Saturday, April 18, 2015

Seasickness on the SV GIRI

She was crying huddled in the corner of the cockpit, holding her stomach.  A huge wave had hit the boat broadside crashing through the canvas dodger and soaking her thoroughly.
“Should we call the coast guard?” she whimpered.
“No” I said, “The boat isn’t in any distress. We’re going to be just fine."
Even the little dog was shaking. He had his life jacket on and was cuddled beside her, the two of my charges trying to take comfort from each other. I didn’t think I was very reassuring.I’d taken them out in this mess.
But then I know this is sailing.  I know this is life and the wilderness and that anytime something can come up to change things instantly.  She knows this too. Intellectually, Experientially is always a different matter.
“How long is it going to take?” she asked.
“Hours,” I said.  I didn’t mean to be mean.  I often give people information when they want ‘sweet lies’.  Later I’d say ‘we’re almost there” when we were still many miles away from our destination.  My concerns weren’t here and now. My concerns were with the pass.  This storm had slowed us down to half our speed.  So we were going to miss our window of passage through the narrows.  That window, the ‘turn’ is the calm time between when ebb tide and flood tide change.  I’d already consulted the tide and current charts issued annually. I ‘d looked at the time and confirmed the negative sign of the ‘ebb’ and the time of the turn and added the hour for ‘daylight saving’.  We would be lucky if we’d get there before the maximum rate of flow.
I’d been headed for Active Pass originally  but there the flows through the narrows can be 20 knots. I’d diverted to Porlier Pass where the  the chart said maxim flow today was  4.8 knots.  My 40 foot steel 13 ton cutter rigged sloop sailboat with its new  Volvo 40 hp diesel only did five maybe 6 knots.  I was supposed to have some extra reserve for going against current but I was towing my rather large hard bottomed dinghy with the high centre console and 30 horse power motor. I’d been looking back often to see it was riding well behind us.
My brain, wants to go to a myriad of possibilities of things that can go wrong. It’s definitely got a contract on my ass.  Sailing across the winter pacific through storm after storm alone from San Francisco to Hawaii I’d had to shut the thing off repeatedly since it was constantly  running every nightmare scenario. What if a killer wave caves in a window?  What if the engine fails? What if the pumps don’t work? What if I fall and break a leg?  What if? What if?
“I’ve never been in anything this bad, “ she said.  “Those waves are so huge”
My boat and I’d survived worse, 40 foot waves at one time.  But these were 6 feet deep and white capped with spray trails running across the sea.  It was hard to see very far. A gale really.  It was the first time the boat was out this year, except for an hour run to Bowen for an overnight.  She’d sailed with me before.  She knew the boat and my history.  I had  experience and the boat did too.
“Your father as a tug boat captain would have worked in this often. Did you ever go out in his tug with him.?”
“No,” she said.  Her mascara had run a bit.
Off shore I have harnesses and ropes to tie us to the boat.  She didn’t have a life jacket. One was inside the cabin at hand reach but I didn’t want her to go below and I didn’t want to leave the helm. When I put the boat on autopilot the course was worse. I could at least turn into the ‘hundredth wave’, those big ones that comes along like clock work and confound autopilots.
“Could we call somebody to tow us in faster?” she asked.
“No, we’re going along fine. We’ll getting closer.  You'd feel better if you sit up high and watch the horizon.  If you take the helm, the sense of control makes the seasickness worse. "
“I”m okay”, she whimpered, hugging herself tighter.
 I told if she need to throw up she should as that would make her feel better. But she said she didn’t want to throw up. Which brought to mind another time I’d been sailing across the Strait with a couple of women and another guy and they’d all been spewing in just these type of conditions.  I was thankful my days of sea sickness were behind me but I’ll never forget that worst of all possible feelings when all you want to do is curl up in a fetal position and lie in your own puke.
“I was just thinking that this was like child birth.”, she said, " There’s the pain and horror and nothing to do but wait it out.”  She was a mother of three and I couldn’t argue with her comparison given my own lack of experience in that regard.
“That’s about it.” I said.
“My dad said they’d have nights of storms like this and how they just went on and on up and down one wave to the next."
“I’m thankful the sun is out.  It’s also quite warm not like those crazy Alaska fishermen have to deal with. Also I always think of the North Atlantic in WWII when they had the worst of sea conditions and had to contend with submarines shooting at them as well. It’s enough for me to deal with Nature than to have to contend with psychopaths trying to kill me as well."
I remembered how everything got better sailing in the south too when I was just wearing shorts and the spray off the  sea was warm.
Another big sea crashed right over the deck spilling water into the cockpit.
That was another problem. The drain hole in the cockpit on that side was plugged.  It had been last year too. I’d been meaning to fix it. But all last summer when water had come into the cockpit when I was sailing alone and burying the railing the boat had been heeling on the other side and I’d simply forgotten all about the plugged drain.  There was now a foot of cold seawater sloshing around on the floor.  My shoes were soaked and the dogs belly was in cold water contributing to his shivering.  Warmth and comfort reduces sea sickness. I didn’t want to do it but I turned the boat directly into the wind, heeled onto a different tack and let the water run out through the starboard drain.  Then I took the boat back to the original course cognizant of the fact that by keeping the boat quartering on the sea I was pointing higher than Porlier Pass.
“We’re not going to capsize?” she said.
“No, we’re perfectly safe.With the sails down we have a huge keel below us to keep us from going over. We could even batten down and heave to and wait out this storm but the weather report says it’s going all night. Indeed it’s supposed to get worse at night so I’d just like to cross the Strait rather than wait. We’re getting there. It’s not that much further."
“I think the winds getting less, “ I lied.
I also didn’t mention my concern about the Pass, the heavy dinghy or even the new window I’d thought the workman weren’t being conscientious enough about.   There’s always something that can go wrong in life. A boat is just a tiny capsule of reality as we see it. I could be about to have a stroke and the incidence of that might be greater than the possibility of wear and tear on a guy line leading to disaster.  In 30 years of sailing I’ve experienced a whole lot of misery at sea, broken mast, stove in sides, leaks, broken pumps, fowled props, storms and even running aground.  Mostly the worst happens at night or in fog.
Driving the boat this sunny day I remembered  another time the seas were like this and there were four of us aboard all accomplished sailors.   A ferry had gone aground and half dozen boats had had may days in the freak storm, seas similar, winds about the same. It just came out of nowhere and caught everyone by surprise.  The radio today didn’t have any may days, just a few of the next level of concern “Pan Pan.”  There were several of those,  A sailboat was unable to get it’s sail furled and was careening scared somewhere on the Strait. Another boat’s engine had failed and it was drifting towards rocks.  Someone had fallen overboard.  The radio is a background of negative possibilities when a storm comes up.
“Why aren’t there any other boats? “ she asked.
I could have waxed poetic about why 90% of sailboats and sporting boats never leave English Bay. Those that cross the Strait only do it in July or August in the best of weather. I sailed all year round. If it wasn’t for her being sick I’d be rather exhilarated. Like the feeling of riding a motorcycle in an increasing wind. That feeling that you and machine are going to make it through this.  Not that I wasn’t praying. I’d been praying, “All Shall Be Well. All Shall Be Well.  All Manner of Things Shall Be Well” from the moment I decided to take in sails. That prayer worked for those in the European plague years so I figured it would work for whatever I had to face.  It certainly beat psyching myself out with “We’re going to die!. We’re going to die.” Mostly my greatest fight is with myself.  Fear and despair really don’t help a situation so there’s no need fuelling them.
Also I’m blessed with a guardian angel or some kind of sailor intuition.    I get a ‘feeling’ that I should reef the sail and every time I’ve been just a moment ahead of disaster.  There’s a lot of things like that. I think I should check the pump and find that only one is working.  There’s a sufficient level of obsessive concern.  I don’t have the money or time to ensure everything is perfect. That’s what wealth brings.  More security but even in the offshore races disaster strikes despite every contingency considered by the best of minds. I love following the NASA stories for this reason.  It’s like watching the great chess players or reading the Glass Bead Game by Herman Hess. In my little way I’m part of this bigger picture. In my little world I’m doing that sort of thing.  It’s like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or tying the perfect fishing fly.  Today I’d delayed on responding to the feeling and was feeling a bit old, fat and slow.
I actually am old, fat and slow.  I certainly felt it when I winched the sails up today. I have to factor  age and shape into the equation and I simply don’t have the physical reserve I had 10 years ago to deal with unforeseen contingencies.
We’d been sailing, close hauled, all sails up, 15 knot northwest wind, calm seas 1-2 foot, going 4 knots,towing the dinghy. It was a glorious day. Laura was loving it.  It was mid April and my friends out in Eastern Canada were still battling snow storms.  Here we were on the west coast in paradise sailing across Georgia Strait.  Life couldn’t be better.
And I got that feeling. And ignored it.
The weather report had been for increasing winds later in the afternoon and evening but it was only 2 pm then.  Everything was perfect except my premonition. That’s when the railing first went underwater.  Not a bad thing racing but obviously a concern cruising.  I took it as a time to get up on deck and reef. I started the iron jenny enjoying the sound of the engine purring into action.
The more wind, The harder it is to reef.  Using the engine and autopilot I could have turned direct into the wind like the text book says, trusting my autopilot but instead I just hauled the main sail down to the reef point and winched it tight in place.  It all just took too long and I was quite tired by the effort.  Back in the cockpit I saw the boat speed had gone from 4 to 5 knots and reefing wasn’t doing anything. The railing buried again.  More white caps.
Back on deck.
It’s dangerous on deck without a line and harness.  I had told Laura how to call Coast Guard on 16 and unleash the foresail rope from the winch to let the boat stop but if a freak wave hit and  I went over, hypothermia would get me before rescue.  “One hand to the boat always”.
Now the main sail was down and we were riding pretty good but the wind was rising and the sea was growing.
Just to be safe I began to roller furl the new genoa in.  I remember doing this in the Pacific by myself for squalls in minutes. I was fast back then and strong.  Now too long at a desk I was really taking an inordinate amount of time to winch the sail in even with the boat turned up into the wind.  Laura was helping by letting out the lead rope but it was all going so slowly. My shoulder was killing me. I began thinking I’d damaged my rotator cuff. But eventually I had the sail furled to a third the size.  We were riding exactly like I like it in a storm, the sail being enough to create just the right lean to cut into the seas but not enough to worry me. I was back to using the engine which was keeping us going at 3 knots.  Normally it would be five or six.  I looked back at the dinghy and it was riding just fine.  Big seas slowed our forward motion to 1.5 knots.  They just slammed into the boat submarining the bow.
“I don’t like when you go on deck,” she said.  The boat was actually fairly okay at that moment. I was comfortable with everything and just had to persevere.  I saw then that Laura wasn’t doing well.  And that’s when the broadside slammed into her lifting the canvas and soaking her.
“Should we call the coast guard?" she whimpered.
When I was younger I would have ‘ordered’ her to pull herself together. I’d done that in my 20’s and am divorced. In my own fear and ignorance I’d thought that ‘female hysteria’ was something to slap into shape.  Talking to veterans about war times and men going crazy in battle I know there’s a place for slapping someone back to reality. But that’s only when the bullets are flying.  Mostly people, scared themselves, take it out on the one just a little more scared .   I ‘d been that way.  Putting on a phoney brave front and strutting about shouting orders in times of trouble.  I’d got everyone through those times. I’d been a good leader in that regard but today I knew myself better.
I was scared.  I’m always scared. There’s always some fear to living.  I know too that courage is going on inspite of fear.
Laura just wanted me to acknowledge her. She didn’t want to be alone.  The dog was cuddled up beside her and he didn’t want to be alone.
“We’re going to be okay. The boat can handle a whole lot more than this. I love my new Volvo. It’s doing an amazing job of pushing us through the sea.  We’ll be at the pass shortly. Not much further."
The job of a captain is the care and safety of the boat and crew. The job of the crew is to assist the job of the captain.  Laura wasn’t technically crew. More a passenger, really.  I think Gilbert the first mate dog was cuddling up to her to give her comfort though it wasn’t too clear if he wasn’t the one getting the comfort.
I comforted her. No harsh words.  Just reassurance. I also wished that I could take back all the harsh words I’d used in decades past as younger and stupider man.
Then we were in Porlier Pass. That was where I was really scared. And I didn’t share this. I’d also gone through a time in life when I thought that others needed to ‘know my feelings.’  I’d believed in that idea of letting it ‘all hang out’.  I’d believed in the group grok experience but knew from experience that has no place whatsoever in life and death situations.  People say they want their leaders to share everything and the silly media chants this day in day out but the fact is all that does is cause panic. I didn’t say a word when the boat hit the first whirlpool and I looked back to see the dinghy was riding high and hadn’t flipped to become an anchor I’d have to cut loose while the boat whirled in a ship killing whirlpool.  I just made a decision and gave my new Volvo Engine full open throttle and coupled with the ebb flow we were maintaining a straight line at 10 knots through literally boiling water waves jumping into the cockpit from both sides.
Then we were through.
“We’re okay now, “ she said. Smiling.
“How’s your stomach?”
“Its okay.I was just scared, that’s all. I’ve never been in anything like that."
“Sorry."
“It’s not your fault.It’s just what happens,” she said.
I loved her for that.  Over the years so many others had blamed me. They’d wanted to come along with me on some crazy journey and when the going got rough said it was my fault. I’ve been blamed by young women for lightning, broken down cars, winter, sickness, and just about everything that life can bring.  I always half believe them.  No one wants to be on a couch watching tv adventure more than me when I’m in the middle of a real adventure.  But the couch  isn’t real and if one stays there long enough they will get bedsores.
Trinicomali Channel was serene.  The bad was behind us.  We motored on the ebb flow down to Montague Harbour.  If my arms and shoulders weren’t like lead weights I’d have put up all the sails and enjoyed the fabulous wing on wing sails that Trinicomali Channel is famous for.  Instead I made us tea, drinking mine with Gilbert sitting on my lap in the cockpit. Laura went below to text her sister that with the nights wind warning we were going to stop in Montague rather than spending the night in Dinner Bay.
I love the cell phone.  I always look at all the technology I have, gps, radar, chart plotter, winches, charts, weather reports, VHF and thank all those intrepid professional sailors who went before and  made it possible for me to take this grand little vessel, my home really,  away for a weekend with pretty good likelihood of returning safely in a day or two. There was a time like they show in the Hobbit movies that an individual left his ‘safety zone’ at peril and never could be sure of returning .  Adventure was once a mainly professional matter and now we all do it as amateurs.
I certainly know that it’s the way I can get back to the office and enjoy the relative safety and routine of my office.
“My sister says that there’s been several boats in distress and they’ve been watching the winds and seas and are really thankful we’re okay."
Her husband is a marine engineer. They live on the water.  I thought it was a wee bit of a blow.  Hearing that, I guess it was.  So Laura wasn’t over reacting and it is good that we’re all safe and happy.
Anchoring in the protected harbour of Montague was a dream with the sun setting and boat lights going on. Below we made sandwiches but didn’t last very long before all three of us were bundled together  under a comforter falling asleep to soothing rocking motion of a boat attached to the earth only by an umbilical chord anchor.  The dog was snoring first.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Story-police head quarters and aliens

Police Headquarters was a 5 story building built in the 70’s but rather along the familiar lines of high schools built in the cold war era.  There was a heavy functionariness about it  There was little glass on the first floor but quite enough on the floors above it.  Police cars with their distinctive black and white colouring were parked about the base.  A sort of human factory place.  Lots of activity with no apparent purpose.   Busy.  Lots of people mulling about at the entrance.  Quite a few sitting in the waiting room.  Lots of open area desks, themselves made of steel, heavy.  A faint human odor pervaded.  The lighting was florescent. Unpleasant.
“I’ve looked up everything we have on killings and there’s no similarity. Not that there’s any pattern but I just thought I might check the records."
“Good try."
“I doubt we’ll get anything from the crime scene. Fairly cut and dry. "
“Interviews then."
“Yes. Might turn up a lead."
“Do you have the address?"
“Yes."
He took his jacket from the back of his chair. His police 38 was in his shoulder holster.  The jacket concealed it well enough.  She followed him to the car.  It wasn’t much of a drive. They didn’t talk. There wasn’t anything to say.  So much was a waiting game.  Patience was critical in ambush and stalk.
The house they were looking for had an ornate metal fence around it.
“Must be worth a million in this neighbourhood."
“I’d say."
Two white Doric columns framed the door.  He rang the bell.  Shortly a flicker of movement appeared in the eye hole before the heavy door was opened a crack.
“Can I help you?"
“Are you Mrs. Jones-Whitaker?"
“Yes."
“We’re from the police."
“Yes”.
“Might we come in."
“Certainly."
She opened the big door and invited them into a large foyer where they all stood awkwardly for a bit.  She was dressed in a white robe. No jewelry. She was beautiful in a fragile way.  The thought of “porcelain looks” came to mind for the female detective.  The male detective was looking beyond the foyer into a rather elegant sitting room of mostly white furnishings offset by a large reddish toned persian rug.
“Could we speak to your husband?"
“He’s not here. He didn’t come in last night.  I was actually getting worried and considering calling you."
“I’m sorry to say there’s been a shooting."
“Yes”.
“We believe your husband was the man who was shot."
“Ooh."
She went quite pale which was itself extraordinary because she was already so pale to begin with.  Walking away from them she moved into the waiting room and sat down on the settee.
“I know this is quite a shock and I really am sorry to bring this news but could you tell me when you last saw him.” he said
“He really is dead?” she asked.
“Yes."
“Last night I guess.  He came home from work.  We had dinner here. It wasn’t much.  Just some left overs I cooked up. He said he had to return to work for a bit.  Some sort of unfinished business.  He left.  I stayed.  I fell asleep watching tv and awoke this morning. I was just getting dressed."
“Was he concerned about anything in particular.?"
“Not that I know of. He’d been a little distant.  Distracted by his work.  That’s not unusual. He had a lot of responsibilities."
“What was his work?"
“Guidance systems.  He built missile guidance systems."
“Was there anyone you knew who might want to hurt him."
“No. This really is appalling. I must get dressed and call his father.  HIs father is still alive if this doesn’t kill him.  His mother died only last year.  Will I be able to see him."
“Yes we could take you there now."
“I’ll just be a minute then.  Please make yourself at home. I just made a pot of coffee in the kitchen.  Help yourself."
She ran up the stairs, a faint sob, echoing down as she scurried up.
The detectives wandered into the kitchen deeper in the direction she’d waved.
“She took that well enough."
“She did. Nothing seemed awry though.  She certainly showed surprise. "
“That sob just now was  something."
“Grieving widow.  Didn’t sound faked by any means."
“She tried to remain composed if anything.  Breeding some might say.”  He was pouring the coffee, 2 cups, opening the refrigerator to find the cream and pouring quite a dollop. She took hers black.
“They’ve got a child.” he said
“How do you know that.”
"The pictures on the fridge. And a photo of the three of them.  A girl, must be early teens.”
“I’d guess she got herself off to school on her own today.  Likely won’t be happy to hear her father died."
“Could she be a suspect."
“No.  It’s not a teen crime by any means.  Almost professional.  Ear markings of a hit, if anything.  Maybe to do with the missile business."
“Very good coffee."
“It is.”
A  short while later the wife came down the stairs dressed in sensible shoes, nylons, a black skirt and blouse.  She had tucked her blond hair into a scarf. Some make up had been dabbed about her eyes which were still red from what appeared a private cry she’d had upstairs, alone.
They drove back to the station.
She gasped when she saw the body at the morgue.  Death does that to loved ones. Especially when they’re not the shooter.  The detectives looked knowingly at each other when they heard that sound. It was like the earlier sob.  Sounds of innocence.
Before leaving her back home at her front steps they acquired the names of his employer.
A NASA and Boeing collaboration.  He’d looked them up on his iPhone while she drove.
“It was a very large building situated on an industrial complex at the south of the city.  Everything was new and neither could remember hearing anything about the building or the major contracts that wickipedia said were being developed here.
Aliens watched their car as it pulled into the long driveway that lead to the first security check point.  They had eyes in the trees.  Humans would have taken them for nests.  They were but in addition they were sensors that relayed visual auditory and sensual contents of the whole region back to the mother ship cloaked and orbiting the earth at that very moment. This complex was indeed one of their interests.  A glutinous creature wasn’t very happy with the way the day was unfolding.  The glutinous creatures looked oddly like a bowl of jelloThey’d had a minor interest in the man who had been shot.  No one really thought it would change things except the bowl of jello. The bowl of jello was quivering and this caused its colours to change. Right now the orange was evidence of interest and maybe fear.  Even the jello had difficulty with self reflection.  Watching the sensors wasn’t a particularly appealing position.  It would rather be in the meeting right now that was taking place down what otherwise might be called a hall.  Odd sounds and flashes of light emanated from that region further on and if the truth be known the jello was trying to make sense of what was being communicated.  It had something to do with this whole complex.
The police car had passed both check points and pulled into the parking lot.
“It’s quite impressive,”
“Yes, in that glass and steel sort of way."
They walked through the glass doorway across the reception floor to the information security station beside the elevators.
“We’re hear to see, Mr. Rogers,” she said showing her id.
“He’s on the 15th floor. You can take the elevator there, the smiling ex military sort replied.  She wondered which service he’d served in. Likely marines she guessed as they headed for the elevator.
The main concern of the aliens was the progress the humans were making.  They weren’t quite ready for earth to learn of what they were using her solar system for.  Once they were in space their property would naturally become theirs.  But in the meantime they really weren’t in a position to object to the pilfering of saturn’s rings or mining on Nepture.  But once they established a presence in their space the rules simply were that they were to be left alone to make the next leap to the galaxy.   All new races were left with just enough propellant to get to the nearest star.  They’d be poor for a millennium or so but it wasn’t other races fault they’d not hurried up and got ahead with space travel when they first thought of it.  The longer a new race took the more their resources were depleted.  Intelligence sort of flashed about the galaxy and that attracted theives. Not that jello though of their expedition that way.  They just knew that where intelligent life blossomed there were usually excessive deposits of the means of travel across space. Some called it intelligent design. Others called it coincidence.  Jello didn’t speak.  Quivering was its sole means of communication and such ideas didn’t seem to have a place in a glutinous body of desire and need with loosely linked purpose and telekinetic capabilities.









Thursday, April 16, 2015

Neko Case in Vancouver, Canada

I first learned of Neko Case when I heard a young girl cover one of her songs.  That was  over a decade ago. I don’t remember what song it was.   I learned that Neko Case had written the song simply because I was so impressed by the originality of the lyrics that I looked up who the song writer was.  That lead me to get my first Neko Case album. It had a kind of blue grass twinge to it with a raw country city flavour that spoke of all worlds.  I really liked the music.  I gave a cd to an American friend who has everything but loved Neko Case because he’d never heard of her and couldn’t believe a Canadian was introducing him to one of “America’s greats’.
So as luck would have it she was coming to Vancouver to appear at the Vogue Theatre.  Sweet.
I only learned that she was in the New Pornographers last week. The New Pornographers is a Canadian group I’ve really liked, right up there with Bare Naked Ladies and Tragically Hip.  I’m personally in the Neil Young, Steppenwolf and Guess Who era so think I’m hip to be cool to these bands that are 20 or 30 years younger than anything really worth listening too. I always figure that having grown up on the Beatles. Country Joe and the Fish, Joni Mitchell, Elton John and Elvis, my tastes are so refined that anything I like post 1980 has got to be really good. It’s a collective feeling of my generation but most of us are too humble to state it especially given  Justin Beiber is Canadian and that’s sort of embarrassing.
I also learned from Wikipedia, that online jewel, that Neko Case hails from Virginia but actually went to the Emily Carr School of Fine Art here in Vancouver.  Her performance was sold out a week or so in advance.  I’d bought Laura and me tickets the minute the tour was announced.
“I’ve not been in Vogue in thirty years, “ I told Laura.
“I saw Sheena Easton here, “ she replied,  “That’s a long time ago too."
I didn’t recognize any of the posters of the dozens of bands that played at the Vogue in recent decades. I’m that hip.  All the while Neko Case was drumming for punk bands I’ve been listening to classical music and Christian rock.
“I think I’m the oldest person here, “I said to Laura.
“No you’re not. I’ve seen a lot of white hair.”
“But mostly everyone is 20 to 40."
“You’ve got that right.  They’re mostly my children’s age."
I couldn’t believe they didn’t have any coffee. There was a bar but all they had was red bull. So there I was hyped on two red bull, a piece of pizza and a couple of chocolate bars for my after a long day clinic dinner.
Alialujah Choir was the incredible opening band. I have that pleasant feeling I had when  I hired the Guess Who for my high school dance and paid them $500.  All of us knew that night they were bound for glory.  I imagine myself a few decades from now saying to some impossibly young person in their 50’s or 60’s, “You know, I heard Alialujah Band when I was your age."
Neko Case was even more incredible.  She had skeleton black pants like people wear on Halloween.  She had a black short sleeve top and bushy wild hair like Laura’s sister.  Her band was impossibly professional with that skill and coordination you take for granted in the likes of Fleetwood Mac or Bob Dylan’s Band.  Hearing that speed of changes and watching the musicians function as one complete but separate unit is truly a joyful privilege.  
Neko Case’s voice is haunting.  A single black skirted woman sang perfect harmony with her.  The two were reminiscent of Simon and Garfunckel. I’ve heard those men when I was young and this female version  had that mesmerizing quality.
There was country there tonight but mostly a lot of real original rock. I find Neko Case hard to place like the very best always are.  She’s an original.  And she was having fun too. I liked that .
I bought a  couple of cd’s looking forward to listening carefully to her lyrics.  She’s got something to say like Albert Costello in that way.  I’m going to enjoy playing these new albumns over and over again in the car.  Enjoying the words and ideas.
The title of her tour is “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You”  That’s Neko Case.  Poet/song writer, entertainer extraordinaire.
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Alialujah Choir

It was in the Vogue Theatre on Granville that I first heard Portland Oregon’s Allielujah Choir.  Allia named the band.  Two male guitarists, Allia on keyboards, another girl on strings and a drummer.  Their music was quite unusual.  Reminiscent of Crosby Still Nash and Young cum Dixie Chicks.  That bluegrass folk genre of indie era with the harmonies and musical accomplishments reminiscent of barbie shop choirs but with mixed gender and a unique sound. I understood why Neko Case, unique in her own way, chose them to open for her.  I loved that we came early.  Now I look forward to travelling to Portland to hear them again.  They were so very young to be so extremely good. IMG 8730IMG 8728IMG 8733

Tom and the Fast Dinghy

The hard bottomed inflatable with centre console and 30 hp Honda four stroke outboard accompanied us on our moose hunt last year. After the hunt it was stored at Tom’s for the winter with our intention of goose hunting.  Goose hunting season passed and now we’re into bear hunting season.  Tom and I don’t think we’re likely to use the boat for bear hunting.  It followed then that I should drive my truck out and bring it back to serve my sailboat.
On the way from Vancouver to Chilliwack I stopped at the Hub to get my hunting license renewed. I’ve already renewed my tidal and non tidal fishing license.  When I got to the country Tom figured with the boat out we should clean it.  So we set too pressure washing it. Tom had put a fin on the motor for better function and even tried sanding the bottom.
“What it needs is a coat of bottom paint to keep the barnacles off. I’ll remember to do that when I’m painting the big boat’s bottom next year.”  I said
Panda, Tom’s female  dog friend joined us. Gilbert had a marvellous dog time.
“We should take the dogs for a walk along the river.”
And so we did.  Lovely spring weather. Roaring rapids.  Blue sky with cumulus clouds.  New flower buds.  Green leaves fresh from winter hiding. Snow still on the mountain tops. Air fragrant with spring.
“My neighbours thoroughly off the grid, solar panels, heated basement water.” "
“Very smart."
“”It might be necessary."
“Self sufficiency isn’t something to be frowned at."
“The problem is the city folk."
“It certainly is.”
“Most are utterly incompetent and all they know is how to criticize.  They really are terrified.  A rat race of anxious and the other half zombies."
“Our parents generation were like most of the folk who are in the country, can raise their own food, know animal husbandry, construction, hunting, fishing,  all the survival skills.
"I know. I’ve developed a fair assortment myself. Just hope I don’t have to use them."
“Might have to if the city folk don’t lose their stupid. They’re so wasteful and destructive.
Yes they are. Talk pretty though.  Everything fashion and not a word of substance."
Always has been.
The dogs were wading in the river.  We slowly made our way back to the boat.
I missed backing up to attach the trailer and dropped a wheel in to Tom’s culvert.
“Stop!” he screamed.  I got out of the truck and looked at the brick culvert that had risen to interfere with my wheel.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know that was there."
“Put it in 4x4.” Tom said.
“I did and it still didn’t come out.”
“let me try.'
So Tom got in and with me pushing we made absolutely no headway.
“My winch, “ I said. “I knew there was something I was forgetting.
So with not much adieu I pulled out the cable and Tom tied it about a tree.  With him driving and me operating the electric winch the truck came free of the culvert.
“That just paid for the winch he said.  And now I know my culvert will withstand a tsunami.
It certainly will.  Tom had built a brick end to the large pipe he had running under his driveway.
“It used to flood until I put that it. The neighbour had a large pipe he wanted to get rid of. I found the bricks by the side of the road."
Well, now we can get back to hauling the trailer.
And so we did.
However we couldn’t find some parts so jury rigged connection with a set of clamps and hoped that it would hold knowing the chains would stop it from getting away if the trailer jumped off it’s ball.
The ride back to town was interrupted by a need for diesel fuel, a toilet stop and more coffee.  The coffee Tom had made earlier was raw in comparison.
It was night when we got to the boat launch.  Naturally we seem to do these difficult things in the dark.  Our first conundrum was backing the trailer down without hitting a couple of police cars which appeared but showed no interest in us so we tried to act naturally.  We had no idea what time the boat launch closed and Tom had only jury rigged a green and red light which came and on when jiggled.
He was afraid to get wet. I was in the back of the dinghy with the engine down trying to start all the while nervous in the police presence.  I really hoped they got their man so they didn’t investigate us with any interest since we weren’t sure the boat would float or the engine would work.  With a last push I got the boat free and the engine started only to have it stop minutes later after Tom rand the truck up and away with Gilbert certain he’d never see his Dad again.
All I had to do was drive a few miles from Indian Arm under the rail way bridge to Coal Harbour against full current, uncertain of the quality of gas in the engine, having figured the stall to be because the tank vent wasn’t working.  The rapids were exciting.  It was dark and I was keeping a lookout for wood and tankers and hoping the boat wouldn’t stop in the whirlpool around me. I’d only seen in the flicker of the white light I held in my hand pointing back as the required ‘stern light’.  I had on my life jacket but was mildly aware that hypothermia would get be with fair certainly if anything happened.  Regardly thanks to Tom’s fin I was driving full open throttle like a bat out of hell rwith the rush and terror growing on me to that point where exhilaration sets in.  This happened when I was just about under the bridge and saw the glimmer of a hope that I might survive this silly expedition.
Out of the rapids and up the creek I found my sailboat with an ecstatic little dog barking and jumping about showing me clearly his lack of earlier faith in my reappearance.
“Well done, “ said Tom.  “I realized you were going again the rush and the rapids would be rather fierce.  Did my fin help."
“it did indeed and thank you."
With that we headed out to our favourite lamb restaurant on Lonsdale Quay remembering to bring a box of leftover back for Gilbert.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Derek Baker and Naomi Goffman's Wedding

The night before at the Canucks games all the guys missed Derek.  But when Laura and I saw Naomi at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church kissing Derek we understood why Derek was a changed man.  Naomi versus the Canucks, the Canucks might as well not even suit up.
Watching Derek walk down the church aisle beside Naomi one could see he was  a taller feller now, maybe by a foot or two, and stronger somehow, liked he’d just had a whole can of spinach.  Naomi was stunningly beautiful like a fairy princess from a Hobbit movie.  Seeing them wed together brought the thought of destiny to mind, like God still walks on the earth and this union was preordained by  unseen force.
The reception was at the Quay in New Westminister.  As Naomi and Derek love to travel and were set to depart on a travelling honeymoon the theme was international.  Every table had a little globe with lonely planet books under it.  Laura and I found ourselves at the Indonesia table with friends of Naomi and Derek’s.  A lovely young fascinating couple had just flown in from Germany and sat across from us.  Beside me I talked with a funny and brilliant young couple who worked in physiotherapy and speech therapy.  They played music together in the evenings, her piano, him guitar. We talked about classic music and chamber music.  I had the briefest awkward moment when I mentioned “Proud Mary”.  Beside them were a truly spectacular couple who Laura and I suspected modelled business fashion in Milan.  Laura and I conspired all evening to steal their utterly adorable precious little baby.  She wore a little pink sweater with gold lame booties and  had a red head band with a red flower. She was all yawns and smiles.
Dereks gorgeous sister had been an airline stewardess.  We were all given hilarious instructions for the “flight” where the exits were and what to do in case of emergencies. All the while the bridesmaid husband dressed in kilt and scottish regalia pointed out exits and demonstrated putting on party masks in case of a drop in attitude. Speeches followed. Derek’s mom had found his battered and torn childhood teddy bear and presented this to the couple.  We learned that his sister had named Derek “Supersnoop” as a child.  Naomi whooped with laughter. Naomi's mom and brother told of her childhood in the country and her many accomplishments.  She is obviously far more than a pretty face.
As Derek and Naomi love breakfast ,the time they always take together for each other, the feast was a breakfast feast of eggs bennies, sausages, bacon, everything breakfast. As I too love breakfast best I was in heaven.
Naomi has a dance group and they were all there for a fun ballroom performance. It concluded with Derek strutting in and stealing the lead dancer from the troupe.  After that everyone was on the dance floor.  Party hats, tinsel hair, wings, inflated air guitars, air saxophones,  and elton john glasses! Everyone was costumed at some time in the night.  It was truly a young people dance and us in the older crowd loved joining in.  Laura and I danced to Johnny Be Good at half tempo. It was one of the slower numbers.
Later we enjoyed standing on the cool balcony chatting with family watching the boats on the river.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening so I didn’t complain once about missing my couch, NCIS or Hawaii 5:0.  Laura and I danced more that night than we each had danced in a whole year.
Derek had been my personal trainer after my foot injury and once again had shown me the joy of bodies in motion.
With all the dancers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, with all their physical zest and laughter,  I remembered medical school when we as interns and residents  with haggard cadaverous looks from nights of calls and endless study gathered together to watch our fellow health care workers wondering if we’d not made a terrible error in choosing medicine. The poor Nanaimo doctor whose place was beside ours at the table was called away from this best of times to save some life.  Truly a tragedy.  Being at this wedding and reception was  the best play therapy ever.
Thank you Derek and Naomi.  May God’s blessings go with you all life’s journeys.
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Canucks vs Coyotes Hockey Game, Rogers Stadium, Vancouver

What a great night with the guys.  One day Dave and I were talking about Harleys and hockey.  That got me thinking about going to a Canucks game.
I hadn’t been since the 2011 Vancouver riot.  I’d been so disappointed and ashamed of everyone that night. Were it not for the incredible Vancouver police things would have been a whole lot worse. The next day I loved that the good Canucks fans got out and helped clean up the damage the ugly had caused.  It kind of turned me off the big hockey.
 My friend James, who really loves hockey and is a true Canucks fan told me, “It’s really a whole different team from then.”  New coach, new goalie, new attitude.  I figured I shouldn’t hold a resentment.   Besides I wanted James and Kevin to meet. They’re two of my favourite fathers with kids the same age. So next thing Tom, Steve, Dave, James, Kevin and I are going to a Canucks game.  Tom, Dave, Steve and I are the old guys.  When I saw the team they seemed so young.
We had seats in the Canuck fan section right by the goal. The Canucks scored 5:0 against the Coyotes.  We had the Coyote goal in front us during second period so saw three of the best goals in the history of hockey.  In the other two periods we’d watch  Eddie Lack do amazing saves that had us and the whole packed arena standing and applauding. It was a special night of sports.  Good camaraderie and just plain fun.  James is right. It's a whole new Canucks team that's now going to the play offs.
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Here’s James and Kevin wearing Canucks sweaters.  We arrived early so I got to have a hot dog and poutine dinner served to me at my seat by a very sweet young girl.  I confess I loved the service.  Hockey was never this classy when we played on the frozen Red River as kids.
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My friend Anne told me that men thought she was the sexiest when she was dressed in an apron.  I confess I hadn’t realized that but I really do like women in aprons.
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Eddie Lack is incredible.
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