This blog is a test to see whether my blog was discontinued or the message was a scam. If you see this blog then I think it was a scam.
Into the water
Of your nearest stream
For the spirit of it
Will capture you
And you will never need
To thirst again.”
John Williams, Look Deep
One of the reasons I don’t like watching nature shows is because the narrator almost always ends his narrating by mentioning a threat to these wild areas.
Say for example, I’m watching a show about a pristine untamed area. The wild animals are minding their own business in their wild homes. The creatures, big or small, beautiful and flawless in every curve and line. The trees tall and thick. Strong and ancient. The waters clean and drinkable.
But, Oh, Oh! Here it comes. It goes something like this. “This area is under growing pressure from industry, and it’s ever increasing need for resources.”
Chop, tear, gouge and scrape. Nothing is safe from a culture which sees everything as having a bottom line. Including for ourselves.
“When Nations grow Old, The Arts grow Cold--
And Commerce settles on every Tree.”
There is a poem that brings tears to my eyes. I believe I’ve quoted it before. It’s about the last wolf who is running through a crumbling city. Civilization has collapsed. A person waits for the wolf in their room. They listen to the wolf’s approach.
Here’s part of the poem.
“I heard his voice ascending the hill
and at last his low whine as he came
floor by empty floor to the room
where I sat
in my narrow bed looking west, waiting
I heard him snuffle at the door and
He trotted across the floor.
He laid his long gray muzzle
On the spare white spread
And his eyes burned yellow
His small dotted eye brows quivered
Yes, I said
I know what they have done.”
Mary TallMountain, The Last Wolf
I remember the night I baled out of theology. I’d been attempting to cope with the study of the stuffy imaginations of the human mind. In a stone hard place where we dissected God and tried to comprehend the comprehensions of theologians and philosophers. This building, filled with mummified air, seemed non-transcendent and unconnected to where my soul wanted to be. Studying God had tired me out, and when the Prof told us that we could take a ten minute coffee break, well, I took a life-time coffee break.
I remember walking down the hard steps, imagining that I was a wolf, who had escaped from his cage.
A stone, slung out of David’s sling.
“God is an ambiguous word in our language because it appears to refer to something that is known. But the transcendent is unknowable and an unknown God is transcendent, finally, of anything like the name “God” God is beyond names and forms.”
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
One can find great strength in knowing that the Creator is not understandable and is outside our brain’s ability to see beyond opposites and three dimensions.
A person can also drown in this view, but for myself, knowing that the universe is huge beyond my knowledge is a source of strength. Peeking through the invisible veil’s tiny holes is enough to keep me afloat. It allows me to have faith that what I can’t comprehend is rock-solid and authentic. Is where my soul dwells.
Last Sunday, Judy, Jalal and I hiked part-way up Kelly’s Mountain. It was gorgeous. The snow clung to pencil straight trees. They looked like a line of white hooded monks bordering the trail.
When I walk on these trails, and look at the beauty that surrounds me, I try not to think about how much our society’s main belief is to make everything refer back to ourselves. To view all of nature as ours. To see every creature as inferior to our great and overwhelming brain organ.
On this particular hike, my friend said that she felt as if she was on a fairy trail. In one photograph I took, she mentioned that although our clothes were modern, they didn’t diminish the sense that the photo was not taken in the twenty-first century. It was timeless.
At one point, she took a picture of a tall and thick tree. When I looked at the photo, I felt that it, in some way, preserved the tree. Immortalized it. It was as if she’d put a ring around its trunk and then it became a representative of everything that exists. All that we can’t put in words.
Maybe that’s one reason I take photos.
“These the Visions of Eternity,
But we see only, as it were, the arm of their garments
When with our vegetable eyes we view these wondrous Visions.”
“Art is the Tree of Life.”
On Christmas morning, Dominic and I went on our four K walk. However, this Christmas walk felt different. Why? Because I was checking the rain water that was rushing down from the highlands, for any signs of Sue.
I thought, what a surreal life I’m living.
However, I did receive a great Christmas gift. A few weeks ago, when I lost quite a bit of electricity in my trailer, and was feeling rather hopeless that any reasonably cheap solution could be found, an electrician came over, fixed the problem, and then, when I asked him what it was going to cost, said it was free. Now, that’s the Christmas spirit.
I often find, when I’m reading a novel, that the words expressed seem very relevant to my life. For example, I was reading ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, written by Charles Dickens, and these words jumped out at me.
Many of you will understand why they did.
“I rather grieve to think,’ said the child, bursting into tears, ‘that those who die about us, are so soon forgotten.”
“And do you think,’ said the schoolmaster, marking the glance she had thrown around, ‘that an unvisited grave, a withered tree, a faded flower or two, are tokens of forgetfulness or cold neglect? Do you think there are no deeds far away from here, in which these dead may be best remembered? Nell, Nell, there may be people busy in the world at this instant, in whose good actions and good thoughts these very graves-neglected as they look to us-are the chief instruments,”
A blog or two ago I wrote about walking on one of Sue’s favourite trails. I'd noticed a thick decaying branch spread across the ground, and this thought jumped out at me.
“This branch was likely here when Sue hiked on this trail.”
It wasn’t that this rumination was so profound, it was the effect of the thought. It was like a deep prayer inside a koan, if that’s possible.
There’s a Celtic parable that says:
“Sometimes when I pray I utter the words,
But I do not feel or think them.
Sometimes when I pray, I utter the words,
Thinking about what I say, but not feeling.
Sometimes when I pray, I utter the words,
And I both think and feel what I say.”
Plenty of things have changed in my life, and maybe that’s why I was more aware of the overwhelming commercialism that tore through this Christmas season. So, I now have even more trouble watching commercials on television. Because, it seems that the overwhelming pummelling of our brains, is way-over-the-top intrusive. Way beyond what could be called moderate or sane.
It’s as if our society, in so many suits of clothes, is drowning us in more and more reasons to become morally desensitized, fearful and desperately grasping for the finite resources of our planet. I mean, how many wants, worries, guilt-trips and plain old bull doo doo, can a human brain handle without ending up with some ailment described in those big blue books that sit on specialists’ desks.
And what about all those disease commercials where we are told what disorders we should worry about? Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of people suffering from a sickness, but I still maintain that maybe, one way for me to cope with this bombardment of being educated in all the terrible, not so terrible and made-up diseases, is for me to make multiple medical appointments. Cluster bomb the doctor’s with appointments until I reach that idyllic space, where I will finally not have a reason to get poked, jabbed or run through clicking and sucking machines. I will have finally been fully educated and protected from all diseases.
Furthermore, you advertising people, I have read so many articles and viewed so many commercials on the first signs of so many diseases that I have decided not to educate myself. I’m calling it my Ostrich Philosophy. That way I may have a chance to lower my low-grade constant feelings of anxiety into a I don’t give a damn feeling of release. Until something real happens. Not virtual. Not spun. Not implied. Something that is as real as the sun rising every day to nurture and sustain our planet’s real needs.
“Do what you will, this Life’s a Fiction,
And is made up of Contradiction.”
I Really Did
“The greatest darkness is beneath the lamp itself.”
Robert Van De Weyer, CELTIC PARABLES, Stories, Poems & Prayers
A few weeks ago, I was walking on our little trail which winds through the woods behind our home. I, as usual, had Sue in my thoughts. She loved to walk in these woods.
This particular day, I stopped, and looked at a white birch branch which rested on the colourful, leafy ground. For some reason this branch took on a special significance. It became more than just a part of this specific moment. It felt different, and yet it was the same branch.
How many times had Sue and I walked by this branch? As I thought about this question, I felt as if I was praying. Reaching out, not sure to whom, but I think I was attempting to get a connection with a reality that was beyond our three dimensional world.
Maybe, I was trying to push the past and the present together, so that they were one, and became like a two part Trinity. They were slipping in and out of the paper thin reality that, separates us from the other dimension; the place that Sue might be living in.
I believe that there are areas of this universe that can only be understood and experienced through meditation and prayer.
So, this branch had been lying on the side of the trail for, who knows how long. It had, somehow, grabbed my attention, and got me doing some deep meditation on what had been and what now was. After-all, this branch, like so many objects, was a direct connection to when Sue was still alive.
I’ve just returned from Sue’s Memorial Service. It was in Cobourg, Ontario. The folks that organized it did a great job and the hall was more than packed with Sue’s family and friends.
When I spoke at the service, I mentioned that I had seen Sue’s spirit in a field.
I know at that time, the morning after she disappeared, that I was tired, in shock and experiencing a whole whack of other emotions. However, after much thought, I can declare that I was not seeing an hallucination, and was not projecting. I have only seen one ghost, and it was Sue. I was so fortunate.
Why am I fairly sure that I saw Sue after she’d passed on?
Well, while I trudged through the field, which was covered in fresh snow, I was on the phone with my son. At the same time I was continuously trying to unwrap the leash from around Dominic’s legs, so I was rather busy to be seeing an hallucination.
While I was speaking to my son, I told him that I was seeing a person who looked like they were either searching for Sue or were hunting.
However, there are other reasons why I am quite sure that I saw Sue?
You see, although I haven’t seen another ghost, I have had other strange, after-death experiences, and they were definitely not hallucinations.
One time, I was taking a shower, only one or two days after my father died. There I was in the tub, my rubber ducky and I, singing a sad song when suddenly, there came, shooting out of my side, two coins. They tumbled to the tub floor. I picked them up, and put them on the side of the sink. I can’t remember what denominations they were, but I know they weren’t just dimes. My father wasn’t cheap.
Anyway, I put them on the sink, and explained to myself that they probably fell off the tub’s ledge. I thought that maybe Sue had left them there.
Well, I climbed back into the tub and continued to shower. Presto! Another coin shot out of my side. It came from nowhere that I could explain. So I put it down as virtual-dad mail.
I will mention one more event.
A next door neighbour had died, and a few days later, while I was brushing my hair, I discovered that a looney had been nesting in my curls. I shouted, “Sue, a looney just came out of my head.”
“Figures,” she shouted.
I still have some of these coins, and I could, if I so desired, deposit them in a bank.
The coins were as real as any bank note and came out of a place that doesn’t deal with low blood sugar, projections, hallucinations or shingles. That’s why my seeing Sue seems just as logical as my body becoming part of the Canadian Mint.
By the way, Sue left no tracks in the fresh snow, and the trail I saw her walk/float up, was close to where they found her glove.
So, I’m going to rest my case. You can take it to the bank.
Our Gentle River
We came out the other side of Fiona in fine form. We were lucky. No wind damage. No water damage. The river didn’t even climb up the side of the bank to take a peek at our place, and the power was out for less than 24 hours.
Dominic and I stayed with our friends, who live in a big house up the road from us. They were hurricane ready. We slept in their basement in a separate room from theirs. Gotta say it was cozy in their industrial bedroom. Real ambiance. The door was a sheet and it took a rapid canine training course to keep Dominic in our room. He is a curious little fella and they have a cat and a dog.
Dominic was in the lap of luxury. He had three different places to rest his weary body. My bed, a cozy dog bed and a large cage. He used them all. I’d wake up and he’d be on the bed. Wake up another time and he’d be in the cage. The next time I woke up he’d nodded off on the dog bed. It was merry-go-round musical beds and it went on all night.
I’m a bit of an ostrich and didn’t want to hear the storm, so I packed my ears with tissue. The ear plugs and the fan cut out the sound of the hurricane.
It was hard to sleep while wondering if the little trailer was going to last. As I said to a friend, “I’ve lost my wife and now I may lose my home. Life can’t get any better than that.”
I mean what does one do when life threatens to give you another good kick in the wherever? What can one do, but keep on keeping on.
Before the storm hit, I’d sat along the side of the river. At that point it looked like a cute little brook. Oh I knew its potential. It wouldn’t trick me. However, it did. It didn’t flood me out.
The past few years, Sue and I and others had discussed many ways of protecting our place from the river. Nothing seemed cheap, and people said the work might not pan out. The Middle River has changed its course many times.
However, as I looked downstream, I noticed that the river was much wider, because the concrete bridge had been totally removed and then large armour rocks laid along the sides.
Also, the new bailey-bridge had no central supports holding it up. So, the river’s flow was more unimpeded. Hallelujah! I’m hoping the temporary Bailey bridge stays there for a long time. In Cape Breton, temporary can be like a Minnesota farewell.
Last blog I talked about little happenstances and how they can be interpreted in different ways. Well, just before I vacated the trailer and headed for our friends’ house, the phone rang. It was a sales rep. She called me Mr. Larry. Kind of cute. Anyway, when I told her about the hurricane she said, “God will be with you, Mr. Larry. I’ll pray that you will be safe.”
Well, on Saturday morning, we all crawled out of our beds around seven pm. I’m not sure which bed Dominic crawled out of. Anyway, we all went outside to see the damage. There was no destruction that we could see and it was warm and barely raining.
We all walked down the road to the trailer looking for damage. Only one fallen tree and the trailer was in fine shape.
Now I know that many people were closely watching the movement of the hurricane on their computers and cell phones. I so much wanted to vent one of my theories that morning. I would have said, if I had chosen to say it, and I may have, that there are two main realities in our modern world. There is the virtual world and there is the real world. I tend to rely more on the real world because if I don’t then I’m afraid that I am going to be surprised more times than I can count, plus, relying on the virtual info world makes me feel like I’m living in a painting with stick people. But still, god bless the virtual world.
You want to know what the most dangerous part of our walk was on Saturday morning? I’ll tell you.
My friend, Jim, was walking down the road while staring at his phone. Now I can guarantee there was no present prediction coming from it.
Suddenly his wife, Jennifer, shouted, “Look out!”
Why did she shout? Because a very large buck came crashing out of an apple orchard and was heading straight for Jim. Luckily, it veered off. A real buck going into a real forest. Nothing virtual about it. Perfectly three dimensional.
You may know a little bit about me by this time if you’ve read some of my blogs. I do have an ability to string stories and theories out of disparate occurrences, but do you know what? You probably don’t know what, so I’ll tell you.
When my relationship began with Sue, two bears suddenly appeared close to her cabin and they caused quite a fuss for awhile. I remember, before we became partners, Sue and I talking about bears and how they can be a healing totem.
On Monday morning, Dominic and I were hiking up the road when we almost bumped into a black bear. The first bear I’ve seen on this road in over ten years.
I know, I know, I should have been carrying bells and whistles. But, how are you to see a bear if your’e belling him off before you see her? I ask you that.
It may sound crazy, but I kind of think that Sue may have had something to do with the bear. Really crazy, if I go out on a limb and say that Mr. Larry thinks that Sue had something to do with the river setting things right or for that matter why I have a novel out that is called, “Dead and Not Dead. Maybe there is a fourth and fifth and many more dimensions. I sure as hell don’t know.
Now, before you make up your mind about how crazy this connection might be, think back to the days when, if you had to, that you spent sitting in a government building, asking a government employee, questions. Think of their answers. Think about all the talking craniums, and then think of the bear appearing the first full day that I was at home after the hurricane. I was exhausted, and had quite recently lost a partner and had thought I might lose my home. Don’t you think that these circumstances might’ve put a bit of a crimp in the universe, at least mine?
I was at a friend’s the day after the hurricane. I dropped some water off at her place. As of Tuesday, she still had no power. I, at one point, bent down and picked up a coin. It was a dime. I said, “I can probably keep this because I think it is from Sue. Is that okay?”
She didn’t say, “Yes, Mr. Larry,” but she did say “Yes.”
What about the man who came walking out of a bush road and began talking about Sue. He had been part of the search. He apologized for chatting to me about Sue. He then bent over and picked up a coin off the bridge.
“Is that a dime,” I asked.
It was, and he gave it to me because he knew that it was from Sue to Mr. Larry.
On Thursday, my friend Torrey, who I gave water to, bent down and picked up a dime and gave it to me. No question of who it belonged to. I have a pile of dimes lying by Sue’s little red lamp. That’s where I say good night to her, and sometimes I can feel that she is there and counting the dimes.
There’s a theory that dimes are the coin of choice for the spirits because they are so light.
I have another theory. I think that Sue, who is and was very bright, doesn’t have to toss dimes. She simply gets others to give me a shit-load.
For example, a few weeks ago I was at Tim Hortons. I handed the teller a bill. She cracked a package of coins and dumped a load of dimes into my hand. Easy peasy.
Who knows. Only the Shadow knows, and he got blown away on Saturday afternoon, and who knows where the hell he is.
I do know this. When Dominic and I take our early morning walk through the forest we are going to have a full, but silent can of bear spray. Because, Mr. Larry may be able to string a series of events and concepts together, but Mr. Larry isn’t an idiot. Go figure.
I did it. Dominic did it. We both did it. What did we do? We left our home. Went our separate ways, but only for a little while. Five days.
Dominic went to camp. It’s called In Good Hands. He learned to canoe, light a fire, participated in group play time, made doggy crafts and had quite a few good old roll-in-the-dirt sessions
I went to Bridgewater. It’s not far from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Here I hiked two new trails, talked a way too much and attempted to get familiar with being away from the island. It was, overall, a good time and I’m glad I went. I stayed with two of Sue’s best friends, Kathy and Clara.
But wow, talk about difficult to leave Cape Breton! Hard to explain, and as for dropping Dominic off, it nearly tore my heart out through my head. You see, Dominic has been my faithful buddy and house-mate since Sue disappeared.
I dropped Dominic off at the kennels the day before I left. When I returned home, I couldn’t believe how many times I looked for him and I missed the click, click, click of his nails on the floor as he followed me around.
Losing a loved one, especially a spouse, is like having an emotional bomb dropped into your life. Memories, like bricks and mortar, are strewn everywhere. Everything, to the eyes, looks the same and almost nothing feels or looks the same.
You try to survive from minute to minute. Like a person in a war ravaged city, you walk around your bombed-out life trying to put your emotional pieces back together. Familiar places and items weep with memories. You look in the mirror and wonder if that person is you. You’re in a battle and it’s not a time to be unselfish, if being selfish is what it takes to survive the emotional and physical storm. The future is too frightening to think about.
Also, you still have to deal with practicalities. Things like money, the estate and all the normal things that keep your life from diving into the dumpster.
You go into a grocery store and watch the shoppers shopping and you try to remember what it was like to have a regular life.
You avoid people because you don’t want to force them, usually uncomfortably, to express their sympathy. You don’t want to put them on the spot and when they do, you want empathy, not pity. Many folks attempt to say helpful things, but often they bring back the grief. You understand that it’s difficult for them to find the right words. Maybe they are also frightened, aware that they too might, in the future, have to deal with a huge loss. Having somebody to love in your life means you are at great risk, in the future, of experiencing debilitating grief.
Some grieving people shop in stores where the people don’t know them. They might wear a hat or sunglasses to disguise themselves. It is so much fun! And it isn’t even halloween, although you are living in a horror story.
Friends help and when something tragic happens in your life, you will find out who your true friends are. They will let you know, in one way or another, that they are thinking of you. Many have themselves suffered a great loss and are, as a friend said, the walking wounded.
However, gradually, gradually, you put the bits and pieces of your life back together. You search for friends, safe places and therapeutic activities wherever you can find them. You create a retreat from your emotional chaos. However, you never know when you will be attacked by the relentless grief and you’re always anxious that your emotional walls will collapse like a sponge cake in an earthquake.
Now, my biggest fear wasn’t going away, it was returning home. It was coming back to a place where, although I’d begun to know and trust it, was also filled with the bombed out emotional memories caused by the grievous attacks. I’d learned to cope with the emotions, but when I left and then returned would the walls that I had constructed stand up to the dreadful psychological forces that had been almost overwhelming.
Well the separation anxiety and all the memories didn’t disappoint. The closer I got to home the more grief, anxiety and disorientation I experienced. The loss of Sue was etched in every once friendly place.
However, in times like this, unexpected miracles occur.
You see, as I headed over Kelly’s Mountain, I decided to test my miracle theory. I turned on my radio. I hit scan and reached out into the universe. The first station was playing an Elvis Presley song. I think the universe was warming up. The next channel had a man talking about how he dealt with his trauma. So relevant! What are the odds? Who knows? I’ve given up on figuring out probabilities. Whether it was the snow-rainbow I followed to a friend’s house on Christmas morning, only twenty—two days after Sue disappeared, or this sudden radio program, it has to be admitted that they were, maybe more than happenstances, and Sue always gets some of the credit. Anybody need a dime?
Finally, a weird thing happened while I was in Bridgewater. I was checking the kennel’s web page. I wanted to see what time I could pick up Dominic. I found a video that they had posted twenty-six minutes before I signed on. I clicked on it and saw all the dogs, every shape and size, running around in a fenced in area. Then, to my surprise, I saw a little black dog pop out from behind a building. He looked into the camera. It was Dominic.
Some times I think that we are characters in a play and have less control over our personal plots than we think.
You see, not long before Sue passed away, I’d booked a septic sucker company to come to our home and empty our septic system. There was, however, one problem. I didn’t know where the tank was.
Anyway, I cancelled that appointment and filed this alimentary system problem away in the back of my mind. There were too many other issues to think about. However, it pushed its way to the front of the line the day that my toilet lost its flushing power.
I phoned the plumber and asked him if he could help me find the septic system. He arrived with a long heavy rod which he used to poke and push through the earth.
He’d heard another fella say that the tank should be about sixteen feet from the trailer, so that’s the area he searched.
Well, he kept poking until he located the pipe. He also put a hole in it. I paid him some money for finding the pipe and putting a hole in it. Before he left, he said that the septic tank should be within five feet of the hole in the pipe. This was based on his sixteen-feet-from-the-trailer theory. The plumber had been exhausted and not feeling well and that’s why he stopped searching.
He told me that once I got the septic system emptied he would come over and seal the hole.
I did a little digging myself, but had no luck, so I phoned another fella and asked him if he could find the septic system.
This fella began pick-axing from the hole in the pipe place and worked his way to about sixteen feet from the trailer. No septic tank was located.
Well, the fella just kept on pick-axing. He pick-axed, and pick-axed. Sixteen feet from the trailer, seventeen, eighteen and on and on. He pick-axed all the way to sixty feet from the trailer. Now doesn’t sixteen and sixty sound very similar? Anyway, there it was. The golden chest filled to the gills.
I paid the pick-axe man.
Now, I did make an appointment to get the tank emptied but in the meantime, and it was a fairly long meantime, I wasn’t using the toilet. However, I had my methods. It’s a bit easier to solve when you live where I live. Plus, now that we’re talking coincidences, I found, a week or so later, what I think they call, a commode. It was at a neighbour’s house. I had given it to the neighbour. Sue, had found it and carried it home. We weren’t sure why. Now I think I know why and so I had an unflushable but handy toilet bowl. What a coincidence, eh?
Anyway, one day, to Dominic’s dismay, a poetically big, noisy, septic-sucker truck came to our place.
The nice man emptied the tank, rolled up his big sucker hose and then, well I did what I had been regularly doing. I paid him.
However, the toilet still lacked enthusiastic flushing power. So, I had to continue to stay on good terms with my commode until I got the plumber to arrive.
The plumber came with his long, metal, drilling, snake gizmo. He turned and twisted this snake-like machine right down my toilet’s throat, and he did find the problem. Actually, more than one problem.
You see, because of how hectic my life had become, I had been foolishly dumping old dishwashing water down the toilet, without adequately poking around in the murky water to make sure that nothing was hiding under the soap suds.
The plumber found a fork. Then he found a knife. I was hoping that he may get the toilet to cough up a complete table setting. I do suspect, that my toilet bowl is hanging onto my sugar spoon.
Of course, before the plumber left, I paid him.
You may be wondering what this septic tank story has to do with my being part of a play.
Well you see, only days after the septic system story came to, what I considered was its conclusion, I went to Tim Hortons to buy an Iced Cap.
I was in the drive-through. When I got to the ordering square I said, “One small Iced Cap.”
Then I said, “And that’s all I want.”
The servers who all seem to have poor hearing, said, “Any thing else?”
I said, “No thanks.”
Then the server surprised me. She asked me, no, ye verily, she told me to stay put. I was to stay put. Can you believe that?
“Sorry for the inconvenience,” she said.
The reason I had to be inconvenienced, and what a coincidence, was because a huge, loud, septic sucking truck was beep, beep, beeping its way in front of me. A man, not the same man who pumped out my tank, got out of the truck, and unrolled a big hose which he hooked up to Tim Horton’s septic tank.
I waited as the hose sucked out all that Tim Horton’s had to offer.
See what I mean? I was living in a play called, A Seriously Stuffed Septic System. The play unfolded and unfolded and then threw out a surprise ending before the curtain came down. It was as if the universe put a big period at the end of my septic sucking experience. It threw a septic truck in front of me as I was going about the normal business of driving through a Timmy’s drive-through.
Has this happened to you after you’ve just spent over a month dealing with your septic system? Just a coincidence? An annoyance? Or maybe, a well thought out play with all its actors in their right places?
I have written some blogs about my annoyance with and doubts about the over-use of the virtual world machines. Don’t get me wrong. I use some of them and depend on some of them, but I think people should give their heads a shake when they depend too much on them. In other words, they should get their heads out of their machines and smell the roses or at least take a look at them. Not the virtual ones. The real ones.
The thing is, Dominic is a motorized vehicle chaser. He will also chase bikes. Our road is quiet, but not as quiet as it used to be. That’s because the bridge is out and so there is a detour. Our road is not a detour. However, people who depend on their GPS machines think it is.
Now that’s only after they have driven past about five signs saying such things as Road Closed, Local Traffic Only, Detour Ahead, Detour Right in Front of Your Nose, get your F’n sniffer out of your virtual know-it-alls, etc. Two of these warnings have flashing orange lights on a big stand which partially stick out into the road. Doesn’t matter.
Last week a driver pulled over and asked me how to get to Margaree.
“You’re using a GPS aren’t you,” I said.
He showed me his phone with the GPS on it while Dominic yapped and yelped, as he tried to gnaw on his tires.
“You’ll have to turn around and go back to the main road. Keep going until you see a huge blinking sign that says, ‘Detour, Road Closed, Local Traffic Only. Make a right there.”
He thanked me and drove away while Dominic wildly barked, as he desperately tried to chase the truck. He is obsessed with chasing cars.
People are obsessed with chasing their GPS.
Voices From the Parlour
“Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.”
A few days ago, I decided to hike to a little beach. To the wee flat area of sand and rock where I often sit on a wobbly piece of driftwood and listen to the quiet.
This little beach huddles along the Middle River. Here the river is frothy and snappy.
I watched a merganser cruise on the water. It showed no fear. I took some photos and then scraped some sand and gravel with my feet as I tried to get the bird to take to its wings. I wanted to capture a bird-in-flight photo. However, I think he saw me as only another piece of uninteresting driftwood or a big, dumb boulder because it just kept merrily, merrily floating along.
A few people have told me that in this area they feel close to the spirit world. They sense energy. I have, myself, had some rather interesting encounters on this little beach.
This particular day, I suddenly had rumination. A memory relating to Sue’s disappearance and death.
Now I know that many of my blogs have, of late, been about Sue’s death. It’s just that her departure is still pretty fresh in my mind. So, you see, often when I have an ordinary blog subject to write, along comes another Sue soul searing thought and it just seems too potent, as a blog article, not to write about. Besides, it may offer some insight or comfort to others who are also grieving the loss of Sue or other loved ones.
So, there I was, listening to the babbling of the river and wondering where the merganser had taken off to when my mind took a sharp right turn, and began poking around in a past event.
It was about a trip Sue and I took approximately fifteen years ago. Sue wanted to drive to Northern Quebec and visit some Indigenous friends that she’d taught with.
I remember the day we visited her friend, Maggie. We were brought into Maggie’s kitchen and were told that her friend was showering, so we waited until she was finished. Maybe had a cup of tea.
I was knocked out of my socks, size ten, when I saw the greeting that Maggie gave to Sue. She was super-charged happy to see Sue and Sue was just as joyful. They were tearing up and I was fighting back my own. I could see that these two people really, really loved each other.
On a sad note, I learned that Maggie wasn’t well. When we went blue-berry picking, she had to sit and watch because she ran out of energy.
One evening, maybe a year after we’d visited Maggie, Sue and I were, like every night around 11 pm, tucked into our bed. Suddenly, coming from the downstairs, was the sounds of women’s voices. It startled us, as we lived in the bush, with no winter road access.
I thought our cats might have turned on the radio. It’s amazing how the scientific mind will desperately seek to find an explanation that makes scientific sense. Not that I have anything against science.
Well, the cats hadn’t turned on the radio and the voices had come from downstairs and the next day there were no tracks in the snow to indicate that we had visitors. So, we put this event in the category of, we haven’t a clue as to why we heard women talking downstairs in our parlour.
A day or two later, we received a phone call from one of Maggie’s daughters who had managed to track us down. She told Sue that Maggie was dying and that she didn’t want to die until she saw Sue.
The next day we drove the many miles to the hospital where Sue visited her. I believe Maggie died a day or two later.
So, I’m still thinking these thoughts, even after the merganser had left the area. I’m thinking about the women’s voices, the phone call and then Maggie dying.
And then, I was struck in my solar plexus and heart area with a strong comforting thought. Which caused me to choke up a sob, but not a sad sob.
Sue did not die alone.
“What is essential does not die but clarifies.”
Forest Full Of Stories
“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposes, and luckier.”
On one of our hikes, a friend mentioned a quote she’d heard. It was “The universe is not made of atoms, but is made of stories.”
Another fella, at another time, told me that he sees each person he meets as being like a forest.
In my mind the forests are constructed of stories.
I got thinking about this story statement after I received a particular phone call. You see, I had been waiting for about two years for a specialist to see Sue and help us cope with her dementia. Covid was the reason it took so long. Anyway, the receptionist phoned last week and I had to tell her the sad story. Of course, she was shocked and when I tried to give her a little bit of a positive outlook on the event, well in her mind it was a tragedy and nothing else.
It was a tragedy, but more than that because the universe is made up of stories and they add deep insight to the simple idea that it was just a terrible tragedy.
Here’s another quote.
“A rainbow is an arc of colours formed in the sky by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by water droplets in the atmosphere. This is what it is. But that’s not what it means.”
Kaleeg Hainsworth, An Altar in the Wilderness
On Friday I went to a book launch for Shauna MacKeigan’s new novel. It’s called ‘THE LIGHT AMONGST THE GREY’.
Shauna read a passage from her book. It was about a father whose son fell out of a fishing boat and was never seen again.
Well, you can imagine that I found the reading difficult to listen to as she read about how the father imagined his son’s death and how horrible it must have been. Thought about how he’d never see him again. Lost in the ocean’s depths just as Sue is lost in the forest’s depths.
One day, the father fell out of his fishing boat and almost drowned. He described feeling a sense of great peacefulness as he approached his death.
Luckily, he was rescued. However, this near-death experience helped him look at his son’s death and disappearance in a more positive way.
I also felt a lifting of my stress and sadness as Shauna read the passage. I’m glad I went and I thanked Shauna for reading a part of her story. It was cathartic.
So, what I’m trying to say is that some people look at Sue’s disappearance from the aspect of the atoms. Not the story. And it is hard for many of us, including myself, to realize, to really get it into our thick noggins, that we are made of stories and not atoms.
So, when a person can’t see around the idea that Sue’s disappearance, while very sad, has a story and that it has positive elements, well then, the only way to look at it is that it is a tragic death of a bunch of atoms in the shape of Sue.
“Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.”
And, Sue died with dignity. She escaped what she had feared for so long. Being institutionalized. She is in a place that mimics the stories in which she lived on this side of the veil.
You see, Sue would laden our kitchen table and other surfaces with bird feathers, stones, snake skins, leaves, bark, hornet nests, twigs, tiny pieces of driftwood and other earth-related specimens. Tangible representations of her story and her close ties to the natural world. Now she is part of the forest.
A day or two after Sue’s story ended on this earth I was amazed, while standing by the bird feeder, to see a large flock of blue jays who were making no sounds nor were they making any effort to fly away. It felt like a solemn time. My story told me they were having a moment of silence for Sue.
So, although Sue’s atoms are changing, the story is going on and this blue jay tale is one of many parts of the story. It makes her death feel much more mysterious and comforting than only being a tragedy.
“Anyone who tells a story speaks a world into being.”
DEAD AND NOT DEAD
One of the reasons I believe that Sue, who has been my greatest writing supporter, is still on the scene is because of the title of my book. The novel is called, “Dead and Not Dead.”
When Sue disappeared most people were pretty certain that she was deceased. However, in the eyes of the legal world she was still alive because they hadn’t found her body.
Therefore, I couldn’t do anything to settle the estate until I got a Presumption of Death Certificate from a judge.
So, she was Dead and Not Dead. That’s the title of my novel.
Well, I was walking into a store this afternoon and ran into a fella and we discussed the amazing coincidence that my book’s title would be so relevant to what happened to Sue. He mentioned the rumour mill.
Ah yes. The friggen rumour mill. The undercurrent that runs underneath the condolences and sympathetic words.
Apparently, some people think that I picked the title after Sue disappeared. Why I would do that is far beyond my understanding, but there it is. He suggested I clear things up by sending out a post.
Here it is. The post. The blog.
I originally planned to call my novel, “An Eagle’s Dance”.
Well, the publisher didn’t particularly care for that title and suggested I think up a different one.
The publisher proposed that I look at the book and try to find a title by seeing if something in the novel’s text might look promising. I did that and one of the titles I suggested came from a character who would occasionally say that he was “Dead and Not Dead.”
Now all of this title-picking occurred months before Sue disappeared. And this title which was among a list of many titles, was spotted by the editor. She is very sharp-eyed. She pointed the title out to the publisher. The publisher liked it and mentioned it to me. I loved the title. The cover of the book was thus designed with the title, “Dead and Not Dead” on the cover.
Now get this. Sue also liked the title. Because she was alive. She was breathing, in and out, just like I was and so, like me, she was able to like the title.
So, what I’m saying is that the title is a miracle. A zillion in one coincidence.
Yes, Sue became Dead and Not Dead, but she was very much alive when the title for the book was chosen. Selected by others and accepted by Sue and me.
It’s a miracle.
This is why I am convinced that Sue is still playing a part in my life.
It is a big, rather overwhelming and gosh darn miracle and the rumour mill has it about as wrong as rumour mills seem to be mistaken about most things.
And that’s the story. The title was chosen months before Sue became dead and not dead and I wish she was still here and that the title was just a good title.
Miracles happen no matter how rational we might think we are. Wonders never cease. They’re everywhere. Inside and outside the church and we can’t presume that all miraculous occurrences are caused by low blood sugar.