A Perfect Ten, Finale – 2010: Beginnings and Endings

Well, here we are, at the beginning.

It was quite a decade, and it’s been an interesting exercise revisiting it via, firstly, my Great Blog Post Emendation, and thence on to these ‘one-per-year’ posts.

In looking back, I’ve found my line-of-sight swinging towards, not only the present, but the future also. A future that is occluded by Covid-19 – as it is for all of us – but also has some threads weaving in and out of the mists that I can tug on and feel their energy pulling me forth.

Going on our trip-ette for ten days was the perfect way to end these last ten years, to give myself time to, as I said at the end of my last post, stare at the scenery and drink tea … which I did … both, in copious quantities.

I had fine ideas of doing some deep spiritual work, of writing down a few outlines (vague outlines, ‘cos I’m a dyed-in-the-wool ‘pantser’*) of the stories that are percolating underneath the attic stairs in the back of my mind, of brainstorming the, Covid-19-revised, future of ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, and many other things too numerous to mention. To give myself credit I had allowed the first five days to do the ‘scenery and tea’ bit, but after that I’d planned to get to work.

Yeah … about that plan … it was obvious by the first weekend that none of the above list of things was going to happen. I didn’t even get my camera out until we were almost at the end of our time there.

The first three days were still smoke-raddled by the capricious winds blowing up from the fires in the U.S. The next couple of days were filled with glorious blue skies and brisk winds … which got steadily stronger, and stronger and blew in thunderous storm clouds and rain … and more rain, and still more rain … that had reduced itself to occasional showers by the time we left.

Since getting home, late on Sunday afternoon, we’ve had nothing but sunshine … ain’t life twisty like that?

However, herewith, as promised, some photos and first ever videos of the (also first ever) official, Wunder-Lusters Adventure …

This is the view from where I sat under the trailer awning, all bundled up, sipping my tea, and listening to the rain.

 

And this made me smile …

A Puff of Dragon's Breath Cloud - busy with things to do and people to see

A Puff of Dragon’s Breath Cloud – busy with things to do and people to see

A little white cloud that had far greater ambitions than I …

(A bit wibbly-wobbly because of a stiff tripod. I ‘hand-held’ the rest, but I’m going to have to work through my equipment list poste-haste)

We did go for walks along the beach in-between the rain-showers and rain-deluges.

Very fine silt sand drifted between an endless vista of the most, pick-up-and-put-in-your-pocket-river-tumbled stones, I’ve seen for a good many years.

 

I have a selection of very special ones with me as I write this. I also picked up a piece of driftwood that caught my Attention. I don’t know, yet, what the stones and the wood will do, but they’ll make their opinions on the topic known when they’re ready, of that I’m sure.

The transition between sunshine and stormclouds happened in a matter of moments. Not long after I filmed this, another deluge descended upon us …

 

It was cold that night. I even tucked myself into bed with an extra hot water bottle. (a few things, among many, to make sure you have when camping, whatever you’re camping in – duct tape, wire, and an extra hot water bottle)

The next morning, I spied my most favourite weather event in the entire world

SNOW!!!

SNOW!!!

Of course Cheam Mountain is over 2000 meters high, and our campground sat at 23 meters, but still … SNOW!!!

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

And this is what she looks like, from another angle, when she’s really got her groove on, courtesy of Wikipedia and the photographer, Jack Borno …

Cheam_Peak by Jack Borno

Cheam_Peak by Jack Borno

It turns out I did think deep thoughts about ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, and Spirituality, and writing, and the Universe and Everything, but just not how I envisioned it before I started … life’s twisty like that.

-oOo-

We stayed at the Cheam Fishing VIllage and Campground (where the Stó:lō, the People of the River, have fished for 10,000 years) in Agassiz. They’re closed for the year now, but if you’re ever in the neighbourhood check them out.

* ‘pantser’ – a writer who writes her stories by the ‘seat-of-her-pants’, making it up as she goes along, as it were … as opposed to a ‘plotter’, who outlines the story ‘plot’ to varying degrees of detail before she starts in on the meat of it.

A Perfect Ten – 2011

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

The world was a very different place in 2011 … although, the genesis of where we are now was alive and well back then, for those who had eyes to see.

Still, an entire blog post about Autumn colours and rain, and tiny birds is a wondrous thing.

My ability to see things so simply feels as though it’s been eroded almost down to nothing this year. (on a planet of 8 billion-ish people, I’m probably not the only one)

I could list the crises, but we all know them by heart now don’t we?

So I’m not going to. I’m going to tell you what I’m doing right now, (apart from writing this post that is) and we’ll see where that takes my thoughts.

I’m listening to some ambient music on YouTube by ‘Calmed by Nature’ This piece is called … actually, I’ll embed it below and you can have a listen for yourself.

I finished the last of the renovations (that I mentioned in my ‘2013’ post) to our travel-trailer a few hours ago, and we’ve been packing and putting things in place since then, (we’re both knackered, and I don’t think my knees are going to speak to me for a while) because our ‘trial run/retreat/mini holiday, starts tomorrow afternoon.

We’ll be gone for ten days, (getting back on the 27th – a friend is looking after our home and collect all the late season tomatoes that are only now starting to ripen – ain’t it the way!) so I won’t be around at all for that time, (I’ll be around for a bit tomorrow morning) but I’m planning to take photos and perhaps tinker with a video or two for my final post in this ‘Perfect Ten’ series – we shall see.

The only time I’m going to turn the laptop on is to download the above-mentioned images from my trusty little phone to my external hard drive.

I have paper and pencils and pens in abundance, to tempt my creative palate, and a few books on the side, for seasoning … but mostly I think I’m going to sit and stare at the scenery, and drink tea.

A Perfect Ten – 2012

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

27th September 2012 – My second Blog-O-Versary, in which I praise those who lifted me up in my blogging endeavours.

For as long as I can remember throughout my childhood and teens, there’s was no-one, really, who I could honestly say, ‘lifted me up’.

My parents, I assume, were trying, but they both managed to break themselves in different ways, long before I came along.

During my short tenure at school, ( I had to leave when I was 14 and get a job – lied about my age – in order to survive) using words of more than two syllables, and conversation starters about space exploration, were frowned upon.

As a teen and young adult my demeanour didn’t help. I looked confident, competent, albeit a little quiet and reserved. This was how I protected myself. Voracious reading gave me a breadth of knowledge that I could draw on, as required, in any given social occasion.

I … managed.

It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I first encountered people who understood and acted from the principle of ‘lifting others up.’

What a revelation.

Since then I have been the lift-ee, more times than I can count, and an equally uncountable number of times I have been the lift-er. Sometimes there were agendas and sometimes there were ‘just because’s’, but each time, someone moved a little ahead on their Path.

These days, I am confident, competent, albeit a little quiet and reserved, with a not-so-deeply-hidden, twisty sense of humour. There are times, of course, where the old patterns rise from my memories, but they don’t stick around for long, I’m wise to their shenanigans now.

A Perfect Ten – 2013

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

Today we land precisely on the 27th of September 2013, wherein I bemoan my fate at losing the threads of a story I began the previous year which suffered from cancerous interruptous.

I had thyroid cancer. In July of 2013 I had surgery to remove my entire thyroid. (and thereafter had radiation therapy to destroy the rest of those nasty little immortal cells – they can be killed, they just refuse to die on their own – who escaped the scalpel)

So, by the end of September I was starting to feel like I could pick up the threads of my life again.

But, after such a momentous interlude the pieces of my life were scattered hither, thither and yon. (the irony of currently searching hither, thither, and you, for bits and pieces of my dreams and plans here in 2020 is not lost on me either)

Back then, it was a bit of an excruciating joust between my brain, exhaustion, my computer, and the very sparse notes I’d made prior to my interlude.

Today, I’m jousting with drills and wood-stain, and hammers and foam underlay, screws and staple-guns, as I work on finishing up the renovations to our travel trailer that we started … hmm … probably they had their genesis after our 2015 cross-Canada trip.

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

Storage and ventilation and paneling, oh my!

We’re planning on having a bit of a holiday (more like a Retreat for me, really) at a campground not far away from here, in the very, very near future – hence my jousting to get everything, if not finished, then at least travel-worthy and livable.

I’m looking at it as a trial run for next year, when we really get going with our plans.

Covid-19 may have cost us a year, (which at our age feels a whole lot more important than it might’ve when we were in the first few decades of our lives) but I’ll be damned if it costs us more than that.

The world, most of the world, has a handle on how to live with this virus now, (we certainly do) and within this new paradigm, barring the Unforeseen, we’ll be able to move ahead with a new-and-improved version of our Dream.

Dream Machine

Dream Machine

A Perfect Ten – 2014

Hey there. I took a break from just about everything ‘widdershins-y’, I was starting to get way too squirrelly for my own sanity … one of those times when ‘whelmed’, which is the global default these days, tips over into ‘overwhelmed.

 The squirrels are now back where they belong, and my sanity is … well, back where it belongs too.

Onwards and forwards, I say!

So … continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

First, my only post for September 2014 (I may or may not have deleted any others in the ‘Great Blog Post Emendation’ of July 2020) was on my Birth Day (not unsurprisingly) and the nearest other one was on the 12th October, which was the only one for that month too. (looks like posts were suspiciously thin on the ground that year, my ‘Emendations’ not-with-standing)

The September one focuses on a certain rodent, so we’ll avoid that one entirely, shall we?

The other refers to our first jaunt into the ‘Interior’ (as any parts of British Columbia not fronting the Pacific Ocean are referred to) that started the cement-ation of where we wanted to make our ‘forever’ home, off the Lower Mainland (think coastal temperate rainforest – emphasis on the ‘rain’) where we currently reside. (that we were finally going to set forth and discover this year – best laid plans of mice and lesbians, eh?) … anyway …

We had lots of adventures on our 2014 trip, but the two highlights, (well, three really, but I’ll get to the third one in a moment) were getting to walk out onto a real live glacier …

There’s something wonderfully uplifting and heart-wrenching at the same time at being in the presence of awe-inspiring manifestations of Mother Nature, in my case the Athabasca Glacier, as they not-so-slowly reach the end of their life. At best we can only bear witness, and change our behaviours accordingly as we go forward from that moment.

… the second highlight was Lussier Hot Springs, a natural hot spring that rises next to the Lussier river and flows through a few natural pools (with a few additional carefully placed rocks) right into the river itself.

I have to tell you, I could’ve stayed, wallowed, in that gloriously hot mineral-y water for ever.

The third highlight, more of a realisation really, was that throughout the entire trip both Mrs Widds and I felt so much more energised at the higher, much higher, elevations. (Lussier hot springs is about 1000 meters (3,600 feet) above sea-level. Here on Widder Island we average out at 3 meters (9’10”), on a good day)

Knowing that we both wanted to get off the coast was the first step toward our ultimate ‘Wunder-Luster’ adventure … which is a perfect segue into …

… a bit of good news on the Wunder-Lusters front. Nothing spectacular, mind you, but it is forward movement. After a long hiatus we’re now able to get on with the renovations to our travel trailer. Parts and materials are becoming available, and if all goes well, we may even be able to have a bit of a pootle to a local campground and ‘road-test’ all the new bits.

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

A Perfect Ten – 2015

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

On September 25th, 2015, I’d planned to do a bit of a postscript of the previous nine posts, which isn’t what happened, but I decided that those nine posts were worthy of their own place on my ‘Perfect Ten’ list.

2015 was many things but one thing stands head and shoulders above all else, our Road Trip.

Have you ever chosen to do something so monumentally beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before that the Universe looks out for you until you get a handle on what you’re doing?

I’ve had these things thrust on me by Life, and the actions of others, but only thrice have I dared to leap off such giant Cliffs of the Unknowable, by choice.

Cliff 1 – buying a motorcycle when I’d never, ever, been on one before. (I didn’t even have my drivers license) The only thing with two wheels I’d ever ridden on before then were bicycles. (and believe me the experience is very different!)  I had a very elegant road bicycle that got me everywhere I needed to go, but not everywhere I wanted to go.

I rode my motorcycle (everywhere) for two years – until a truck on the wrong side of the road took us out … destroyed my bike, put me in hospital for five weeks and one day, (but who’s counting) and left me with one-and-a-half knees for evermore. Had I been in a car I would’ve been killed.

I loved that bike. Like my bicycle before it (which I sent off to a good home) I gained the freedom, the space, to leave the damaged parts of my life behind, and focus on putting the remaining bits back together again – a lifelong project, I might add.

Cliff 2 – Moving from Australia to Canada via an interminably long aeroplane journey. Most of you know the story, but here it is again, briefly. Mrs Widds and I met online and as I had no ties to bind me to Australia off I flew … having only twice ever been in little ‘puddle-jumper’ planes before.

I had no idea what a trans-oceanic sixteen-hour flight, from one side of the world to the other, from one hemisphere to the other, would be like. Needless to say I survived.

Cliff 3 – Mrs Widds and I driving ten thousand kilometers across Canada, and back, towing an 8 meter (25′) travel trailer that we’d only picked up four days previously, having never towed anything before, ever, either of us.

I was the designated planner and map-reader (Mrs Widds was working in Vancouver at the time and commuting from Widder Island – an hour-plus-change in each direction) and I discovered all sorts of fun things for us to do on the way … an amethyst mine, Dinosaur Provincial Park, hyper-tourist-y jaunts in Niagara Falls … but neither of us got the hang of the intricacies of reversing our honking great (as it seemed at the time) RV into camping spaces with millimeters to spare (there was lots of room, really) until we were well on our way home.

Each of these ‘cliffs’ moved my life forward in ways that were wondrous and terrible, challenging (understatement of the millennia!) and satisfying … but, all things considered, I’d rather any cliffs that come my way in the future, be a smidge less … hmm … high.

-oOo-

And now, for all you Swingin’ hepcats out there, here’s Muggsy Spanier’s Ragtime Band, getting smooth in the AM with, ‘Relaxin’ at the Touro’ …

A Perfect Ten – 2016

Continuing my countdown to my blog’s 10th Anniversary on 27th September this year, I’m revisiting what I posted on or around that date each year.

In 2016 I actually posted on the 27th of September. It was the third installment in my series about our adventures at Otter Lake.

Otter Lake was the second, and unfortunately the last (so far) of our ‘big’ adventures in our travel trailer. (the first was our epic cross-country, 10,000-kilometers-in-31-days peregrination from here to Niagara Falls and back the previous year – the archive reads chronologically from the bottom of the page to top)

There’s many sad things in this world but perhaps one of the saddest is seeing great swathes of Mother Nature decimated by the meddling of humans. In this instance I’m referring to the pine-beetle infestation that is as a result of the original forests being plundered for timber and never replanted properly. The rich bio-diversity that exists in a natural forest was replaced with a cash-crop of endless rows of pine trees.

Well, add to that diversity-desert an increase in global temperatures and the pine beetle became the apex predator in no time at all. (it’s taken decades for the penny to finally drop for them’s wot’s in charge of the forests, on both sides of the 49th parallel, to contemplate changing their business practices, but the damage has been done)

Wildfires love all that dead and dying wood, and when the wildfires are done the bare earth is washed away and mountainsides collapse.

Well done, humans.

(As we drove to Otter Lake along the Crowsnest Highway we saw attempts to mitigate this carnage by the establishment of ‘protected’ areas of bio-diverse treel-ings. (tree-lets?) If they survived predation and successive wildfires those trees should be mature enough by now (4 years later) to have grown fruitful and multiplied. I hope so)

Underneath our adventures at Otter Lake rested this sadness of the trees, which reflected in my writing at that time … which brings us full circle to today, doesn’t it?

So great are the changes to the human environment we’re living through right now, the one thing that has driven men of power since the times of Gilgamesh, the acquisition of ‘more’, (whatever their definition of ‘more’ may be) is being irrevocably, and painfully, extinguished.

The corona virus surrounds us all, whether we like it or not. The knowledge that the underpinnings of almost every society are being exposed for the anathema they are, sits with us all, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we’re even aware of it or not, and it is what drives us now … it drives some of us to be and do better, for our Selves and others, and it drives some of us to resort to violence when asked to wear a mask.

These posts are about looking into a snapshot of my past to see if they connect to my present and have any influence on going forward.

By the time I wrote the story about Kerpy, I’d found a place of peace within the sadness of the trees, there was certainly nothing I could do about it other than to witness their lives.

My task in the present is to find a place of peace within the sadness, (and madness) of humanity, because there’s certainly nothing I can do for them other than to bear witness. Like so many of us, I’m not in a position of power to change the path humanity seems so bound and determined to follow.

What I can do, is appreciate humanity’s bio-diversity, live within my beliefs, do something really hard once in a while, love a few humans, have compassion for the majority, and hold accountable those dishonourable cowards who have shown their true colours.

The Great Blog Post Archive Emendation

Yep, ’emendation’ is a real word! It means a ‘correction’ or a ‘change’.

As part of my idea of revisiting one post in each of the last 10 years of my blogging career, I also wanted to go through the posts and delete the deletable, and update the updateable … which I now have done.

How did it turn out, I hear you ask?

First the deletions – 165 posts are gone. There’s probably a cached version of them somewhere on the interwebz, but as far as I’m concerned the only copies of (some of) them are on my external hard-drive.

I had a tough time deleting them to start with, it’s like they were my babies and I was abandoning them, but the only ones that truly ceased to exist were things like movie trailers, or links to things that had been removed. I started in 2010, and by the time I got to the end of 2019 I was deleting without a qualm.

Then there was the updatings. I ended up doing some sort of updating to all the remaining 369 posts … mostly renewing links, revising categories, keywords, and endeavouring to make sure there were no links left to the posts I’d deleted. That could be embarrassing. (just like typos though, we can always bank on there being at least one that gets missed)

I came across a few posts that I’ll turn into short stories and … who am I kidding, I couldn’t keep a story ‘short’ if my life depended on it, (maybe if my life did indeed depend on it, maybe) so they’ll probably end up evolving into something bigger than I anticipate, but what sort of wordsmiths would we be if we didn’t occasionally bite off writerly things bigger than we could chew?

I came across some wonderful videos too, like the fabulous peanut diving ferrets … and this one, which for some twisty reason cheers me up no end when the world tries to drag me down …

A Perfect Ten – 2017

Previous years, HERE.

Because the 27th of September falls so near by Birth Day (30th Sept) I’ve noticed a trend of the nearby posts being variations on that theme. Who’da’thunk! … and while those are important to me, I’ve chosen to skip along to the nearest post that isn’t about my Birth Day.

Case in point, this one, on the 1st October 2017, in which we build our garden shed.

Storage has always been a premium here on Widder Island, because as I mentioned in the 2017 post we have a large farmhouse’s worth of equipment stored in a little two-bedroom cottage … and moreso now that we’ve shifted our ‘Wunder-Luster’ gears to focus on finding our ‘forever’ home and then travelling in our trusty travel trailer, rather than the other way around as we initially planned. Thank you Convid-19.

I’ve often thought throughout my three-score years (mostly during the second one-score of ’em anyway) that the fact that I didn’t have, nor need, many possessions to be a mark of independence.

Given my upbringing, it’s not surprising I felt that way. Permanence and security, safety and trust, were illusions that were inherently dangerous to my young self. It was best to carry as little with me as possible … a survival strategy that made for a quick getaway, when and if necessary.

But, that kind of ‘independence’ relied on the stability of a whole lot of social conditions which are no longer secure (if they ever were) Thank you, again, Covid-19

However, in order to live my life the way I yearned to do, (Mrs Widds too, by-the-way. That’s one of the reasons we get on so well together) which was to live sustainably and comfortably, it would require the gathering of certain possessions. Tools and equipment to be precise.

Since we’ve been on Widder Island (8 years, at last tally) we’ve been accumulating what we needed, when things came on sale, or good quality 2nd-hand or thrift-store purchases.

By the time September 2017 came around we just didn’t have enough room for storage and live our lives at the same time.

Hence the shed.

By the end of 2019 we were ready, finally.

2020 was going to be our year … we were going to put almost everything in storage, hitch up our travel trailer and head  off into the wild blue yonder. … and, recording it on our Wunder-Lusters YouTube channel, we would seek out strange and wonderful new places, meet all sorts of strange and wonderful new people, and if we came across our ‘forever home’ that was all the better … well, we all know how that turned out don’t we? … for everyone.

T’was a bitter pill. One that I still joust with on occasions … but then what’s life without a few jousts?

I don’t know when we’ll get there now. I’d like to think we will, but, there’s a giant gap between then and now. It’s funny isn’t it? I thought this series would be a bit of a celebration of my ten years blogging on WordPress.

Going back in time is enabling me to clarify going forward … which isn’t a bad thing at all.

A Perfect Ten – 2018

Continuing my countdown to this blog’s 10th Anniversary on the 27th September by revisiting what I was posting at that time each year. (here’s the post forA Perfect Ten – 2019)

Today we hit 2018.

The nearest post to the date was 30th September – my Birth Day, my 60th in fact! The post itself is a little bit of a celebration, but in it I referenced a post I’d written about five months earlier, wherein I ponder the upcoming event and what, if anything it meant to me.

At sixty-one I still feel much the same about the passing of years, but I want to add a bit more about the Days themselves.

If you’ve announced your birth day on the interwebs (and we’re connected in some way), you might’ve noticed that I respond with’Happy Birth Day’, and not the more traditional ‘Happy Birthday’.

There’s a reason for that.

I’m rather fond of ritual celebrations, the ones that are connected in some way to Mother Earth or the deeper substance of our lives, and the day we’re born is probably the most important one. Although recognised in our diverse cultures, I thought it deserved its own upper-case ‘H’, and ‘B’, and ‘D’. … just like Summer Solstice, (coming up soon here in the Northern Hemisphere) the Queen, (there can be only one) and the Fraser Valley. (where I live)

Language, (particularly the English language) is a very fluid entity, and although there are occasional ‘fluidations’ that gets up our noses, (we all have our pet peeves … or several … or many. Go on, admit it) that fluidity is a good thing. It stops us, and our culture, from stagnating. And while a little stagnation is OK every now and then, if we do it for too long we end up smelling like bog-gas.

I also talked about getting into the final rounds of editing ‘Prelude’, (for those who are new to my blog is the tale of how I gained some rather fascinating wisdoms) which led me into a bit of a blue funk about my writing efforts of late.

“What writing,” I hear you ask. “Exactly,” I respond.

Along with our proposed Wunder-Lusters adventures, I feel like every other project I had in the planning stages was torpedoed by the Plague of the 21st Century, (the first one at least. I have a sneaky suspicion that these kinds of global events are just getting started) including my writing, fiction that is.

I have story ideas, I have outlines, (I’m mostly a pantser, but occasionally, when the mood strikes me, I do a serviceable rendition of a plotter) I have research, I have scenes – with dialogue and everything, I even have some fantastic mock-covers I created with Pulp-O-Mizer, (you’ve never heard of Pulp-O-mizer? Oh, it’s such fun, even if you’re not a writer, you need to go over there right now and have a play, I’ll wait) but what I don’t have is all the words lined up in the right order and formed into (coherent) sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters.

It’s a bit depressing really … and frustrating.

I was OK shifting gears away from my writing to focus on getting the Wunder-Lusters up and running, but I can’t seem to find the right combination of gears to get back to it. I keep on grinding the clutch. (which incidentally, is why I love that our truck has an automatic transmission)

Sometimes you just have to keep grinding the clutch until all those bloody little gears line up again.