defunct Bavarian Illuminati caused the French Revolution or Rasputin single-handedly engineered the the end of the Czars. In any case, His Eminence posits that the same cabal also orchestrated the response to the current pandemic.

The American president tweeted positively about the epistle.

Decades ago, Kathleen Oliver complained it was hard to write satire because real life kept generating situations that were far more ridiculous than anything she could come up with. If you wrote (say) ViganĂ² as a fictional character, many conservative Catholics would feel unfairly parodied.

A pond away, North and South Korea continue to remind us that, technically, they're still at war. And, it must be mentioned (though the western media frequently fails to mention it), India and China aren't getting along. A person who grew up during a certain other Cold War between nuclear powers cannot help feeling a trifle nervous. Visions of Slim Pickens riding that bomb to Armageddon dance in our heads.

Nearby, yet another small town is experiencing a gypsy moth caterpillar infestation.

And my bad knee is acting up.

Much of what people wrote and read was influenced by the imperfections and atrocities of the global situation. Nevertheless we felt, for a time, sheltered.