While out walking my dogs and doing some introspections I had to admit to myself that, yep, I’m an angry old guy. It is never correct or healthy to carry anger inside one’s self but it happens and the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting it. To direct rage at someone else is always wrong. I realize that I am volatile and that frustrates me even more. I’m aware of, and working on my personal issues, there is no reason to make anyone else wear my angst.
I recently attended a meeting in regard to the attempted ousting of the Ladysmith Maritime Society. I’ve written about this at length in various publications and whole-heatedly (Intentional pun) oppose this travesty against basic protocol, dignity and political acumen. There is clearly no sense of political correctness on behalf of the local municipal government, the provincial government nor the local First Nations. They appear determined to crush a very valuable achievement of and asset to the community of Ladysmith. There is an odour of some secret political agenda which exceeds any of their stated intentions. A large group of members in the LMS have put a huge piece of themselves over the years into building up a fabulous facility which self-entitled factions now have decided to acquire for themselves. The word ‘piracy’ comes to mind.
These regular meetings are intended to update LMS membership about the progress of our defense against an impending takeover. The meetings are informally chaired by the LMS executive director. He’s a fine fellow and possesses qualities I never will. He is charming, silver-tongued, apparently meticulous and presents himself with a smooth charisma. At this recent meeting I heard once again the same delicious looped rhetoric as I’ve listened to ever since the issue arose. There has been no true progress in favour of the LMS situation. Every member lives with fear and doubt about the eventual outcome of this debacle. I’m sure our man is doing his job very well, and there is still our daily business to run, but smooth talking is producing no results in regard to fighting the takeover looming over us.
When I passionately interjected that our man was our employee and had no personal investment in the story, such as having his own boat to moor, I was asked angrily to leave. Fair enough. I did, amid accusations of having “Strong opinions”. Well folks when you’re fighting for something important, strong opinions are absolutely necessary. Placations may leave warm and fuzzy feelings but they get nothing done. In fact the Stz’uminus Band is now trying to coerce LMS members to renew their annual moorage agreements with them in October, instead of with LMS at year’s end. WOT? I, For one, will NOT start singing “Roll me over in the clover.” It is said of bacon and eggs that the chicken is involved and the pig is committed. I hear nothing but clucking; from everyone.
It is time that everyone affected by this matter get ferociously pissed off. Canadians have developed a digressive approach to most social issues. If we weren’t so damned polite perhaps we’d hold a much firmer position within the global community. Our Prime Minister eternally tries to be politically correct with everyone and has earned all the respect nationally and internationally of a jelly fish. If we found ourselves being invaded like the Ukraine we would be lining the streets to ask the marching troops not to step on our flowers please. Journalists frequently refer to “Illegal Wars.” What’s a legal war? We’re at war, OK? Bang!
I have constantly ruminated about this blog for the past week. Should I post it or not? Whom will I offend? No-one I have not already. If you truly believe within yourself that your stand is correct then it is right to speak up. It would be dishonest not to.
I don’t own a boat at the moment and have no tangible reason to involve myself in the ongoing muddle at LMS. No one seems to want to actually raise a fist and lead. I’ll remove my volatile self and strong opinions from the mix and watch from afar. The fool on the hill.
“The object of war is not to die for your country but rather to make the other bastard die for his.” George Patton.
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September 3rd. I’m still digesting the fact of life that we go on without Jimmy Buffet. It is not so much the man, but the idea of him and what he represented that puts us at the end of an era. We need positive people and the joy they spread.This year began with me still missing John Prine. I always will. Since then we have lost Tony Bennett, Sinead O’connor, Robbie Robinson, Gordon Lightfoot and now Jimmy B. I’ve probably forgotten someone.It’s a parade! All things pass, so shall we.
Six doors down on our street a pub opened its doors last year. It was an instant success. I’ve never been able to sample their fare, they are too busy to get inside the place. Good for them. Yesterday they chose to host a wedding feast. The band struck up in mid-afternoon and the cacophany continued late into the evening. The streets were clogged with parked vehicles as the din of yodeling, screeching, thumping and twanging wore on. It did not sound very joyful. The dogs in the neighbourhood were as pissed off as their owners. Over the racket, our back alley nemesis could be heard bleating at her dog, “JOEY, ferfucksake shaddup!” Apparently this is how we celebrate marital bliss and hope. Are there any divorce shindigs?
When I was little folks would tie cans to their heavily decorated vehicles and drive around town in a procession while honking their horns. People would rush out to witness the spectacle. What a different world now! While the noisy festival ground on I tried watching a nature prgram about the Hebrides. It was narrated by the honey whisky voice of Ewan McGregor. In one segment he described the nesting of migratory swallows inside a whiskey distillery warehouse. The birds watched as men took annual samples from the barrels. It was explained that these barrels had been stored for ten generations of swallows. I thought the overlooked but obvious pun was hilarious.
Tuesday after the long weekend. The world seems dreamy, languid. I remembered to slow to 30 kmph in the school zones. I didn’t see one child but there had to be a cop in the bushes somewhere. We’ve skidded all the way through summer and now we’re savouring the last sips from the bottom of the bottle. We may have a nice run right to the end of October but we know better than to take anything for granted.
I am certainly not. I am forcing myself to finish out this blog on my tablet. I terrifies me. I sit poking away and suddenly what I wrote skids off somewhere else. I poke away with my banana fingers trying to put things back in order, mystified at what I’ve done wrong. I am a true bog trotter and I have a hell of a time assimilating new technology. Artifical intellilligence perhaps but stupidity will always be real.. I’m not stupid, crazy perhaps, I’m just not prepareded to perform remote virtual brain surgery…through the rectum!
One of the things that computers allow me to do is to travel the world without leaving my fat bastard’s chair. Vicarious travel is certainly no substitute for the real thing and I’m eternally eager to explore any road I’ve never been down before. Even if it’s an ugly road, there is something to be gained in the experience. Meanwhile I can simply enjoy meandering along the local back roads in reaql time, there are more than enough for a geezer on a motorcycle. A beer moth. I heard, or misheard that, while a fellow described a large motorbike, a behemouth. I’ll take it. I’m going beer mothing.
“We talk a lot about the five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. I would add one more…imagination.”
― Wes Adamson
I’m on a list for a knee replacement. The old knee, after a lifetime of abuse is mush. I know that. With old age comes memory loss and I keep forgetting that I am not nineteen any more.
I’ve been blipping around on a tiny motor-scooter, often feeling like a pig on a roller skate and it is time to find a bigger ride. My bowed legs are stubby little numbers and finding a proper motorcycle with a low enough seat which I can still load into my own into a trailer, and afford, it’s an exhaustive search. There’s a voice on my shoulder telling me I’m too old to be messing around on motor bikes. It can go to hell.
So, I’m visiting a local motorcycle dealer and finding myself interested in a Royal Enfield Himalayan. I want simple, reliable and affordable. This particular bike is more than one hundred pounds over my weight stipulation but it is well-balanced and smooth-riding. It also reminds me of the British bikes of my youth. Royal Enfield is built in India and as I joked to the dealer “Who else has been to the moon lately?” The dealer tossed me some keys and said, “that’s the one, take it for a ride!” And so I did. It was short. The seat height is perfect, but there were cargo racks in the way and swinging my stiff wee legs over was a challenge. I retracted the kick stand, put it in gear, let out the clutch, stalled the engine, and promptly dropped the bike on top of myself. My old knee had folded up. End of ride. Fortunately, no-one was watching but my ego was crushed. I knew to not be so stupid as to try to ride away. Home I came on my little red scooter. I’m humiliated and angry, to say the least. There are plenty of old farts motorcycling around, I just need to buy a can of good attitude.
Libby, the wee dog who sleeps beside me, woke up with a tiny growl to a wonderful music. Rain was hammering on the bedroom skylight. In my dreamy state, it sounded like thick bunches of sweet grapes. It was a brief reprieve and certainly heartening. We have a few days of sprinkles, which seem to always come when the days of summer become cooler and then more autumnal. Now we’re used to the heat, it’s fading away, a short Mexico primer.
September 2nd… The day the world learned that Jimmy Buffet has died. His music and spirit will never pass. We just have to live on in a world without him. I was never a “Parrot Head” but truly admired his songwriting acumen and ability to impress other folks with his joy for life. Well played.
Last night a dragonfly trapped itself in the living room skylight. It made a helluva racket, clattering its wings up in that soundbox. I taped a broom handle onto a mop and stood on a ladder to reach the big beauty. It climbed aboard. I gently transported that big insect outside and shook it free. Once I was a small farm boy who would take his .22 rifle out looking for things to kill, anything at all. Little song birds, furry harmless little animal, every creature that has more right to life on this planet than I did. Now I take extra effort to help things live. There are different ways of growing up. I’m glad I’ve discovered that. Then this morning I learned Jimmy was gone. End of blog. Jimmy’s passing reminds us that we are all moving closer to the head of the line. Let’s make the most of it while we can can.
“ Some people will never like you because your spirit irritates their demons.”
(Of course, maybe it is your demons that are irritating their spirit.)
I did not get a photo. I was laughing too hard. He was a brawny four pounder, four inches across at the shoulders, bristle-faced with two gleaming black eyes. Jill and I have each been awake half the night trying remember his name but we can’t. (Recalling our own names can be a challenge.) It was lugubrious and meant something like unconquerable. What was truly amazing about this wee beast was how he peed. He stood up on his front legs, extended his little pinky and squirted away. How he avoided soaking himself is another trick. We both saw it. Is this an evolution of simply cocking a leg? Is it a provocation of his name?
A little research says that it is not that uncommon. It is a little dog’s attempt to “overmark” other dog’s pee mail. No big deal and come to think of it, a huge number of humans do the same same thing, at least figuratively. Everything is a pissing contest for some folks as they try to compensate for a sense of inadequacy. We do tend to wet our own knitting all too often.
Temperatures in Ladysmith lately have risen to the mid-thirties. Funny what happens in August. It IS very, very dry and the usual summer westerly wind is howling. I’m terrified of what can happen if there’s one fool smoking a joint in the bushes. Yes it actually keeps me awake. Our Volunteer Fire Department Emergency call-out siren blows regularly. I’ve helped fight forest fires and there is no romance in any of it. With the present winds any flame will become a monstrous blowtourch that nobody can outrun or control. There is a campfire ban for the whole province, I think no-one should be allowed into the woods, anywhere. I suppose the BC Ferry campgrounds are safe enough, all the trees were cut down long ago.
The smoke thickens. It seems half of the interior in BC is ablaze. The smoke has settled over us here on the coast thickly, one can even taste it. I’ll keep my own opinions to myself and hope desperately that no runaway fires burst out here on Vancouver Island. Further to the south, Mexico has been hit from the Pacific by Hurricane Hilary. There is extreme flooding. My beloved Barb’s Dog Rescue, presently caring for four hundred dogs has had its decrepit electrical system wiped out. They can’t even pump drinking water at present. They’re desperately reaching out for any help folks can offer. It’s a perfect time to win a lottery. One of my joys would be helping certain folks out… and telling others where to go.
I cannot explain it. I am by nature a creative character; I can make a mess of anything. I do like what I can do with my writing and my cameras but this year I’ve had a hard time forcing myself to make videos. I find that work very challenging and my technical abilities remain primitive. Nevertheless I’ve put this effort together:
I hope you like it and I would love any comments and suggestions. I watch a lot of travel vlogs on YouTube and feel inclined to bend that way. I’ll start with routes and back roads locally. So there, now I’ve posted a commitment and I’d better get out there. Have scooter-cycle, will ride.
I should mention that I have not heard a lot of whinging about the heat this summer. That seems most unusual. Perhaps with all the press about our province-wide wild fire devastation we all realize how fragile our existence really is. One flipped cigarette butt and we could face a horrible doom. Life is that close to the edge. The streams are all running dry and we are only mid-way through summer. But then, think of all the other places we could be living. There is nothing we need or want that we cannot take for granted. And so far, we are still free to leave. So far we can still feel safe flying in Canada in our own private jet.
By the way, it’s a blue moon month (Two full moons in one month) Thursday the 31st, last day of the month. Be on the highest local peak for the moonrise, just bring your dancing boots and don’t worry about what to wear. Get naked!
Saturday morning. Sirens wailing. Woo, woo, woo. Another wreck on the highway where people hurtle through town in a quest to hurry up and relax? The sirens stop abruptly, somewhere nearby. Perhaps another old soul in the neighbourhood has a medical crisis. Dogs bark, the children next door make the noises of happy children. There’s a country song coming out of all this. Goldang!
Sunday morning. Overcast sky, it feels good. There’s a forecast of rain two days away. We’ll see. Joey is barking out her morning sonata. This poor old German Shepherd has been at it for the fifteen years we’ve lived here. She’s a fine dog who never gets walked and has a path worn along the inside of her back fence. She sounds fierce but I can pet her and give her treats. It’s the silent rottweiller she shares her existence with to watch. Everyone wants to shoot the dogs for their incessant noise, I want to deal with the owner. Occasionally there is a shout of “Joey shaddup” but that is a token of showing she cares. I don’t know what to do to ease the torture of these poor creatures. They turn the back alley into a gauntlet for anyone walking by. The neighbours complain to each other, nothing changes.
The long weekend is past, we’ve had a wee sprinkle of rain. Despite their best efforts there have been no heaps of traffic victims on the roadside waiting for their helicopter ride. It has to be a miracle that dozens don’t die on our roads daily. They sure work at it. Enough said.
I went to see a surgeon yesterday and am now on a list for a new knee. Something within the next year. Now that’s something to look forward to. I understand that the healing process is long and painful but the reward is to have no more pain and crunching parts. The old knee is worn down to nearly the last kick. I was warned, but life is wasted on the young and I can’t think of one thing that I’ve proven except that I’m an idiot. The new synthetic knee is a marvel of engineering. I examined one yesterday. Once the Canadian Tire label is gone it will look good on any fireplace mantel. It is a result of modern technology, cleverly designed and built. The stainless steel knuckle will cause hell in airport security but we will deal with it at the time. I asked if I could get one with a grease nipple. The surgeon has a sense of humour, everything will be fine.
This blog was slid to the back of the shelf to ferment, or perhaps, desiccate. Days have passed. There are no dramas or points to ponder so we have just sat. Even I’m finally admitting that it’s bloody hot today. There’s a lovely Westerly breeze blowing but it is like a blast furnace when you step outside. I am cooking supper on the barbeque, it would be too warm to bake a meat loaf inside. All the fans in the house are murmuring away. It feels relatively cool in here at my desk, but the air seems to go muddy again, I stare blankly at the wall. Perhaps that is an achievement.
Sunday morning again, suddenly it is a week later, still the sirens wail. Woo, woo!
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
I’ve mentioned before that the original intent of this blog was to describe my travels; ocean voyages, desert treks, new discoveries and all the amazing people along the way. It just hasn’t worked out due to an incredible inability to raise funds. There was a time when it seemed that money just happened. I don’t know how things have changed other than not being able to work at a regular job but there’s still lots of money around, it just seems to be in soft pink little mitts that have never even had a callus. I can hear a good friend who often rages about all “The non-producers.” He’s right! Working smart? What’s that?
I’m not complaining (Well just a little) just explaining, and I continue to poke into the mundane and daily humdrums to find things to write about. There are some amazing treasures which we walk right by. Isn’t it funny how memories can be triggered by something totally innocuous? I was sitting at this desk while my wife watched a favourite BBC production. One character’s line was simply “Pass the pepper please.” I’ve always liked peppery food. Suddenly I recalled how as a small boy my parents and other adults at a dinner table would often caution me, “Not too much pepper, it’ll make your blood dry up!” Where the hell did that one come from? I’ve done my research and find no origin of that myth. I clearly remember hearing it often. Surely there must be other food notions that we endured. Do you have any?
The other eating terror I recall was about swimming after eating. My mother believed that if, after eating, a person entered water too soon, they would endure crippling stomach cramps and drown. When my parents moved to town a point of order was to enroll me for swimming lessons at the local pool. I can recall the acrid taste and smell of chlorine, the biting cold of the water, the incessant whistles of those goddamned lifeguards. In a few horrible lessons I was taught all the many ways to drown (although there was no mention about when not to eat.) I held a deep terror of swimming for the next twenty years. That kept me alive by keeping me out of the water although I did become an avid canoeist! Only when taking scuba lessons did I realize how much weight one needed to strap to their body to actually sink. We’re naturally buoyant! If you’re tense, you’ll sink. Just relax. Putting on a good layer of fat helps too!
My little dog Arye is a very intense creature. If there is something she does not like, it is not going to happen. She’ll remember and a repeat attempt at coercing her into anything usually fails. Recently I tried clipping her toe nails. I managed two before her frantic struggles and screams ended the ordeal. She is a wonderful dramatic actor and this was a stellar performance. Later that day, the clippers ended up on the floor where Arye was seen inspecting them thoroughly. She then picked them up and trotted off to hide them under a bed. Clever wee bitch! I can’t imagine what I need to do about those little claws without having to anaesthetize her. I’ve come to dearly love both my wee inherited dogs. I insist they both be dogs, none of that fuu-fuu-la-la business for me, but it seems that big dog solutions don’t always work. I’m open to suggestions about this ten-pound beast.
I have always been bemused by the roof-top cargo boxes which many folks attach to their car roofs. I see a sarcophagus shape and makes jokes about why people want to haul a dead relative around. Recently I saw a brief story about an English couple returning home from France and finding that someone was trying to smuggle themselves in a rooftop luggage box. These folks tied the box lid with a rope and called the police. My sympathies, of course, are with the illegal immigrant. There were other videos of the same practice and now whenever I see another roof box hurtling along, I see more immigrants.
Two nights ago Jill and I went to our favourite local Thai restaurant in Chemainus, It is superb in all ways, the food and service are always perfect. It is in an old house with a lovely verandah for outdoor dining, a grand place to have a summer supper. Another couple came to the next table. They proceeded to loudly analysis the menu for the next twenty minutes. “Well if you have a twelve then I’ll try the nineteen.” Finally the proprietor was able to take their order. The conversation evolved. “ I sure hope it’s a good vegetable roll, haven’t had a good vegetable roll in a long time!” A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste and I so wanted to say something loudly about a roll in the garden. Down boy, down! Their chat had moved on to discussing friends. “She sure is kinda purty though she’s a bit wide for her length.” Uhuh. I went and photographed flowers in the garden while waiting for our food. Lord knows what folks say about things I tend to spout and how I behave.
And so there… another blog about not very much at all. Just like the six o’clock news!
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
My liitle big dog Arye and I were on our morning walk. We had come from a loop in the woods and were returning to our vehicle on the distant side of of a very large hay field. There was a light wind, the sky was absolutely clear. There was no wisp of cloud, just deep pure blue. Somewhere up there, from the southwest, came that ubiquitous sound of a high-flying airliner. It was up there, possibly forty thousand feet or more. The air mass was so stable and dry that no contrail appeared. The aircraft was invisible to my eye
The thought came to me about a hundred or more bombers up there, preparing to loose a rain of thousands of tons of death nearby and maybe on my head. Where do you run? It was a chilling thought. How many people have endured such terror? How lucky most of us are to never know a feeling which at best, we can only imagine. Why would I conjure up such a nightmare? It was a perfect day. I don’t know. But then that’s what writers do, think out of their box or, is it about going outside other’s boxes?. Some of us are regarded as nutters. That’s fine; I don’t want to fit in with the status quo. But for the moment I had another indelible reality to cope with.
The hayfield had already produced two crops this year and was now being fertilized. The reek of liquified cow manure was heady in the summer heat. Recycling in the raw. As we walked, another truck load bounded into the field. The driiver hit his switch and a thick gurry of green-brown effluent spun through the air in a hundred-foot-wide rooster tail. Gaglicious! Dungsaway! The sky was void of any birds. This old dairy farm kid savoured a fleeting comfort in the fumey funk and then smirked as I considered having that truck out on the highway on certain days for certain people. A tailgating convertible, “Bombs away Billy!” I’m sure wee Arye wanted to go roll in the liquid delight. Something to take home for mom with lots of clinging cuddles.
This morning we all went for a walk together. The dogs love the local fish hatchery which is a mix of streams, ponds, shady trails, open roads and other dogs. It is where my beloved old Jack is buried. This morning I saw two fat trout side by side in a bubbling part of the stream in the shade of an overhanging alder. It feels very good to just leave them as they are, going softly and doing no harm. It has clouded over this afternoon, we may get some rain. A respite from the hot sun is certainly welcome.
My arthritic knees were especially painful today, perhaps due to the change in weather. Once home I was forced to go lay down for a while. Oddly, those worn-out joints also start throbbing like two monster toothaches in the middle of the night. What does resting them have, and not have, to do with any relief. Once I wondered why old folks were often so cranky. Now I get it. I lay there watching the activity in a shrub outside the bedroom window. That greenery is properly named a Skimmia Japonica ((I’d see a doctor about that son!) I just call it the bush, and Jill insisits that this old logger leaves the pruning to her. It has copious tiny white flowers, which are lovely and in winter, it produces arrays of bright red berries and all the while keeps its leaves.
Bees love the flowers and I lay on the bed watching their industry. They were everywhere and despite the odd dogfight about a certain flower, it was a peaceful assault. Then I realized there was an accompaniment. We have new neighbours next door. The owner has rented her place out to a lovely couple with two young boys. They were interacting happily. There were no screams, or shouts or whining. It was bliss. Somehow the lyrical sounds of happy children underscored the aerial ballet of the bees. I realized what a rare sound it is to hear children interacting harmoniously. Usually, so often we don’t even notice, the sound of children at play incorporates screaming and wailing. There are few sounds of simple joy but rather those of the violence and altercation they’ve already learned from the world around them and…it doesn’t all come from video games. What a sad realization that genuine children’s laughter is so rare.
I lay savouring my sweet reveries and then another neighbour ran his shrieking, smoking ancient lawnmower along the fence. He’s a good neighbour too.
And yes, it rained. Ahhhh!
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
I really hate it. Why do some people force you into a situation where you have to be an asshole? I arrived at my beloved Naka Creek campground looking forward to performing a few chores and generally relaxing. Libby was with me and I didn’t want to force her through anything extreme. What a tremendous dog and friend she has proven to be! This was her first time in the backwoods and we both needed it to be an entirely pleasant experience. As I was setting up camp two vehicle loads of folks arrived together. Eight people tumbled out with their three dogs. One of the joys of a place like this is that you usually meet other kindred spirits. Not this mob, “Weah Heah!”
There was a flat tire on my trailer and I immediately set about changing it. In the middle of the job, while pulling on the tire iron, the matriarch of my new neighbours promptly stumbled over to announce to me that I had a flat tire. “YES, I do.” How does one respond?
“Really? I hadn’t noticed” or how about “Naaw, just practising, just in case… you know?” I was polite but bent back to my work. They were a rowdy yuckity-yuck sort of gang and managed to be boisterous until very late. They constantly bounced frisbys off my camper until 10:30 in the evening, hooting and stomping right beside the vehicle despite acres of free space all around. I was quite proud of my restraint despite a huge urge to explode outside for an ugly confrontation. Eventually the din moved up the road, little Libby’s growls subsided and we drifted off to sleep.
I was going to refinish the roof on my trailer. Awake by 05:30 I decided to wait until my neighbours arose and had a chance at breakfast. They had set up several tents over a hundred foot radius . There was no point in deliberately antagonizing an apparently tense situation. I decided that there was no point in seeking any blessing from these folks so i just went to work. At 10:30 I fired up my generator and sander and went to work, hoping to finish quickly. There was a breeze but it was blowing away from both our camps. After a half-hour of my industry there was only ten minutes until I was finished. That’s when the shit the fan. While up a ladder I was accosted by mom and pop, who despite the obvious wind direction, claimed “All my dust was blowing all over their table.” I replied that I could see it was not and that I’d be done in a few minutes, sooner if they left me alone. They slunk away, befuddled by the geezer who was not going to back down.
The second night was as rich with rudeness but I still didn’t react. What’s the point? Later, next morning, while taping the edges of the roof the manure started flowing again. This time it was about what would happen to me when I dared to start spray painting. Stupid people! Spray painting? Really? The innuendos about what was coming my way were stunning as were the threats and photos of me “Fer evidence.” “We’re gonna report you!” Clearly some folks watch too much TV. I resolved to outlast them. When it became clear that I was not about to budge on their account, they began deflating their big rubber ducks and set about the arduous process of loading up all their “stuff.” Their prime objection had been that I was “In a project and not fishin’.” It’s a splendid free camping area with plenty of room and no need to be near anyone else. Why they had chosen to be in my face is a mystery. They were gone when Libby and I awoke from our nap. I have a knack for finding confrontation. I don’t want it, I do not look for it but damnit, I won’t back down when people want to be bullies.
I understand how so many of our people are in dire financial circumstances. Our greed has caught up with us. We all live under the constant dark clouds of multiple wars, the after effects and implications of covid, as well as the growing loom of terrifying possibilities such as more pandemics, artificial intelligence, ever higher taxes, impossible housing costs. There’s a lot to worry about but there’s no reason to try to punish other people because they don’t conform to your expectations. Well blither and blah, blah. Have a nice day! Smirk, smirk.
And now for the “Rest of the story.” Remember Paul Harvey? Good…day! Now I know how old you are!
When my father died, now well over twenty years ago, I kept a few trivial personal items. One was a kite in a wee bag. It ended up in a jumble of miscellaneous items in a locker on my boat and then eventually found its way into my old camper. I’d never really looked at it and had forgotten about it until cleaning out some storage in the camper. I decided that I’d celebrate the exodus of my nemesis neighbours by trying to fly this forgotten toy. My old dad would have been ninety-nine in another two days, so this seemed fitting. He’d died exactly on his birthday like the old English train spotter he was; right on schedule. Now another marker, still on time.
Libby and I set off to a rocky promontory beside the mouth of Naka Creek. The wind along Johnstone Strait was warm and steady. I planted my carcass on a folding camp stool and soon launched the relic aerodyne. Damn! It flew beautifully. I was a boy again! The kit rose steadily, tugging firmly and soaring upward like the proverbial homesick angel. Soon at the end of its string I spliced on another piece of fishing line and she climbed ever upward. Then the stool collapsed. You know what happened. The spool on the bitter end of the string skittered away across the rocks and then in a welter of spray crossed the creek like the tiny wind-surfer it was. The kite dipped for a moment and then rose higher yet as the spool snagged on the last limb at the top of a spruce tree. There would be no climbing up to fetch my airspace hazard. Now anchored firmly the kite rose to maximum altitude. I had filed no flight plan. It became a tiny coloured speck in the sky, like a Chinese spy balloon. I wondered how long before the F-18s showed up.
“Well” I mused, “this is a grand ending to all the dark memories about me and my father. I’ll always see his kite stuck up in the clear blue sky. Closure!” Then I thought, the wind will quit after dark, that kite is coming down! Day VFR only. Libby and I treked back along the beach, back through the campground, along the road across the bridge, past a lone camp trailer with two vicious dogs and finally into the log sort about a half-kilometre downwind of where I’d lost my kite. All the while we’d had our sky beacon to guide us. Finally we stood directly beneath the prodical kite and I reckoned where it might land when the wind dropped after dark.
We returned early next morning, full of vague hope. Libby trotted eagerly ahead, her tiny feet setting up tiny puffs of dust. I knew there was slim chance of ever seeing the kite again but you cannot catch fish if you don’t go fishing and I needed to feel that I’d done all that I could. A log sort is a huge cleared area used to store and sort logs before reshipping them to a distant mill. This one is about twenty acres in area. Unused for a while, young alders have sprouted up about two feet in height all over the huge clearing. “There’s no hope” I thought. Then Libby raced ahead to where the kite lay, neatly folded by someone. Much of the string was tidily wound around a stick. After my previous anus-a-thon, my faith in people was completely and instantly restored. What else can I say? Thank you certainly seems hardly enough.
And so the good mysteries of life float to the top. Things that matter. Naka Creek is enduring an overpopulation of mice. They’re everywhere, Libby was intrigued. I have a folding plastic table with crossed metal legs. How do these cute little guys manage to get up onto the table and leave their poop spore copiously? How?
Are you a reader? I mean, are you someone who reads a lot? Books? I believe that one of my obligations as a writer is to read. When I begin reading a book I feel a silly obligation to finish it, no matter how much work that may become. It is partly out of an obligation of respect that someone convinced someone else to take the risk of publishing their work. And that work I know, if the writer has done their own research and editing, is horrific. All books, I suppose, are intended to entertain. They are all, even if not intended, also to educate and will alter the way we eventually think and perceive. So even the ones I find as boring as a dried turd must be endured. There may be a nugget in the manure pile.
Someone once declared that a book is the last place you can go to be alone. So is writing one. I sit on a dull but sunny early summer Sunday morning. There is no breath of a breeze. This afternoon may well be a warm one. An airplane drones overhead. Someone dragged their arse out of bed and had enough money for gas to auger their way up into the sky to enjoy the view down through a crystal clear sky. I miss those mornings. I miss a lot of things, like waking up on my own boat on a morning such as this. Perhaps waking up on a stormy morning was much better. If the anchorage was safe then there was a simple resolve to stay put and do nothing. There’s nothing like being on a rocking vessel, warm and dry while the wind and rain screech and rattle outside. I look forward to more of those.
Meanwhile life ho-hums along while everyone else seems to be up to something meaningful. Even those dudes in the mini-sub who spent a quarter-million each to go down and get squashed like bugs went out in a wet flash doing something interesting. My latest thrill was to be out scootering along, enjoying the warm cool of riding in and out of the forest shade. I was wearing shorts and feeling like a part of the universe when it hit me; the shrapnel sting of a bee hitting my inner thigh. Bam! Just hang on old boy, don’t end up in the ditch. Wobbledy wobble! I hope this doesn’t hurt any more than it does already! The last thing to go through the creature’s mind as it mushroomed into my tender blubber was his little bum; but he was quick enough to point his stinger in kamakazi mode. I was happy to keep my little scooter wheels pointing where they should and that the little exo-skeletoned beast had not made it further up my leg. Let’s just say that it has been a long time since anything down there swelled up that quickly. Hey baby, wanna see my bee sting? Uhuh! It’s funny now. Bahaha.
Now it is the Canada Day Long Weekend. The highways have been clogged with hurtling Rvs (Sounds like a rock band) all week long. BC Ferries have once again managed to have a major breakdown. Now their parking yards have become campgrounds, no campfires please.The fury to go hurry up and relax always amuses me. To hell with the price of gas, they’re going to rush out to a reserved camp spot and pretend to be hairy people. Parking a mortgaged Rv between hidden stumps ten feet from someone else and having a person in a brown shirt regularly reminding folks of all that they can’t do is no part of any wilderness experience. Then they’ll join the lemming rush toward home where they live with millions of others in the biggest clearcut in the province. Think green!, camping
For some reason friends and heros are passing away in numbers. That always seems to happen in multiples and hopefully it’s over for the time being. Their time on this planet has made it a better place. My pal way up north on his motorcycle is soldiering on in his grand adventure. He’s made it to Tuktoyatuk on July 1st but finding the Artic Ocean breeze too brisk and the price of accomodation also too brisk, promptly began the southward trek and is camped near Inuvik. Me, I’m going to cool my cold jets and putz around on the back roads looking for another bee. Last blog, I’m the one who mentioned the apparent lack of bugs!
On a final note, I recently watched a smidge of a ‘Save the wild creatures’ program which, admirably, must leave a lot of people realizing the value of wildlife of all sizes. The good people were trying to save a baby red squirel which needed to nurse. The problem was successfully solved by finding a lactating rat. “Now then,” I thought, “there’s a band name!”
Shall we have a contest?
“There is a planet in the Solar System where the people are so stupid they didn’t catch on for a million years that there was another half to their planet. They didn’t figure that out until five hundred years ago! Only five hundred years ago! And yet they are now calling themselves Homo Sapiens.” – Kurt Vonnegut ‘Timequake’
I was enjoying a few minutes of bliss wandering along a local sandstone beach. The dogs scampered happily among the driftwood. The sun was warm and the seabreeze entirely pleasant. A Rubenesque woman, clad in black spandex and blending in to the shadows, was squatting on the end of a log and suddenly shouted out “Yer dog jes took a shit!” I replied calmly as I walked on, “It’s OK. She’ll put it back.” The woman was sitting with her bumbas hanging over her perch as if she might be “taking” one herself. I wanted to point out that the scat from seals, otters, racoons and all the birds were strewn all over the beach. No point; “He who argues with a fool,” you know the rest.
My little girl Libby did her business discreetly underneath a log where no-one could tread if they wanted to. I don’t want anyone to suffer anything due to my dogs but I also refuse to step outside the bounds of basic reality. Shit happens. And so it goes.
My friend on the motorcycle odyssey called me early this morning. Jimmy is in Dawson City, cooling his jets and waiting for the arrival of his brother on a motorcycle. They’ll ride together on to Tuktoyaktuk, the apex of the journey, and then begin a fast but meandering journey homeward. All is well and I wish him every joy on his trip. We discussed a few current news items and got stuck on the missing mini-sub at the Titanic site. It had been four days since the alarm was sounded, they’re out of oxygen now, they’re dead. As a mariner, I mourn their loss, and empathize with their long wait in the cold and dark. At least now they sleep.
A sudden update announces a debris field which would indicate a severe malfunction and that the five aboard endured a quick and merciful end, probably only a short while into their descent.
Jimmy related a conversation he’d recently had about this same subject. It covered all the resources spent, financial and economic, to save the lives of five wealthy people enjoying an exotic adventure. The Titanic is a grave site. It contains the remains of hundreds of people, or at least the memory of them. Now its ghosts have claimed five more lives. Leave it alone. It should be a sacred place. There are other mysteries to spend money and interest on. We have turned it into another commercial venture. But then, in another week , this too will be an abandoned story.
A week ago, an immigrant vessel off the coast of Greece, capsized and sank with hundreds of desperate souls aboard. They all invested all their resources in a mere chance at a new life. Locked below deck within a mass of terrified fellow human cargo, in the disoriented darkness, one can only image the immense horror of a slow excruciating death. We endured three days of speculation and generally uninformed opinion and now will hear nothing more. Mothers and children, in the hundreds, refuges of war and poverty, are already a forgotten news item.
Yesterday 227 migrants were rescued off the Canary Islands and in a separate incident 39 died when their inflatable boat sank. Within the past month over 5,900 refuges have been helped off the Canaries. There has been nothing on the evening news about any of this. Apparently human lives have differing values. The carnage in Ukraine continues, Sudan is an ongoing disaster, earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria continue to grapple for basic needs. They are not newsworthy any more. We move on to the next saleable media item, such as the Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK. Mountains are swept under the rug.
“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.” Thomas Sowell