“Muh dog’s gonna eat yers!” Ever have a period in your life when every little thing just seems weird? You begin to question your own sanity. If I’m a common factor it’s got to be something to do with me. Right? On Sunday, I tried to pleasantly ask a neighbour about an unfamiliar car apparently abandoned in our common property. I was met with a resounding shout, “Fuck Off Asshole!”
“Um, ok?” Two days later there was a timid apology, which I accepted. This woman’s mother, my neighbour, had suddenly died and I understand the unpredictable emotions. What was bemusing was a man who appeared immediately after my rebuff. He refused to give his name, determined to stand belly to belly announcing that he was “The executor, ya know? The EXECUTOR!” Weird!
Last night at a campground in Sayward, just after arriving, little Ayre ran next door to greet two fuzzy little dogs. A trailer door opened a crack, a corpulent female figure appeared and roared out my opening sentence. I wanted to reply, “I see you’ve snacked down a few puppies yer own self.” but I’m learning to curb my own quick tongue. This morning, yet again, there was another apology. Geez Louise, is it my cologne? I keep having these strange encounters so hopefully the guy in the mirror comes up with an answer. It was a new moon last night, is that it?
We’ve just arrived back at the Naka Creek campsite. Ahhh! Despite a light rain, the birds are singing, the neighbours here are friendly and I feel like I’ve come home to a sanctuary in the backwoods.
I soon discover that I have managed to leave the power cord for this laptop at home. So, after doing some photo editing I’m down to my last giga-doodles of battery. The weather is wet but I’ll have to live a few days without life depending on my computer. It is lovely to just focus on the waves lapping on shore and all the birds exchanging insults with each other. Three northbound orca whales passed a few minutes ago and there may be more to come.
Life without a computer, fancy that! Well we’ve survived a week living together in a camper and now we’re home again with no more weird encounters of any kind.
There’s a hot spell ahead. You can feel it first thing in the morning. Heat domes we call them these days. I’ll bite my tongue and refrain from further comment. We’ll survive, like it or not.
“Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.” Albert Einstein
“JOEY! SHADDUP!” The voice thunders down across the alley. It has awakened me countless times through the twelve years I’ve lived here. The women’s voice is deep and gravelly, a smoker’s throat. Her shout at her German shepherd grates out over the neighbourhood several times each day, like a Mullah from his tower.
Joey is a lovely dog, unlike her Rottweiller companion.(spell checker thought it should be rototiller…Close!) If I’m walking up the alley Joey will bark furiously but will come to the fence for a pat on the head, unlike her pal who snarls and drools like a hound from hell. The dogs never get a walk, nor apparently, much loving attention. They have a path worn around their yard just inside the fence. If the owner is in the yard, she’ll apologize, loudly and profusely, about not knowing what’s wrong with these dogs. We understand she is trying to make amends for the barking but doesn’t really care about her companions of so many years. “Just take them for a walk damnit!” Maybe she does care and her neighbours just don’t understand. Certainly, we’ve tolerated Joey’s imposition for all these years. There will come a time when we won’t hear Joey anymore. We’ll miss her.
Out of another alley last night, a black and rusty SUV rolled at a good speed. I braked, wondering what the driver intended. He gave me a vague but rude hand signal and so I proceeded. The other vehicle now lurched at me, a few feet at a time, like a bear threatening his intended victim. For some reason that triggered a mindless response from me to jam on my brakes. BANG! The vehicle rammed my car’s back end. I flew out of the vehicle and tiraded “If you keep driving like that you’ll keep meeting old assholes like me!” What the hell was I doing? I’d just broken all of the Four Agreements which I try to live by. I knew I was accomplishing nothing except to make an enemy. I’m weary of public mindlessness and selfishness but this was no way to deal with anything and what was I ever going to change.
The other driver was adamant that I had violated his rights. Really? His rights? I see. All’s well that ends. My old car wasn’t damaged and life went on but think of the possible scenarios in my moment of knee-jerk madness had I been carrying a gun. I am not a reactionary thug but I am a human. It happens to the best of us when our karma runs over our dogma.
Baxter Black, who’s he? Most folks have never heard of him but he was a cornerstone of the Cowboy Poets movement, which few have heard of. Yet in the wake of his death YouTube is filled with videos of Baxter reciting his work. He was flawless and humorous and a great inspiration as he dealt with the basic matters of life. He would always sign off by describing himself as being “From out there.” He has again proven that the big step in receiving artistic recognition is to die. Coming Bax, coming.
I went to a clock repair shop with an old wristwatch. I like these places, full of ticking time pieces and a sense that all is in control and in order. It’s a lovely illusion. When I arrived the proprietor was standing out on the curb in the pouring rain, cell phone in hand. Turns out that he was trying to spot an elderly lady who couldn’t find his shop. He works in a ground level basement of his home but somehow, despite his efforts, it was hard for this old soul to find. When she did arrive, in a late-model but battered Mercedes, the stooped old crone produced a hand bag filled with small clocks. She kept producing them, one after another all the while declaring that she was going to be late for a hospital appointment. I felt as if I was caught in an ancient Monty Python skit. “Can you fix ziz for ten dollar?” She demanded, handing over an antique alarm clock. “It vaz built in 1906 and has been vakink me up sinz I vas unt little girl.” The man behind the counter explained he couldn’t come down the stairs to his shop for ten dollars these days and besides, he couldn’t give her a quote until he knew what was wrong. “Ya, ya I must be gettink to ze hospital.” I cautioned her to drive carefully, the streets were slippery wet. “Ya, everyvon ischt beepink at me!” I find myself wondering how she’s doing.
Electric Harley. It’s not a bad name for a rock band. But struth, I’ve seen one! Throbbing, blasting, vibrating and big, big ,big was the realm of the ubiquitous North American icon. No more. It, to me, was like a biblical sign of the apocalypse. This mid-sized, black with no chrome motorcycle is owned by a man who claims it can go from 0 to 100 mph in 3 seconds. Then you come to the end of the extension cord. Haar! Seriously, I thought smoke and thunder was the whole point of a Harley. Nothing is sacred!
“ The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” Dylan
I need to repair the paint on the back deck before everyone is awake and the wee dog comes to help me. And, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. In his last months old Jack had a hard time getting around and would content himself with peeing on the back deck. In time the paint in those spots lifted and now I go to patch that final shred of his existence. Can you believe there are tears in my eyes?
A few weeks after Jack passed my daughter drew her last breath. I’m still in a permanent state of numbness. There is no joy, no sorrow, no beauty, no creative urges. I sit on my shoulder and watch as the world goes by. I know every moment not lived is gone forever but I just don’t have the mojo to grab the brass ring and ride on. I’m afraid of being permanently in this rut but it is up to me to find my way onward. Jill, my wife, has displayed an enormous courage and energy. She has dealt with an amazing mountain of things which one must after a daughter has died. I cannot comprehend her coping mechanism and can only admire her tenacity and grit. The little dog we’ve inherited is doing a tremendous job of motivating us.
This morning window is open. Warm fragrant summer morning air cascades in. There is the ubiquitous sound of a motorcycle and then the howl of heavy truck tires from down on the highway. There is a stop light there beside the old post office and I can hear the world accelerating into its rush to get somewhere, or nowhere. From that corner, a street climbs a steep hill to a four-way stop on main street. On one corner, every early morning, a tiny group stands in cheap polyester suits, covid masks, hats and sunglasses. They hand out road maps to heaven and will gladly try to persuade you of your sin. I wonder how they believe what they do and I feel a deep pity for them.
On this same corner, years ago, a retired mortician used to sit on the iron bench next to the drinking fountain. I recall an old lady who said she was determined to stay alive until this character was gone. She did not want him touching her cadaver. After his retirement this obese old man sat for hours on this bench with his little dog. His suspenders were twanging taut over his enormous belly. He smoked heavily and coughed up bits of himself until one day the little dog was gone. Shortly after, so was he. Pity the pallbearers. Life went on. The god-botherers came back.
Well, we all have our persuasions. Like the mob who have taken the Canadian flag and turned it into a symbol of contempt against our own country. Despite all the problems in our nation, I haven’t heard of any of these self-styled patriot rebels packing up and moving to some place like Kiev. They damned-well know how good we have it here but I’m not convinced they actually know what it is they are protesting about. I’m bloody angry about the ridiculous price of fuel, especially diesel, these days but I’m not going out to interfere with anyone else over my peeve. I too am free to leave. I just can’t afford the fuel.
The day is rising into more glorious weather and it is time to abandon my desk. Live a little. The wee dog that was my daughter’s, and now is mine, is at the door wanting out for her morning relief. Life goes one. On Sunday we had a lovely life-giving rain, warm and steady all day long. We need it. The woods were getting too dry already. The RVs sloshing homeward on the wet highway did my heart good. I know, grumpy old bastard!
Canada Day weekend, 2022.
“I don’t understand all the fuss about rushing off to “Go camping.” Don’t people understand that they’re free to live in a tent and sleep on the ground all year long?” – Allen Farrell