CLUNK!

Ahhh. Rain! Taken an hour ago. Despite a long wet winter, all is already desperately, unseasonably dry.  The rain felt so good. Who knows? Maybe it will rain all summer.
Jack smells the flowers. Where I stood to take this photo is usually muddy year-round. Yesterday it was dusty.

I promise. ‘Seafire Chronicles’ will not become an ongoing diatribe against the RV industry. This posting will be the end of my whining and self-recriminations about my own incredible stupidity. Then it will be on with the next adventure. After realizing the terminal cancer in my sweet little trailer I began making a video about my folly. Something interesting thing happened. I was standing in front of the camera beginning to film what I was to name “Fun Finder Blues”. The light was wrong and I just couldn’t remember the lines I had rehearsed, even after several “takes.” While I was struggling with that I was approached by a fellow who told me how he had bought exactly the same model of trailer, brand-new, from a local RV dealer. His 2014 Fun Finder 189 was leaking rainwater inside before he got it home from the sales yard!

He had a hell of an ordeal with both dealer and factory before finally having it repaired by an independent shop and selling it, with a clear explanation of his bargain price, to a young couple. He was obviously a well-heeled, intelligent man who had also done his research before making his ill-fated purchase. By the way, should any of you locals need one, that shop is Adrian’s RV in Nanaimo. He comes with many high recommendations including mine. I felt slightly better to realize I was not the only sucker. So I wrote this:

There’s nowt as smart as an old buck

Until that old buck mucks up

Then he’s just a head on the wall

And a chump roast in the freezer.”

Humour, desperately needed as it may be, doesn’t resolve an issue. It does ease the pain a bit and certainly helps me make it through the day. Now, a week later, I’m very much older and a little bit smarter. I’ve picked up my custom order of new aluminum facing to which I had to commit. I bought it to expedite the repair of the trailer. There is a limited amount of time to store it in a space which had been graciously provided so I could make repairs. Ordering ahead seemed the clever thing to do at the time; especially when you live on an island. The invoice, quoted ahead of time, was almost twice what I expected and of course I’d forgotten about the sales tax. It just gets better and better! For once my usual prudence of being positively negative and assessing worst case scenarios has blown up in my face.

Just a few days ago I went to bed in here feeling snug and smug about about my lovely little trailer.  Jack cuddled up happily beside me and we never moved till dawn. Now it looks like a Taliban suicide bombers classroom. “Pay attention lads, I’ll only show you this once!”
Putting on a brave face. A temporary measure for storage or transport to the knacker’s yard or a place where I will perform a major rebuild.

As I pilot I can tell you there is a deadly situation called a spiral which most often occurs when you lose sight of the horizon. The aircraft accelerates downward in an ever- tightening turn until the aircraft disintegrates, usually when it hits the ground. The recovery procedure is to first recognize the situation as soon as possible, then pull back on the throttle, level the wings and gently but firmly reduce your speed by raising the nose. You need to avoid structural damage or entering a high-speed stall. How’s that for a metaphor? It will all seem funny when this story is in the distance and viewed through a rear-view mirror. “Pull up, pull up.”

There are some positive aspects. Imagine if this rot box had exploded or imploded somewhere on the rugged roads of Mexico or in a desert wilderness. Or, how about on an Interstate Highway as one of those behemoth trucks hurtled past pushing its wall of compressed air. I’d bet it happens from time to time. And I swear, that with my new awareness, I can now actually see self-destruction happening in very many trailers and motor homes.

I’ve decided that there was no point in wasting time putting together a video about low integrity and consumer rape when there are clearly so many other fools out there. Manufacturers clearly have all the conscience of politicians. The products excreted from their factories are marketed on the terms of bi-weekly payments. With the “Eat, drink and be merry” philosophy of our frantic culture, we fools do rush in so long as we can make the bi-weekly payments. So the marketing model becomes: “Eat crap, a billion flies can’t be wrong.”

I’ve done further research and I see now that most of these trailers are built the same way.

Losing face.The delamination on the faces of both these trailers is obvious.
Boink, boink, boink. Now I can see the problem  on trailers everywhere. On metal-sided trailers it is much harder to see, sometimes until you fall through the rotted floor!

Here is a link to a short YouTube video where the Jayco Trailer Company proudly displays how they throw together thirty-two trailers a day, each one in about six hours. The workers run like raped apes, easily showing why one should never buy this product. This video is one of the most counter-productive marketing tools ever. Why it is posted at all raises some obvious questions. But then, there a lot of fools out there, like me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXMJrRQ3SVk

It made me recall an RV salesman once eagerly telling me how what he was trying to sell was made by the “Mennonite folk, quality indeed,” he assured me although I could the ground through holes in the inside storage lockers of a virgin trailer. In the above video some costumes and hair styles prove some folks of that persuasion do indeed work in these plant. That is very sad. Their faith was once synonymous with integrity.

Well enough already! It is time for me to heave-to and see which way the wind will blow. Then I can fall off onto the proper tack to get where I am going. Negativity feeds on itself and so does being positive. Always in life the first/best resource is a good attitude and so I’ll try to go that way. But damn! It’s hard.

Woody! One of the joys of NOT owning a boat is that you still see the beauty but do none of the work, especially on wooden boats. Now I can wander down the dock, hands in pockets, accosting boat-owners bent to their tasks and say things like,”Work, work, work, it never bloody ends!” This is a gorgeous wee vessel from the days when it would have been a grand yacht by the standard of its day.

My ongoing Keto diet is still working even though I cheat a bit. There is already enough manic action in my script without any more self-imposed strictness. One of the reasons I didn’t like what I was recording on video is that I think I look older as I lose pounds. I’m half-way to my targeted lower mass but worry and depression are not part of a recommended weight loss program. I need to stay busy. I can’t seem to find a job and I’m not feeling especially creative. One of the reasons I take so many photos and make videos is to stay in touch with the amazing beauty all around us. When you stop seeing that, you are half-way dead. I live in a beautiful place. Folks from around the world travel to see Vancouver Island. The trick is to keep on seeing the raw beauty while you live here. Ladysmith sits on the northern lip of the Cowichan Valley. I have easy access to both forest and ocean all around me. The weather is perfect, hot and dry already, and so it’s boots and saddles. C’mon Jack!

Old Jack spots a rabbit. Note the deep concern of his prey.

And so…on to the next adventure.

Last evening, while sitting in front of the goon box watching a movie about a pug, of all things, a rat suddenly ran in through the open door. He was a big bugger! He scuttled back and forth along two walls of the living room with his little feet pattering loudly. We closed the door so he could not escape and then shut Jack in a bedroom. A Keystone Cops routine ensued as old ‘El Gordo’ here pulled out furniture from the walls, all the while trying to keep Rodney the rodent from moving further into the home. I seized a short chunk of two by four from the garage and finally herded the wee beast into a corner. Clunk! He was promptly dispatched to the big cheese in the sky. Me, the once-great hunter, felt both sympathy and empathy for this fellow creature of the universe. I understood, all too well, those horrible long moments within the terror of entrapment and realizing a mistake I could not reverse.

Ain’t life strange? You’ve got to laugh.

The path in the glen. This is a favourite spot on a local walking trail. Who knows where the wandering way leads?

She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.”

From “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

A Strange Week Indeed

Winter Blues
It’s just a little ice on a puddle and an excellent example of the everyday things we look at and don’t see.
Shattered.
A different perspective.
There may different ways to look at anything.
Look before you scrape.
The car windshield on a winter morning.
This man’s curse, and his dog’s joy.
Jack enjoys a roll in the crusty snow, then a slide on his back down the hill.
Birds.
I hear birds, alway the birds.
A “murder” of crows.
Nevermore!

My last blog was about poor old me worrying my way toward the final steps in the sale of my beloved ‘Seafire’ on this coming weekend. I thank those readers who have offered their warm support and kind comments to help me through the angst of the next few days. I am coping by staying busy indoors and out. I’ve sorted through my recent photo files, tinkered on the camper van, did some dog-sitting for friends and put together yet another short video from my recent trip. I am scheming ways to produce some income and looking forward to whatever comes next. This too shall pass. Idle hands find the devil’s work it is said. So it’s head down, arse up while staying gainfully busy. I am never stuck for things to do.

The W word.
My charges, Bella the Portuguese Water Dog and Louie the Poodle give me the eager eye in anticipation of their morning promenade.
Wanderlust, the incurable condition. Across the sea and over the mountains there are so many places and people to see and meet. A Vancouver Island view of mainland Canada.

And then it happened. The van sold, in less than a day of advertising it. Remember the song, “The thrill is gone?” Change the word thrill to van…yeah you’ve got it! Yes, I immediately bought a lottery ticket. May my karma not run over my dogma. Here is the latest video from the recent trip.

I need just enough to tide me over until I need more. …Bill Hoest

No Rehearsal

The wonder of buoyancy floats a small boat or large in a fathom of water or a thousand
The same wonder of buoyancy floats a boat, small or large, in a fathom of water or in a thousand

I am a fan of Ted Talks and if you don’t know what they are, do a web search. You’ll be hooked. Thanks to my old friend Jimmy I’ve just reviewed a Ted Talk presentation by an incredible guitarist named Tommy Emmanuel. His guitar skills are fabulous and at the end of his gig he says to the audience “Folks, life is not a rehearsal. Now get on with it!” That kicked me where the sun doesn’t shine! I’ve just read my first blog, now a two year old commitment to myself and the world. Shocked, sickened, I wonder what the hell I’ve been doing.

Suddenly On Day! After years of walking by this Arbutus tree, I notice the face cleverly carved around a knot
Suddenly One Day!
After years of walking by this Arbutus tree, I notice the face cleverly carved around a knot

In that time I’ve tacked, gybed, reefed, hove-to and back-tracked ostensibly in hot pursuit of my goal of sailing away. I know where I want to go and why, have the talent to do it, yet I’ve made little progress. I’ve had health issues, have been severely screwed over by unscrupulous people but there is nobody to blame but myself. I am not trying to solicit sympathy or empathy (although cash would be fine says this old pirate). I am trying to affirm the emotional plagues of winter which I know afflicts so many other folks. Depression, for me, is a tangible hereditary disorder I’ve wrestled with all my life and the dark days of winter bring out the worst of this curse. I’ve written my share about the problem and I’m not about to dissect it here other than to offer support and affirmation for those with enough courage to admit they too suffer from this very tangible problem. It is not simply an issue of bad attitude or self-pity but you can soon become your own black hole if you don’t force yourself to do whatever is necessary to rise above the darkness. In one Ted Talk, depression is described not as the opposite of happiness but rather the lack of vitality. I do affirm that.

Boat House Row A dreary morning in Ladysmith, but... if you don't like it, try missing a few!
Boat House Row
A dreary morning in Ladysmith, but… if you don’t like it, try missing a few!

I’ve been back home in lower latitudes for nearly three weeks. The arthritic pain of the North Coast’s extreme dampness has eased but old injuries still suck at my essence. That is being dealt with at the stately pace of our medical system. Broke, with few prospects for the moment, I’ve soon found myself imploding with only enough energy to make more excuses for my downward spiral. Fortunately, every year I find wonderful rapport and affirmation by attending the Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon. Today was the final day to commit to perform this year. I have some good excuses for not going and almost said no. I don’t have the funds for any of it but I’ll find a way and will come home uplifted immensely, knowing I have helped do the same for my peers and my audience. There is a direct link to the Fisher Poets Website in the right hand side bar of this blog. With a little poking about you can find my name under the list of performers found “In The Tote” and hear me reading of some of my work as well as several other writers and musicians. If you’d like a break from winter, have a sniff of spring and a great time in an incredible town which has arisen from its own ashes, I’d love to see you there.

The Party Moon Jelly Fish. What do they talk about?
The Party
Moon Jelly Fish.
What do they talk about?

Meanwhile old ‘Seafire’ languishes at the dock. Despite my daily visits, she sleeps quietly, waiting for some attention as soon as the weather warms and improves enough for me to tackle my list of chores, big and little. There’s a story or two in that I promise. I also have a stack of writing, including several books, needing a final edit and posting on Amazon. You can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishing and books that are not published aren’t going to sell. There’s a story about a boy who is accidentally locked in a barn. Days later, he is found. All the manure has been shovelled up and piled neatly in one end of the building. When queried about this he replied wearily, “With all this shit I knew there had to be a pony in here somewhere.” It’s all about attitude. Dig on.

My pal Jimmy's Corbin 39 back in a Pacific northwest winter after a marathon voyage around the Pacific Ocean
My pal Jimmy’s Corbin 39 back for a Pacific Northwest winter after a marathon voyage around the Pacific Ocean

I receive frequent enquiries about what sort of camera equipment I use. The type of equipment you have has little to do with the photos you take. Most of my camera gear is old and beat-up. It is not what I would choose if permitted a shopping spree in a camera store but it is what I can afford. I don’t begin to use the potential magic in even these humble machines. Exotic camera equipment will not produce better photographs if the nut holding it does not have a good understanding of the art. To illustrate my point, the photos in this blog were all taken with my lowly cell phone around Ladysmith in the last few days . The concept has been around for quite a while now but taking photographs with a telephone still seems incongruous to me. Mind you, one of my cameras has a GPS and altimeter built into it. You wouldn’t believe what I can do with my new toothbrush!

Rock Steady Surviving the winter wobble test when the winds blows you off your jackstands
Rock Steady
Surviving the winter wobble test when the wind blows you off your jackstands

If you find the accelerating technology around you alarming, and like me, long for an older, more steadfast era, then the closing photos in this blog might soothe the savage beating in your breast. There is an old design mantra which says that if it looks good, it works good.

The boat is the “Curve Of Time”, a name taken from the title from the famous book by Wylie Blanchet. If you’re not familiar with the work and you’re learning about it in this blog you’re probably the sort of person who would enjoy it very much. The venerable tome is still available. The venerable vessel is a North Sea side-trawler, Dutch-built in 1959. her original fishing registration and home port can still been seen on her bows under the paint. After that career she was a Greenpeace vessel, the proverbial sword turned ploughshare. She has since enjoyed a third calling as a charter boat and research vessel which has introduced many people to the wonders of the West Coast. To my eye, she is a pleasing sight from all angles and… she’s for sale! Long may the sight of her quicken the hearts of romantics and dreamers wherever she may voyage.

Late Bloomer Beauty even on a gray day
Late Bloomer
Beauty even on a grey day
A Little run-down The sorry state of Vancouver Island's E&N Railway "feelin' nearly faded as my jeans."
A Little run-down
The sorry state of Vancouver Island’s E&N Railway
“feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans.”
The Real Thing 'The Curve Of Time' proudly displaying her battle scars. Imagine all that has been seen through those wheelhouse portlights.
The Real Thing
‘The Curve Of Time’
proudly displaying her battle scars. Imagine all that has been seen through those wheelhouse portlights.
Pretty From All Angles
Pretty From All Angles
YAR!
YAR!
The Crow's Nest set on a jaunty rake
The Crow’s Nest
set on a jaunty rake

 

The lecture ends, ‘Slow down. You’re not as young as you once were.’ and I have seen so many begin to pack their lives in cotton wool, smother their impulses, hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood into a kind of spiritual and physical semi-invalidism. In this way they are encouraged by wives and relatives, and it’s such a sweet trap.

Who doesn’t like to be a center for concern? A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the household becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I’ve lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason she should inherit a baby.”….

…….John Steinbeck, from ‘Travels with Charley ‘

Reluctant Dawn Ladysmith Harbour in January
Reluctant Dawn
Ladysmith Harbour in January

SHAZBOT

A single dark event in the history of the world has produced an amazing positive result. All of the media posts of the world covered the story ahead of all else, and there are some dire circumstances out there. Of greatest interest to me was that throughout the day no-one discussed the tragedy. It was, I think, too poignant, too personal to toss around. I am writing about the suicide of one of my heroes, Robin Williams. I too suffer from chronic depression and like all of my fellow sufferers around the world it was easy to recognize in this incredible man. He denied being bi-polar or clinically depressed but I can tell you that all those manic, hilarious public highs we knew him for were often matched by similar private lows. From the various accounts I have gleaned, his death wasn’t an easy one. There are much easier, painless methods of ending your life than slashing your wrists and then hanging yourself in the closet with a belt. I know. I’m 62 years old and I’ve thought about it on and off for nearly a lifetime. He was determined to go.

When I first heard the news I was shattered and immediately plunged into a manic state of grief. Williams was an icon of positive reinforcement to me, an example of turning dark energy into something uplifting and joyful. He was a symbol of hope to me. Think of the light this one incredible comedian and actor left in millions of eyes. Clearly fame, wealth, and all the available options that can bring, while surrounded by adoring people were not enough to stay the massive urge to self-destruct. His sense of hopelessness overwhelmed him to a point of not being able to stand his personal pain anymore.

Depression is NOT simply weakness or bad attitude. It is a disease of the brain, electrical and/ or chemical. I like to see myself as one tough old blue-collared dude who was able to out-work, out-endure extremes of pain, cold, heat, loneliness, poverty; generally a tough old sonofabitch. I took a very long time, until I was forty years old, to admit I had a serious issue with depression. I shall always feel profound sadness when I think of all the pain I’ve caused so many who have tried and those who still try so hard to love me. I’m very bright and talented and I’m no axe-murderer but it must be damned hard to believe in someone who doesn’t feel the same way about themselves. I’ve written a book about my experience with this bastardly thing called depression and all the stigmatizing that society imposes.

Writing “Sins Of The Fathers” was somewhat cathartic but putting it out there was also the toughest thing I’ve ever done. The book is available online through ‘Chipmunka Publishing.’ My hope was that it would enlighten folks who don’t understand how severe depression is indeed a tangible disease which affects many aspects of a person’s life and well-being. I also wanted to offer affirmation to fellow sufferers. A sense of utter loneliness and feeling that no-one else can possibly understand you is often part of the incredible weight you carry. If you have any of all the myriad of other human afflictions, for example cancer or a heart problem, there is a ton of empathy and sympathy. When the human brain, easily our most complex organ, and probably most abused, doesn’t perform flawlessly, the sufferer is often shunned and treated like a pariah. That only exacerbates the problem.

That is why Williams death can be used as a positive thing. He has left a lot of joy and even wisdom behind that will have lasting benefit to us all. But that someone as prominent, as adored, deified, and as accessible to help as Robin Williams was, has killed himself stunned the world. The other thousand or more daily suicides never make the news. They never will but I believe this story has raised everyone’s awareness. One of four people, have, have had, or will have some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Look in the mirror. Think about it.

Na-Nu Na-Nu Mork.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

….Robin Williams

Touched
Touched

MUSINGS ON A DAMP MAY SUNDAY MORNING

SOMETHING TO DO

SOMEONE TO LOVE, SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

….WHILE DOING NO HARM

Jack The Flying Dog
Jack The Flying Dog

 Sometimes the enormity of life is overwhelming. My last blog described the gormless sense of self-entitlement some people demonstrate in their frantic quest for distraction from the drudgery of life. I realized that a symptom of my own flaws is when I find annoyance at other folks trying to celebrate life. When I’m in a ‘Ha, Bumhug’ mood nothing will cheer me up.

 Yes, this crusty old barnacle admits to having fought a lifelong battle with, what the medical bunch describes as, chronic depression. One of my books, ‘Sins Of The Fathers’ deals with the darkness of living with bi-polar disorder and overcoming the weight of this much misunderstood condition. I’m not sure I did a good job of enlightening those who don’t understand the illness or of helping those who do. I’m not about to make an effort to further those interests here except to say that regardless of what many people think, it IS a tangible illness, it is NOT simply a matter of bad attitude, self pity or negative thinking. To survive a lifetime despite the instinct for self-destruction is a very positive achievement on its own. To find occasional joy, to pursue creative interests and to cling tenaciously to a goal, no mater how remote it seems, is a triumph. I’d be happy to discuss this subject person to person. (Or even sell you copy of my book)

 "Keep yer pecker up!"

“Keep yer pecker up!”

This past week has been one where dark demons have been shaking my tree and I’m plodding out of it ever towards the shimmering mirage of a dream I’m determined to reach.

It occurs to me that depression is not merely a personal cross. It is the unacknowledged epidemic running rampant through Western society and is the root from which so many other medical and social illnesses grow. To consume has become our reason to be (See my link to ‘Story Of Stuff’) and none of us can live up to the demands of all the advertising imposed on us incessantly. None of us are good enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, drive a fine enough car, go on enough exotic vacations, have a good enough sex life, have happy enough pets…… The pressure is relentless and insidious. Is clinical depression a product of nurture or nature? Yes!

When I was a child the world you were born into was believed to be the one you would inhabit. It was reasonable to think that the world had parameters and you could actually be educated and prepared for a place in it. How do you prepare children now for an environment that is evolving so quickly, no one can comprehend it or what the future holds? Think back five or ten years to what the world was like and how it is now. Honestly, did you have any idea? Without the sense of security of a tangible existence and future, no wonder we’re all a bit anxious. No wonder so many people have substance abuse issues, or can’t keep functional personal relationships or spend so much time in pursuit of distraction.

Seacross

Seacross

The headline for this blog is a quote from a man I was interviewing for a job; now many years ago. Those words are his description of the meaning of life. I’ve since found nothing more eloquent; a few words from one simple blue-collar working man.

Meanwhile, work on the preparations of ‘Seafire’ continues, one screw at a time.

 I’ll close out this musing with the following quote from Marianne Williamson which was used as part of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech.

 ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful, beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ”Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that

other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is in everyone, and, as we let our light shine,

We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.

Fog
Fog