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!
It’s a metaphor which a friend, now long dead, used to express the vagaries of life. It makes a wonderfully descriptive image for me. More than once, as we stab at it with our fork, the ubiquitous pickle of life squirts us in the eye or stains our best shirt. We never know which way it might go, just like everyday life. We may as well find some humour.
Almost a week ago I was at work in a sooty, greasy bilge desperately trying to get a sailboat engine back together. The client had been tied to the dock for over a week while we waited for parts. They were very nice folks but did not understand that to do finicky work, a mechanic needs to be left alone to focus on the process.
The following hand-held video is intended to leave you with the sense of wonder I hold for the mid-coast of British Columbia. Note the stream running down the beach, the distance surf and the call of an eagle. If you can’t open it, the still photo below is from the same location.
It was one of those shoehorn engine jobs which requires a fully articulating third hand, on a three-foot-long arm with an eyeball in one knuckle of some very nimble fingers. My hands are two bunches of arthritic bananas. I hate asking folks to leave their own boat while I work but surely one shouldn’t have to ask for something so bloody obvious! Once I even explained that this particular job was rather like trying to do brain surgery through the rectum. They still had a way of pouncing on me just when that last one and only special-thread nut or bolt was almost in place and again went ka-ping down into the bilge. Murphie’s law says that nothing in an engine room falls straight down and that magnets will retrieve every bit of metallic debris before finally clicking on to the missing item. It happens over and over. Grrrrr! Finally the engine was back together, a second time, everything was good, all their ancillary problems were resolved, the bill had been ‘edited’ as tightly as possible, they left the dock next morning.
Three hours later they were back.
I had carefully explained that with their particular cooling system they would have to check the air bleeding valve regularly during the first day of operation. They now raged that the engine had overheated. They had charged off until the engine boiled over and then finally bled out a copious amount of air. Fortunately with no new harm done, the temperature had returned to normal, but now they were “gun shy” and were determined something might still be wrong.
GRRRRRRRR! With some folks you just can’t win! July was a blue moon month (Two full moons within one calendar month) and the boat with the engine trouble was named ‘Blue Moon’. This leads to yet another song title, “There’ll Always Be Another Blue Moon.”
The mid-coast area is not a place for weekend warriors who don’t understand the basics of boat and engine maintenance. But still they come. It’s how we make our income. One gets worn down as the summer grinds on. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of quitting at least once in frustration with either a customer, my employer or both. Clearly my days as a marine technician are nearly over. Physically and emotionally, I’m too worn, bent and busted to keep doing this. My finances are at an all-time low but I can’t go on like this. I was sure that I was on my way to Mexico from here but now I’ve got that old dead-end feeling again. That’s got to be yet another blues song! The problem is that when one turns a passion into a career, the risk of becoming jaded is very real. And here I am. Thankfully, I can untie the boat on weekends and re-affirm my sea lust is real and entirely reasonable; at least to me.
Since that sooty engine compartment of last week, I’ve taken a quick sabbatical back south to Ladysmith to take care of business, visit home and make sure my buddy Jack still recognized me. I’ve had so many setbacks this summer that my finances are in full tatters. My wife Jill provided tremendous support to get me the hell out of there for a few days. The soot from that last job is almost gone from my pores and I’m heading back to work at Shearwater already. Those few days off have passed all too quickly and I’m pecking this out at the BC Ferry terminal in Port Hardy. The huge hinged-open bow of the ‘Northern Expedition’ looms over me. Up at 04:30 to be here for 05:30 for some verbal abuse from a surly baggage cart attendant, (With arms folded, and head cocked she demanded, “Yeah, let’s talk!) I can’t find a hint of coffee or breakfast anywhere.
This paragraph now comes from aboard. I’m sitting in a luxurious cafeteria waiting for the breakfast gate to open at 06:30. We’re supposed to sail at 7. The vessel is lovely and I know this wannabe cruise-ship is a jewel in the crown of the BC hospitality industry but speaking for coastal residents, I think a little less glitter and more accountable, affordable regular service would be grand. Features like a high-end gift shop selling cheap reproductions of Haida silverware has nothing to do with basic transportation. I’ve already ranted in previous blogs about the ineptitude of the entire BC Ferry Corporation so I’ll leave this alone. However, there was a time when this Northern coastline was much more heavily populated and served by various private carriers. I’ve never heard anyone recall that they felt at the mercy and whim of a down-south crown corporation board office. It seems the time when people said what they meant, meant what they said and kept their promises is a fiction from some other era. Folks have always been folks but I recall when integrity was a personal mandate. (Engines at full throttle since 07:07, we finally back from the dock at 07:35) By the time we have left the dock, Jill has driven back almost as far as Campbell River. As I sit writing, a “Rubenesque” lady and her clone daughter have reclined and fallen asleep. Their snoring takes me back to some of the tugboat foc’sles I’ve known. When i awoke from my nap, there was nobody around. Funny thing!
The summer grinds on, the daylight ever shorter, the evenings cooler, the rain more frequent. The list of before winter to-do jobs on ‘Seafire’ is begging attention. How it will end up is anyone’s guess but with all the crap, there has to be a pony somewhere. Yeehaw! There’s got to be a bright side I haven’t discovered yet.
Enough grumpy rambling. Here are another batch of photos. As I edit them, I look forward to the summer when I can come to these wonderful waters and simply cruise. I’ll have my own tools and parts aboard. We’ll see what Murphy can do to me then. I recently explained to a lady on a passing yacht in for repairs that ubiquitous old Murphy was so devious she has us actually believing she’s a man. With a twinkle in her eye, this woman quietly replied, “Yeah, God too!”
“Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.” …. Donald Hamilton