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.)
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 know I’m a recluse but I don’t need my computer to keep telling me that my “social tab is empty.” This morning I checked my email as usual. I receive a daily e-bulletin board from La Manzanilla in Mexico with a post from someone named Rebecca. “Does anyone know of a beach town in the area without so many gringos?” Uh Becky! Mirror? Just leave my social tab as it is.
Last blog I promised new adventure and this isn’t it; but it’s an interesting little story. When our daughter passed away nearly a year ago, we inherited her little dog Arye. It’s taken us that long in our continuing grief to each find a balance and a way to live. That little dog has taught us a lot. When our daughter’s close friend also passed a few months later the shock of that news came with a request that we consider adopting her little dog Libby, a miniature daschund. At first we said no but by next morning we knew what we had to. The two dogs had been buddies and their mutual company would help ease everyone through whatever lay ahead. In the moment that I was picking up Libby, Jill was being rushed to a Victoria hospital in an ambulance. That’s another story. She is recovering but we’ve had a very long dull winter and thank the gods for the blessing of those two wee dogs. Libby and Arye are “thick as thieves” and help to make our house a home.
Somehow five months have passed since Libby joined us. Based on the veterinary records we have it was time to take her for a checkup, an ID chip and the necessary vaccinations. For some reason we both went with her. I waited in the lobby while Jill took wee one (4.7 kg) into the examination room. I waited and waited. A RCMP constable walked in to the back of the clinic. I waited some more, wondering what in hell was taking so long. Then Jill emerged with a stricken look on her face and beckoned me in with her as Libby came pelting out and hopped into my arms. I walked in to find the constable there. A hairball of emotion popped into my throat. “Who’s died now!?” was my first instinct.
It turned out that our vet clinic had phoned Libby’s previous vet to learn if there were any interesting details. There were. A few weeks ago, the former boyfriend of Libby’s previous owner had appeared at that clinic after all those months, to claim that the little dog had been stolen from him. We do know that he’s not a savoury character and not the sort to care one fig about any dog. However Libby could produce valuable pups. Bastard! We’ve learned that the vet thinks it is best for Libby not to have pups, it could be devastating to her if not fatal.
There is a legal protocol that requires the veterinary clinic to do as they had and I understand why we were kept in the dark until the gestapo arrived. (The CIA: Canine Insinuation Agency) This old pirate does not like being told to sit in the corner and just listen. Both the vet and the cop assured us that they had no suspicions about us and that we were obviously loving care givers. I must say that both folks were quite supportive in the end.
Fortunately Jill had kept all of her texting records which confirmed our story. We’ll consider the matter closed but will employ reasonable caution in future. After all we, and especially Jill, have endured in the last year it was reasonable to assume there were no more lumps to hit the fan. For a while at least, we’ll have to shoulder a burden of paranoia. Leaving the wee ones to wait in a locked vehicle for even a little while has a new perspective. Gee thanks. I do prefer to trust folks ….but!
Never trust a person who doesn’t love dogs.” anon.
Last night the light of the waning half-moon glowed through an overcast which continued to rain. This morning the precipitation had ended, here at least. The day seemed bright despite the overcast, perhaps in contrast to days of deep gloom. Doggies and I went for a walk in a local park named Hemer, after a local farming family who donated the land. It is a delightful network of trails sprawling through second-growth forest which blankets broken ground sprawling between a few small lakes and swamps.
Today the woods reverberated with the peculiar croinking grunt of tree frogs. I have spent many hours through the years stalking these tiny reptiles. I have yet to see one. As you approach the apparent source of their call, they fall silent. You dare not move or make a sound if you want to hear them call again. It is a waiting game which I invariably loose. No matter how hard I methodically scan the branches, trunks, leaves and plants I never see one.
It’s frustrating. I love their call and how they herald the distant spring. Today there was yet another loud proclamation of the changing season. Through the echoing woods, from over a mile away, the roar of sea lions filtered over the distance. They inhabit the log booms just north of Dodd Narrows and have come to await the arrival of the annual herring migration. Those fish come here to spawn in the spring, according to their own mysterious timing. Like a symphony orchestra everthing is on the same page, playing its part perfectly and right on time. We’ve just got to sit back and enjoy the music instead of trying to be the conductor. Da da dum!
The winter gloom of another rainy overcast provides almost enough light to take photographs that are often unfocused because of the low light and slow shutter speeds. Colours are drab but we do our best. Photography is a way of forcing myself to take an interest in the world around me. No matter how dismal, there is beauty and an effort to reach out for life. It is a deep mystery at times, but sometimes you have to accept things you do not understand. Bloom where you’re planted. Shed a little light in someone else’s eyes and you’ll find some for yourself.
“If you know you can do it, why go in the first place? ” Iohan Guearguiev
Say something; anything. I’m telling myself that as I sit here and stare at a blank screen. Really! Nothing to talk about. Me? Of all people! Write something, make a start, there must be sprouts in your fertile mind.(fertile=fertilizer=manure) Rants come, then go and so do silly anecdotes but I have nothing to change the world or even make anyone laugh. Empty wagons rattle the most I remind myself so I keep my big fingers away from the keyboard. The world tragedies are horrific, political bungles continue, miseries and darkness the same old fodder; and those are the ones we are told about. And frankly, I don’t give a toss about poor Prince Harry.
The Christmas “stuff” has been stowed away. This year our total decoration was a single tiny live cedar tree about sixteen inches tall. It was bowed over with a copper wire wrapped around it and a red ball hanging from its tip. There was sprig of festive decoration poked into the pot which was wrapped in a vaguely Christmasy bag. The whole little rig was frozen solid on a rack with several others. They were on sale for $6.50 each at the Home Despot which was clearly trying to dump them. I employed my usual argument with myself, “You didn’t need it until you saw it.” I shyly packed it home under my arm actually feeling a bit embarrassed at this pathetic specimen. Then, I discovered that the wire binding was actually a string of microscopic lights but the battery case was filled with frozen rain water. It needed new batteries. Bastards! Ripoff! Think I’ll go get my money back.
Two new AAA batteries and it sparkled magnificently, the frozen rainwater melted and dribbled for two days and we had a miserable little Christmas all things considered. But we had one! And we had a tree. I was not astute enough to take a photo but here’s one since I have de-festivized it. Some day it may stand tall and proud, an arboreal giant. Squirrels, children and perhaps monkeys will cavort among its branches. Eagles will perch in the gently swaying top and environmental groups will dance arm in arm around the broad base. All because a cheap grumpy old fart bought a discounted ornamental tree. Bumhug! By the way, individual small cedar trees one would use to plant a hedge sell for $35. each. My bargain tree chucked out of the house, I turned my attention to stowing away the Christmas cards. There were about a dozen and it took a minute or so. Christmas…over!
When I was a child Christmas cards were a huge part of the season. We’d tighten a string along the four sides of the living room wall and hang our cards on it. Handfuls came in the daily mail. Sometimes we would have to hang more cards in the kitchen. They were a traditional part of the decorations and began arriving in late November. There could be over a hundred of them. Postage was two cents for an unsealed envelope and we’d often sneak in a photo and a letter. My father had become a mailman and he hated the season. Relief workers were hired to cope with the overload and he worried that they would receive his Christmas gifts from the customers along his route. Some folks gave cards with cash inside, others provided bottles of booze and some offered cartons of cigarettes. Dad neither drank or smoked but bartered the gifts off for other treasures. Yet gifts were never expected, we were poor enough to understand. Imagine that going on today!
Just think. At today’s prices of $200. for a carton of smokes, $40. for a cheap jug of hootch, and $1. for a postage stamp, plus the cost of the card, and the time to write something in each one, Christmas could be a very, very expensive ordeal. As for snow storms, they were a regular part of the season and did not make headline news. We plodded on, it was winter, it was normal. Buffalo always got six feet of snow, Lake Ontario often froze a great distance from shore. Most folks were smart enough not to go out on the ice. Kids would shovel driveways for a quarter and were expected to show up for school no matter what the weather.
I’m now reading these wee scritchings a week into the year. The cold January rain is hammering on the skylight over my head. The little doggies don’t want to leave their beds. They’re smarter than I am. Once again I’m stuck for words. I started this blog ten years ago to share my travel adventures. What a dismal failure! I’m still here. It rankles me to mention someone else’s videos of their adventures but it would be immoral not to share this particular and incredible work.
This is the work of Iohan Gueorguiev. There are over seventy videos which he has posted. They are absolute masterpieces of outdoor film work. He documents his travels by bicicyle from the Canadian North all the way to Patagonia. The link above is a feature-film-length account of his 1000 km, 45 day trek through the Argentinian Puna, a high altitude desert. It is stunning and mesmerizing. I found it a life-enhancing experience and I sat mesmerized watching this unique work. What an expression of the joy of living in balance with the natural world! Sadly he is with us no more, his demise a poignant end to his amazing achievements. How many other inspiring people walk among us, quietly living their lives and we never learn about them?
Doggies and I have been out in the rain for some fresh air and are back home drying off and warming up again. Next to my desk is a leather couch with a broad soft top on the back. The dogs like to sit there at times and are wonderful company, albeit a bit demanding and distracting. Libby, the mini daschund is there at the moment producing some amazing snarts. (sneezes and farts all at once) I guess the caviar pizza didn’t agree with her. A nice thing about having a dog is that you can blame them for your “stuff.” Seriously, these two beasties have helped us through each day in wonderful ways. I’m still a big dog guy but I must concede that these two mini monsters are whole and complete dogs. Their love is as big as any dog of any size can offer.
And so the year is wearing on, only 355 of these days to go. Grey, wet, foggy, I’ve got all the enthusiasm of a garbage can. This too shall pass but it is time to go find some pleasant adventure to write about. Last night we programed the new “smart” television so that we could explore the delights of Prime TV. I think we were the ones being bent into shape. With all the wizardry available, why is nothing straight forward? Download and transfer codes, find a password, then another, that the “app” likes, start the process over and over, all the while working out the dynamics of three different remote controls. Finally, for some obscure reason, the same old process works! WTF? I feel I’m an idiot and know that there are millions out there who have no problem with this stuff. I just can’t wrap my weary brain around any of it.
I can’t recall how I spent long winter nights in my younger years but neither do I recall rolling into my bunk in abject frustration, overwhelmed with a sense of uselessness. There’s a lot to be said for a woodpile and a chopping block. I never did read a firewood manual. I just split away and I’ve got both arms and legs.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein (How long ago did he say that?)
Some times when I’m poking around YouTube I stumble onto something special. I came across a performance on America’s Got Talent which is a live audition of selected acts. What I saw was a woman named Jane Marczewski aka Nightbirde. She was skinny as a rake and incredibly beautiful, even seeming to possess an aura. She sang a song she had written called ‘It’s OK’ and brought the house down as they say. She was fighting terminal cancer and she said some amazing things. “I’ve got a two percent chance of survival but that’s a lot more than zero.”
She also said “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore until you decide to be happy.” Wow! Isn’t that warm and fuzzy? Jane has since passed away after inspiring millions. Her appearance has inspired so many other lives. It got me thinking. Head happy or heart happy? It is indeed a mighty challenge to make yourself feel happy by choice but to be happy is very different. I cannot even define that very well. I suppose it has to do with living within a sense of well-being no matter what happens to you or those around you. Then I thought further and wondered if folks like Mr Putin have inner peace. Suddenly I was exploring madness. Religions offer a promise of that, for a price, and a lot of folks have written books and make speeches about living in a state of divine nirvana. I once heard a therapist describe clients who all wanted to be happy and his perspective was that it can be achieved when one gives up expectations of bliss. Who ever told us we deserved to be constantly happy. There’s a headful!
Perhaps simply being content in the moment, at peace with a current reality, knowing that nothing is forever and that all things pass, both the good and the other. For years, on the bulkheads of each of my various boats, I installed a framed black and white photo of a storm-wracked rocky beach. I had written on it “A storm always ends, enjoy it while it lasts.” Good advice if only I would pay attention.
One of my excuses for being tardy with my blogging is that I’ve been busy re-editing my second novel. I pushed it to the back of the shelf many years ago, having given up on the notion of ever getting published. This has been an especially tough year for me, emotionally it has been an all-time low, where I have often found myself simply staring at the wall. I decided that I had to do something to affirm my existence, perhaps find my “inner peace,” and so I began the odious task of correction and punctuation of every jot and tittle. Hey, it’s a pretty darned good read! Oddly, it is set here on the coast of the Pacific Northwest and is about an austere loner who can’t exist away from the sea. I don’t know what to do with it when I’m finished but the affirmation is wonderful. The sea and being on it is my passion and reason to be. No amount of denial can change that.
When I stepped off of my beloved ‘Seafire’ I wrote that if owning “stuff” defined who I was, then I was better off without it. Well, for me life is awfully dry without a boat. Most of my friends were seadogs as well, and so we have drifted apart. A boat is a tool to live my life where I do feel content and whole and somehow I must get back there. It is who I am.
My old truck, camper and trailer will continue to be part of my life and remain part of my plan. One of the intentions of the recent trip where I took my rig along some very rugged logging roads was that it would be a true “shakedown” trip. Anything that was going to fail, has. Guess what I’m up to these days. I’ve been sorting out the wiring for the lights and brakes. Nothing can humiliate a man quite as well. The builder of this trailer hired someone right off the farm. Wire colours meant nothing to them, nor did sharp corners. Twisting wire ends together, soldering them and wrapping them in tape seemed to be their protocol, unless…someone else down on a farm has since had a go. No worries, now I know what I’ve got. To add to the challenge my strata council has forbidden me to do repairs in any of our parking and storage areas so I’m sneaking around in public places to find an obscure corner to go tinker. Damn! I miss my boat.
“A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.” ―Webb Chiles
After a continuum of applications, fees, phone calls to yet another number, then another, emails and dictums ad nauseam (Computer wanted to respell that as nutcase) I am officially accepted as the BCbogtrotter.com. It’s signed, sealed and delivered. Now here I sit on the first Saturday of June, and yes it’s raining a little more. I wonder where to go from here. Funds have run out. I’ve done some repairs on the truck and am trying to set up the new old trailer for my specific needs.
Meanwhile there are moments of delicious hot sunshine before the next front creeps overhead. The media is determined to predict massive flooding and devastating wildfires. I just want to get out there and perhaps get flooded out for a few weeks. At home, life is a wade through suburban mediocrity. Ayre the wee beast is in my lap as I type. The din of a small town waking up is amazing, if you listen. There is the hum, roar and howl of the highway passing below the town. There are often sirens. Often we don’t even hear them they are so common. Is it an emergency or another run to Tim Hortons? A large murder of crows nearby argues over some point of bird decorum and then the neighbour fires up his lawnmower. In the distance an excavator with a chattering rock hammer gouges out the footings for another million-dollar bungalow and from that white noise emerges the clatter of a passing helicopter.
Doggy now sits in the window of Jill’s office howling like a little wolf trying to will her Alpha human to come home again from her day’s work.
Well now! Near-silence. Several days after I began this blog I now sit on the shore of Johnstone Strait at Naka Creek Camp. If you have enough out-of-town savvy to find this place, you too deserve this little piece of heaven. I’m sipping hot mint tea at noon after a lazy morning and a late brunch. A US Coast Guard cutter powers its way southward against the last of the morning ebb. The throb of its engines is clear above the mild clatter of my tiny generator, charging up camera and laptop batteries. Soon there’ll be only the twitter of birds, the lapping of water on the shore, the gentle whisper of the wind in the trees, and the eternal hope of seeing more whales.
This place is an old logging camp. The forest is trying to take it back. Slowly it wins. It is essentially maintained by the users and although much loved by these folks, the jungle is creeping back to claim its own. I can see the progress since last year. Jack, my old dog, loved it here and I miss him dearly. I remember his joy exploring here and visiting with new dogs and their owners. This was a place I held hope of bringing my daughter but that is never going to happen. My wife is busy with things only she can do. I try not to feel sad or lonely but I watch couples and families and groups and yes there is an ache. Thankfully, the area is occupied with few this weekend and those folks all seem to hold a reverence for this oasis of peace and sanity. Kindred, even if we never speak.
At night the camp fire burns reluctantly, the wood is damp. The sea air seems to suppress any defiance to its eternal shroud of dampness. Still I nudge the fire, my feet to the warmth while holding a partial mug of rum.
There are worse ways to spend an evening.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” —Lao Tzu
Over the past month of shock and emotional devastation after the sudden loss of our daughter, it has occurred to me that grief is simply a massive attack of self-pity. Now then, I am one of those who prefers the company of dogs to people so value my opinions at your own peril. I can certainly tell you that dogs do grieve but they have also found a balance of living in the moment and getting on with simply being. The little dog Ayre which we have inherited from our daughter has endured a massive trauma from the loss of her prime human unit but she has attached herself like a limpet to Rachel’s mom. She is learning to trust me (a male human unit) and allows me now to show her affection without employing her piranha teeth. She possessed a natural dread of men in general and we have climbed a steep and slippery slope in the past weeks.
Each day is a triumph in the development of our relationship and we enjoy long pleasant walks on the wonderful trails here around Ladysmith. I’ve reluctantly allowed her to wander along off-leash and she is proving to be quite trustworthy. I also find myself scanning the sky for eagles, I’m sure she’d make a nice light snack for them. We also have cougar, coyotes and other predators so I’m constantly playing father goose as I allow my wee hound the full parameter of being a dog. I learned long ago that to establish a full and lasting bond with any dog is that you must demonstrate your trust in them. I don’t pick her up whenever another dog approaches so that she can develop confidence in her abilities to socialize with her own kind. I focus on the other dog’s owner and I may pick Ayre up if I can detect any darkness. I’ve watched these creatures in action in their native Mexico and know how well they can fend for themselves. She has to learn that too.
Speaking of darkness, my website designer, in whom I had placed my trust, suddenly announced that she would go no further with my account. She had put together a proposal of how to develop my talents and provided a quote. The quote seemed reasonable and the proposal was exciting. I did mention to her that I had no money pit and operate on a very tight budget but accepted her terms. I also asked to meet her for a few minutes, just to hang a face on the voice. Our working relationship has been amiable and complimentary. I know that I have a social skill-set of a badger at times but I don’t know what brought on this prompt flush. Strange! Folks these days develop intimate relationships with each other although they are on opposite sides of the planet. Someone five minutes down the road wants to have an arm’s length interaction. I am one confused bog-trotter on this one.
WANTED One local web designer.
So suddenly, my little home-made stealth/transformer trailer needs some major attention. I was quite proud of my clever fold-up design and it has impressed many people. However, I made it with bargain-priced plywood from Chile. It was beautiful but after a couple of our winters it’s falling apart like old cardboard. To complicate my Fredondrum I’ve just bought a tiny motorcycle which requires a partial dismantle and a full set-up of the trailer every time I want to load or unload. Yep, here I go again, rip and rebuild. I’ve decided that maybe always being to stand up inside, the full length of the trailer is a good thing. Not having to erect and assemble my contraction is a good thing too! Some sniffing about turned up a few old truck canopies, for FREE, and so here I go again. Now I have a solid top with sides and windows and all (yeah right) I have to do is fit it to the trailer base and make it look like something which did not come from Clem’s garage. Stay tuned as once again I try to reinvent the wheel.
More on the new motorcycle next blog. I drove it home from Nanaimo to Ladysmith today through and hail. Yet I live. I just can’t feel anything. Thank goodness for the face mask I just bought. I was worried about catching bugs in my teeth. “Haar Billy, back before global warming we used to have insects. They were all crusty on the outside and gooey in the middle. Some didn’t taste so good.”
“Every morning I wake up to perform my one and only character. A Rising Phoenix in spite of it all.”
― Michele Bell,