Changing Spark Plugs In The Rain

Schooner Spring
How can I post a ‘Seafire’ blog without at least one nautical photo? Beyond the greening meadows of Swallowfield a schooner drifts gently on calm water.

We’ve had several lovely days of spring weather. The afternoons have been glorious. The blossoms have emerged and the woods are leafing out with that fabulous early-spring chlorophyll green. Magnolia trees bloom. In order to survive the reality of being boatless I have been head-down busy. I have over six years of blogs to review, categorize and tag. In that process I’ve come across wonderful photos which I’ve forgotten and I realize how rich were the years when ‘Seafire’ was part of my life. I am a very fortunate fellow.

I swore that I’d never buy a black truck again nor one manufactured in North America. Here’s my previous truck parked beside my new one. I swear I’ll never own another boat again!
Original paint! I saw this 1952 GMC flat deck at the BC Ferry Terminal in Horseshoe Bay. The same age that I am, it is still working for a living and in much better shape! My GM truck is 67 years newer and will probably be in the scrap yard while this old beauty is stilling going strong.

I am also tinkering up my new old truck and trailer and it seems that I am turning that endeavour into a career. The to-do list goes on and on. A final job under the hood was to install new spark plugs. It sounds easy enough but with the sexy new-style spark plug wires, it was a challenge. Of course, as soon as I opened the hood and disabled the engine a cold, steady wintry rain began that was born on a gusting wind. I’m sitting beside the fireplace now with a tepid coffee and soggy joggy togs. They’re not sweat pants this morning. I haven’t had breakfast yet, which is part of the trendy Keto diet I’ve embarked on. My health issues demand that I shed some poundage so it’s fish and spinach for me. The doctor was mumbling about getting my stomach stapled, I replied that it would be a lot easier to staple my mouth. I also responded that after my recent trip through the US, I know I am NOT obese!

And now for the ubiquitous annual spring flower photos. This is the first Dogwood blossom I’ve seen this year. The petals are green before they mature into white or subtle pink. The Dogwood is British Columbia’s provincial flower.
A feral daffodil
Gravel blossoms. I’ve no idea what these little flowers are.
Fawn Lilies have emerged everywhere in the woods.
Oregon Grape in bloom.
Trilliums too.

But I know he’s right, I’ve spent too many years talking about going back towards my flat-bellied youth but lip laps don’t burn many calories. It’s get off the pot time. There was a time when buying shirts was an effort to find some that allowed my arms to fit through the sleeves. Now it is about finding something which will button around my belly. I’m in big shape. I’ve joked about having a place to set my beer but I can no longer be a gluten glutton. It’s killing me. As Hercule Shwarzenegger might say, “My pecs have fallen.”

I retain an indelible image from my recent trip south of a portly man wearing sweat pants with a revolver in a holster strapped around his girth. The sheriff from Bigofme! Bib overalls are another fashion favourite. I’ve even seen those striped beauties cut off above the knees for a summer fashion statement. Ad diamond knee socks and rubber Walmart sandals. You’re stylin’ dude! Now add a T shirt that says “I’ve Beat Anorexia.” It ain’t funny but it is! Some folks actually seem proud of their personal grandeur. In a US motel a while back I saw a TV ad from a liposuction clinic advertising how you could lose thirty pounds in one day. The next ad was for McDonalds. That’s funny!

Spring trail. Jack is somewhere ahead of me absolutely savouring all the spring scents.
“Run through the jungle.” Well crawl, hack and stumble maybe. Soon to be hidden under a fresh verdant blanket, this tangle will get a little thicker.

One bit of progressive news is that I’ve acquired a dinghy for the next boat. It is another Achilles inflatable which is in great shape. Achilles are made from a product called Hypalon which survives the UV damage of southern latitudes quite well. They also perform very nicely. This one can be deflated and packed in the back of the truck. I’ll have a seaworthy boat wherever I go, even in the desert. I found a fabulous price on a brand-new outboard for it, which is a first for me. (Both the price and something new) No more cobbling on someone else’s cast-off. How decadent is that?

Fresh! A spring morning after the rain ends.
The greening of the slough. After a long bleak winter, everything is lush and beautiful.

Nothing lasts forever, everything comes to an end. Since the first paragraph of this blog, I have finally completed the dreary ordeal of reviewing and stuffing each blog into its own little box. I can see how the blogs have improved through the years. My attitudes have changed and I hope that the boring, repetitive rhetoric which I’ve produced at times can be forgiven. There has been a lot of navel-gazing and negative comment. If I can see that now, surely I am evolving positively. I have also noted how friends have set out and completed adventures and dreams. I’m still here blogging away and yapping about what I’m going to do. Seafire is gone. She was the precipitation of this blog which was supposed to be about all the voyaging ahead. It would be a good time to say thank you to my readers and end the blog.

Oh for the wings of a vulture!
Ugly as sin when perched, a turkey vulture is incredibly beautiful in flight. They are soaring masters and ride fleeting breaths of rising air like dreams. For some reason they kept circling me!

But, the blog has become a force of its own. And, there is plenty of voyaging ahead. This effort helps give my life added meaning and from reader’s comments around the globe, I know it does make a positive contribution. If I achieve nothing else, I provoke some folks to ask questions and wonder at all the wonders. So begins ‘Seafire Chronicles’ Part II.

BLISS!
Jack in dog heaven in the soft sand on the banks of the Chemainus River.

Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” … John Lennon

Everything improves with age … I’m incredible!” … Bumper Sticker

Thinknicity

Ghosts in the fog. Are they real or imagined? You decide.

I’ve found myself in a spot for the moment where I have no cash, nor any more credit, (Which is why I have no cash… a vicious circle!) not even for part of a tank of gas or for groceries. Clients haven’t paid me and the ripple effect spreads out. [ Dear Sir: ” The wolf which sniffs around so many doors these days, delivered herself of pups in my kitchen. I sold them. You get some of the money I owe you”] It’s a temporary shituation and may as well be regarded as an adventure instead of an ordeal. A little dose of humility is good for anyone. So I walk. It is sunny out.

I remember a time when all I owned could be stuffed into a back-pack. Out went the old thumb and away I went. The next adventure was always just around the corner. I was in much better financial shape. I had no money, but I had no debt. I was free! And I walked a lot but there was little romance in hitch-hiking Northern Ontario in January job-hunting. I once sat with my flat belly beside a road for over forty-eight hours in a minus forty degree blizzard waiting for a ride. It did not come until the wind eased and the roads were cleared. I know my present situation is temporary but it is still very humbling. I look at the tent camps of the allegedly poor and disenfranchised and reckon that perhaps half of these characters have a legitimate story. The trailers and motor homes among them don’t qualify.

The town of Dire Straits. This tent camp is in Nanaimo, there are more in Victoria and Vancouver. Now the cold rains of autumn are beginning. We’ll soon see who has been there by choice and those who truly are homeless.

Sorry. I know that some of the people living like this do it by choice, not dire need. I believe I’m qualified to make some judgments based on my experience long ago as a kid on the winter streets of Toronto and the north country. Thankfully there were some kind souls who saved my (then) sorry skinny ass and I have lead a reasonably productive and constructive life in the decades since. I also understand how quickly the blessed may fall when bad luck and circumstances turn against you. It can’t happen to you? Ha! Yes it can.

This morning I was on the phone with a friend. I misheard him say synchronicity. I heard “thinkronicity”. Turns out a new word was born which I’ve refined to “thinknicity”

A happy mistake. I was editing an image and pushed a wrong button. This is what happened. Wanna buy a good used Honda?

Synchronicity was coined by the German psychologist Carl Jung. It was a term for “meaningful coincidences” and as a vague allusion to the paranormal. Thinknicity is a word, in my mind, which describes the wilful direction of mental energy to create an event, or series of events, which first begins as a simple but focused thought. For example, I have been repeatedly able to will myself a parking spot in a busy traffic area simply by focusing my thoughts on that specific need or desire. I am not able to bend spoons, or levitate, but I know there is a tangible result which comes from clear concentration. I suppose prayer is another word and concept that is a similar thing, but I refuse to introduce even a hint of religion to any aspect of my considerations or spirituality. I am talking about the internal ability to create a desired effect with simple brain power.

Now that there has been a frost, these feral apples will be sweet and crisp and wonderful and too high to grasp.

With the concept of positive thinknicity, there is also a negative force. I am, I confess, much more capable with dark will, or as I once heard it, “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.” I can will things to go wrong for myself and in turn that creates a black spiral where nearly everything goes wrong like toppling dominoes. We all can do it and often do.

Using Newton’s theory, while a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion, thoughts can indeed create their own momentum. When a tendency for things to go wrong (“I knew it!”) is unleashed, it becomes a runaway cat and takes a lot to stop. Also, when you’ve ground yourself down in such a way, the energy required to reverse that tendency is enormous. I think it is a much stronger energy than positive thinknicity. So, food for thought at least, it would be nice to hear what you think.

The following quote is a fine example of which I speak. I found it while thumbing through the notepad at my elbow. Meanwhile, as I write I also watch a program about the city of Riga, Latvia. They’ve taken several huge concrete zeppelin hangars and turned it them into a fabulous public market. Swords into plowshares. Thinknicity!

Look up! A rare key tree. There’s a story to this image and I wish knew it.

A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty. “… Ritu Ghatourey

A Bog Trotter And A Bilge Ape

BUSINESS FIRST: I’ll be doing a writer/salty dog presentation at the Ladysmith Maritime Society dock on May 12th at 2pm. There’s a link to a nifty poster bellow. Also I’ll be participating in the River’s End Poets Gathering in Steveston in the Cannery Museum on September 22nd in the afternoon.Talk on the Dock -3 sml file

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE

Race Rock Light from the west
Deep sea vessels anchored in the Gulf Islands waiting for cargo. Mainland Canada in the distance.

Friday, April 13th. A January gale complete with slashing ice-cold rain hammers horizontally outside. Jack and I went out in the rising blast this morning to photograph flowers. We got some good shots and came home cold and wet.

Nettles in the rain.
So many flowers look so similar I’m afraid to hang a name on these.
Tension and balance
Fawn Lilies and Oregon Grape flowers. It has been a fabulous spring for these lilies.
The misfit. Weeds are only plants someone else says are bad.

I’ve been trying to teach myself how to use a popular film-editing program. I am frustrated and humiliated. Page 1 in the manual immediately referred me to page 249 and so it has gone. When I learned to fly, and to drive, I was turned out in the local cow pasture with some basic cautions. I taught myself what happened when you pushed this, pulled that, turned the round thing and stomped on that. Yep, I made mistakes, but progressed steadily and gained confidence to the point of competence. I’ve never had an accident on the road or in the air.

My life at sea has gone similarly and no-one knows me for being timid. Now I’m confronted with a set of neo parameters which immediately demand a total fluency in a new blither-gabble all the while pushing this, double-clicking that while holding F49. I’m sure I’ll learn, thousands of others have, but golly durnit! Let’s start with the foundations and the framing before we worry about the flower boxes and the heat pump. All I want to do is make a few simple films. Surely I don’t have to run away to film school. Ummm well…!

A nickel and a robin’s dead egg. I found it where it must have fallen out of the nest.
The coin is show its size.
A troll brain. Actually a spring fungus.
Jack is my faithful companion. He loves snuffling about while I take my photos.
A rare purple trillium

After deleting the first film-editing app. in frustration, installing another program then uninstalling it, I’ve re-installed a slightly different version of the first film app. It is called “Lightworks.” It is apparently a professional grade system and did allow me to print a 200 plus page paper manual. I can have this for referral while I plod into this. The other program had plenty of tutorials but I don’t know how to have the program up and running while at the same time watching an online tutorial. There have been lots of walks in the woods this week! I have been called a “Bog-trotter” by a certain in-law; that is essentially correct.

Current flowers

I have, however, just had a wonderful local experience out of the bog. They’ll soon have a fresh coat of paint on their facade but they are easy enough to find here in Ladysmith. The IRONWORKS CAFÉ and CRÉPERIE are on the main highway between the 7/11 and City Hall. There’s parking around the corner and immediately across the highway below the shoulder. Please use the crosswalk. The coffee and food and staff are all excellent. Soon, as the weather improves, their patio under a huge spreading chestnut tree will be open to enjoy an excellent fare. Check it out when passing by. There’s nothing like a fresh crepe to make your day. It leaves me feeling good to mention someone doing something right. And no, creeps are something entirely different. We have some of those too.

Vanilla Leaf.
These plants can be bunched and hung to use as an insect repellant.
The picnic table. Now, wine, cheese, smoked fish, warm fresh bread.

For some reason of coincidence I’m posting four photos of interesting trucks I’ve recently found along the way. The big Volvo 4×4 from Germany certainly caught my fancy. I could hear the waves on a remote Baja beach the moment I saw it.

The Lurchenwagon
A Volvo 4×4 motor home from Germany parked at the docks in Ladysmith
A lo-brid truck with a little flare.
Another whimsical effort at a home-built truck. no airbags, no crumple zone.
Mack Attack. This old Thermodyne looks as if it could haul a few logs yet…if there’s someone man enough to drive it.
Now that’s a driveway marker! There’s always something interesting around the next corner.
More headwork up another back road.
A lovely country home nestled in the woods
And so the three little pigs lived happily ever after.
A rock house.

On the subject of trucks I’m going to wade into this one as delicately as possible. I am impressed with the tremendous collective expression of condolence for the Saskatchewan hockey team that met with such tragedy last week. I am intrigued by the mass mourning for lost hockey players. Yes hockey was the common thread which brought them to be together in a bus yet while they were part of a hockey team they were also human beings with the full range of fears, hopes, dreams and problems we all have. Should these sixteen dead have been young children or senior citizens or a group of indigenous folks would there be the same outpouring of grief? Would flags being flying at half-mast? What if this tragic loss was innocent civilians killed as collateral damage in a rocket attack in Syria? How about a sunken boatload of Middle-Eastern refugees? Are their lost lives of less value? Well, we may never even know about their tragedies, so how can we grieve, but my point is that participants in a national sport seem to hold a higher value than other mere mortals. This trendy scramble to join the funeral parade demeans the entire grieving process. Even my on-line banking site is thick with photos of hockey sticks. You’re right; I don’t get it. Sorry if I’m being obtuse. I’m not saying it is wrong because I am out of this particular loop but surely there are some obvious questions to be raised about our cultural values.

Magnolia blooms in an alley off main street Ladysmith

And I find myself lacking another comprehension. Argentine prawns in our superb local butcher shop. I just watched the daily return of our local prawn fleet to our docks which are just down the hill within sight of the butcher shop. What are we doing?

The mannequin looking out. It’s very eerie to see at first. This grand old building in Ladysmith is reputed to be a former brothel. It looks over the harbour.

Hockey, prawns, film-making; is there nothing that makes sense. I am down on the dock a lot these days tinkering on ‘Seafire’ and other boats nearby. That, at least, is something I fully understand and clearly where I fit in. This old bilge ape knows his place.

How’s this for distracted driving? Something else that is hard to make sense of. I’ll bet there’s a mobile phone in there somewhere.
Heartbreak. This is the saddest photo I’ve taken in a long while. In the spring of 2000, just after major heart surgery, I finished building this Gloucester Gull dory and rowed and camped my way through the Gulf Islands. It was a lovely bright yellow boat that rowed like a dream. I later sold it. It has rot in both ends and has clearly seen no love since I last saw it. Her sweet lines are still obvious.
A photo taken from the same dory on a happier day.

Once you’ve become a pickle you can’t be a cucumber again” … Steve Earle

Onwards And Sideways

It’s Official. Spring has arrived. Now that the trilliums are in bloom there can be no denying that, reluctant as it may be, spring is finally here.

WOW! I knew a lot of this blog’s readers liked my photos but I was not prepared for the reaction to moving pictures. Thank you. So, you really liked the film clip! Guess what? I’ll start inserting more. I’ve always wanted to learn how to edit, cut, and splice films as well as dub-in music, narrative, titles and so forth. I will learn. For the moment you’ll have to endure raw, unedited film shorts but I’m working on improving. We’ve got a good thing going on. Here’s one I shot this morning.

The feedback from readers about selling old ‘Seafire’ is almost divided equally. Some say, “Yeah, you’re right, cut yourself away from the stuff.” Others say, “Wot! Swallow the anchor?” Not you old chap. That’d be totally daft. How can you be Fred without a boat.” I am torn. This afternoon, I went down to the boat as usual to do a little tidying and cleaning and eventually ended up in one of the bunks for a nap. With two sleeping cabins I do have a way of producing a little income from chartering. I have forgotten this is one reason I bought this particular vessel. I drifted off to sleep during a spring squall and awoke later to find it was still pounding rain on the cabin top. The wind moaned in the rigging and I felt a deep sense of well being. The old chubby chap snug in his big fibreglass egg. I contemplated giving up my deep passion for flying and spending thirty-five years refitting and selling boats until I’ve ended up in this, my eighth boat. What all have I sacrificed for this? What has my wife endured and sacrificed for my dreams? Can I really walk away from this huge investment and be content and feel fulfilled? The happiest time of my life, as I recall, was when I only owned a backpack. Stuff, bloody stuff.

Even the dock critters are showing a renewed interest in life.
 makes for someinteresting results
Taking photos in the rain
The Watcher
A path too-well travelled
Like rivers, all paths eventually lead to the sea. This petroglyph,near Sooke, faces the Strait Of Juan De Fuca and is a dramatic location at any time. Some morons have tried to scratch  some graffiti on top of it. A nearby brass palague admonishing the dire penalties of defacing a cultural land mark, sports four bullet holes.
Up the creek! Jack explores a backwater in the Chemainus River.

I’m posting an old standard poem which I wrote many years old. ‘The Water Rushing By’ is also the title of my first published collection of writing about being a mariner on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. I need to get another run printed. Perhaps this one piece says everything worth saying. There is another short video at the end.

The Water Rushing By

Oh accursed dreamer who is called sailor

you cannot explain the longing

that leaves you restless for open ocean

out of sight of land

and those who would love you.

You are compelled eternally

to seek the solitudes of the undulating plane

that separates the heaven and the abyss

and you cannot feel complete without

the water rushing by.

Perhaps it is a lifepulse that calls you

a beating like the fetal heart throb

that sustained you in the warmth

and liquid of your mothers womb

now rising, then falling

caressing all around you

the harmony of hull in water

you surround yourself again in embryonic shelter

safe from all that would harm you

protected by the rhythm

of the water rushing by.

You go there beyond reason

of land bound men

so that again you may seek

the sight of yet another shore

from the only place remaining on the planet

where the world is seen almost as it always was.

There upon the tumbling mirth

of unchanged ever changing ocean

alone under ancient blue light

of beckoning stars and lonely distant worlds

receiving radiations of timeless wisdom

infinite love, endless yearning

of the universe eternal

and all the atoms of

the water rushing by.

Your life is become like your vessel

fusions of unlikely substance

that were in the earth, or grew upon it

joined together in brutal process

burning, bending, grinding cutting, pounding, poisoning.

Complex angles curving outward

inward, up and down

vertical, horizontal all at once

incongruous, inspired joinery

to craft a device of grace and beauty

for function, purpose, yet unplanned journeys

containing the conundrumed equation

of ballast against volume

to prevent capsize and stay floating outward

away from the now alien land where it was born

A convoluted, easy, tensioned balance

and buoyant synergy.

Yet no sum of parts will ever matter

so long as there ever is the simple music

of the water rushing by.

Man and vessel married

a happy oneness

dancing to the callings

of the sea bitch goddess.

Caressing her face and writhing body

with never ending, soon unmarked passage

of foaming wake across

the heaving breasts and belly

you are unable to abandon

the addictions of your passion.

Oh accursed sailor ever lusting

for just another moment, lonely then fulfilled

with peace and terror

lostness and homecoming

and the potent pleasure

of the water rushing by.

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” …Voltaire

Beyond Black Friday

Good things come in small bundles.
Santa blew it! Somehow, deflated Christmas ornaments laying all over humbug my Christmas spirits. Especially if they’re still lying there in July.

Black Friday has past. It may become known as the day that Darth Vader got stuck in the chimney. Forget the Star of Bethlehem, it’s Star Wars part 49. Bzzt, zap, whoosh! I’m not a fan, especially when the marketing of this film has be forced on us for months. “May the force be with with you” takes on a new meaning. What a way to start a celebration of love and peace and warmth and fuzziness! So it must be getting close to Christmas. Each morning there are deflated Santas and elves and snowmen lying on lawns nearly everywhere.

!The sacred act of consumerism is in the air. Even before mid-December advertisements for Boxing Day sales already clog the media which all the while keeps insisting that this year is a tight economic time, with housing and grocery costs at outrageous highs. Well, maybe so but as I drive by the malls, there does not seem to be many empty parking spots. Tap, tap, tap, click click. I’m not talking about the little drummer boy! Remember the ad, “Just say Chargex?” Jaded and cynical, I’m just not in the mood for anything other than peace and rum.

And lo, in the East, a star rose over the locomotive shed. There’s a Baldwin steam locomotive stored inside.
You recognize the view! This squint southward is over the Ladysmith amphitheatre in the local park.
The other side. Looking into the morning mist in Dogpatch. On a sunny winter morning, everything is beautiful.
Winterberry

Online, folks are posting yummy recipes. I have some good ones too but gluten, glucose and alcohol are bad for you, at least this year. I don’t know what happened to trans-fat, but apparently eggs, butter and coffee are OK again. My Christmas cake is delightfully heavy, dripping with syrupy alcoholic elixir; one slice is guaranteed to bring on a case of acne. Then there’s my glug, a mulled concoction of fruit completely desecrated in a blend of wine and brandy and other secret flammables with exotic spices. This year it’ll be cranberry juice and soda crackers. It’s the high life for me.

Frosty meadow.
Jack and I love walking at first light.

Once a simple pagan celebration of winter solstice and a return to lengthening days, this time of year was an affirmation of hope and familial security despite the long winter ahead. It was a simple defiance against the elements, things that went bump in the long dark nights and all there was to dread. It is supposed to be a celebration of life. Then religion imposed it’s toxic notions and Christmas was gradually perverted into an orgy of money grubbing. I’m well aware of the entire Christian story, I was force-fed on it for too many years. It’s dark and cold and wet outside tonight. There’s homeless folks out there, lots of them, and all the church doors are locked. In Victoria recently I saw security personnel guarding a church entrance. Homeless people were setting up camp for the night on the grass boulevard in front of the church. Shopping carts and garbage bags just didn’t look like the makings of a warm and safe winter night; in front of a church. Remember the stable?

Frozen Light

I do have golden memories of Christmas from a childhood many decades ago. A sudden aroma of home-cooking, woodsmoke or the tang of frost, the smell of wet woollens and barnyards (Yes, good old cow shit) the pungence of a real tangerine, fresh-cut conifers and a puppy’s gentle musk are among the stimulants that bring those old memories back to life in an instant. I know folks wrung their hands back then and worried about what the world had come to and how things just couldn’t go on like this much longer but by today’s comparisons, it was, at least for me, truly an age of innocence. That smells can induce memories, good and bad is an affirmation of our primal origin. I wonder about all the other senses which we have stashed away in the dim light at the back of our caves beneath the hanging bats.

In this particular area on Vancouver Island some hummingbirds spend the winter. This morning I was contemplating the brilliant multi-coloured led lights decorating a neighbour’s tree. A hummingbird zoomed down and began examining each light. Clearly, I’m not the only thinking creature confused about reality. With the thousands of lights gleaming through the night in Ladysmith It’s a good thing the wee bird is not nocturnal.

I’ve busied myself with a few projects on ‘Seafire.’ First a thorough cleaning in the main cabin and the galley. I was stunned to realize how much cooking effluent had accumulated behind and on the curtains and in niches my regular cleanings had missed. That accomplished, I turned my attention to a long-delayed project. The foredeck was slightly flexible. There was no issue with strength; I simply wanted to feel a rock-solid deck beneath my boots. Besides, the deck beam job will incorporate more book shelves and storage space in the forward V-berth. “Idle hands do the devil’s work” is something people liked to say when I was young.

I am not sure that boat projects are not devil’s work but it helps maintain some level of sanity within my chosen madness. While I’ve been fiddling around inside ‘Seafire’ different sorts of madmen are hard at other endeavours. Francois Gabart has just returned home to France on his massive trimaran after sailing around the world in 42 days and 16 hours. He set out on November 4th. I can remember where I was on that day, it is that recent! I’m not interested in going hyper fast on a sailboat, but I respect the achievement. To be alone and drive a boat that hard without a catastrophic mechanical failure while staying mentally and physically sound all the while is a miracle. It must seem very strange to be back ashore.

I can’t hear you! Jack charges a flock of pigeons, oblivious to all else.

Feet on the ground, now there’s a concept. The massive storm of inappropriate sexual behaviour accusations leaves me afraid to even smile at anyone of any gender, however many genders we now recognize. This tsunami of innuendo began with Bill Cosby and now anyone with eyes and hands is a suspect. I don’t want to dissect the issue, nor sound dismissive but… The US president openly bragged about his aggressive misogynistic sexual behaviour before he was elected. If an avowed pervert is running a country with impunity, surely that raises several obvious questions. He’s not welcome on my boat.

One of the ways I endure winter is to have something good to look forward to. Last year I had sequestered myself away in Shearwater and missed my annual pilgrimage to the Fisher Poet’s Gathering in Astoria. This annual event is held on the last weekend of February in Astoria, Oregon where poets and singers gather to celebrate the many aspects of the commercial fishing industry. It is a wonderful festival of blue collar eloquence and Astoria is a fantastic town to visit for any reason. You can learn more by going to the Fisher Poet Website (FPG.org)and can even hear some performers, including myself, read their work. If you’re in the area and want some late winter cheer, check it out. By the Way, Astoria has some of the best craft beers and ales anywhere.

Well, back to Christmas. I’ve just received a Christmas card from an uncle in England. The photo he enclosed shows himself and my aunt. It was hard to accept how they’ve aged. I have been receiving letters from him since childhood. They used to come on tissue-thin blue Royal Airmail paper. The letter cleverly folded quarterly with two sides reserved for the addresses. They were self-sealing and were bought prepaid, like a postage stamp. The sender wrote in as small a font as possible in order to say as much as possible on the six blank quarters. Somehow, the Brits had a style of handwriting that was generic. Everyone’s looked the same. That’s all gone now along with the whole fine art of letter-writing. Uncle’s handwriting is unchanged after all these years. There’s a comfort.

Early birds. Swans usually don’t show for winter until January. What does it mean?

The English journalist I mentioned in my last blog, Johnathon Pie, is actually a self-described political satirist whose real name is Tom Walker. He also calls himself a “Devil’s Advotwat.” His work, which appears on You Tube, is impeccable and utterly cutting as he rants about local and global political issues. He is crisp and irreverent and convincing, confirming my contention that our contemporary philosophers often appear in the guise of comedians. That, of course, should not be confused with a clown appearing in the guise of a politician.

“Dontcha buy no ugly truck!” When this GM pickup was new, that was the company’s marketing slogan. It appears to belong to a firewood harvester and is well-equipped for the backwoods.
Don’t laugh, I’ll bet she’s almost paid for!

Yep, as the song goes “It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas.” But I’m not dreaming of a white one. If you are celebrating the season, do it with your bow into the wind and your sheets hard. Wishing everyone empty bilges and full sails.

See! Toto emerges from beneath his Christmas blankets. He seemed offended that I thought he was funny.

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” …Jay Leno

B.N.D.

Morning Glory after a night’s heavy rain. Bailing can be a daily routine in winter.

My wife has a great idea. She’s come up with what she calls a B.N.D. or, Buy Nothing Day. In our consumer culture we nearly all have the craving to spend money. We’re incessantly prompted and programmed to do it. “How do you like it? How do you like it? More. More! More!” was a jingle for a local supermarket chain. In remote locations yachters who’ve been confined to their boats for a few days have an overwhelming compulsion to buy anything, something, as much as possible even though it may be useless, over-priced crap that they never needed until they saw it. I know that when I’m down and out, it makes me feel momentarily better to buy something. Prozac is a prescribed medication for compulsive shopping disorder. Yep, it’s considered a medical condition! The compulsion to acquire is a certain symptom of depression just surely as Prozac is a common drug for that illness. And tomorrow is Black Thursday which precedes the Black Friday and Pink Monday sales events.

Anyway I’m happy to recommend B.N.D. as a means of achieving some empowerment and control over one’s life. It sounds easy but I dare you to try it. For those of us driven to spend on credit I recall an old Welsh lady who once asked me, “If ye canna pay for it once, how will you pay for it twice?” That is sage thinking that I still have difficulty with.

Anapaya has risen again, this time to be broken up. The breaker’s crane and barge mark the spot. Meanwhile someone has tried to burn the beached wrecks. The boathouse in the back ground is a newcomer.
Will this squatter be the scene of the next fire

Anyway, I’m often informed that sailors are cheap buggers the world over. Sailing is often described as being like “Standing in an ice cold shower while ripping up thousand dollar notes” and that the word boat is correctly spelled with two T’s. Break Out Another Ten Thousand. I’m one of those backwater types who really doesn’t care about impressions. Let’s just say that I’m not a snappy dresser but I keep my old boat seaworthy if not always shiny. If it is a choice between new underwear or a box of flares, you know what will be burned. So, it’s not that we sailors are compulsively cheap, it’s just that all our money goes into the boat. If anything, we’re compulsively broke. And before someone spews out the weary cliché about boats being holes in the water I’ll reiterate that houses are holes in the beach to shovel your money into, and the scenery never changes. You can’t untie your house and sail away when you’ve had enough of your neighbours. See ya later!.

Frost on the skylight. With much of the province buried under snow, this is a small price to pay for a rainless morning.

 

The last one, I promise.
A final shot of autumn colours. The rain and wind have knocked down most of the leaves by now.

Another symptom of depression is hoarding. I was recently horrified to realize that maybe I’m inclined toward hoarderism myself. I’ve been living on ‘Seafire’ for years in remote locations. I wear only work clothes and can destroy outer wear sometimes daily. When in town I cruise my favourite second-hand clothing store and acquire shirts, jeans and other outer wear “just in case” I run out of togs. My brother once said of me that “Somewhere there goes a naked clown!” Today was spent unloading the boat. Sacks of manky clothing, bedding, towels, extra tools and never-used boat parts filled my truck. And there’s more to come! I realize that when I go south I won’t need nearly as much “stuff” crammed into every locker. I’m sure only one parka will do. I swear the boat has visibly risen on her marks. If hoarding is a symptom of depression then our culture is seriously ill. You can’t go far without finding extensive storage facilities. Folks have so much “stuff” they can’t cram it into their too-big houses so they rent space to store even more “stuff.” Once, all I owned could be fit into a backpack. Then it became what went into a pickup truck. After all the years wasted acquiring “stuff” now my joy is getting rid of it. If you see an old geezer on the roadside, stop and offer a ride; it could be me.

On Autumn Pond. An all-day downpour in Victoria.
Wet beyond words.

Now ‘Seafire’ is safely tucked into a berth for the winter. The space is available permanently.

That is a frightening prospect. I won’t let her sit and gather green, but for the moment there are no voyages planned. November wears on. I tidy out my tool boxes, tend to little jobs around the house and wonder where the money is coming from. When I first arrived I never wanted to see the boat again and I’ve forced myself to stay away from her for over a day at a time. Now there is a building tension. I check my lotto numbers; yeah right! I check the weather; yeah right. The rain and wind continue.

Last week I visited with my friend Pär Domeij. He was passing through Victoria on his way home to Sweden for the winter. His beautiful boat ‘Sjoa’ is stored in Shearwater and he’ll return in the spring to continue filming and exploring the mid and north coast. His short films are stunning. You can see several of his works on YouTube. The camera skill and editing are brilliant. His narration is gently understated and the final result is superb. One of his recent films is posted as “An Ode To An Estuary.” His work and his deep enthusiasm for the backwoods of Coastal B.C. will inspire you.

Less than two weeks after my return, I’m becoming antsy. I’ve worn out the blog themes of autumn colours and yet another storm. Now there’s a part of me that wants to shout “Bollox” in sheer frustration. I’ve tidied up my tools, which was no small job, and now I’m beginning a serious clean up of old “Seafire.” We’ve removed the cooking-grease-stiff curtains which were also coated with coagulated dust. I was disgusted to realize how badly things had become. I do regularly clean the boat but after a few years of living aboard I have to admit to some root-bound grime in my hermit’s man-cave. Jill is helping me bring things back to life and I’m very grateful. If nothing else, the curtains were a serious fire hazard as Captain Olive Oil sizzled up yet another one-dish meal. When the boat’s interior is again immaculate, there’s plenty of writing to dust off, edit and market. There are certainly no excuses to ever be bored.

And that’s how it is in my world for the moment. No dramas, no thrilling events. I’m not dressed up, nor sitting out in the pouring early morning rain waiting for any trains. I know I’ve missed the last one. There’s even plywood on all the station windows. Haar! Life goes on.

The abandoned railway and train station at Ladysmith. The E&N railway should be a vital artery on southern Vancouver Island and it is genius that it is seldom used.

 

Looking to the south at high noon. The urge is overwhelming.

 

I’ve always wanted to go to Switzerland and see what the army does with those wee red knives.” … Billy Connolly

The Third Napoleon

Wednesday Afternoon
Southbound in the Strait Of Georgia
Looking east toward Mainland Canada at 2 pm

 

Something felt very different Wednesday night. I was in the galley cleaning up after supper and mused how the boat looks the same inside no matter where she is. It was inky dark outside and if I were to step off the side of ‘Seafire’ there would no longer be a dock there. I’ve cut her loose and am on my southward, unfortunately only as far as Ladysmith for the time being. Still it feels so very good to be away from the dock.

My work in Comox is finished. Now I’m anchored in False Bay on Lasqueti Island. I tip-toed through the rocks into the bay an hour after nightfall. I have fond memories of this place and two iconic people who based here. They have both passed away. Allen Farrell was a famous wooden boat builder and his wife Sherry was a lovely and charming lady. I have plenty of yarns about them, how I befriended them and times we shared. I often describe them as the only real hippies I’ve ever known. The world is a sadder place without them. In the morning as a creeping grey dawn slowly illuminated the bay, plenty of signs showed that people have staked out everything possible. I remembered Allen’s comment once that the system these folks had come to escape was not nearly as bad as the one they brought with them. Why can we not simply respectfully share the beauty and bounty of the planet without laying claim to it and desecrating it. My ocean! Mine! This remote island was once a mecca for draft-dodgers and folks who believed they could reinvent the world. Their descendants live on here. “Peace man, share the wealth” was once a mantra. Now “No Trespassing” signs seem to be everywhere.

Beautiful downtown False Bay… Thazzit! Wood smoke hangs in the air as the ‘Centurion VII leaves on the first run of the day. This water taxi is the only link to Vancouver Island and the world outside.

My Scottish mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, once called me a “Bloody Bog Canadian.” I accepted it as a wry term of endearment. Now I think she may have been right. It’s interesting how one can go an entire lifetime with an idea fixed in one’s head, right or wrong; even worse, how about no idea at all?. I reviewed a documentary about Russian history and remarked to my wife that the Russians seemed to have been under siege by Napoleon for a very long time. He even set fire to Moscow once. My wife replied that there were three Napoleons. The second was a son and the third a nephew. What they did and did not achieve, where and when, is irrelevant. You can look it up yourself. I was gobsmacked to realize once again how history is written, what is not written and what is embellished or even invented. It doesn’t really matter how many Mao’s or Mohameds or Jesus’ or Hitlers there really were. Some academic, I’m sure, can prove how important it is that we understand how the sum of three Napoleons affects our modern existence.

I couldn’t resist! I don’t know who deserves credit for the original photo but hopefully I’ve mutilated it enough. There seems to be a resemblance to someone else, maybe it’s the hair!

Frankly, I don’t much give a toss about history and who wrote what about anything. I’m not that confident in the accuracy of any history. I’m sure we can all give examples of blatant lies we were led to believe. We just don’t learn anything from history. We’re still the same nasty creatures we’ve always been. No amount of information changes our compulsion to be destructive and hateful. It has nothing to do with geography, gender, religion or just cause. We’re all assholes. Until we accept that hard reality about our nature, nothing will ever change. And don’t go blaming it on anyone’s Satan. Look in the mirror. We must change.

We the pumpkins. A post Halloween tradition is to amass your Jack ‘O Lanterns to decay together in the cold, wet weather of autumn.

For example, in the wake of the recent mass shooting in a rural Texan Baptist church, a local politician offered the solution of posting armed guards in every church. Jesus loves me, now pass the ammunition. Remember that Christianity uses a symbol of capital punishment as an icon for peace and love. Instead of a cross, it could well be a hangman’s noose, an AK-47 or even a hockey stick. There are no doves on any bible I’ve seen. Whether you agree with my slant, or not, you have an obligation to yourself and your species to exercise your expansive abilities as a thinking organism. Ask questions. It is that simple.

 

An old rusted rail shed matches the autumn russet of maples and alders.

 

Nothing lasts forever. Heavy autumn rain and wind will soon knock the leaves from the tree. Then, after a long winter, new green leaves will bud in spring.

I am now back in Ladysmith writing on a drizzly November 11th. It is Remembrance Day across much of the world. A squadron of WWII military aircraft just flew over. My old pilot’s heart skipped a beat. I wonder as their sweet throbbing thunder fades in the grey sky, how much we believe and remember is truth, how much is myth and what it is we choose to forget.

More raw logs leave our country. They are being loaded onto the ship from a working sawmill. The orange mounds are chipped cedar which will be processed into paper. That we export any raw resources is ludicrous.
This bright beauty popped out of a tidal narrows I was about to enter. I can’t claim I didn’t see it.

 

Going with the flow. Dodd Narrows is a tidal pass with currents nearing 10 knots. Here I’m running with the ebb about one hour before slack water.

 

Thunk. Sunk. One of the dangers in this churning tidal narrows. My boat is plenty tough but a log in my propeller could be interesting.
Several good reasons to not travel by boat at night.
Winter waters are often choked with logs.

In 2017 politicians and religions of the world still mesmerize millions into embracing nonsensical stories, conflicted values and convenient lies. People still eagerly sacrifice themselves for other people’s myths and profits.

Ladysmith Harbour as seen from the next town south.

I’d rather just go sailing.

Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

… Napoleon Bonaparte (the 1st)

Beyond The Smoke

(Note: All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. In this blog, all images were taken with my cell phone.)

Skyfish. I’ll let you figure it out.

Last blog found me apologizing for the dull content I was producing. Well, isn’t it interesting how mundane drama can punctuate routine? And Oh Lord, how i hate routine! It does not have to be an international crisis, any little bump in the road will do. I bought a used Ford truck earlier this year from friends whom I trust. I know I have a way of stumbling into bad luck but “Geez Louise!” Other friends have raved about their Ford trucks and I was confident I’d done something right this time.

My truck is one of the nicest vehicles I’ve ever owned. It drives nicely, looks good, is easier on fuel than my previous small SUV and pulls and stops my little trailer with ease. I’ve been upgrading it a bit and preparing for a driving trip southwards this winter. Then began a intermittent herky-jerky idling issue. OK, I’m a mechanic. I did my homework, poked about a bit and decided the issue was with something called VCT solenoids. I could easily deal with the job myself although unfamiliar with this particular engine. I believed that it would take less than an hour to put things right.

Pushing rope. Towing a broken-down charter boat to safety. Just as I snapped this frame, the tow rope shifted on the overhead tow bit. Note the crack-the-whip bight in the towl line.

I’m “Old School” and well aware of the fact. I’m reluctant to mess with modern hi-tech computerized engines because I don’t fully understand how they work and I do not possess the computers I need to diagnose and adjust them. I may be a mechanic, but I’m no motor head. My reasons to exist have nothing to do with knowing the latest in automotive technology. For me, a ride is just a ride. My ego is not influenced by the way my camshaft is ground.

Manshadow photographing bicycle in morning light. Life moves slowly for some folks.

When all my parts finally arrived I dove in under the hood. There is an external seal around these solenoids which sit in a pocket in a valve cover on either side of the engine. My new seals looked slightly larger. I assured myself that it was only my imagination and removed one seal. Damn! They were different and I assumed I’d acquired the wrong parts. Then I learned the rest of the story. The Ford dealer was soon able to determine that the factory had “upgraded” the valve covers at the time the truck was built. With the new, smaller seals much of the top of the motor has to be disassembled so the valve covers can then be removed in order to change the solenoids. Air conditioning lines, along with various sections of plumbing and wiring need to be disconnected and stripped off to achieve this. A forty-five minute job has become eight hours.

Having no choice but to proceed I left the project in the hands of a local repair shop whom I trust. Fortunately I’d conceded the matter before I’d starting disassembling anything. Mechanics absolutely hate someone bringing in a job that they’ve already messed with. I certainly do. Because of extreme corrosion (due to road salt damage) the bolts holding the valve covers had broken. That’s a misery at any time. Theses bits were only available as part of a kit which includes new valve covers. Then, also due to corrosion, even the transmission dipstick has broken. So much for Ford’s “Better Idea.”

I’m amazed at how calmly I’m taking all this but I’ve learned that foaming at the mouth accomplishes nothing. I’m becoming an old fart and have learned that everything passes. It does seem to be a classic tale of two conjoined events, Sod’em and Go for more. Haar! I think of the clanky-bangy $4500. Nissan truck with which I dragged a trailer to Mexico and back. I believe I’m inclined toward Japanese vehicles from now on. In actual fact, everything on the road is over-priced junk and while they are bliss when running properly, the costs to buy and operate a vehicle are stunning. All that money which should be going into ‘Seafire. The cost of this one repair (almost $1800.) is much more than I’ve paid for many vehicles in the past.

Manyberry season. Despite the dry summer, we have a bumper crop of succulent blackberries. These vines have enveloped a cherry tree.

So, language. We understand that language is the foundation of culture. We also understand that the English language is corrupted with many Americanisms. That’s understandable due to the overwhelming global influence of the US. See, I’ve just used one. Abbreviations are increasingly popular to the point that sometimes I don’t know what the hell folks are saying. As I write, my radio is on and I am intrigued at how careless radio announcers are with language. There was a story just aired about a school which will not permit children to bring sugary drinks to class. The announcer said, “From now on students will only be allowed to drink water.” What, no studying? I think the statement should have been “From now on all that students will be allowed to drink in school is water.” Yeah, yeah, I know we know what she meant but my point is that every word and combination thereof actually means something specific. Anything else is babble. Say what you mean, mean what you say. And don’t, like, LOL get me going on slang and texting. OMG! I mean yeah no because like I totally do. Whatever dude! Shaddup! Good clear communication is the art of saying as much as possible with as few words as possible. That’s what makes for good writing. Flowery digressions are not what people want to read; even when you’re writing about flowers.

The public piano. This sits on the waterfront in Comox. Some folks, like this woman, play it very well.

When I was in school penmanship was an important class. Not only was legible handwriting import, but spelling, grammar and formatting a letter were all part of a basic regimen. I enjoyed exchanging letters. There were always distant relatives to share news with as well as “Pen pals.” Blogging, I suppose, is an extension of that lost art. Nearly every exchange of information is now done with a bleep and an emoji. We descend toward gibberish. Perhaps one day we’ll all speak dog. Being “Barking mad” will have new meaning and I’m not looking forward to the bum-sniffing.

Happiness times five. Dog spoken here. A Comox parking lot moment.
Ziggy. The boss’s dog. He’s a beauty and dignified too. Not just the dog!
Jack surveys part of his kingdom. This photo is looking northwest toward Comox and Cape Lazo. We’re on top of a mountainous coal pile that extends fro many acres. It was once part of a coal-loading terminal. Imagine the foreshore being ringed with full-rigged sailing ships.

On a final note about communication, I’ve just heard from my friends who are in the Caribbean with their boat. They’re fine and that’s a relief. I thank them. I’m intrigued at the coverage of Hurricanes Hugo and Irma balanced against that about the massive earthquake in Mexico. Both disasters are horrific and incomprehensible but it seems however that there is not a lot of interest in the aftermath of the events in Mexico. I cheered to learn how Mexico has withdrawn it’s offer of aid to Texas in response to Trump’s lack of reciprocal interest. Mexico was not asking for help, it just wanted the minimal dignity and support of recognition. You don’t insult Latinos. I’m told that the most popular pinata in Latin American these days is an effigy of Donald. Apparently, when you finally get one broken open, there’s nothing inside. Much gusto!

When wild roses go bad. I’d like to learn what this sort of blight is called.

Here on the coastline of BC, where we’re once again reminded that we sit in a paradise on top of a major earthquake fault, we luxuriate in the last sultry days of summer. For the moment, we are safe from the misery out there beyond the smoke. But any minute now…

Sunup once again.

I like to think of myself as a natural disaster. If you really piss me off, naturally there will be a disaster.”         … anonymous

BLOG 100! Reboot My Heart

SQUINT! Another cell-phone photo of daybreak in Dogpatch
SQUINT!
Another cell-phone photo
of daybreak in Dogpatch

Here’s how my luck has been going. I bought two lottery tickets at the local grocery store. As usual, the clerk, after checking my old ones, asked me if she could chuck out them out. By mistake she must have chucked the new ones, which I didn’t discover until several days later. So, bin divers, there’s a 99 trillion dollar winning ticket floating around out there somewhere. Yeah right! I was at the airport when my ship came in. And then I found myself in the hospital. After going to visit the surgeon who “hacked” my leg, I answered a call from my GP. My pulse rate was stuck well over 130 and I was persuaded to go to the hospital for a “couple of hours” to get things checked out.

Moon Bombing Dogpatch
Moon Bombing Dogpatch
Another Fawn Lily
Another Fawn Lily

I swear that the only thing done in a hurry at a hospital is how they manage to get you into one of those open-backed bum flapper gowns and to get an intravenous needle jammed into your arm. Then they’ve got you! The first night was spent in a corner of the Emergency Department on a rickety gurney with a severely worn-out mattress. I lay and waited and waited for doctors who never came. Nurses stood in small groups chatting and joking while I felt like yesterday’s roadkill mouldering in the corner. Other inmates groan, cough, weep and bleed. Your personal plight seems to be the least of priorities and of course, you are the most important, don’t they know that? Eventually I complained gently and endured an explanation of why I should write a letter to the government. It is all their fault.

I’m sure everyone who chooses a career in a hospital must start out with the best of intentions. Some just become a bit jaded along the way. It certainly takes a special courage to put in daily long shifts inside those beige walls breathing that stuffy beige air and becoming imbued with beige thinking. (I can hear Billy Connolly shouting about “Feckin’ Beigists) I know I could not do it, my brand of courage lies elsewhere. The complex infrastructure from maintenance people, cleaners, porters, technicians, dieticians, nurses, doctors, to desk pilots and all the others is stunning. I can’t really comprehend the parameters of even one hospital which, to my sentiments, is as complex the Battle Star Galactia. “Gravity engineer please call the switchboard.” The staff is all there to ultimately serve folks who are mangled, slashed, terminally ill, mortally worn-out and infectiously diseased. (And those are just the visitors) Truly, I was generally treated with compassion and respect but I sure am glad to be writing this back at home. At least here the walls are not bloody beige!

I‘ve cooked for a living at times but can’t imagine what is involved in preparing meals in a hospital. It must be horrific. There is a school somewhere for hospital cooking. There must be. Every meal I’ve ever had in hospital, anywhere, all tastes the same, if it has any taste at all. Bleech! If the food is not bad enough, it is delivered in dung-coloured plastic containers which really gets the palette twitching with anticipation. But I can’t imagine how else anyone could do it three times a day. “Ward C, please proceed to the buffet area for your daily gourmet lunch.” Not likely. Good food is a foundation of cheer and well-being and even a little garnish on top of your chunk of rubbery farmed fish would certainly help. I suppose a sack of parsley just can’t fit the annual budget. And wait until someone decides that all that plastic-infused food we eat is a major cause of cancer! That’s another subject. Eh wot, no wine!

At least they fixed me. Apparently electric shock is used to stop the heart, then again to restart the old muscle. I had a vision of jumper cables hooked to each nipple, a horrific zap, then a quick reversing of positive to negative and another Duracell moment. Actually a very large electrode was stuck to my chest and another to my back. That’s all I recall. Thankfully, I was knocked out for the procedure, I don’t remember a thing. It’s rather like defragging and rebooting a computer, all in one swell foop, but it feels like the timing was reset and new spark plugs were installed. I’ve been rebooted. There IS a smell of burned bacon. Whatever transpired, my pulse is back down to a normal rate and I’m beginning to feel like life is worth living. These dreamy pills are intereeesting…..

Abandoned locomotive in Ladysmith. The promise of a working steam museum and a tall ships yard drew me to Vancouver Island in the mid-80s. It never happened.
Abandoned locomotive in Ladysmith. The promise of a working steam museum and a tall ships yard drew me to Vancouver Island in the mid-80s.
It never happened.
Spring morning light at the roundabout at the foot of the main street in Ladysmith
Spring morning light at the roundabout at the foot of the main street in Ladysmith. The monstrous anchor was dredged out of the harbour.

The only other note I’ll offer on ending up in the “horspital “ is that one needs to be aware of the moment. It is all you have. There is no “In a minute,” no “Tomorrow,” no “Maybe next year.” This is it. This very moment is all you’ve got and no one knows what’s coming down the pipe. We DO NOT know what the next moment will bring. It is a thought I often express in this blog but I’m beginning to feel hypocritical spouting about it out. This is blog 100 for me… and I’m still tied to the bloody dock! I can offer whinges about poor health and the resulting low finances but I feel that would be just making excuses. This is the year.

It has to happen within the remaining three quarters of 2016. No more piddling about. Old ‘Seafire’ either finds her way to Southern waters or has to be put up for sale. I want to be writing blogs from within the shade of a cactus or a palm tree. One way or another. It’s got to happen. Somehow!

I know I don’t want to end my days shuffling down a beige hall in a puce bum-flapper pushing a trolly with an IV drip on it with flakes of dried rubber salmon clinging to my beard.

Unwittingly I recently wrote this little bit about exactly that.

RUM AND TEA

Some drink dark rum straight down

others stir weak tea round and round

wondering ten lumps or twelve.

Some cling to the bottom

feeding on whatever drifts by

others soar in the cold dark sky

exploring their passion to fly

so absorbed with life

they have no thought about when they’ll die.

Some worry about dying so much,

they never live.

Some worry about tomorrow

always missing today

some only work

having forgotten a gift called play.

We only have this one moment

and can only regret

what we don’t do.

The Nurse Stump. Life goes on.
The Nurse Stump.
Life goes on.

Slumped in front of the television last night I watched a silly program about a California couple who had won $180,000,000.US in a lottery. After the IRS was done with them they probably had to scrape by on the remaining half of their winnings. A realtor was leading them around by the nose showing exotic properties. Eventually they settled on a decadent shack (16,000 square feet) on a mountainside to the tune of $5.6 million. All the while they were orgasming their way through this ridiculous faux palace, wifey kept complaining they were over-budget! They finally bought the place, then the bison ranch below them and ultimately all the land to the summit of the mountain above them. It totalled 800 acres. Mother’s final complaint was about the winding steep road. These were the same two hefty folks who were living contentedly in an average suburban home before their windfall. The area surrounding their new dream home sure looked like one of those Californian infringements that loves to explode into flame. I wish them bliss. Yes, I’m jealous, at least for the potential of all that cash.

I know that if I ever found myself immersed in unaccustomed wealth, sure as hell-in-a-handbasket, I might easily wander astray. For the moment, I believe there are people I’d help and causes I’d support, others whom I’d make a point of ignoring and quite probably there would be another certain boat I’d acquire. That is the true value of a lottery ticket, all those dreams to keep you going through an existence such as working in a hospital. Lotteries are indeed the poor man’s tax. To put our Western lives in perspective, there are billions who’d love the decadence of knowing where tomorrow’s groceries are coming from and that the shooting will stop. The notion of going to a hospital for any reason, incomprehensible. Not having to worry about the cost, beyond belief.

We just don’t get it. Do we? I know I don’t, even when I write about it.

Jack out standing In his field. Dogs can teach us so much.
Jack out standing In his field.
Dogs can teach us so much.

DO NOT REGRET GROWING OLDER, IT IS A PRIVILEDGE DENIED TO MANY.” …anonymous

The Cowboy Jihad

Are you aware of this story? Many are not. The shooting of Lavoy Finicum in a FBI ambush near Burns Oregon and all the events leading up to that moment are complex, confusing and frightening. I don’t know what to believe, especially as most of my information comes from the media. Strangely, while the battle wears on between select ranchers and the US Bureau Of Land Management, and also the FBI, the mainstream media seems to largely ignore the issue. It is a sensational story, the very essence of American romanticism and courage. I am suspicious of why there is not more attention to this drama and of course, that leads toward conspiracy considerations.

Uncle Sam loves you, just do as you're told!
Uncle Sam loves you, just do as you’re told!

My research on this story has left me with plenty of unanswered questions. All I’ll say is that if you’re messing with a bully who clearly has you outgunned, then it is best to back up and reload for another day. I’ve spent more time watching interviews with Shawna Cox, who was one of the people with Finicum when he was shot repeatedly. The story is chilling. Clearly we live in a police state where might is right and citizens had better tow the line. This is a country which imposes its military will wherever it chooses on the planet and it ain’t going to tolerate any non-conformity at home. Mr. Obama wants to impose stricter gun control. Rightly so! Perhaps he should start with his own goon squads. To hell with the Sheriff Of Nottingham!

Yes I live in Canada but as it has often been said, when Uncle Sam sneezes, Canada catches a cold. Check out infowars.com and also Libertys Champion on this story. I’ve also watched the last video of Lavoy Finicum before his death. He is being interviewed by The Oregonian. It is a poignant few minutes. I did notice that he is wearing a shoulder harness for a concealed weapon. It is all on You Tube. Watch these interviews and form your own opinions. The aerial footage of the event as released by the FBI was taken by a drone. That a drone was even present raises some obvious questions and why is the film’s quality is so low? This equipment is capable of very high resolution and so more riddles arise. Why was this film provided so expediently?

As the dust settles there will be books and movies and maybe the truth will become clear.

I am, of course, inclined to side with the ranchers and their declared determination to preserve their enshrined constitutional rights in the USA, the land of freedom. I am an old farm boy, I’ve also spent my time on and around ranches and I am a sailor. So this farmer/cowboy/sailor has a typically strong instinct to resist bureaucratic suppression. An impingement on my freedom as a human being and a citizen, so close to home, raises an urgent concern. It is amazing how any creature, when cornered, can become an irrational and extremely dangerous force. I think Finicum, with his wit and calm, rational intellect may have had old Sam feeling cornered. Finicum, true to his convictions, died with his cowboy hat firmly in place and quite possibly a copy of the US Constitution and a Mormon Bible in his pocket. He may even have been trying to draw fire away from the passengers in his vehicle when he was shot down. He has now become a far more formidable foe to Big Brother as a martyred legend. The Feds have pissed in their own cornflakes. I suspect that Mr. Finicum knew his value to his cause was far greater dead than alive and so deliberately put it all on the line.

To have a conviction that you are willing to speak out for is a rare and wonderful thing. To be willing to die for it is a facet of the human spirit which is a mysterious quality. Finicum did not have any bombs strapped to his chest, he was not out to hurt anyone. In fact he apparently advocated non-violence. Yet there were allegedly several loaded firearms in the vehicle that carried him and his passengers to his moment of execution. That’s what concerns me.

People often express dismay that I drive the back roads of Mexico and wonder why I’d do such a dangerous thing. I feel no less endangered there than I do driving on Vancouver Island. I do pucker up when travelling in the US where there is, on average, at least one handgun in every vehicle. I’ve spoken to so very many self-righteous gun-toting US citizens who feel carrying a weapon is as natural a right as having a navel. I’m not sure whether to avoid eye contact or to employ full facial contact. Do I smile or not? What triggers a personal indignation? What endears one person infuriates the next. I certainly don’t give anyone the finger nor express any indignation. You just never know what might set somebody off. I can still hear the granny in southern Arizona drawling on about how “I don’t go nowhere without a pistol in my purse!” “Even to church?” I asked. “Uh Huh!” she replied calmly. It seems to me that millions of US citizens are imprisoning themselves, and executing each other, with their own paranoia. This is in a country which embraced President Franklin Roosevelt as he famously declared, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!

Turtle Valley Part of the ranch where I lived. I helped clear this field, tree by tree, stump by stump
Turtle Valley
Part of the ranch where I lived. I helped clear this field, tree by tree, stump by stump.
The old ranch house where I once lived.
The old ranch house that was once my home.
My old ride. I bet she'll still run. It was bloody cold on a winter morning.
My old ride. I bet she’ll still run. It was bloody cold on a winter morning.

I once travelled the US regularly on business. When old George Bush and the boys waded into Kuwait there was a massive display of patriotism. In a roadside rest area north of Seattle a small red car pulled in beside me. It was festooned with American flags and several bumper stickers saying things like “Support Our Troups” The car carried an elderly couple and as the driver emerged it was clear he was an ex-marine. There was no mistaking the crew cut, the tattoos and the steely glint in his eye. I was impressed with the patriotic overkill and frivolously remarked that I didn’t really believe it all. “Why not?” he demanded levelly, fixing a magnum glare on me. “Well sir, because you’re driving a Hyundai.” There was a pregnant silence.

Of course” I added, grinning like an idiot, “I understand the Smith & Wesson under your seat was made in America.” The hard lines in his face relaxed a little as he replied, “Actually it’s a Colt .45.” Then he smiled.

What I didn't know then! It's hard to believe I was once this flat-bellied cow poke.
What I didn’t know then!
It’s hard to believe I was once this flat-bellied ranch hand. I did learn how ranchers think.

 

I always imagined that Oregon was one of the more laid-back states in the union. I’m on my way in a couple of weeks to read at the Fisher Poet’s Gathering In Astoria, Oregon.

Dang!

“It’s not a gun control problem, it’s a cultural control problem.”

…Bob Barr