I recently sat in a hospital waiting room and watched as an elderly lady thumbed rapidly through a text conversation on her mobile phone. Suddenly I recalled how older ladies were constantly knitting when I was a child. Their hands flew as various woolen items took shape beneath their flying fingers. I can even hear the gentle click of their needles. They carried a purse and a knitting bag, everywhere! I’m not so sure that some didn’t even knit while sitting in church.
My dear old English grandmother kept me in sweaters and socks, pajama bags, hats, scarves and clothes that lasted forever. I don’t know where any are now, but I treasure the memory of them. There was a vogue in recent years when young women wanted to be seen knitting but I don’t know what happened to that. I suppose it’s impossible to text and knit at the same time. Perhaps there’s an app.
It now seems to be all thumbs on cell phones everywhere and I’m amazed at the apparent dexterity that some folks possess. I’m an old banana-fingered poker. I actually care about spelling so I do plenty of erasing and repeating. I will never master the art of texting, (or spelling.) I’ve been in the backwoods of a Mexican jungle and found locals coming out of the bushes, head down, intent on their texting. I have watched as young parents push their offspring in a stroller out into traffic without bothering to look up at all. We’ve even lost our basic instinct of lizard response fear.
Those of you who have been following my blog through this year know the litany of woes I have related. I’m weary of it all and ache for something good to look forward to. Two weeks before Christmas I am writing on a Friday night as the wind and rain hammer on the skylight over my head. Instincts from a long life on the water catch me thinking that maybe I should go down and check the boat. Then I realize I don’t own one anymore, well, at least at the moment. I’d enjoy tramping down the heaving dock, head bowed to the rain and wind. I’d check the dock lines, which at all times, were always thick and doubled-up for heavy weather. Then inside, I’d look for leaks, start the furnace, break out a glass of rum, light and trim an oil lamp or two, and settle back to listen to the symphony of the storm outside.
Sometimes the mast would vibrate in a heavy gust. I loved it. There was no place I’d rather be. The only thing better was to be in the same sort of night on the end of an anchor chain. The motion of the boat is much different out on the hook but, being confident in your skill at setting the anchor, you could relax and listen to the wind moan and rattle in the rigging. The boat would dip and roll but it was just part of the soothing waltz of being anchored. And there was a dog, blissfully asleep in his cozy bunk, perhaps chasing dream rabbits, uncaring about the storm outside. You could fall into an easy sleep, confident in your instinctive ability to be wide awake instantly should anything change. The oil lamps cast a warm glow on the varnished wood and the ship’s clock rang out the watches. There was a feeling of being at one with the universe, your vessel, your beloved dog and of being in the one place you wanted to be. Bliss! How I miss it! I’ve tried to convince myself that my life did not end the last time I stepped off that boat but all I’ve done is confirm who I am.
Tonight I’ve just put on my rain gear and carried my little dogs out for their night time ritual of pumping ship just before bed. They did not want to go out on their own! The rain is bulleting horizontally. They’ve now nestled into their wee bunks. Soon I will join them. I will endure another long night of dark dreams and sudden wakings when there is any strange noise. Jill is recovering slowly and I worry constantly. We are not celebrating Christmas this year due to lack of family and shattered finances. The winter ahead looks long and bleak. Blub, blub, blub. When I think of all the places I could be, a bombed-out basement in the Ukraine, teetering on a hangman’s scaffold in Iran, living in any city, I know how lucky I am.
By noon the next day, the rain has eased and doggies and I have been out for a walk. Our regular trails are now free of the trample-packed ice and are ankle-deep in running rivers of ice cold rain water. Now I’ll make some soup, so it can sit and ferment until supper time, go check the camper, take a load to the recycling depot, have a nap, watch the TV news over supper, fall asleep in front of the televison, wake up and drag myself off to bed where once again I’ll stare into the night, afraid to fall asleep and have yet another nightmare. How does the human mind conjure up such weirdness? I know I am still in the grieving process for my daughter and that all this aberrant mentalism is part of it. I feel guilt at the notion of letting go and walking away. I know that to some degree there will always be a sadness, some people never let go of that but life is for the living. This old tugboater clings to the motto of “Never look back” and it is a chore to find the right balance. At least we have the closure of knowing what happened to our daughter. Some folks never even have that.
When I’m especially depressed or stressed, (For example, laying in a dentist’s chair) I pull up a recurring image from the back of my brain. I am sailing, on a starboard tack. Tepid green seawater washes through the port scupper and I run my hand through it from where I sit in the cockpit, my other hand on a well-balanced helm. The translucent water is inviting. The boat is on a lee shore. The beach is lined with palm trees and somehow, from downwind, cooking aromas are able to reach me. Lee shores are dangerous places to be near, yet I feel peace and fulfillment, confident that I can tack out into open water as I wish. So, if you see me staring at the wall, know where I am.
We finally conceded an issue this week and bought a new television. By today’s standards it is tiny, only 32”, the same size as the old one. I was fascinated by the image quality on some of the huge wall-sized units. They remind me of the screens at drive-in movie theaters! The price of them was stupendous but most impressive to me was the heat pulsing out of them. So much for thinking green! It must take the energy from one hydro-electric dam to power just a few of these things. Frankly with these huge, larger than life screens you’d need one hell of a long room to see them properly. Boggle view! Can’t be healthy.
One of the first programs I watched was about Cuban wildlife. I almost felt like I was there. To hear a hummingbird appear from somewhere out there and then look into its eyes with crystal clarity was thrilling. The entire scene was portrayed in brilliant natural colours. There was a walk-in depth to it. Perhaps, one day television will be like a door which we can step through and find ourselves surrounded in the scene. We can be one of the actors and have a chance to shoot old John Wayne in the knee.
It is amazing what twelve years of evolution in electronics has brought. The image is now scary-clear but what is truly wonderful is the sound. I can hear everything! It is wonderful and terrifying. I now have three remote controls to work in sequence and the gods forbid that I try to adjust anything. Apparently everything can be consolidated onto one control. Yeah right!Pushing one wrong button may provide a window with ten more options. Pushing that first button twice, well….! Dinosaurs disappeared because they could not evolve quickly enough! G’bye.
“ I know it must be close to Christmas, I’ve just seen my first Easter ad.”