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.

Bon Voyage, Diana Rigg

Ah, Diana, no-one wore a cat-suit like ‘Emma Peel’. You will be missed.

No idea who took this fabulous photo, but whoever you were, thank you

No idea who took this fabulous photo, but whoever you were, thank you

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!

It’s Not Personal, It’s Not Personal, It’s Not …

Do you know the very best night to be able to see the shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor Shower?

Tonight. the 11th August.

Do you know how many years I’ve lived here on Widder Island?

Eight.

Do you know how many years the night sky has been cloudy on the 11th of August, here on Widder Island?

Eight.

Am I taking this personally?

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’ …

BREAKING NEWS! … ABBA Wins the Eurovision Song Contest, Again!

How, you might ask, did this miracle of miracles occur?

The answer is the answer to a great many things occurring in the world at the moment.

The Eurovision Song Contest is held every year with a different European country as host. This year it was going to be in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, in May, then Covid-19 happened, and that was the end of that.

Not to be deterred by this dastardly virus, the BBC decided to commission a ‘Eurovision Broadcast’, to decide which was the best Eurovision song, ever.

Here’s the bit about the selection process, but the most salient point about this whole story is that “Wateloo’ by ABBA won!

One of the best things to come out of 1974, in all it’s original glory …

Face(mask)ing Evolution

We did our first ‘lockdown’ Costco shop in early March. (we do a regular once-a-month bulk-goods shop there)

We were the only one’s in the entire place wearing masks, (and gloves – which we don’t use anymore, but use soapy cloths that are immediately washed, instead – soap breaks down the virus protein) including the staff. (there was one other bloke, however, who came in with a full gas-mask-and goggles-and-gloves combo) Those were the days when no-one knew, at least in our neck of the woods, how virulent or transmissible the virus was.

Every stare that turned our way varied between incredulous, scathing, pitying, etc. Most people studiously avoided making eye contact with the crazy plague-rumour-mongers.

To say that we felt uncomfortable was an understatement. Not only did we experience that initial ’emegherd I’m going to suffocate!!!’ sensation when wearing masks for the first time, we also were very aware of those ‘slings and arrows’ being cast our way from the other shoppers. All we knew was that we were both in the ‘at-risk’ category and weren’t going to take any chances.

Each month there were a few more mask-wearers. We’d nod politely to each other, making sure we were two meters apart at all times, while some other (unmasked) shoppers would make a point of passing by even closer than they normally would. (I mean, what kind of dipshit arsehole do you have to be to do that on purpose? – rhetorical question, I know)

‘Normal’  – there’s a word that’s never going to have the same meaning again.

Scientific evidence slowly revealed more of the nature of the beast.

The global infection rates climbed, as did the global death-toll. (over 16 million people are confirmed to have been infected world-wide as of midnight last night – PDT)

Almost every government on the planet dropped the ball, big time, and most, to their credit, eventually, picked it up again.

Last month about a third of all the shoppers in Costco were wearing masks. Everyone looked uncomfortable – the wearers of masks and the un-wearers of masks.

But, a change was in the air.

The long-term reality of this plague sinking in, I suspect.

I felt a knot of tension in my gut that reared its head every time I went into a shop or enclosed public space, unravel, just a little bit.

Yesterday’s shop was, interesting.

About half the shoppers wore masks. I didn’t spot anyone wearing it under their nose, or chin.

We mask-wearers have learned to ‘eye-read’.

We smiled at each other, a camaraderie of shared responsibility, not just for ourselves but for the unknown health-status of others.

It was a good feeling.

I looked into the eyes of those who weren’t wearing masks. As best I could anyway, because this time no-one was making eye-contact, at all. Their brows were furrowed in a sort of defiant desperation.

Peer pressure, whether internally or externally imposed, is a fearsome thing, particularly when someone’s not ready to engage with the knowledge that they’re going to have to change their sense of their Self … It’s not just the actual wearing of a mask, it’s all the reasons why they chose not to in the first place, and how loudly they touted those reasons, and who they touted them to.

Like just about everything that sets off our flight/fight/fright knee-jerk response, reality is nowhere as universe-ending as we imagine it to be. Who knows, we may all come to appreciate learning how to ‘eye-read’.

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.