Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Starry, Starry Dreams

Global Warming. It felt good.

A moment later. A harbour seal gulps some air and dives away from the bow of the Gabriola Ferry. You never know what the next moment will bring. Keep your eyes open.

Two days back was the first real day of autumn here. When I stepped outside early in the morning the sky was a velvet black and the stars were brilliant. They seemed to be moving until I realized a bright satellite was passing and creating my first illusion, or perhaps delusion, of the day. A thin film of frost formed on the windshield as I turned on the wipers to clear away the heavy dew. First frost! At the beginning of October! Here on Southern Vancouver Island! Proof! Global Warning! Meanwhile fellow bloggers send brilliant posts from their exotic travel locations. Bugga! Now, as we stumble into Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, it is raining furiously, intermittently drizzling as it will for the next six long dark months. The good thought is that it is not snow. Yet.

Boooooop!

Some mornings, with the right light, even a freighter can beautiful!

Life goes on as I try to resolve technical issues on friend’s old boats. They’re people I like and their boats are wonderfully unique; character vessels worth special attention. I’m an older character with the experience to see a project through but I really would rather be done with resolving challenges. Poverty, however, is a powerful master and I find myself grubbing for the next dollar while sliding backwards. I know there are lot’s of of folks my age in the same state of financial duress, but it doesn’t make life any easier. A former tugboat dispatcher used to say, “ She’s all bluebirds, just freakin’ bluebirds!” Yup I can hear the flutter of their little wings. A shoe maker told me this week that his business is booming. “People,” he said, “are repairing their shoes again instead of just throwing them away.” That is a good thing, but also a sign of how the middle class is being eroded. Enough said.

Set yer sights on a Ford.
Good shooting!

Hinged windshield, cabriolet top, see-thru mirror, intermittent wiper, real-wood interior, an ultimate suv. But…no airbags.

Isn’t it amazing? The beauty to be found in something so old and rusty?

Perched on a bank above a highway, the old truck is still working for a living. Now it advertises a local pizzeria.

A logo on the truck’s door.
Bearclaw farms? Maybe, the Bearclaw Bakery. Who knows?

Another old Ford. This I believe began its life as a 1932 coupe. You know the Beachboy’s song “Little Deuce Coupe.”

Some times things just go in streaks of bad and good. Like the bio-degradable dogshit bag I found stored in my jacket pocket from months ago. No, no, it was an empty bag. The little green sacks have a shelf life after which they start becoming earth once again. I discovered I had a pocketful of ragged green confetti which fluttered everywhere and stuck to everything. I’ll have little green bits appearing inside the boat for months to come. They don’t like being vacuumed up and they sure do not want to wash away. They just stick harder. On the trip back across the Strait from Steveston the boat took an especially nasty roll. The kettle, which I had not bothered to stow, leapt off the stove. It landed on its spout and the whistle vanished. While tidying away the green stuff, I finally found my beloved kettle whistle. Some days, life indeed seems predestined. At least I leave no loaded little green bags tied neatly and sitting on the edge of paths or even hanging in trees. Why DO people do that with their dog’s do?

There is no poo fairy which comes along and gathers them up. Ya packed it in. Now pack it out.

Dog Star. This beautiful character was apparently rescued from South Africa!
A good dog is worth the effort.

The weather forecast for the weekend is a mixed bag of sun and then rain. What a great job; to be paid for being correct once in a while. Certainly here in Coastal British Columbia where the entire North Pacific slams against a barrier of jagged mountains and tortured inlets, the local geography often makes its own weather. What is happening in one place can be entirely different than the weather even ten miles away. Any one of the Gulf Islands can have entirely different weather occurring at the same time on opposite ends of that particular small land mass.

Porky was a vegan.
This beasty was the main course a a friend’s daughter’s 3rd birthday party.

It begs the caption ‘Lard Smokin’ Harsoles’ He was some tasty though! Or, as some Newfoundlanders would say, : De arse is otta her by!”

Or

The Boat ramp on a fine autumn morning.

From whence the previous photo was taken. ‘Seafire’ on the local drying grid, a place to quickly work on  a vessel’s bottom while the tide is out. As usual, there was a load of free, and unwanted, advise from the jetty above. “If you know so much about it, then you know to leave a man at work alone. The tide ain’t goin’ to wait on your bullshit !”

It’s autumn again, already!

Another sure sign of fall.
“… She awoke. It was daylight. As she lifted her face from the cold, damp soil and reluctantly opened her eyes, she felt like a turnip in a pumpkin field.”

Another photo of yet another beautiful and mysterious flower blossoming in the fall. Does anyone know what it is?

No,. not rats! This is some old  flax packing which I replaced in the stuffing box of ‘Seafire.’
I know, I know “Wot’s a stuffin’ box?” Well, I’ll tell you……

Wired!
Yet another project on a customer’s boat

 

I do wish that people would stop being so arrogant as to believe we alone are responsible for Global Warming. We certainly are not helping and urgently need to clean up our act, but hard, clear evidence shows a warming/cooling fluctuation that has gone on for millions of years. Our existence is a gnat’s fart within that history. Long after the passing of the virus that is us, the weather will still vary wildly as it always has. When I was in school, there was speculation about the impending doom of the next ice age. Wherever the profit of paranoia leads, we follow. Remember the Ozone Layer? We need to remove our heads from where the sun never shines, give ourselves a good old dog shake and indulge in the available joy and beauty of the moment. It is all we truly have. And go ahead, be brave, ask questions!

And yet another job. Sea water, hot gas and cast iron make a poor combination. Trouble is, I can’t find one to replace it. Everyone who manufactured these parts is out of business. It is an exhaust elbow from a boat engine and a very unique casting which no-one else has ever seen before. Have you?

 

Things could be worse. Yesterday morning in Cowichan Bay. It looked like two boats had been rafted together. First one sank, then the other.

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.”

W.H. Auden

The Macaw’s Portuguese Water Dog

The ‘Macaw’

‘Macaw’ side view. Built in 1956, every fitting on her is solid bronze. The skipper’s crew is a magnificent Portuguese water dog named Wilson.

Well, a week and a half later I’m writing the next paragraph in the middle of another sleepless night. I’m back in Ladysmith after a very successful gig and back to frantically scratching around for survival dollars. The movie scrum is gone. A few remained to repaint the shops and put things back the way they were. Did it ever really happen? The fall rain and drizzle are back and life settles into a dreary routine. Only six months till spring. Southern latitudes are calling loudly.

Returning to normal. There have been a few spectacular weather days.

Full normal at the corner of Seemore and Do-Less in the wind and rain.

I’ve always been a sucker for a Bristol channel cutter. no exception here.

Active Pass. A conundrum unfolds. Many tons of ferry in opposing directions, swirling tides and fortunately, no other yachts.

Old S2. The second buoy up the mouth of the Fraser River. The tide is at an hour after low slack, which means that the ocean is flooding into the river and slows the current enough to allow boats like mine to slowly ascend the river. The Sea lion is ubiquitous to each buoy.

Once in a while I find a media item that I feel is worth mentioning. A friend mentioned a BBC series on YouTube called ”Great Canal Journeys.” It is hosted by geriatric British actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales. You do remember her. “BASIL!” Say no more. They’ve spent much of their fifty year marriage touring the canals of Britain aboard their own narrow boat. This series is beautifully filmed and presented; a welcome and refreshing interlude. Also prescribed by another friend, and also on YouTube is a series by Philomena Cunk (Hmmm, two lugubrious English female names!) She too is utterly delightful with subtle humour and charming wit, a master of Elegant rudeness.

The loveshack, a float house in the waters of Ladner.Of course it could be a Seagull mosque

Community.
Part of the wonderful float home lifestyle prevalent in the backwaters of the Fraser River.

Sand Heads. The iconic light and weather station at the mouth of the Fraser. It is where many voyages begin and end.
A lightkeeper’s house used to sit here where many a long, stormy must have been spent. So isolated and yet within close view of three million people.

I think I’ll make a cuppa and watch some more canal yachting. I always find myself wondering how they manage to find all those sunny days in England.

 

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find  it with another.” ….Thomas Merton

Sleepless in Ladysmith

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

‘Seafire’ in the night. The bright light is an underwater led I installed on the boom gallows to light the cockpit. The boat is as snug and cosy inside as she looks.

It is one of those sleepless nights when things are heaped up and buzzing relentlessly in my head. There is a program on the idiot box about “Micromorts.” You look it up! I’m working from notes made in the past few days and will leave this blog’s text with just these two paragraphs. There are only so many times I can write about being alone in the boat at anchor in the dark and the pouring rain. And yet here I am once again. There is no internet in the sky here and so no phone or any of the other Cyber amenities we all take for-granted. I must like it, I keep doing it. I am not really a hermit, I’d love some company on the boat, but that’s the way it is. Grumpy old fart that I can be, I don’t mind my own presence and if I’m anchored far enough from shore I can even try singing without making dogs howl or babies scream. Actually I’m on my way to Steveston, a famous fishing community a short way upstream from the mouth of the mighty Fraser River. A local fisherman there has put together a small duplicate of the Fisher Poet’s Gathering in Astoria Oregon which I attend every year as one of the many performers. So I’m off to a reading gig in the old Steveston Cannery which is now a museum. It will be fun and I look forward to meeting many friends, both old and new.

Meanwhile, in Ladysmith, the filming goes on for a few more days. Here is a quick photo essay on that Hollywood event. It is really hard to show the impact, scope and complexity of this endeavour in a small community, but I’m sure folks will have something to talk about all winter. Today, on the main street, there were two cars, complete with Montana license plates, sitting neatly on their roofs side by side, each neatly parked in their own spot. Of, course I was there without even my mobile phone to grab a photo. I am amazed at the massive crew. They all work like gears in a well-oiled machine, efficiently and with great attention to minute detail. It is done without the fumbling and waste we are used to seeing. I hope our municipal works crews have taken notes. Yeah right!

It began innocently enough with a few workers and some work vehicles. Soon the entire downtown with film-making equipment, scores of security people. The town was soon overwhelmed.

WOT!? We’ve got a UPS office! Reality and fantasy merge right down the the mailboxes..

Next door, the Wigwam Cafe, our mainstreet Chinese eatery has become the ubiquitous small town diner of Green Hill, Montana.

Our mainstreet pharmacy has become a little grocery store.

Remember these?

The local art store transformed. Not the Montana license plate on the vehicles in the foreground.

An old building on main street, currently being renovated, has become a sidewalk restaurant. Dang, these Amuricans sure eat a lot!

Generators in the alley. The sets require massive amounts of electricity. These units are incredibly quiet.

“Cain’tcha read? Huh? Git yer pitchins offa our land! The massive movie crews set up camp wherever they could. This is in the boat ramp parking lot.

Third dressing room on the left!

Now THAT’S an RV!
Actually, would you believe mobile washrooms?

The filming goes on into the night. These lofty manlifts provide dazzling arrays of lighting. It must be a long way to the washroom when you’re perched up there for hours! The hundreds of folks in the jet in the upper left corner are thinking of everything except making movies…unless it is a load of extras!

While the movie-making happens on main street, traffic has to find a way along the alleys. This wonderful old building could be a film set itself. It is reputed to once have been a brothel.

Bleary-eyed, he sat at his writer’s desk aboard his boat late into the night.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”…Maya Angelou

Wandering And Wondering

Mid-September. I’m anchored in a placid cove, the rain is gently pattering down. Darkness came early this evening. I tip-toed in through the narrow rocky entrance in the dark and now sit peacefully in less than twenty feet of water. I’m on my way to Silva Bay again to get the old diesel running in that little schooner. First I had to make repairs in ‘Seafire’ and spent two hours after arriving here contorted into the bilge repairing a leak in the shaft log. It’s fixed and I won’t have to sleep in a sinking boat. How do people manage in boats they can’t fix themselves? Well manage they do but I’m happy to be self-sufficient.

Back in Ladysmith the movie making is in full swing. The streets were crowded with people trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything and anyone. There was a movie to be made off-set of the crowds. I’m happy to be where I am tonight with the rain spattering down and an aromatic pizza bakes in the oven. Let it rain, let it blow, I’m snug in my little home.

A few blogs back I simply posted photos with interesting captions and guess what yer gonna git again. The feed-back was very positive and so here we go once more.

Wandering into the magic, and the mystic of late summer. It goes by so quickly.

Think you’ve got problems? Imagine owning this beautiful wooden monster. Imagine the boathouse!

No, not somewhere in Mexico but rather a campground on Gabriola Island. Please, no dog-washing!

An Australian Cedar. You know the joke: “Brace yerself Sheila!”

It’s complicated

The bumper crop of blackberries this year far exceeded what people could pick. As the berries became over-ripe, bees and wasps became drunk on the fermenting berries. Now dessicated, the berries will provide excellent winter forage for the birds.

Right then!

The bicycle remained secured to a stout chain with an old boot lace. However, the seat, the chain and both wheels had been stolen.

Long, long after the old tree had been cut down and hauled away, its progeny wash firmly established and thriving.

Resplendent in its ancient demise, the old charred cedar stump still reaches for the light.

Watching from the edge of the forest, wild creatures regularly surveyed what happened in the fields..

One day at the end of summer, the old swimming hole was suddenly quiet. its clear water was empty and ran placidly and pure.

Where dogs and children climb out of the water then leap, screaming with delight, back in again.

Well past middle age, he still looked at the wonders of the forest with the blue-eyed wonder of the boy he had been most of his life.

Abandoned in the forest, the old hay rake remained well spoken.

It’s just fungus man! Picked,baked in an oven then lit to smoulder, these make an excellent although pungent insect repellant.

I will strangle you, ya old stump.

A bumper crop of maple seeds and datum of the passing of summer.

THe way we were

The way we are

It was not a place to visit on a moonlit night yet during the day dogs and children loved to explore.

The old head rig stok like an abandoned neolithic alter where virgins were led to the top and then sacrificed by the big wheel shamans who cast them into the bottomless pit beneath.

It could be imagined that this donkey was descended from those used to haul loads into the sky on the big wheel.

An old coal chute in a back alley of Ladysmith. The date on the cast handle is 1895

TILT! A self-dumping log barge is pumped back to level in preparation to head back up the coast for another load. The logs will be sorted and the best will be reloaded onto a ship bound for Asia. Several ship loads of raw timber leave our coast every week. All the while, our sawmills are closed due to lack of a good log supply. You figure it out!

In morbid silence the crowd watched as the old woman was hoisted aloft with a noose around her neck. Then the rope broke and she silently walked away with her rope necklace through the opening which parted from her path because they knew, now, that she was indeed a witch.

I arrived in Silva Bay the following morning and rafted onto ‘Aja’ once again. A long day followed squirming my ribs into impossible spots freeing badly corroded bits, trouble-shooting wiring, clearing water from tanks and gearboxes. Finally the moment came, wires were jumped and blappety, blap, blap the poor mistreated little Yanmar sprang eagerly into life after a very troubled two-year sleep. Fixing boats is one of those things that you do, in part, because it feels so good when you’re done. My old bones protest loudly at the continuing abuse and it’s time to move on to other things. Maybe if I wash my face and hurry back to Ladysmith, those Paramount picture people might…! Uh huh.

Not sure what these gorgeous mauve flowers are, I was amazed to find them blooming on a path in mid-September. Old tales claim that new violets blooming in the fall herald a death or an epidemic.

And finally, a mobile phone still life.

 

IF you smile when no one else is around,you really mean it.”… Andy Rooney

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Crickets And Tree Frogs

Crickets and Tree Frogs

OLD BOATS NEVER DIE
They just become planters
This delight was found in a suburb of Victoria

On the way home from Silva Bay. A few days ago, folks were complaining about the heat. We need the rain.

September 10th. I’m back in Silva Bay. I have some work to do on the engine of a small wooden schooner. I know and love the little boat and hope I can put things right for the new owner. I scan the bay with my first morning coffee in hand, recognizing a mast here, a power boat there and realize how much of this place is in my heart. A bleak rain borne on a southerly wind intermittently lashes down. Summer is drawing to a close. On the journey from Ladysmith sunlight between the squalls lit the sponge-brown meadows along the shoreline. The earth drinks greedily. For the first time in months I pulled on a pair of jeans. I slid them up over my sponge-brown legs but I won’t be stashing the shorts away just yet. After this bout of rain we should have at least another month that we can wear our summer gear. Meanwhile the crickets still sing their dry rasping late-summer song “Winter’s coming, winter’s coming…” and yesterday I heard a tree frog, a sure sign of damper weather ahead. Where did summer go? It was just the long weekend in May! Wasn’t it?

Autumn comes
A little rain as a maple leaf begins to turn

I raft ‘Seafire’to ‘Aja’ which is secured between a mooring buoy and an anchor to the aft. She is facing off the prevailing wind so every time the hatch and companionway are open the rain wants to pelt right in. It makes for miserable work. The boat broke loose from her mooring two years ago, running aground, then filling with seawater on the next high tide. The engine was started after the boat was pumped out, but without all the electrical connections being thoroughly cleaned, there is a mess to deal with with. Electricity requires good wire and clean contacts to flow correctly so there is a challenge at hand. I remove all of the brine-seized components and head back to Ladysmith to find and repair the parts I need; a “back up and reload” situation.

Rafted up
‘Seafire’ alongside ‘Aja’

Aja’s stern rails. A squid is beautifully carved on either side by a local artist, Tony Grove.

A Yanmar 2 cylinder, 16 hp marine Diesel. Sadly, during a winter storm, ‘Aja’ broke free of her mooring, went ashore and filled with seawater on the next tide. Run briefly, the engine has since sat idle for two years. I will make her run again, achieved in part by stuffing my corpulent self in beside the motor. It’s a greasy pig show.

In Ladysmith, the first block of the main street is being feverishly transformed. That block is being made over to become Green Hills Montana. Paramount is shooting part of a movie called “Sonic The Hedgehog” starring Jim Carrey with James Marsden and Tiva Sumpter. Tsunamis of money ($7 million) are being splashed around. I’ve got to manoeuvre downwind and try to catch some of the spray. Up-island a section of highway has been closed for several days, with traffic being re-routed while segments of the same film are being remade. This island, with its wonderful scenery and stable climate, I always remember the final scene in “Five Easy Pieces” with Jack Nicholson. When driving south one crosses a bridge over the Chemainus River. This is the background for that scene when Jack hitches a ride with a loaded logging truck and heads off into the sunset. There are many places om this beautiful island which I am sure would make great settings for filming. At the moment, looky-loo tourists are filling the streets, all adding to the excitement and annoyance in our sleepy little town. I wonder if somewhere in darkest Kansas there is not a movie set being erected called Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Wot? Whose gonna be the sheriff? Wyatt Twirp?

The local art and framing shop becomes the Sheriff’s station of Green Hills, Montana.

The Framing Shop as it was

The film crew is hard at work. Locals, including the municipal works crews, watch in amazement.

WIRED
everywhere!

Movie be damned! You’d better come out of that store with a treat.

Waiting to load cargo across the Strait in Vancouver. Waterfront locals are decrying these vessels as eyesores and environmental hazards. I wonder what they would have said about the parade of coal ships in days gone by.

I recently watched part of an interview on YouTube between Joe Rogan and Elong Musk, our contemporary Techno Guru who is pushing the boundaries of many technologies including Tesla and SpaceX. His conjecture is that Artificial Intelligence is a real and growing reality, an insidious and unstoppable force. He suggests that the force is gathering intellect by taping into social media. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter or any of the other Cyber venues, you are feeding the monster. I don’t understand anything about this, or the parameters of the coming age but what I can grasp scares the hell out of me. I hope I do not live long enough to experience what George Orwell so clearly predicted. I think I’ll keep the boat.

Rail apples.
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple, but only the Gods know how many trees can come from that fruit.

She had always been dead funny and so she had asked to be buried in her beloved truck.

While there may be such a thing as artificial intelligence, so far all stupidity is real.”…hisself