Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas prequal

The picture above is a handmade Christmas card by a talented friend. She vastly under estimates her own talent, insisting that her daughters are far more talented. They have obviously inherited her artistic talent but their style is very different from hers. She makes things simple, they make things more elaborate.

Busy pre-Christmas season. Three potluck dinners in one week. I actually find potlucks stressful, I never know what to make and am nervous that I will burn or otherwise make the food unappetizing or inedible. This year I bought two Christmas fruitcakes which I managed to stetch out over two of the potlucks, and baked an extra loaf of bread (I normally bake all my own bread, one of the few things I can make without mishap!). When a couple of people heard that I made sourdough bread, they requested a bit of sourdough starter so I made that too. I figure I got off light.

Christmas Day dinner will be at a neighbour's place, my contribution will be cheese and crackers, and broccoli. How hard can that be? Not, I hope. Someone else requested some starter and offered a kombucha scobie in exchange, I'm not sure how I feel about that. One more thing to keep alive! Ah well.

Then on Boxing Day a friend is having a bunch of people over because her son and daughter who live in other provinces will be here. A cause for celebration. She told me that her husband recently switched to non-alcoholic beer and they buy it at Superstore. She said it was very close to real beer, so I bought a 6-pack to try it. Especially over the holiday season when the law is out in force to catch inebriated drivers, I thought a nice non-alcoholic beer to take to parties would be good.

Finally, on the first Sunday of the New Year, another neighbour is having a single women's New Year celebration. She lives walking distance from me so I will leave the non-alcoholic beer at home and take something a little more fortified.

By the time all those dinners, parties and celebrations are done I will be more than ready to be a recluse for a while. It seems that I can only handle so much socializing before I just want to hide away from humanity.

This picture is of a Christmas gift from my eldest son. It depicts a lake in Ontario, Balsam Lake to be exact. As a child I spent all of my summers there. My parents retired and lived there until my father's death. My mother sold the house, she said it was too difficult to consider how to split it between four offspring, only one of whom remained in the province. Too bad. We each ended up inheriting the equivalent of a quarter share; the cash was nice but I miss the lake. Now I can put it on my wall.

There is one tiny island missing from this picture, the creator of the plaque said it was too difficult to include it. Here is an old photo of that island (Ant Island). It's that little black outline on the horizon between the two trees. I used to be able to swim there and back, it was the test you had to pass if you wanted to take a canoe out by yourself.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Death of a young man

I went to a funeral yesterday. Left the house at noon, didn't get back home again until almost 5pm, so it essentially took up the whole of my day.

I picked up a friend who can't drive and we went early because we knew that half the town would be there and we hoped to get seats. It was the funeral for a young man who committed suicide, his family is very well known and connected in this town. I have known the family for over 40 years, and the young man helped me build a fence around my backyard in anticipation of Hapi's arrival in 2011. My friend's kids went to school with this man, he was part of a large 'gang' of kids who hung out together in those days.

He struggled with depression for most of his adult life. He was somebody who appeared to have everything going for him: attractive, talented, well-liked and at the centre of a good group of fun-loving kids. Also part of a loving family with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles around. But for whatever reason it wasn't enough.

I know two things about depression. One is, your brain lies to you. And the more it lies the more you isolate yourself from the people who can point out the lies. The other is, it's worse when you're young. Emotional experience is more intense and you don't have the acquired knowledge of life experience to deal with it.

The funeral was well done I thought. It was held in his parents' church, there was a slide show of photos and a display of some of his art and musical instruments. The hymns were good. That's saying a lot, I don't usually like hymns, to put it mildly. A Catholic priest who had befriended the young man gave the eulogy, his brother and a former girlfriend spoke of their experiences with him, and another friend sang 'Somewhere over the rainbow'. At the end they played a recording of the young man singing a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. No dry eyes, but a few chuckles over some of the stories, particularly as told by his brother.

His mother is the musical director of that church and all of the family is musically gifted. A few young people attended but around here most young people have to move away to find work, so a lot of parents of the kids who hung out together attended on their kids' behalf. Many more went to support the family of the young man. My kids weren't part of that gang, they were an older cohort, so I went because of my relationship to the family and because of my brief relationship with the young man who helped to build my fence.

It snowed heavily. I could barely get back up the hill to my home afterward. Yet another winter wonderland. The ducks really are gone now, the ponds are fully frozen. After dark the sky cleared and I watched Orion rising with Hapi. I love that she likes to just sit and watch the world. She even got me out of bed so she could go out and look at the snow one more time.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ducks of winter

The ducks came back! They just couldn't stay away!

We've had snow and high winds and bitter bitter cold. A local Facebook friend posted a memory from last November: she was mowing her lawn exactly a year ago! Yesterday I dug out my warmest parka and folded out the furry hood to make a protective tunnel for my face and it was still bitter cold.

But the ducks came back. I'd post a photo but it was so cold my cell phone camera refused to function. The big pond is completely frozen and the little pond is half frozen so the ducks, masses of them, are huddled in the small area of open water. They try to stay as close to the shore as possible, but when Hapi and I walk by they head out away from us, quacking complaints about having to move.

The three blue jays keeping all the little birds away from my bird feeder had to give it up because the snow covered all the nearby branches where they were perching. So the little guys, the goldfinches and chickadees, one lone sparrow, a nuthatch and three cardinals, have been mobbing the feeder. The cardinals are very shy, they try to stay well out of view but in a bright red coat that's hard to do.

The female cardinal is easy to pick out, she's more brown than red. I was surprised to be able to distinguish the two males, one is bright red and the other more of a pinky-coral colour. I'm told their plumage gets darker as they mature so the coral cardinal must be a youngster.

I went snowshoeing on Wednesday with my walking-cycling group. We walked around a golf course in the fresh powdery snow. The first day of snow was heavy and wet but then it got cold and the second day of snow was powdery. Two people didn't have snowshoes so we walked single file to create a trail they could walk on easily. Hapi set out joyfully across the snow to explore the wide expanse of the golf course 'greens', but she soon tired of slogging through deep snow and joined our single file expedition with the snowshoeless couple. She's not a puppy anymore.

We saw deer tracks which Hapi investigated very thoroughly, and strange tracks on a frozen pond. We tried to guess what made them. We think it might have been a pair of creatures, perhaps otters, sliding on the soft ice. Hapi had the good sense not to investigate.

Today is Black Friday, I bought bird seed on sale. Feeding the economy, the birds and my soul.

Monday, November 19, 2018

November winter

Looks like winter is coming a little early this year. Snow in the air, ice on the ground, and temperatures low enough to prevent thawing.

Last week the wind blew so hard that my woodpile fell over. Had to restack it in the cold wind because the snow was coming and I wanted it back in place before that. But stacking in the wind meant it got thoroughly tested for stability, I am pretty sure it isn't going to fall over again.

November ducks of a previous year
I was at the reservoir early this morning and saw the last of the ducks leaving. Normally they wouldn't leave until well into December, but already one pond has frozen over and ice is forming in the other pond. Yesterday there were hundreds of ducks there, this morning there were maybe a couple dozen and by the time I left there were none. They were leaving in groups of 5 or more, heading down to the river I think. If we have a huge warm spell they might come back, but I doubt it. It was so nice to listen to them quacking in the morning, but now they're gone and I will miss them.

I did get my bird feeder up though so I can enjoy the chickadees and blue jays and finches and such. Today three jays staked out the feeder and chased off every bird that tried to approach. The chickadees waited them out and eventually the jays grew tired of the game and left. Then there was a flurry of finches at the feeder and juncoes and a mourning dove on the ground below.

I will miss the ducks though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Across the divide of time

I thought I had a dentist appointment this afternoon but I got the day wrong, it's tomorrow. Which gave me a whole extra two hours this afternoon, better than a time change!

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday, and the family tradition is for me to Skype or Facetime in for the singing of Happy Birthday and the cutting of the cake. T, my grandson, had requested a cheesecake for the occasion. He is now 17 years old. What was remarkable from my perspective was that he initiated the Facetime call with me. While everyone else in his family was getting ready for the 'main event', T made conversation with me.

He asked, "So what are you working on today?"

This was so unexpected I didn't know how to answer. I sat there trying to remember what I had done that day, and since it was actually a busy day there was lots to remember. I finally came up with: "I made salsa."

He was impressed that I made salsa, he said he didn't know that you could make it yourself. I asked him what he worked on today and he said he was rehearsing Twelfth Night, for which he had scored a main role. Then he picked up a small child and showed him to me on camera. He told me that it was cousin with a name I can't remember or even pronounce if I could remember it. Told his cousin to say 'Hi' to me, which he did. Then swung the camera around to show me another cousin, a slightly older child, and finally his younger brother P.

What impressed me about the conversation is that he asked me what I was doing that day. Never in all the conversations I have had via phone, Skype, Facetime or even in person have any of my kids expressed any interest in knowing what I was doing. Occasionally I will mention something but it falls into the conversation like a rock into a black hole, never to reappear or be acknowledged.

Earlier that day at the dogpark I was chatting with a fellow old lady dog walker and mentioned a conversation with another older woman who had been quite ill this summer and whose husband is paralyzed and keeps her very busy looking after him. Her illness made the summer extremely stressful and she complained that none of her kids stepped up to help. When I repeated this story to my dog walking friend she chipped in with her own stories of offspring neglect. How the youngsters don't seem to appreciate the difficulties of older age (my friend is 85, the other woman I spoke of, 80) and blithely expect one to carry on unaided. So far my own experience is similar although not quite as extreme.

At the dogpark
I complained that my kids want me to listen to them talk about their lives but seem totally uniniterested in what might be going on in my life. My friend countered that she remembered having that same attitude towards her own parents. That they must be endlessly fascinated by the lives of their children and couldn't possibly have anything to say for themselves that might be of interest. I said I knew what she meant and that 'what goes around comes around'.

So when my grandson actually asked what I did today, I was struck speechless.

Towards the end of the call he suggested that I download a particular game that we could play over the internet, he thought it would be fun to have a 'gaming granny' that he could play with. After the call I looked up the game he suggested and it was a popular shoot-em-up last-man-standing-wins kind of game. Much as I would like to have the interaction with the grandson, I don't know if I can bring myself to play that particular game.

The difficulties of navigating intergenerational communication…

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A death in the family

I think I might be getting better. I am still sick, but not as sick as maybe a week ago. It's very gradual. I am hoping that in a couple more weeks I'll be out of the woods with this. A retired geneticist friend of mine thinks maybe I have a virus that hides in the body somewhere and every once in a while comes out and wreaks havoc. I think she's probably right.

Because my energy level is so low and I have to budget my activity, my social life has taken a back seat to things I need to get done around my place. Like harvesting the garden, stacking firewood, mowing the lawn, walking the dog. I always have a to do list, I can only cross off so much. But enough about me.

My son's dog died on Friday. The dog had tumours growing around his trachea, eventually he would asphyxiate. My son was trying to decide what to do. The vet had suggested surgery but my son didn't feel he could afford it, and anyway (as I pointed out), there was no guarantee they wouldn't just return again. He didn't know when he should pull the plug. Avoiding suffering was his main concern.

Some friends said, "Oh, you'll just know."

I said that wasn't always the case, it can be very difficult making that decision. We had a long phone call about it and at the end he thanked me for being able to have that conversation. I think he just needed a sounding board for all the conflicted feelings he had about it.

A couple days later he posted on Facebook about the dog's last day. The whole family took him out for a walk and then went to the vet's office. I think it was as good a way to handle it as possible.

I was fond of the dog, I feel sad that he died. He was a good family dog, he loved everyone in the household. He was always very happy to see me when I came to visit, but perhaps not so keen on my dog (who did not behave well when the two first met).

My son's youngest son has been hardest hit by this death, I don't think he has any memories of their previously dog-free home.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A lovely summer and a not so lovely fall

I had a good summer. Quiet summer. I stayed home, I grew a garden, I walked my dog at the Reservoir almost every day. Usually there are two houses full of fairly noisy students next door to me and across the street, but this summer one house was empty because it is up for sale and the other house was empty because the owner wanted to do some cleanup (students are hard on the houses they live in). So it really was quiet. I know this will probably not be the case next summer so I thought this was a chance to enjoy it. It was, I did.

The first week in September I and four friends kayak-camped in Kejimkujik Park. We had near perfect weather and a very good time. There was one cold and windy day, we hunkered down for most of that day but the rest was perfect sunny warm weather. We arrived back at Jake's Landing tired but happy around 5.00pm on the last day. After emptying our kayaks and packing everything into three cars we went to a nearby restaurant for supper before heading home. I had left Hapi with a dogsitter and while she was happy to see me she was not frantic; the dogsitter had clearly taken good care of her.

I expected to be tired afterwards, we've been doing this trip annually for many years and the older I get the more tired I am at the end of it. I had one full day to get everything dried out and packed away before a day of rain hit. That was okay, everything went according to plan. But on the third day, when I expected to be more or less recovered, I was completely felled. Spent most of the day in bed, had a frozen soup for supper, went back to bed. Pretty sure I had a fever but my thermometer was broken so I could only go by how I felt.

It's been two weeks since then. I am not better. The fever was shortlived but the fatigue and brain fog have settled in for a good long stay. I am pretty sure this is ME/CFS. I had it at least once before, in 2000/2001, so I know what if feels like. Of course it is one of those things that only get diagnosed by process of elimination (not this, not that, not the other thing) and most protocols state that you have to have it for at least 6 months before it's official (one website said because it's the only disease that causes symptoms to last that long, but they didn't say what other diseases cause those symptoms for less than 6 months).

The first time I had it, it did only last 6 months and I thought I was cured. My doctor was sceptical and urged me to be extremely careful about resuming a normal level of activity. I thought I was careful. Every time I came down with something that caused a fever (usually a 'flu) I'd panic, but was always relieved that it really was 'just the flu'.

I think I might have had a relapse in 2011, but I can't be sure, and I don't know how long it lasted. At the time I did not have a GP, I went to an after-hours clinic and the doctor on duty ordered blood tests. She gave me a copy of the results which were all normal so there was no follow-up. I still have that copy and that's all the evidence I have that anything happened then. I remember the doctor and the blood work but nothing else. My blog makes no mention of it.

I don't know if this is a relapse or a totally new instance. I tried looking up CFS relapse, but there's nothing out there to suggest a 10 or 18 year remission between episodes. The first episode did not last more than 6 months so technically, it was not ME/CFS (although my doctor was certain that it was). I have not seen a doctor this time around. My doctor now is a half hour drive on the highway away and I don't trust myself to drive that far. I don't know whether he is willing to believe that ME/CFS exists or not, whether he will take me seriously or not. It seems like a long way to go to find out he is not. Maybe times have changed, maybe it's no longer a question but it certainly was back in 2000.

In 2000 someone recommended that I see a homeopath, which I did. Since I had something that I could barely get a diagnosis for and there was certainly no treatment for, I wasn't going to quibble about whether homeopathy works or not. Anyway this guy prescribed a bunch of stuff, I saw him several times and on the last visit he pronounced me cured. At the time I certainly didn't feel cured but apparently he was right. Normal life resumed, at first gingerly but after a year or so I got used to being normal again. Slightly less energetic, a lot more cautious, but well within the range of normal.

So I was thinking about seeing a homeopath again, there's one in town who is recommended by those who have been to her. But I visited her website and there was a form she wants you to fill in before your first appointment and just reading the form was daunting. I don't think I have the energy or the brainpower to do it, any more than to drive on the highway to see the doctor.

In the morning I get out of bed and dressed so I can take Hapi for her walk. The rest of the day I force myself to not go back to bed. All I can think about though is how nice it would be to sleep. Then at night I finally go to bed and I'm still thinking how nice it would be to sleep. All night long. Sometimes I actually do sleep.

Crap crap crap.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Tuesday September 15, 1998 - BC

New Westminster - sunny and warm.

There was a little lake at the rest stop I had pulled off at the night before, I woke to see ducks there. Very peaceful and pretty. I stopped in the Osoyoos - Summerland area for groceries at one of the many well-stocked fruit stands. Then I stopped for lunch at the Hope Slide, a huge landslide just outside of Hope on the eastern end of the Fraser Valley. Then it was straight on to home, stopping only for gas in Abbotsford. On arriving in New Westminster I went uptown to arrange for a phone to be installed at my condo, then home to a nice clean empty apartment. Yohan plopped down in the entrance way and I don't think he moved for two hours. I on the other hand spent the rest of the day unpacking the truck. What a mess!

And so ended my four-month journey across the country and back. The only territory I failed to visit was Nunavut.

When I arrived home there was a letter from Laurene saying that I should call them right away as Ray had been diagnosed with lung cancer (again) and this time it was terminal. The breathing problems he'd been having in northern BC and the Yukon were the first signs of it, they had had to cut their trip short when Ray was airlifted back to Victoria. I managed to see him one last time at their home in Victoria.

Yohan was old (16 years) and not well, I knew before I set out on this trip that it would be his last. He died the following December. The vet thought he might have pancreatic cancer; that may have been why his liver was swollen when I took him to the Copper River clinic in Whitehorse. Josh eventually turned up. The police in Castlegar did track him down but they did not tell me his whereabouts, just simply that he was alive and well. Sam spent the full nine (eight?) months with Katimavik before returning home, he spent three months each in Quebec, Newfoundland and Ontario.

And that's the end of my travel tale.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Monday September 14, 1998 - BC

Grand Forks - sunny and warm.

I crossed Alberta and reached the mountains by early to mid-afternoon. I stopped in Castlegar around 7.00pm to try to locate Josh. I talked to a lady living in his old house, then tried to get a hold of the police. The Police Office was closed but there was a phone at the front door. After hours everything is routed through Nelson, which means long distance; and because of the new long distance plans, all circuits were busy. Some of the guys at the Fire Department next door were watching from their second floor lounge and offered to help. I went in and they called the Nelson police from their phone, I guess they had a better number to call. I made my report, they said they'd be in touch.

I got gas and made a quick supper—I was starving at this point—and continued on. I pulled off the road for the night at a rest stop somewhere past Grand Forks.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sunday September 13, 1998 - Saskatchewan

Gull Lake - sunny and warm.

I got on the road early again and drove through to a rest stop on the side of the road at Gull Lake. I've been there before so I was looking for it. It was mostly prairie driving. Once again the CD player was not working properly. If there is anywhere you want to listen to music it is driving across the prairies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Saturday September 12, 1998 - Manitoba

Falcon Lake, Manitoba
Falcon Lake - sunny and warm.

I left the campground early and made it to Falcon Lake, Manitoba by night. I passed through the infamous Wawa (where hitchhikers dread to be let off).

The Wawa Goose
Also passed through White River, the birthplace of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Postcard from White River
Lots of places to stop along the Lake Superior shore and the weather was beautiful.

Yohan being majestic. He can't hold his tail up anymore.
The shore of Lake Superior
More great scenery along the north shore of Lake Superior. I took a little side trip to see the Panorama amethyst mine. The mine itself was nothing special but the drive in was pretty nice, with a road up a cliffside and great views of Lake Superior. Panoramic.

On the road to Panorama
Panoramic view, Lake Superior in the distance

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Friday September 11, 1998 - Ontario

Lake Superior Park - sunny and warm.

I am finally on my way home! I stopped in the Muskoka area for lunch at a small town on Georgian Bay and then spent the night in a campground in Lake Superior Provincial Park, just south of Wawa. It was good driving and great scenery. It's an early fall, the colours are starting to come out.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Thursday September 10, 1998 - Ontario

Richmond Hill - sunny and warm.

In the morning Isaac and Gretel and I had coffee and bagels and then Gretel started going through her manual for the new job that she starts today at 11.00am. Isaac and I took Yohan for a walk in a nearby park and had a nice long talk about family matters. It was a bit of a touchy topic but Isaac seemed satisfied with what I said and I felt I'd pretty much covered it the way I wanted to. When we got back to the house Gretel was ready to leave for work. After she left I got ready to leave as well. I had talked to Beth on the phone the night before and had arranged to visit with her between 1.30 and 3.30 in the afternoon. Isaac helped me load the truck and then I drove him downtown to his job at Roy Thomson Hall. I then set out for Beth's place in Richmond Hill, just outside of Toronto.

Just as I arrived at Beth's I realized that I did not have my fanny pack which I was using as a purse. No money, no cards, no camera. I freaked. It was hard to visit with Beth because I was so focussed on the loss of the fanny pack and contents. Beth suggested that I call the Film Festival office to try to track down Isaac or Gretel, and after several phone calls I found someone who knew who Gretel was and agreed to page her. But Gretel was not at her designated theatre and it was a while before she called back. Finally I heard from her and Isaac was with her. He confirmed that my fanny pack was still in their apartment. We made arrangements for me to pick it up from him at Roy Thomson. I arranged to spend the night at Beth's as I did not want to drive into Toronto again.

I took the subway to Roy Thomson and exchanged Isaac's YPT hat which he had left in Wolfville for my fanny pack, and then had supper and took some photos of Roy Thomson Hall before heading back to Beth's. In the evening Beth and I walked Yohan in a nearby ravine. I slept in the spare bed in an alcove off Laurel's room in the basement.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Wednesday September 9, 1998 - Ontario

Toronto - sunny and warm.

I had a small breakfast and said good bye to Sam, I was on the road by 8.30am. It was a nice drive from La Malbaie to Quebec City along the north shore of the St. Laurence River, through hilly farmland and forest and many small towns. I crossed the river at Quebec City and got onto the TransCanada highway toward Montreal.

Shortly after crossing the river I was adjusting the CD player (and not looking at the road) and I veered off the highway at speed. I zoomed across the grassy verge at 100 kph, knocking down a small reflector post and narrowly missing two larger signposts. By the time I got my foot off the gas pedal I had slid into a swamp by the side of the highway. The truck was at an almost 45 degree angle in the swamp, the 2 wheels on the driver side still on the grass but the other two wheels well into the swamp. I climbed out thoroughly shaken up. There was smoke or steam billowing out from under the truck.

Amazingly, the car immediately behind me on the highway followed me off the road. I guess they thought something was terribly wrong and wanted to help. So by the time I managed to get out of the truck (pushing the door open was hard because it was almost above me) that car was parked beside me and the three men in it were already out and asking me questions in French. Did I fall asleep? What happened? Did I have a rope or chain? I told them that I did have some rope but it wasn't very strong. I tried to dig it out but it was on the passenger side of the cab and I couldn't get at it. The men started talking about what they could do, that they really needed a chain to get my truck out of the swamp.

Just then a cube van also pulled off the highway, it drove a little ahead of us before stopping. We all stared at it: there was a chain wrapped around its rear bumper. The van driver got out and the three men ran to meet him. There was some discussion about whether to try to pull my truck out forwards or backwards and then they wrapped the chain around my truck's front bumper and the car pulled my truck out of the swamp surprisingly easily. They got me to start the truck and drive it forward a few feet to see if it was driveable. On seeing that it was they all left. From start to finish that episode took maybe 20 minutes! But I was still pretty shaken up by it all so spent another 10 minutes or so cleaning mud off the windows and straightening things out inside the truck. It was a good thing I had screwed down my sleeping platform when I was in Whitehorse, the back of the truck was relatively undisturbed by the trip into the swamp.

After that I pulled off the road when I wnated to fiddle with the CD player. The rest of the drive to Toronto was uneventful and as boring as only the highway from Quebec City to Toronto can be. On the outskirts of Toronto I phoned Isaac and Gretel for directions to their place and arrived there around 9.30pm. I told them about the swamp episode and showed them the mud along the passenger side of the truck, which I had not yet cleaned up. Isaac thought it looked kind of artistic, you could see the marks of the bulrushes sweeping along the truck side.

I said I'd really like a beer so Isaac got a sixpack of Corona from their downstairs neighbours. They live in an attic apartment in a three storey house in the Annex part of Toronto. They showed me their theatre in the stairwell between their apartment and the one below. They come into their apartment via an outside fire escape stairwell so the inside stairwell is blocked off at the bottom. It has a landing half way down which is their theatre stage, and the steps from their apartment down to the landing is audience seating area. They have lights on the railing above that shine down onto the stage, and at intermission their kitchen is the theatre bar. Their theatre can hold a grand total of six audience members. We also discussed their plans for the Film Festival opening the next day, which they are participating in. I slept on a futon on the floor of the living room.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tuesday September 8, 1998 - Quebec

La Malbaie - rainy.

Since the time changed at the New Brunswick-Quebec border I had set the clock back an hour in the cab of the truck, but I forgot to change the clock in the back where I slept. So when I woke up and saw that it was already 6.30am I thought I was going to miss the ferry. But once I got into the cab of the truck I realized my mistake and saw that I was actually early, arriving at the ferry dock at 6.00am. I made breakfast there and boarded the ferry just before 8.00am.

You get a ticket in the line-up parking area and then pay for it on the ship. On the ferry ride I got caught up on my journal. After debarking I drove to La Malbaie and asked for the Katimavik house at the local tourist info house. The coast here reminds me a bit of the Labrador coast, but there mare more trees, farms and towns. It is very pretty.

At the Katimavik house I talked to Christian, the project leader. He told me that Sam was working in Clermont and I could probably see him at lunch time at the City Garage. We talked about Katimavik a bit and how they get the most applicants from Ontario and Quebec and need to advertise more in the other provinces. He said that Jacques Hebert has retired from the Senate recently and is now touring all of the Katimavik sites. They got their budget increased this year and may have 750 participants instead of 600.

I drove to Clermont and chopped up some of my vegetables at a picnic spot by the river and then showed up at the City Garage for noon to meet Sam. He is really enjoying it. Later I went to see their work site where they are clearing trees and brush along a trail by the river.

Sam asked me to stay the night which I agreed to but that definitely throws off my schedule. Also it is further to Toronto than I thought. Oh well.

Around 5.00pm I returned to the Katimavik house in La Malbaie. After some milling around I had supper with the group: fajitas and coleslaw. A bit skimpy due to miscalculation. I brought in all of my CDs from the truck for Sam to go through and pick stuff he wants to tape and I got on the internet on their computer to pick up email. After supper I brought Yohan into the house.

They had a weekly meeting scheduled which I sat in for part of. Five of the participants are francophone and six are anglophone. No one is bilingual so Christian must do a lot of translating. They first debated a statement proposed by Christian that healthy human beings have choices and must therefor take responsibility for their lives. Very interesting debate. The conclusion seemed to be agreement with the statement, but the debate was limited to 30 minutes so who knows what the outcome might have been if they had gone on longer. Then they discussed food, money, work and the schedule of events.

It was a very long meeting and afterward they thanked me for visiting. Part of the group then went out to the local Sub shop, and another part started work on making a clubhouse in the basement. Sam taped the CDs he wanted. I was pretty tired and went to bed in the truck around 11.00pm.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Monday September 7, 1998 - Quebec

Riviere-du-loup - cloud and sun.

Isaac and Gretel got up very early and had left by 6.00am for Toronto. I started packing and was ready to leave by 8.20am. Said my good byes and was off.

I made pretty good time until I got to New Brunswick. First I stopped for souvenirs in Sackville, and then I made awrong turn and started heading for Shediac. I bought gas outside of Moncton and missed my turnoff for the back road via Renous and had to double back. The gas station was right on the turnoff but I didn't realize that at the time.

I stopped for supper on the Renous - Plaster Rock road. It was a beautiful sunny clear day and the leaves are just starting to turn, the hillsides were touched with russet and bronze. I was planning to get cheaper gas in Edmunston but I missed it and ended up going back because I didn't want to pay the Quebec price just yet. And so, as a result of all that I did not get to Riviere-du-loup until 7.00pm and the last ferry across the river was at 6.00pm.

I forgot to mention that Sam had sent me email from his Quebec Katimavik posting saying how much he liked it and giving me his address and phone number in La Malbaie. I looked at a map and realized that it was just across the river from Riviere-du-loup and that there was a ferry crossing there. I thought I could visit him there on the way home. I had also phoned Beth in the Toronto area yesterday and had told her I would be in Toronto on the 8th and could visit her on the 9th. But now that I had narrowly missed the ferry my schedule was going to be all out of whack.

I found a good campground right next to the ferry dock and went to bed early. The first ferry will be at 8.00am so I need to be up early to be at the ferry dock for 6.30am.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sunday September 6 1998 - Nova Scotia


The last day of socializing in Nova Scotia. I had coffee with Dennis at the Coffee Merchant and he gave me some names of people in Vancouver that I might contact. I called Marilyn to leave Isaac's address and phone number for Marilyn's daughter Ariana. Heather answered so I went up there to return her thesis, which I had borrowed when I had lunch with her on Thursday.

Heather became interested in alternative communities when she was living in my old house at Wenega. Unfortunately it burned down and she had to move; she ended up going back to school at Acadia and studying sociology. Her thesis was on the Wolfville and area scene, focussing on Eos and Wenega. She collected quiestionaires and did interviews; when she completed her thesis she made six copies for distribution. When I returned the copy I was borrowing she asked if I had any comments and I did. I also relayed some of what was said last night, especially some of the reminiscences. She wished she had been there.

I stayed for tea and cookies and by the time I got back to Fritz and Carolyn's it was almost 7.00pm. We had pork chops for dinner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Saturday September 5, 1998 - Nova Scotia


We spent most of the morning chatting. Isaac and Gretel left to go visit Wenega (in Baxter's Harbour) and I did some baking and food preparation for the next leg of my journey. I wasn't feeling well and had an earache which I have been treating with ear drops that Carolyn gave me. I was talking to Dennis yesterday who was really sick with the flu so I'm taking lots of vitamin C, echinacea and garlic in hopes of not coming down with it.

Isaac and Gretel returned from the Harbour around 7.00pm and we all had lasagna for supper. Then people started arriving: Lin, Aunah, James, Chris and Trish, as well as Fritz and Carolyn, Isaac and Gretel, and myself. It was a really nice time reminiscing, looking at old photos, discussing Heather's thesis about intentional communities, and so forth. Chris brought beer and Isaac contributed wine.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Friday September 4, 1998 - Nova Scotia


I wrote some email at the library and then met Carolyn and her sister at the Baptist Church, where Heather was trying to pick music for the Sunday service. I enjoyed sitting in the church listening to her play different pieces. Then we went to the Coffee Merchant for lunch on the patio; I had chili and a bagel with cream cheese. Carolyn had to go to Rafuse Building Supplies to pick up some gyprock and I was going to stop by The Odd Book and meet her later at Rafuse. On my way to Rafuse I ran into Sam Vander Kloet who suggested I come by the Biology Department for coffee at 3.00pm.

We loaded the gyprock onto my truck roof rack. Erica wants to trade rooms with Kurt and Carolyn is removing all the shingles in Kurt's room and replacing them with the gyprock. It is turning into a bigger job than expected and she wants it all done by the weekend. I am kind of reluctant to help because it is such an unpleasant job. Anyway, after we got the sheets into the basement we drove over to Heather's place to see her floor. They have a family room with a rough plywood floor which they have stained to look like tiles. It is quite impressive, it looks like the real thing.

I went to the Biology Department for afternoon coffee at 3.00pm. I recognized most of the people there and some of them even remembered me. Sam was talking about whether to retire, he says that if he does they won't be replacing him and there won't be any botanists in the department. But he will probably get to keep his office space and his blueberry plants.

I started cleaning up the truck in preparation for leaving and Isaac and Gretel showed up around 6.00pm. They made sandwiches and then we walked down town with Yohan to get fruit drinks at The Main Squeeze. We walked back after dark (a nearly full moon) and Gretel went immediately to bed. Isaac, Carolyn and I watched "Fierce Animals" then I went to bed on the livingroom couch. Fritz had gone out and returned around 2.00am.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Thursday September 3, 1998 - Nova Scotia


I had lunch with Marilyn and Anh Hua at Marilyn's place on Pleasant St. Anh is planning to move to Vancouver in September or October. Marilyn gave me Ariana's address in Toronto to pass on to Isaac. Heather Holmes arrived because she is going to move in with Marilyn. She let me use her computer to check email and I had a message from my friend Baz in Vancouver who said he was in London England right now.

In the afternoon I walked with Yohan to the library to respond to Baz's email. Afterward I returned to Fritz and Carolyn's and started phoning people to come to a party on Friday night to see Isaac.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Wednesday September 2, 1998 - Nova Scotia


I booked some time on the computer at the library and then went to The Odd Book and picked up a couple of books, "The Great Code" and a book on crewel embroidery. Fritz and I spent some time talking about Ken Wilbur's and Daniel Dennett's ideas about consciousness. I also read a book by Colin Wilson on Atlantis and the Sphinx which provoked a discussion on scientific method, reductionism and so forth. Wilson is fascinating and frustrating—very interesting ideas and total disregard for logical argument. Unfortunately Wilbur is similar, in my opinion. Since I have lots of time now I am doing a lot of reading. I finished "Fall On Your Knees" which was good, and tried to start "Angela's Ashes" but couldn't. I called Marilyn to arrange lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Tuesday September 1, 1998 - Nova Scotia

Wolfville - warm and sunny.

I went to the library to book some time on the computer at noon, then spent an hour doing errands in town until then. I was going to return to Carolyn's via Highland Avenue, but ran out of gas half way up the hill. I had been running on near empty until I could get cheaper gas in New Minas but I guess I didn't make it. I walked over to Judy's to phone Carolyn who wasn't home. Judy drove me over there and I picked up a half liter of lawn mower gas and then we went to where I had left the truck. With the half liter of gas I drove to the gas station to fill up and replace the lawn mower gas. I went back to Judy's to thank her and she invited me in for lunch. She also gave me a whole bunch of tomatoes for Carolyn but I ended up eating most of them because they were so good. Carolyn returned home later and we went to New Minas to shop for groceries and pick up some camera film I had left for developing. We rented the movie "Kundun" which we watched that evening. I phoned Isaac in PEI and he agreed to come to Wolfville on Friday, so I will be staying here until the weekend. I did a big laundry.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Monday August 31, 1998 - Nova Scotia

Wolfville - warm and sunny.

In the morning I had another scone and devonshire cream at the Tea Room, and bought a raincoat, rainhat and housecoat, as well as some postcards and a copy of David's book on whale watching. Geoff and RL gave me a large discount but I still spent close to $300. When I left I drove down the west coast. I did not go to Lake Ainslie but was wondering if I should have.

After leaving Cape Breton I stopped in Antigonish to see if I could get on the internet but the library there was closed on Mondays. On a whim I stopped in Mt. Denson to see if Dennis was home, and he was. He was just preparing supper and invited me in. I was able to check email on his computer.

Dennis had had an angina attack in Toronto last winter which was a bit of a scare for him. Since then he has become a vegetarian and has lost some 20 lbs of excess weight. He also had done some thinking about lifestyle and how he got to where he was. He also asked a few personal questions which kind of put me on the defensive, I was kind of glad to leave.

I arrived at Fritz and Carolyn's place late. They were still up and I told them all the news from Geoff and RL, including about the new puppy. Carolyn had visited RL just before I did so they were pretty up-to-date except about the puppy. Carolyn had planned to stay at Geoff and RL's until I arrived there, but ended up leaving early to meet their daughter Erica in PEI. Erica had gone skydiving while I was away and they had a video of her jump.

While I was at Dennis's, I read email from Isaac who was writing to say that he was in PEI now and would be staying there until Thursday. I thought he was going to be there until Sunday or Monday and I was thinking of maybe visiting him there but if he's leaving earlier, then that will be difficult. I would have to leave here on Wednesday if I want to see him in PEI.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sunday August 30, 1998 - Nova Scotia

Margaree Harbour - sunny.

David was feeling sick in the morning Eventually we got up and went for coffee in Cheticamp. He wanted to be at work by noon to clean up since it was his last day there before going to Ingonish to pick up his kids. We said good bye, I did a bit of shopping in Cheticamp and then returned to Margaree Harbour. I stayed a while at the Schooner Village Tea Room and then went back to RL's house to shower and pack up to leave the next day. Geoff and RL had a new puppy, Rowan. Yohan didn't like the puppy, he pooped and peed in their house and snapped at Rowan. Ceilidh rushed in to chase Yohan off. We had dinner and watched TV.

David called and spoke to Geoff, asking him to give me directions to his friend Ken's house on Lake Ainslie. I think the idea is for me to stop by there on my way back to Wolfville tomorrow. Geoff didn't think I should go there since Ken had recently split with his wife and was either depressed or depressing, or both.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Animal Control Bylaw

I'm slowly getting to the end of the 1998 road trip chronicle, there are only a couple of weeks' entries left and most of them are short. I am quite frankly bored with the process and looking forward to the end. The journey itself was wonderful but the writing about it is not. Oh well, nearly done!!

Last week my dog crossed the street in front of my house by herself, I did not see her go. She likes to sit on the front porch in the early morning and watch the world go by, and then she goes down behind a bush and sleeps in the grass until it is time for her morning walk. But last week was a little cooler than usual and I guess she was feeling a little friskier than usual so she crossed the road. There's a fire hydrant there that passing dogs leave little urine posts at, I guess she was checking the mail.

Anyway as luck would have it a young woman who is terrified of dogs was walking by and encountered my dog. I did not see what happened but the net result is that the young woman complained vigourously to my neighbour and then later to the animal control officer (for brevity, 'aco' from here on out). My neighbour relayed the complaint to me, it was mostly about how dogs ought not to be allowed to run loose.

A couple of days ago the aco came by but Hapi and I were at the dog park so she left a note saying that my dog had been seen running loose and engaging in "annoying behaviour" and I should call her immediately. Which I did. It wasn't her actual phone number, so I had to leave a number for her to call me back. Which she did.

First I got the lecture about keeping my dog under control at all times (and have I read the dog bylaw?), and then about having my dog licensed (which she is, I duly gave the aco my dog's license number), and finally about her aggressive behaviour (and have I read the dog bylaw?). If I had been on the ball I would have asked what specifically my dog's "aggressive behaviour" was but I was not.

The aco said, She was barking?

I said, She's a malamute, she doesn't bark. Then I said, Have you met my dog? Do you even know what you are talking about?

She said, No but I would like to, are you home during the day?

I said, You'd have to call, we are in and out.

So she told me that she was giving me a warning, that she was writing up the complaint and it would be filed against my dog's name, and if there was another complaint, it would get serious. She didn't specify, other than to say, Have you read the dog bylaw?

So after the conversation I read the dog bylaw. I had read it before and it is not pleasant reading but I thought I better touch all bases. I read the damn thing.

If there is a bylaw more draconian and punitive, I don't know what it would be. Lots of references to "seize and destroy". Basically the aco has the authority to seize and destroy any dog she deems dangerous, without notifying the owner. "Dangerous" is defined as meaning among other things, capable of aggressive behaviour. No proof of actual behaviour is required, and there is certainly no recourse or appeal process.

I went down town and visited the post office and several stores, ran into lots of people I know and repeated the gist of the conversation. Without exception the reaction was, This dog? Are you sure they know what they are talking about? One merchant offered to start a petition if necessary, and admonished me never to read bylaws, it would utterly destroy my faith in humanity. Got that right.

I understand that in this world animals do not have rights, or nothing compared to human rights. But if you were to take the dog bylaw and substitute the word "Jew" or "Indian" for the word "dog" you would get an inkling of my terrified reaction to reading the bylaw. Our town bylaw was derived from the county bylaw which I also read and it is even worse. Among other things it doesn't say "seize and destroy", it says "kill on sight".

I know dogs don't have human rights, I know we humans run this world and we dictate how all other creatures shall be treated. Consider faith in humanity destroyed. How can we talk about saving endangered species when we can't even get it right with our pets?

The clincher for all this is that the contract for animal control bylaw enforcement in this county is held by the SPCA. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Faith in humanity dead as a doornail.

Saturday August 29, 1998 - Nova Scotia

Grand Etang - cloudy, then sunny.

David was supposed to go to work but decided not to go until 6.00pm and hoped I would spend Saturday night with him after that. We went into Cheticamp for coffee and bought some beer and wine. I paid for it because David didn't have any money. We spent the afternoon drinking, telling stories and just sitting out on the deck. We checked out a hovercraft while in Cheticamp; they are trying to set up a regular service to Iles Madeleine. David wanted to leave copies of Shunpiker, the magazine that carries his articles, on the boat for passengers.

We had dinner in Cheticamp and just before 6.00pm David went back to the Park to do his show. I returned to Geoff and RL's in Margaree Harbour to spend the evening. When they went to bed I returned to the cabin on the coast. However, the woman was borrowing the cabin from the owner had returned, David and I visited with her for awhile and then went to David's house in Grand Etang. We were both very tired due to not much sleep the night before.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Friday August 28, 1998 - Nova Scotia

Grand Etang - sunny.

Geoff and RL got up and left early to work at Schooner Village, I got up later and had a shower and then the last of my yogurt and granola for breakfast. Then I drove to Schooner Village and had a second breakfast of scone and devonshire cream and jam and coffee. Again, RL and I yakked about this that and t'other thing in the kitchen.

In the afternoon I drove up the coast to see Gampo Abbey, the Buddhist monastery, and to drop in at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to see if David was around. That's where he worked in the summertime, and I didn't know if Myrtle had contacted him or not. At the Park office I was told that he had checked in but wasn't around right now; I thought I'd come back later to try again.

I continued up the coast to the Abbey which is about as far north as you can go on the west coast of Cape Breton. I turned off the Cabot Trail at Pleasant Bay onto the Red River road to Gampo Abbey. My Wolfville friend Carolyn had visited there and highly recommended it, but RL told me that if they were on retreat at the Abbey they wouldn't accept visitors.

It was a nice drive to get there along a dirt road up the coast, and when I arrived at the gate to the property there was a sign saying that public tours were conducted at 3.00pm. I arrived at 3.25pm and saw a few people working outside the main building, and a large bull moose calmy eating tree leaves at the edge of the front yard. I asked a woman inside the front door of the main building about the tour, and she went to find someone to escort me. But she didn't find anyone and suggested I look around on my own. I got the impression that didn't mean inside.

I looked around the grounds a bit. There was a meditation space on a grass-topped cliff overlooking the ocean, and near where the bull moose had been (he was gone now) a sign saying "bonsai". I walked in the direction that the sign pointed and came upon a fox who was startled by my arrival and hissed and growled as he ran past me. Scared both of us.

I was expecting to come upon a bonsai garden but it was actually just a working area with a few small trees being "bonsai-ed". When I cam out, the fox was sitting at the top of the path watching me. He trotted off up the road and sat down again facing me and scratched his ear. Since my truck was parked in that direction I continued to walk toward the fox; it got up and moved a little further along and sat down again. Eventually it trotted off into the woods. It was about the same size as Yohan, very skinny with a big bushy tail. As I drove away from the Abbey I saw a cow moose on the side of the road by an upturned dory.

I returned to the Park office to see if I could catch David, he still wasn't there. I went to look in the bookstore and a few minutes later the woman at the office called out to me that David was back. He was just on his way out of the building so I went out to meet him. I don't think he recognized me at first, then he did and seemed happy to see me. Since the last time I saw him he has cut his hair and grown a beard so he looks a bit like a bald Papa Hemingway.

David invited me to have dinner with him at a nearby restaurant. After dinner and a beer he collected a few things from the office and we drove to a cabin on the shore that he had helped to build and had the occasional use of. It was small but quite handsome, with lots of windows and a small sleeping loft. It was set in a field overlooking a stoney beach with the highlands behind it. The windows faced the ocean and it had a big mermaid painted on its roof.

David invited me to spend the night but first he had to go back to the park to put on an evening show for the campers, I agreed and drove back to Margarell Harbour to tell Geoff and RL what I was up to. As it turned out they were in Cheticamp, which I had just driven through, doing some shopping, so I hung out at the Schooner with Myrtle awaiting their return. When I saw Geoff and RL's car crossing the Margaree Harbour bridge I followed them home and told them about my meeting with David. They thought that was fine but not to talk too much about it with Myrtle since they thought it best not to feed the local gossip mill.

I picked up a couple of things and returned to the cabin and David and I had a nice time.