Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Good life

Death conquers all.
There is so much arrogance in audience.
The dying take center stage.

 All but  the newborn's cry are upstaged.
The baby's wail alone is more commanding,
Than groan or keening lamentation.

Somewhere a fat lady sings.
The soldier says the bullet
Has the name on it.

Practicing the presence:
The infinite mystery, inexplicable.
There is no rushing ultimate reality,
In the margins of existence,
We wait.


The good death is refined.
Messy with elegance,
Dying, an art beyond all art.
The tea brewed to perfection.
Is savoured to the last drop.

Love  is in the outlying.
Departures and meetings, meaningful.
The melody goes beyond the lyrics;
The silence  outlasts the storm.

Thank you for your gifts, dear brother.
Thank you for making this home.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Good Way Out - Pacific Theatre

Last night Laura and I really enjoyed Pacific Theatre’s “A Good Way Out’ by Cara Norrish.  It was about a Christian woman who had left her wayward life but still had a brother caught up in the world of drugs and bikers.  It’s a world I know well.  The characterizations were so good with social services,  babies and despair, that I felt it was like a day out of my life working as an addiction specialist in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.  The drama was so real. I appreciated the struggle and felt the frustration of the one who has left behind what she can’t not help others get out of.  It was sordid and sad.  I don’t know about the title “Good Way Out’.  I hoped that referred to the girls but it wasn’t really clear.  I ask myself where Jesus is and couldn’t help but later  think of Job.  Great theatre, brilliant acting and really gifted dialogue. Fabulous set. I’ve actually worked on bikes in just that setting.  Another good night of theatre at the Pacific.  Great to see Hannah and Caleb who had just celebrated their first anniversary too.
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Mule Deer Hunting - Princeton, BC - Thanksgiving

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are hunting in northern Manitoba with my father and my older brother, Ron.  Grandad was a rancher and all the uncles and cousins hunted. It was just natural and Canadian to be resourceful supplementing the stock foods of the farms with the bounty of the wilderness.  There was never a lot of effete sentimentalism in Canada.  Rural folk couldn’t afford to be slaves to corporate food chains and government promises.
Mom had a huge garden and raised our winter vegetables through the loving work of her hands.  By fall the basement storeroom was full of canning.  My mother was highly skilled.  While she loved her typewriter she was a master on her sewing machine and quilted, crocheted, and knitted when she wasn’t mending clothes,  cooking or baking.  We loved most her rhubarb pies.
In later years Dad and Mom rented plots of land so that they could raise all their vegetables.  They said the food from the grocery stores didn’t taste real.  It was true that the food we ate at home was natural succulent and fresh.  It did seem too that our rural family friends were all healthy and strong whereas increasingly our city friends were more and more sickly.
I remember Dad and Mom butchering a quarter of a cow on the kitchen table.  Dad would drive out to the country and return with fresh meat he’d acquired direct from a rancher or farmer.  He was always coming back with fresh killed poultry, Canadian bacon, honey hams, eggs and jams.
Our summer weekends were always camping and fishing trips with lots of pickerel and northern pike meals to remember. While pickerel was relatively boneless, jack was noted for it’sfish  bones. The Canadian joke was that kids learned to eat wisely on fish feeling with their tongues for bones so they would be prepared for fall when they ate ducks and geese gingerly making sure they didn’t chomp hard down on a shotgun pellets and break a tooth.
Every fall as long as I can remember after the V’s of geese filled the prairie skies we’d be headed out to a marsh, like Netley, or some farmers stubble fields to wait for ducks to land in the early morning. I’d be half asleep in a blind beside my father and brother startled awake by their pump actions shot guns blasting away at dawn. Our springer spaniel dog would then leap into the water or race cross the field to proudly prance back with a fat mallard in his mouth.  Later in the day we’d hunt for prairie chicken that amazingly delicious game hen that depended on it’s camouflage to hide it.  The dog would flush them and there’d be the characteristic exhilarating pounding of wings before the shotgun swung up tracked the bird and brought it down mid air. The dog on command would race off to retrieve the downed birds.
My father shot moose and deer.  I never hunted big game with him. My brother was old enough and he had the privilege of rank. Mom had strict rules about how old her babies had to be before they could bird hunt first then big game hunt next.  I missed hunting deer with my Dad though after medical school I’d get back to hunting birds with him.   The two of us would borrow  my brother’s red setter dog, Tartan.  My brother Ron had babies by then and Tartan was more than thankful to join us for a weekend reprieve.
I only shot my first deer on Vancouver Island.  That was thanks to my friend Bill Mewhort a mill foreman from Gold River I met one early morning north of Campbell River.  He’d had a minor heart attack hauling down  the deer he'd shot. I was a doctor and my service that day was dragging my older friend’s deer in for him while insisting he rest on the side of road.  He refused to go to hospital till the animals he’d shot were safely in the truck.
After that meeting we hunted off and on together for the next thirty years, sometimes with his young son Allan.  Bill had begun hunting as a child in Quebec and after losing his father, during the years of poverty in Quebec he kept his mother and young sister in wild meat. Later I’d meet his beautiful sister and she’d speak with such love and eloquence of her brother, the family provider. “Without Bill, I don’t know how we would have survived.” she told me,”  People were starving all over in Quebec."
Bill would go on to work as a fishing and hunting guide and support a half dozen children of his own with his knowledge of Canadian wilderness, hunting and fishing.   Having benefited from the years of education in wilderness lore I gained from my father, grandfather, brother and uncles I felt like I’d entered a university for hunting each time I headed out with Bill.  Sometimes when his son Alan and I were following Bill silently through the woods sneaking up on game so close we could reach out and touch them I thought of Bill as Yoda or some Canadian wilderness zen master.  Thanks to him I’ve slipped up so close to a deer I whispered ‘boo’ in it’s ear and watched the startled animal jump a dozen feet into the air before bounding off into the woods.  I’ve watched Bill call in deer and elk. We never came home empty handed when I hunted with Bill.
This weekend was Thanksgiving. Laura and I have enjoyed the Thanksgiving weekend hunts several years past. Our most memorable one was the Nakusp weekend I shot the bear and the turkey as well as enjoying the glorious Nakusp hot springs.  Laura is happy to stay in the hotel or motel I book while Gilbert and I head out into the woods.
I’d hoped to stay at the incredible Princeton Castle Resort or Teepee Cabins both out of town but when I phoned early in the weekend they were all booked. Thankfully the Ponderosa Motel in the centre of Princeton, where I’ve happily stayed several times before, had a really great room with a kitchen left.
After work, Laura, Gilbert and I headed out  in my Ford F350 Diesel Truck with my relatively new Honda 500 Side by Side Pioneer ATV in the back.  My hunting buddy Tom and I fondly named the Honda “Charles’ after it gave us so much joy earlier this fall.   No 3 road follows the rushing river pass through Manning Park.  We had the most spectacular views of autumn coloured leaves against the mountain back drops as we drove to historic Princeton.
We arrived early enough to register and unload our gear before heading across the road to our favourite restaurant, the Little Greek Grill. A gifted folk blues guitarist was playing and a couple of handsomely dressed RCMP officers were dining in a corner. It was a cozy atmosphere with young and old and that interesting mix of country charm and metro chic. If the food didn’t taste so home made and the waitress didn’t share that she and her brother had been quadding that weekend one might just think they were at a swank Yaletown Grill in Vancouver.  With the internet and globalization the country once isolated now has all the benefits of the city without the smog and bad attitudes. I had lamb and Laura had prime rib.  “This prime rib is huge!” Laura said. Personally I was mesmerized by the pumpkin pie.  Both of us however had taken bits of meat from our dishes to take back to Gilbert hard at work guarding the room and gear. When we arrived back he was ecstatic, bounding around in circles, yapping merrily like a nurse relieved from a 12 hour  shift
5:30 am the alarm on my iPhone woke me.  I geared up then carried guns and ammo out to the truck seeing that a couple of neighbours were groggily doing the same thing.  One had a couple of sleepy young boys all dressed in cammo with him while I had Gilbert. The famous Princeton A&W opened at 6 am.  Already it was half filled with early rising country folk when I arrived at 6:15 to pick up my sausage and egger and hash brown, grab a coffee and have my thermos filled with more.
It took me an hour to drive and then some to unload Charles the Honda Pioneer before I was actually hunting.  Skies were grey and rain was steadily pouring down and would all day. My old friend Bill would have complained I was doddling. He liked to be in ambush before the sun came up, sneaking through the woods in the dark of night.  I am terrified unloading my ATV from the back of the truck. I  think I’m going to die every time I reverse off the back and commit to trusting my life to two tiny ramp toothpicks. I haven’t done this in the dark so far and besides I’m not as focussed as Bill. Hunting for me is an escape from the frontlines of my work.  I am mentally exhausted after all week dealing with the  arrogance and unaccountable callousness of   swollen beaurocracies so that the principle purpose of my wilderness weekend is R&R.
Charles, the Honda 500 side by side Pioneer ATV has a roof and windshield. The hot engine is under the seat. After years of walking and years of riding off road motor bikes and quads the Pioneer is luxury.  Gilbert sits on the seat beside me and I drive about logging roads and trails feeling like motorcar riding in the 30’s must have been, before the speed and congestion.  My normal speed in 15 to 20 km hour, a little faster than walking but great for sightseeing and sure enough I saw deer.  They didn’t stay long enough for me to get acquainted and they were were doe.  The hunting regulations are usually convoluted  enough to require a lawyer consultant. This little  area I was hunting in was open for bucks for this month whereas last month it was only 4 points on the antler bucks.  Grouse were open which pleased Gilbert no end. He’s mostly a grouse dog. When I’ve shot big game I’ve told everyone I was really just out hunting for partridge and the big animal happened along.
Most weekends we get at least one grouse where as most hunters hunt many days and weeks before they’re fortunate enough to bag a big one. City folk who thanklessly get their meat cellophane wrapped for them at the supermarket mostly have  no idea about how it magically appears there each day. They are even more ignorant of hunting and sportsmen who account for more than 90% of the costs of conservation efforts in the country.  They are so urban propaganda conditioned that they actually believe the  activist industry does more good than harm, buying into their loud and attention seeking profit driven self important  claims about their relevance.  The low brow mainstream media maintains this idiocy whereas anyone with smarts can simply look to the sportsman magazines or rural magazines to find the truth about non urban reality.
After hours of driving alone in the glorious beauty of our pristine wilderness watching hawks and eagles soar, loving all the little birds, I generally rid myself of all the utterly offensive nonsense I’ve listened to on the news the weeks before.  No story was more poorly followed than that of the amazing javelin throwing champion who actually speared a black bear in Alberta only to be villified by the incompetent urban corporate slave class outraged by a man who demonstrated a skill that had for 60, 000 years kept our species alive.  As a bow hunter who has shot deer for food I thoroughly admired this incredibly courageous  hunter who brought down a big black bear up close and personal with only a spear. I was really thankful he filmed the event giving us personal insight into what made the Zulu great and the early hunter gatherers survive.  I’ve never had the courage to shoot a bear with my bow like a friend does. We both love bear ham but I’ve been especially thankful that my rifle is more than a single shot.   Once when I shot a bear with my high powered 30:06 rifle, the shot going through both lungs and heart,  it only  aggravated the bear  to charge me.   I was more than thankful to be able to fire off all my remaining shells to finally stop him.
Now the Leftist urban government minister in Alberta, a once great province, declares they are going to outlaw spears because they are ‘inhumane’.  This sentamentalist ignorant fool has no idea about humanity or hunting but as a modern politician vote whore he plays to the ignorant masses while making himself a laughing stock among those who have actually left their air conditioned office and driven beyond the concrete parking lot.
I pray a lot when I’m out in the woods.  At first there is the cacophony of thoughts like these and then the spirituality of nature slowly soothes my weary soul.  After a week of being positive and hopeful, herding the cats of optimism, I get covered in a fair amount of negativity especially when I hear everyone is apparently happy as cabbages that our new boyish prime minister is giving away millions to overseas tyrants and raising the tax blaming Canadians for breathing and heating their homes.  As a psychiatrist my ex wife used to quip that her husband ‘didn’t tolerate fools well unless they were his patients.’ The media, especially CBC news, these days,  make my worst dangerously insane heroin and crystal meth addicted psychotics sound safe and sane.
I parked the ATV somewhere off in the woods and then hiked slowly down willow overgrown paths with Gilbert at close heel. It’s then I spooked some doe.  I saw what looked like a ferret.  Lots of dicky birds.  Just a whole lot of peace. With the rain I didn’t sit for long like I usually do, meditating in the woods, communing with God and nature.  I was thankful to get back  to Charles and pour a fresh coffee from the thermos and watch the hillside.  It was sleeting and I was up in the snow, glad to have worn an extra layer but miffed that I’d forgotten my gloves.  Gilbert with his curly fur coat was in heaven.  I carry a towel to wipe him and the windshield off.
Sometime in the afternoon I loaded up the ATV and drove back into the Princeton linking up with Laura who had enjoyed walking about shopping in the little friendly town.  I stopped at the great Princeton Outdoor Supply. I bought my cammo gear from them some 15 years ago and it’s still the best. The Vortex binoculars I got here a year or two past have worked out extremely well.  I’ve always loved the advise I’ve received and have one of the most memorable rainbow fishing trips thanks to being told here of a fresh stocked lake when I was in buying fishing lures one summer.  This time all I needed was an elk tag for hunting as 6 point elk were open. The last thing I wanted was to come across a 6 point elk and be unable to shoot it because I didn’t have the tag.
Laura and I then stopped at the well stocked and helpful Home Hardware where I got a bolt for the ATV ramp. After risking my life loading Charles I saw that one of the ramp bolts had been lost so was more than thankful to have a replacement.
At Round the Corner cafe we had the best service and loved the unique atmosphere, one of those places with unusual antiques like a 50’s Betty Boop statue.  The home made fries were to die for, while Laura enjoyed her burger and I the cod.
I didn’t make it out for the evening hunt.  Laura and I cuddled up in bed with Gilbert and enjoyed listening to the storm outside eating pizza we’d picked up and  watching an old movie.  Gilbert insists on jumping in between us if we kiss.  So every non and then we’re smothered in sloppy dog kisses and laughingly shoving the squirming ball of fur away.
Next morning I was up at 530 am and headed out with Gilbert after stopping at the A&W for breakfast and a thermos of coffee.  When the darkness lifted there was actually patches of blue sky.  I was thankful for Charles because the roads were greasy and I’d literally slid my truck to a place where I was glad to unload.  The joy of Princeton is that while it’s three hours from Vancouver there are several distinctly different hunting terrains an hours distance from the town.  This day the views of rolling hills and open slash were exceptional. Again I just rode slowly about coming across a few other hunters in pick ups and quads. I maybe met a dozen others through the day remembering when I first came here 30 years ago I’d not see another soul for days.  I didn’t mind.  I’m old and am mostly a road hunter now because frankly I can’t see myself hauling a deer or elk any more than one or two hundred yards to a road.  When I was younger I carried a deer a mile on my shoulders and quartered moose and carried the quarters miles back to camp. I appreciated the old guys I saw on quads and in trucks but there were a number of young guys speeding about on their quads like they were at a raceway and really appearing to have missed that whole hiking and hunting part of the life. I felt sorry for them.  While I really love Charles I love it best when I shut off the engine and slink through the woods enjoying the quiet and seeing far more of nature than I can from any machine. The tiny sounds are orchestral too.
I saw a partridge that was smarter than me and Gilbert both, flying far away after Gilbert flushed it.  The stupid birds fly up to sit on the branch of a tree where I can then shoot the head off with my Ruger 22.   I have the new Ruger break down stainless steel model and love it.  I stopped on a hill to eat jerky ad chocolate bars and drink coffee and shoot targets with the 22.  I’d shot the Ruger stainless steel 30:06 the first day and hit the “C” in coca cola on a can at 50 yards so hadn’t wasted more ammo.  With the 22 I enjoyed shooting off a couple of boxes of shells till  my shots at 30 yards were all in a grouping the size of my thumb.  Gilbert finds this all very exciting but can’t figure out why there are no birds to retrieve.
Later it was fun to stand on the side of the road talking to a couple of elk hunters from Chilliwack who have a cabin in the region.  They come up each year and love the cabin life and actually have shot a bull elk or two over the last 20 years.  For all of us it’s mostly the wilderness, getting away from the city, self reliance in the out back, the occasional success, and camaraderie when there’s more on the hunt.  It’s so abusive and offensive to have leftist liberal urban media screaming that we must not identify muslim terrorists because Islam is a religion of peace yet the same ignorant pc folk smear all us hunters as ‘trophy hunters’ and malign us because we’re not vegetarians and don’t eat cosmetic designer foods from silly boutique grocers.  Trophy hunters kill old animals that will die the next winter.  No body leaves meat in the woods.  The first bear I shot I only wanted the prime meat and didn’t eat the organ meats but my Indian chief friend was more than thankful to have a green garbage bag full of wild game telling me he knew how to prepare it so it was safe from the parasite that infects bear.  Apparently it’s safe after you freeze and then cook it through and through. He did that then smoked it. I’ve enjoyed keeping the bear meat for myself after learning that trick of preparation.
There are the rare idiots out hunting but given that it takes a lot of regulations to own a gun in Canada, lots of training and  examinations to be able to get a hunting license and it’s really very expensive to maintain equipment for the rough conditions very few hunters one meets are anything as ignorant or sincerely twisted nutbars as the drug addicted drunken,  mothers basement living, googleresearcher set  that dominate the silly mainstream media, like tabloid CBC and chick lit Huffington Post.
It was late afternoon when Gilbert and I rejoined Laura.  She was beautiful as usual having enjoyed the morning lying in, reading and recuperating from the weeks stress of her demanding work as a medical office assistant to one of Canada’s foremost arthritis specialists, one of my most admired colleagues who has done so much for so many thousands of patients with this chronic debilitating illness.
It was Thanksgiving and Laura in her town walk that day had found out that just around the corner the Funky Monkey Cafe was serving a full coarse traditional turkey dinner. It was Laura’s treat and boy did I enjoy it reflecting back on all the great thanksgiving turkey meals that my mother, aunt and grandmother had had in our home when I was growing up.  I love Thanksgiving turkey. The meal  was delicious and service was terrific. It was also great because the place was full of old folk who were enjoying tradition as much as we were.
Back in the Ponderosa Motel I had thought to watch the second Trump - Clinton presidential debate that evening but after a short nap i decided to take Gilbert for an evening drive in the truck along a main forest service road in the back country. It was an hours drive on the highway but there was the really well maintained road that wouldn’t stress my truck and negated my need to unload Charles. .  I thought it better to be out hunting than watching a crazy name calling political debate.  Gilbert as comfort conscious as my friend Tom who loves hunting from the luxury of the truck loved sitting up straight watching for the grouse that often land on the road in the evening  fo eat gravel that helps their digestion.  I passed a couple of RV’s in the back woods with campfires going despite it still being really light out.
And there it was.  About a hundred yards from the woods in a field just on the edge of the forest a great mule deer buck stood grazing only looking up when I stopped the truck, shut off the engine and  opened the  door. I was buck fever all over. I was  thankful to have the trigger lock off and get a couple of shells into the rifle’s magazine without the deer spooking.  Raising the rifle to my shoulder and without doing that breathing bit Bill taught me but using the door as a rest I aimed with the scope crosshairs entering on the chest.  It was a tough head on shot and I fired just as the deer was bending down to graze more. Instead of hitting the chest the shot enterred the neck and the deer jumped straight up.
It came down and was standing wobbling and would have fallen over dead except it suddenly saw it’s kiler barrelling towards it.. Gilbert the cockapoo was hell bent to get the biggest grouse he had ever seen and the deer mustered what strength it had to take off before the terrifying cockapoo pounced upon it.  It’s a rule of hunting that you keep shooting till the game stops so I shot the running buck again hitting just behind the heart, getting the lungs diaphragm and top of the stomach.  The deer went down heavily. I shouted at Gilbert to stopped worried the silly dog would get kicked in the head before I put killing shot in the head of the deer.  Gilbert was obviously pleased with himself, certain that without him, we’d not have got this kill.  I was still shaking and trembling from the excitement and thanking God for his Bounty.
That’s when the work began.  I got rope, hatchet, saw and extra knives from the truck.  Field dressing takes time and while it was light I wanted to get the job done as darkness makes every task that much more difficult.  Gilbert was glad to supervise licking blood from the carcass whenever my back was turned.  He was one happy dog.
It was in the field dressing with tying one hind  leg to a log to open up the belly that I found where my bullets had gone tracing trajectory from  the tiny entrance wound  to  the large exit wounds.  I cleaned out the guts   as best I could. I got the bladder out without breaking it, a real delicate feat but central to fresh tasting meat. I  would later use water I kept in a blue container on the truck to rinse the cavity. .  I put the heart and large liver in separate bags before beginning the difficult task of hauling the hundreds of pounds of venison across the log strewn field. Downhill was easy enough but when I got to the valley and had to begin the slight incline to the road my desk job began to tell. Back at the truck I tried to get the winch working but the handle didn’t seem to fit so with night coming on I went back and used brute force to haul the deer to the side of the road. My back was not happy but beside the truck I could use the winch I’d had installed on Charles the Honda to haul the deer, now wrapped in a tarp  into the truck box.  I swung the other half in without too much effort then tied it in just as darkness fell.  I used a flashlight to check around ensuring I’d not left anything.  Then in the truck I got stuck in the ditch trying to turn. This came from gross stupidity and I was lucky and thankful to four wheel drive to get myself out of the ditch.
Driving back down the road I passed two other groups of hunters in trucks both of them having got flats.  I was so physically exhausted and mentally hooped so very thankful to have an uneventful drive back out of the wilderness to the highway and finally back to town. I was really thankful to park in front of the motel room.
“Would you come outside and see something, “ I said to Laura after Gilbert got over jumping up and down around his favourite friend.  ‘“You got one, “ she said with real shared pleasure.  A hoofed foot stuck out from the tarp, a rope from it to Charles holding the deer safely fixed inside the truck box.
“We did,” I said, Gilbert swaggering happily, accepting praise and treats from Laura.  I think I told the poor girl the story of us seeing and shooting the deer a number of times and she was excited each time I recounted the tale acting like she was hearing it the first time.  I could hardly sleep that night getting up to check the deer several times while Gilbert was pretty much dead to world after all the exercise he’d had. His little feet were twitching in his sleep as he no doubt relived the great chase.
Ideally a deer is hung but mostly it’s critical that it’s cooled as fast as possible. I couldn’t hang the deer but it was cold.
I phoned around to the several wild game meat cutters I’d used over the years.  All were full and told me the earliest they could take another animal was in a day or two. I laughed at how only a couple of days before I’d been talking to an unsuccessful hunter from the city and we’d both been bemoaning how little game we’d seen. Now I learned the real story with the game cutters telling me that this Thanksgiving weekend had produced more game than they’d all seen in years.  I phoned another half dozen butchers I hadn’t used but were recommended only  to not hear back from them as every one’s freezers were full.
Driving back I stopped short of Hope and in the back woods off a logging trail attended to the next phase of wild game preparation. I skinned the deer, beheaded it and sawed off the legs fitting the whole carcass into cheesecloth.  We hoped that when we got to the lower mainland into cell coverage we’d have a call back but none came. In Chilliwack I went round to the butchers I knew but no one was able to take the deer.
I’d butchered deer, bear and moose before myself but really do appreciate the professionals work, especially the ground beef and sausage they make which I don’t do any more.  There was no choice though as the deer had to be butcherd as I had no freezer I could hang it in.  It was a young two point and though hanging deer a few days to drain the blood better makes for more tenderized meat I’d butchered young deer fresh and appreciated them just as much as I mostly marinade and barbecue or make stews with venison.
Back home I was really thankful to get the deer off the truck and with Laura’s help lifted the dead weight onto the table.  2 or 3 hours later with Gilbert supervising and Laura labelling the double zip locked bags of meat I was thoroughly exhausted but the venison was all in the fridge and freezer. It was going to be another winter of great meals.
Ironically we ordered in a pizza from Me and Ed’s because it was already night and neither of us wanted to cook. Gilbert got some pieces which a butcher would have put in sausage but I put in a separate dog bag. I simply microwaved them and Gilbert , the great cockapoo hunter wolfed them down and wanted more.  He didn’t get any more because too much wild game, being so lean, can give one the runs.  Gilbert wouldn’t have cared but I would.
Laura took a bag of meat to her home and I’d take a bag to my other storage freezer, spreading the liability in case of power outages  or freezer break downs.
It would be the next night that I barbecued the strap muscle medallions and tasted heaven. Thank you Lord for sharing your bounty. Another year and another successful harvest.  Thank you Jesus.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Let go and let God

Thy Will Be Done.  Let Go and Let God.
These are essentially statements of trust in the universe. They represent belief in an all loving God. When I pray ‘harder’ I acknowledge that I don’t really trust God to do what I want in a particular situation.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray harder. I wail, whine, cry, beg.  I’m like a child with his mother in a supermarket beside the sugar sweet breakfast cereal. I have temper tantrums with my God.
That’s because our relationship is that way.  Parent child and frankly ask my now deceased father and mother and they’d say I wasn’t a particularly good child. I was a difficult child according to teachers.  I was even called a genius when I wasn’t being call a whole lot of other names. So no doubt God feels the same.  My mother and father loved me.  And God loves me and I am praying harder.
But with a little maturity in my prayer life. I end the keening with , alright, you know what I want, now You God, You decide what is best.  I don’t think in such a way that God is going to do what I don’t want. I think God will give me exactly what I need when I need it.  I may well be praying for something harmful and God will respond to the deeper desire that I have to live well.  Thy Will Be Done.
There’s a matter of acceptance there too. There’s a willingness to work with natural and spiritual laws.  I also know that having prayed I must accept that God has heard me and is acting on my behalf.  No doubt there are competing agendas.  The joke goes that God answers all prayers but sometimes the answer is ‘no’.  Praise and gratitude help.  I tend to snivel and wallow in self pity, a real incorrigible baby so it is better if I’m positive and hopeful and having faith.  It just goes with confidence in God.  That little shit I am in side full of catastrophising and gloom and doom doesn’t make anything better. It makes it worse.
Sometimes it really is right to cry out, why have you forsaken me.  Maybe not in the supermarket by the sugar coated breakfast cereal. But there is a place.  St. Paul said ‘pray unceasingly’ so I figure there’s never ’too much’ prayer.  Prayer is a kind of conversation too for me.
What should I do? Is this what you want me to do? How can I be of most service?  What is it I should be doing.? How can I be more helpful?
I doubt a lot.  I’m self questioning all the time.  I am trying to hear the ‘wee small voice of God’ .  But I’m also looking for loop holes. I’m pretty sure that there is a ’straight and narrow path’ but like the poet Frost I’m often taking the ‘road less travelled.’  I don’t think there is any ‘wrong’ road.  I believe God is all loving and that our pain comes from our poor decisions and refusal to change our ways.  There are also lessons I have created for myself, challenges that I have put before myself to grow in some way that I really don’t quite comprehend till I’m on the other side of the obstacle.  So often these challenges have been the most rewarding times in my life and times of great growth.  Yet like friend, I tell God, I”ve had enough personal growth opportunities could we just skip to the beach scenes.  Yet the bed. white sheets and nurses and morphine come at the end as a kind of beach scene. I don’t want that yet.
So then I’m afraid that I’ve not quite told lGod what I wanted. Obsessively I then talk to god like he is some kind of clerk taking an order and I have to get the wording just right or he’ll give me death rather than a little time on a southern beach.
Parents psychologically are not mother or father but an amalgam, mother and father making up ‘PARENT”.  God is both mother and father.  More like grandmother/grandfather but closer.  All loving.  Omniscient. Omnipresent.
God within me, god around me, God above and below me, God everywhere and everything.  Be with me now. Show me. Guide me. Protect me. Help me.  Strengthen me.  Thank you.
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Friday, October 7, 2016

Psalm 18 and Gratitude

I love you, Lord, my strength
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in who I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted, the cherubim and flew;
he soars on the wings of the wind;
He made darkness discovering, his canopy around him -
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven.
the voice of the Most High resounds.\
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, Lord
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from the powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
All the laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
 I have been blames before him
and have kept myself from sin.
The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
To the faithful you show your faithful,
to the blameless you show your blameless,
to the pure you shourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my god turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my god I can scale a wall.

As for God, his way is perfect;
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a dear;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me.
your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me
you made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
They cried for help, but there was no one to save them -
to the Lord, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
I trampled them like mud in the streets.
Y have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
they all lose heart ,
they come trembling from their strongholds.
The Lord lives!Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Saviour!
He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
therefore I will praise you , Lord, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing love to his anointed,
to David and to his descendants forever.

NIV Bible

Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for this week of work. Thank you for my brother Ron and his family. Thank you for the doctors and nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and all the others who care for him now. Thank you for my nephews  who are truly the finest of men. Thank you for my niece in law.  Thank you mostly for my sister in law. Thank you for their being there and for the love and care and hope they all give my brother.
Thank you Lord for breath. Thank you Lord for the basic amenities that I have this day. I awoke and there was the light switch. Thank you for the light. I had a washroom I could use indoors. Thank you for the toilet. Thank you for the running water and sink. Thank you for my stove and coffee maker and the glorious coffee. I love the Italian bakery coffee and my stainless steel expresso maker. Thank you for the fresh fruit and yoghurt.
But before that we went outdoors into the darkness and rain and smelt the fresh air.  There was no need to arm myself. My cockapoo dog, Giblert was so happy to see me getting up and getting his leash. He was just so delighted to sniff every nuance of the morning. He was a joy to watch pulling me along as he piddled on bushes and showed such enthusiasm for the day. Thank you Lord that I had so few aches and pains this morning. My lower back is cranky and my foot and knee but really it was a joy to walk behind Gilbert enjoying the early morning before dawn.  Thank you for the renewal. Thank you for the greenery. Thank you for the rain. Thank you for Gilbert always being so regular and the little doggie bags and the tiny flash light on my key chain and the public garbage bins which are taken care of by the city. Thank you for the city workers and the people who maintain this city. Thank you for all the unseen workers. Thank you for the people about where I live who daily do rounds removing any trash, maintaining the lawns, bushes and trees . Thank you for their work. Thank you for the whole system of the city, the trucks and roads and buildings and the maintenance and repair.
Thank you now for this couch. I love this couch. I love sitting here in the morning and reading my iPhone , going through the mail and reading Facebook.  Forgive me Lord for following the evil and insanity of politics with the diabolical men and women who with immense greed and bullying swagger across the world stage like Zeus and Hera of old.  Help these leaders be more caring of us in the middle class.  Help our leadership show maturity and more common sense, less arrogance and ideology.  Help them address their rampant out of control addictions to drugs alcohol sex and control .  Help them be less terror stricken and less terrifying.  Help me have more faith in you my lord. Help me believe in you and your love and care in my present and my future. Help me be less distracted by their monkey vaudeville deceitful antics. Help me be more forgiving of the broadcasting loud speaker child screaming in a supermarket alley temper tantrum throwing devious media.  Help me forgive marketing people their lies and cowardice.
Help me be a better person and more true to my love of you.  Help me laugh more too Lord. Help me see the humour, black and otherwise in this life of complexity and suffering. Help me be amused more at my own frailty , my declining ‘hip slick cool’ image and my self awareness of my limitations. I may have more possibility and less limitation than any time in my life before but when I was younger I was more stupid and knew less so could not fully appreciate all that I have so appreciate that saying ‘youth is wasted on the young’.  But so is aging. Today I still struggle with perception. I see the glass half empty when it is more than overflowing. Help me to live less in regret and envy and more in thanksgiving and praise.
Thank you Lord. You are great. You are love. You are imagination. You are the dream and the dreamer and I am so thankful that you are within  and without and everywhere and everything.  Thank you for your call and callings.  Thank you for spirituality. Thank you for religions and the places where folk can come to be away from all the other busy ness of existence to be with you in these buildings built to celebrate you and in the parks that beautify creation. Help me to stop more and smell the roses and feel your presence. Thank you for churches and temples Lord.  Thank you for synagogues and mosques where people pray and worship and sing of Love. Help us to know agape and come together with joy and kindness. Help us to overcome our fear and hate.  Help me to act locally while I think globally. Help me to show love in the minutiae of all my relationships today. Help me never to be self serving and undiscerning and flee from tough love or truth with love. But let me always know compassion. Let me always see my fellows as family and not as objects. Help me treat my own self and my body as St. Francis did, as a friend.  Help me to face the struggle within myself to do that which is good versus that which only appears so.  Help me to separate Logic and Rhetoric.  Help me to know truth from false truth. Help me to see the smile in the frown and know that it is fear that is behind hate and that it is fear that is at the basis of those who need to control others. Help me know the child within and know that child as you Lord.
Help me love God and not crucify him. Help me know the stranger as Jesus but not to be a fool but rather with discernment. Help me recognize the professional beggar from the person who has fallen and just needs a hand up today. Help me see the liars and help them turn from their evil or avoid them.
Thank you Lord.  I am alive today.  So I know that all those times I feared and all those days I lost hope and all those moments I thought I was betrayed are passed. I know that you have brought me through all the despair and I am here again today.  Help me to be sober minded today. Help me know serenity. Help me know peace of mind. Help me have passion. Help me find wisdom. Help me in all my action and be in all my movements and all my breathing and hearts beating. Help me know you in nanoseconds and hours Lord.
Thank you Lord Jesus.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sailing with Andrew and Tanya Hay - SV GIRI - North Channel, Bath

I love Loyalist Cove Marina.  They’ve taken such good care of the SV GIRI. I’d thought they were going to pull it out and store it for the winter as they did last fall but Tanya asked if we could go sailing one last time.  Loyalist Cove Marina will haul the SV GIRI out next week and prep the engine for winter and wrap her up to protect her from the snow.

Tanya had painted the bottom and deck so wanted to enjoy the fruit of her labour.  Andrew is just a madcap sailor who wanted to race and tack.
I was happy to take them out. They are a terrific couple, loving and supportive of each other as well as being lots of fun.
The skies were overcast but as the day progressed we got blue sky and sunshine.  The wind was SouthWest.  Once we’d got out of the harbour I pointed the GIRI into the wind and put the autopilot on.  Andrew, Tanya and I brought in the bumpers in then Andrew took off the main sail cover and  we  raised the main sail. I showed Andrew how to look up the sail and see it taut against the mast without the scalloping of cloth that means the halyard isn’t winched up enough. .
I left one reef in the main sail  knowing from experience that my autopilot is fussy if I have the whole mainsail up.  With one reef there’s lots of wiggle room.  What a sailing racer deplores but that which appeals to the cruiser in me.  My racer friend Tom likes to get maximum speed by aligning the sails perfectly for most efficiency.
Once that was done ’sufficiently’,  we got the lines sorted out for the roller furling genoa.   That I let out  opened that sail almost fully.  Then we weared round to a lovely broad reach.
I am a solo sailor so it was with some effort I did everything using the correct nautical terms.
“More Nautical Terms!” Andrew called out to Tanya whenever I introduced another.
They are both quick studies and I’d been through the various reaches and close haul positions with Andrew when we’d last sailed with Ron and Graeme.  We were actually doing 6 knots with rather light winds, maybe 10 to 15 knots at most.
Tanya and I loved it while Andrew was wanting to tack and heel.  I think he’d be most at home with an alien space ‘flitter’.  Because of my sail configuration I had the maximum heel at around 12 degrees whereas if I had put all my sails up fully I’d have probably heeled 20 degrees.  10 degrees is less work.  20 degrees is enough and more heel in cruising doesn’t really gain a whole lot.  I liked the easiness of it all. Tanya said she really liked this ‘comfortable sailing’ as well , having envisioned a lot more ‘grunt work’.
“I actually rather like this sailing since you and Andrew are doing most of the work while I’ve been enjoying the ride”
 The sailing grounds around Loyalist Cove are truly lovely.  Great reaches and rather well protected from the worst of the Lake Ontario weather. Lots of bays to explore.  I really look forward to more sailing here in the coming years. There’s even the famed thousand islands further along which everyone tells me has so many picturesque anchorages..
The fall scenery was magnificent, the leaves just beginning to show autumn colours, reds and gold.   It was glorious.  I made coffee and we all had a cup sitting in the cockpit with the sails doing the work and the boat on autopilot. While I love my Volvo engine I love the quiet when we are just sailing like this.  Fair winds and following seas.
Almost to Collins Bay we gybed round to close haul back the way we came, tacking a couple of times , more to please Andrew.  We were past Loyalist Cove when I decided to turn on the Iron Jenny and pull down the sails.
Adell had packed lunches which we enjoyed while sailing. All round a wonderful day on the water.
When we got the boat into the marina  this time I told Kim in the office as we were leaving that this was the last time I’d take her out . I was flying back to Vancouver.  I just love the way Loyalist Cove Marina cares for GIRI.  I’ll miss her till next year.

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Here are some pictures Tanya took and sent to me.
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SV GIRI - Boating with Alan - Kerr Bay

Alan insists that since we didn’t actually put the sails up, we were not ‘sailing’.  Hence, the title, ‘boating with Alan’.
I’d called Loyalist Cove Marina a couple of weeks earlier and asked if they could check my Autopilot.  The autopilot hadn’t been communicating with the compass.  I love my Autopilot and was so pleased that it had been repaired. Just some corrosion on the wire connections.  When I’d been there earlier in the summer we’d been out sailing with Ron and the nephews. Ron wasn’t up to boating this time but i still wanted to try out the anchor tackle.
Alan is good company. A psychologist finishing his masters he’s a bit impatient but otherwise sensitive and intuitive.  He has a thousand questions and his curiosity abounds.
It was a grey and overcast day. I’m not a particularly energetic sailor. I love my Volvo diesel motor and I love making stove top expresso coffee on my lovely three burner gambled propane stove.  Only 20 minutes from Loyalist Cove Marina is Kerr Bay across the channel.  We anchored in 25 foot of water after I untangled the anchor chain that had been shook about by shipping the boat across Canada.
With anchor hooked I made my coffee and had a peanut butter and jam sandwich reading a book in my own special Captain’s corner while Alan actually had a rather long nap.  This is heaven for me.
When i raised the anchor I hauled up half the seaweed on the bottom too.  A bit of a fiddle getting it off. Then Alan drove us back to Loyalist Cove Marina where I took over for the berthing.  One of the staff was on dock to catch the bow line Alan tossed him.
I cleaned up with the though this would be the last I’d see the GIRI till next year.  Then Alan and I went off to Paul’s in Napanee to collect the pizza Ron had mentioned he’d missed while he was in hospital.
A great day boating.  Even if I only used the iron jenny!
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