Sunday, February 9, 2020

THE SIREN AND THE SAILOR

2'x4' Mixed Media on Canvas
          I don't know how many of you who read this blog like poetry but it's something I've always enjoyed writing. I wrote the following poem many years ago, when I was living on my sailboat Dreamer II and I painted the whimsical picture at that time as well. I had a lot of fun and took a lot of liberty painting a caricature of my very well-endowed wife. The poem, believe it or not, is based on a true story. One of my sailing buddies, at the time, told me about a friend of his who was looking for crew to sail across the Pacific from Victoria. Apparently his friend signed a fellow on who he thought was a little odd because the man told him the reason he wanted to crew for him was because he was going to marry a mermaid. He just laughed it off, thought it was a great joke, until over half way across the Pacific, the weather sunny and calm, after taking a nap he went up on deck to take his turn at the helm. His shipmate was gone; he'd disappeared, not a sign of him anywhere. Hmm...makes a person wonder if he jumped overboard to marry his mermaid? (The poem sounds best spoken like a pirate.)   

THE SIREN AND THE SAILOR

Har!  C'me 'ere and set a spell,
'Cause this old salty dog o' the sea
Has a yarn to spin, a tale to tell
That'll keep yuh in awe and ecstasy.

'Twas a clear night such as this,
A sliver of a moon in the sky,
The sea as flat as a plate of piss;
When I heard a maiden's melancholy cry.

At first I thought it a trick,
A light breeze through the riggin' and sails;
So I gives meself a good hard kick,
But I 'ears it again, 'er mournful wails.

It sounds as if she's cryin'
Alone, adrift on the endless sea;
A castaway on a raft dyin'
'Til I hears 'er voice call clear to me.

I squinted through the darkness
Across the star reflected sea;
I'll be blow'd!  For off in the blarkness
Stood an isle and its maid o' mystery!

Voice as soft as an angel's,
She hallooed out to me by name.
Agin me logic, agin me will,
I steered the boat closer to test 'er game.

I could scarce believe me e'e!
She stood stark naked on a rock;
Smilin', 'er long arms outstretched to me
Beckonin', "Come ashore an' 'ave a wee talk."

Tell me.  Do I look like a fool?
On second thought, don't answer that;
Not 'til on the tale I've thrown more fuel,
Don't make y'ur final rule on this chat.

I ached for those slender arms,
Her coquettish smile of desire;
To be enveloped within her charms;
Set my body, my very soul afire!

She promised love ever more;
Days of laughter, nights of pleasure;
Even marriage by the seashore,
One I could trust an' forever more treasure.

As the vessel neared the shore
Close to imminent disaster,
A silent voice deep within my core
Said, "Wait!  What's the rush?  Y'ur still the master!"

Turnin' 'er hard back on course
I yelled, "One day, I will return!"
Instantly overcome with remorse,
I never chanced a look back o'er the stern.

In the darkness of the night
I heered 'er melancholy plea.
"Oh sailor, sailor, why take flight?
I'll always love you.  Please come back to me."

Those words, "I'll always love you."
Have haunted me o'er the years;
"Please come back to me."  Tis sad but true,
I gave up love in search of other spheres.

The captain looked mad to me,
Quite completely out of his realm;
As he stood starin' 'cross the sea,
One hand o'er his eyes, t' other at the helm.

He was dressed in tux an' tails,
A silken scarf about his throat,
His starched shirt gleamin' white as the sails
Flapped loosely in the breeze below his coat.

For awhile he was silent,
And then, almost in a whisper,
"Mate!  Do you hear that soulful lament?
There!  There!  Now it sounds a little crisper.

Listen!  She's callin' me name.
Step lively mate!  Take holt this spoke!"
No sooner did I grab hold the same,
He was over the side doin' the stroke.

As he swam away he said, 
"If yuh want the longytude,
It's under the pillow on me bed
Written side b' side with the lattytude."

"Hah!  As if I'd come back here.
This place is a source of madness.
But wait!  What's that sound, that lilt I hear?
Can it be my name, spoke with such sadness?"

Thursday, February 6, 2020

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT

          A little over a year ago, I was just getting out of the hospital after having an operation where the doc disconnected the colostomy bag that had been attached to my belly and then put all my guts back in the correct places - or at least I hope he did. I was barely walking when I went home, if it could be called walking - to me, it was more like a slow shuffle and a jerky sway - if I was on a dance floor, it might look kinda cool as long as I didn't fall over. As the months dragged by, my energy level was at an all time low and so was the hair on my head. I was almost as bald as an apple and as sour as a green one. I had to use a cane and I was surprised when I looked back over my shoulder that I couldn't see a trail of slime like a slug leaves as it slides along the ground. 
          Realizing my life would never be the same again, I was as bull-headed as ever and determined to be as normal as it was physically possible for a man to be without a proper functioning ass hole. When I was younger, I used to scope out the women but now it's toilets - would be more than a tell-tale trail of slime behind me if I have to make a mad dash to a washroom with the cheeks of my ass clenched so tight, it would probably take a crowbar to part them. Although I don't know what it's like to be pain-free anymore, I'm happy to say, my tolerance has grown more and more with each passing month. Actually, if I suddenly woke up pain-free, I'd most likely think something was terribly wrong with me. At least now, I'm able to walk along quite well and can even break the ice off the eaves, shovel the walkway and manage to remove most of the snow that's reachable off two roofs. Of course, I usually pay for my endeavours but it's amazing how a great soak up to my neck in lobster-red hot water relieves the aches combined with a little pot to alleviate the pain. Don't they say, "No pain - no gain." so I have to keep on truckin' right along.
          Although I've come a long way since I was inflicted with rectal cancer, chemo and radiation taking a helluva toll, I certainly didn't get here alone. I have to doff my hat to a lot of doctors, nurses, care attendants and my wonderful wife, not to mention friends and neighbours. If there's anything I've learned throughout this ordeal is to take good advice and not be sucked into my so called bullshit pride - there's nothing wrong with asking for a helping hand. It's been a tough journey so far but I've traveled far, and perhaps, even if it's as far as I ever get, I'm still thankful to have reached this point. Of course my future is as slippery as a banana peel, slippery as an eel and it's for sure a slippery slope I'm clinging to but hell, life is what you make it, so I still plan on making the best of it, at least for an old man who no longer has a proper ass hole. Actually, come to think of it, not really sure I ever had one, because if one was able to fine tune a lot of sounds in the washrooms I attended over the years, my grunts and farts could probably still be heard...hmm...wonder if the stink still lingers too...cheers, eh!  

Saturday, February 1, 2020

HIPPIE DAYS FOR ME

          I don't know how many of us old people are still around from the hippie era but much of those bygone days still remain a psychedelic blur, a magical mystery to me. Although it was a time of flowers, beads, no bras, peace and love, the slogan, "make love not war" was a terrible reality - young men were dying in Viet Nam, a useless and bullshit war where huge profits were made on their corpses, not to mention the innocents of that far away country. Things still haven't changed - just different casualties in different countries - the war mongers for profit still in power and business. I'm a bit of a history buff and from what I've gleaned, what's going on today has been going on for thousands of years; nothing has changed and most likely never will.
          I was fortunate, living in Canada and not the US because it saved me from being drafted in that unnecessary conflict across the Pacific. Because of the fear instilled in everyone by the two Atom Bombs that had been dropped on Japan during WWII,  like many other young men, I wound up because I was flat broke, in all places; the last place I ever wanted to be: the effing army - a six month enlistment concentrating on the possible event of Vancouver being hit by a nuclear bomb and how to deal with the horrifying results, that is if any of us were lucky enough to survive such a blast. It's a cinch the military weren't too concerned about my joining because with poor eyesight, weighing in at about 125 lbs. and a rifle almost as big as me, I would have made a piss-poor soldier, but then again, human fodder is needed on a grand scale because if no one shows up, then there's no war. When only a couple of weeks remained till the end of my course, I broke out with a fever and no matter how many covers I was wrapped in, I was literally drenched in sweat and shivering uncontrollably. When two MP's arrived in a jeep to haul my skinny, white ass off to the base, I could hear their booming voices threatening that I would be instantly discharged if I didn't go with them, I was so glad when I heard my dad yell back from the porch, and told them to take a hike, I wasn't going anywhere. So for me, except for my short military interlude, the hippie-era was a great but hazy time. However, even today, I sometimes wonder what happened to a young, handsome American friend, who showed up at one of our usual racetrack parties? He was all dolled up in an army uniform and being shipped off to Nam the next morning, never to be heard from again.
          Drugs were certainly prevalent in those days and I can remember going to a club called the Electric Circus in downtown Vancouver. The unmistakable pungent aroma of pot was wafting throughout the place, while a completely stoned long-haired band pounded on their instruments as the lead singer wailed out the latest tunes. Can't remember if I was stoned or drunk, quite possibly both but I do remember knocking over a metal folding chair, which like dominoes, knocked over a whole row. The band was screaming-loud and the audience, mainly wanna-be-flower-children were so out of it, I don't think anyone even noticed the racket. Although I embraced the 60's and 70's with open arms, had long hair past my shoulders, wore bell-bottom jeans, spoke the latest funky lingo and at the time, a functioning drunk, I still managed to work at two jobs and graduate from art school. Of course, like any young generation before and after that era, we had our good times, bad times, high times, low times and all the in-between times because it was our time...cheers, eh! 

Friday, January 31, 2020

McGEE, ME AND A TREE

             When I arose very early in the morning, to take McGee, our little puppy out for his constitutional, the stars, glittering like diamonds, appeared to be strewn across the black velvet sky by a careless jewel thief. As I stood in the crisp air, the pup sniffing around the snow covered yard to deposit his little treasure in just the right place, I heard the trees in the nearby forest whispering; a language only they can understand. A slight breeze stealthily crept up my legs, which felt like the cold hands of death on the prowl and I shivered in anticipation; not afraid, but worrisome just the same. McGee had no sooner finished his business, when the sharp yip of a coyote in the distance froze him in his tracks, and then, we both hurried to the house, each of us looking over our shoulders for different reasons.
           The next time McGee went outside so he could relieve himself, dawn was breaking. The ridge of naked trees glowing pink against the clear azure sky looked beautiful. However, as I stood, my back against the cold breeze blowing out of the northwest, I realized that just beyond the hilltop, a short distance away, enormous patches of clear-cut forests abounded and it brought a silent tear to my eye. I find it strange that so many people comment on how much they love Nature and yet as the trees disappear around them, the rivers, streams and lakes poisoned, not to mention all the wild creatures dying, very few take a stand. Only when Mr. Ugly turns up on their doorstep do they cry out, protest, but not for the right reasons, it's mainly because the values of their properties drop. 
         I admit it, I have hugged trees and whether or not they enjoyed it, I have no idea. But to think that trees don't have any intelligence is a shortcoming on our part because if you look closely at a group of trees growing very close to one another, you'll often notice that the trunks and limbs twist and bend so they seldom touch their neighbours as they reach towards the light. One winter, when I was a young man, I was a logger of sorts. Because of my small stature and slight weight, I worked on the landing chopping off any remaining limbs and measured the trees for the guy who bucked them into designated lengths, which were then loaded onto a logging truck and driven away. As I look back to that early time in my life, unlike now, when that patch of allotted land had been logged, it may no longer have been pristine, but you barely noticed the missing trees.
       But hey, besides hugging a few trees, I've also held a sign and protested because trees to me have more meaning than the dollar signs that are attached to their trunks. But don't get me wrong, I don't have a quarrel concerning logging, I wouldn't be here without trees. They've kept me clothed, and being an artist, supplied me with paper and their heat has not only warmed my body but my heart as well. However, nowadays, because of technology, there are more sustainable methods available to produce our needs but because of greed, deliberate ignorance and stupidity, lands the world over are being stripped bare. My heart goes out to the courageous caretakers of the Earth, who unarmed, put their bodies on the line of fire. Yeah, trees are important to me and to McGee as well, because soon he'll be able to lift his leg and pee on them...cheers, eh!        

Monday, January 27, 2020

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

8"x10" Acrylic Painting
              I haven't been doing very much in the way of artwork lately but a friend of mine named Gary dropped in about a week ago and asked if I was up to lettering signs and painting. Since it's not physically exhausting, I told him I'd be happy to letter a couple of signs and paint a picture for him. I'm a person, having worked in television, freelanced for ad agencies and then ran my own business when I was younger, I actually enjoy working under a deadline. When he said, "No hurry. Whenever you get it done is fine," I replied, "I've already got one painting to do without a rush and if you leave it up to me, you won't get it until you want it the next day, so you better give me a deadline." Of course he said tomorrow, which was impossible, and we had a good laugh.  
              Since I'm unable to lift anything very heavy and tire easily, Gary moved a lot of lumber for me and then set up a 4'x8' sign board on saw-horses so I could cut it to size and then coat it out for the signs. But what was so amazing this autumn, was when I ordered 4 cords of firewood for the winter and had it dumped in the yard - he drove in one day and stacked it all in the woodshed for me - now how great was that - and he's not a young man either.
            While the two 32"x48" sign boards were drying, I painted a picture of his cabin in the woods, which he had built several years ago. We had agreed on a price but while I was painting his picture, I remembered all the things he had done for me. I also recalled painting my sailboat Dreamer II, while she lay at anchor in Desolation Sound and realizing that one day, that's all I would have, a painting. So, when Gary came to pick up his painting this afternoon, I told him it was a gift. He insisted on paying but I said, "No. You've done a lot for me and besides, it's a cabin-warming-gift - a little late but a gift just the same." The smile on his face and how much he liked the painting was worth more than the money. 
            I have a very good friend, Winston Bushnell, who gave me something useful on our move to Fosterville, NB from Nanaimo, BC and I told him I wouldn't be able to give it back. He told me that's OK and that someone had given it to him. Just give it to someone else who can use it. I believe just because you can make some money off of something, it's often better to give it away - what goes around, comes around. That's my philosophy and it's always worked well for me. 
           I've painted a shit load of signs over the years and I remember this fellow coming into my shop that wanted a dark green van lettered all around, including the back doors. When I told him it would cost about 5-700 bucks, he told me that he couldn't afford it, the mental health organization he donated much of his time to, didn't have that kind of money and then he asked what I could do for a couple of hundred bucks. So, knowing lettering the van would take a couple of days, if I did it myself, I told him to bring the van over on Saturday and two cases of beer, one for me and one for my helper. Besides his smile that lit up my whole shop and the great time me and my friend had lettering the van was all worth it - let's face it - on a hot summer day and cold beers, life just doesn't get much better than that...cheers, eh!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

DID I MENTION DEMENTIA?

Charlie and His Wife
          When I woke up early this morning, while rubbing the sleep from my wrinkly old eyes, I felt that I'd forgotten something but I couldn't imagine what? As soon as I was completely dressed, had combed all the knots out of my long grey hair, had squeezed my denture plate into place so it wasn't clacking, I was on a mission. It wasn't until I arrived in the middle of the living room and was gazing at the family photos hanging on the wall that it finally came to me - I'd somehow misplaced my mind. I was confused. I knew where I was but didn't know where I was going that seemed to be so mega-important when I set out. Confusion and dementia often go together like vodka and orange juice and depending on how many shots you put down, the symptoms can be identical. However, being confused and forgetful seems to be happening a wee bit more lately. I put it down to chemo-brain and then again, if I really put things into perspective, it's never been that unusual for me to get a thought in my head, which I'm really concentrating on, and then tend to get sidetracked, go off in another direction. At least that's my story, I may be forgetful and confused at times but I don't have dementia and I'm sticking to that story!
          At age 78, there are quite a few things wrong with me physically but as far as I know, dementia hasn't set in. And although I may not be really ancient, something not everyone knows, is that you don't have to be old to have dementia come knocking at your door. For instance, around 55 years of age, I used to volunteer at a place for the elderly and mentally unstable. In the morning, when I first arrived, I used to spoon-feed a man his porridge who was quite a bit younger than me. He was a gentle giant who stood about 6'4" and unlike me, his hair hadn't even turned grey. I don't know if any of his family came to visit him and if they didn't it wouldn't have mattered since his last remaining memory was his name, which oddly enough, I can't remember.
           Also, I remember a woman, only 50 years of age, who had a smile that would light up a room. She was a kindly gentle soul and had been an elementary teacher. Can you imagine driving a car to pick someone up and then forgetting how to drive - well, that's what happened to her and she was in traffic going down a hill. (Luckily, the accident wasn't severe and no one was injured.) But not everyone who comes down with dementia is gentle and has a warm disposition. I recall a man around age 65. He was a retired lawyer and a miserable bastard. He actually attacked one of the residents with a razor and sliced his head up. And another patient had been a housewife, who at first was very kind and social but then turned into some sort of demon - even her voice changed - the raging language spoken sounding more than just foreign.
          I don't think it's unusual to have a favourite person to look after and I would have to say mine was an 85 year old man who's name was Charlie. He was admitted shortly after his wife had died. Since he and his wife had been swimmers, Scotch-taped to the door of his room was a huge photo of him and his wife in their younger years. They were wearing bathing suits and he was holding her arms-length above his head. I took him swimming once a week and one day as we were doing laps, I looked behind me and much to my surprise he'd disappeared. When I saw him almost at the bottom at the deep end of the pool, I dove down and pulled him to the surface. When I asked him why he was under the water, he told me he didn't know. Before resuming our swim, I asked him if he was alright and was still able to continue. When he replied everything was fine, we started swimming again. After a few strokes, I looked behind me and there was Charlie sitting down at the bottom of the pool and looking up at me. That was the last time we went swimming because his mind had deteriorated to the point where he had forgotten how to swim.
           Of course not all the people at the facility weren't losing their minds. One girl, only 18, had been in a terrible auto accident and although her mind was fine, she couldn't do anything for herself. Another woman around 60 had been a scientist and she had some sort of degenerating bone disease. I remember while hugging her, feeling and hearing her bones crackling - it was very weird.
          So, you don't have to be old to have dementia sneak up on you with real soft paws to wind up in such a facility. The only thing I really know about being old is that I may not come down with dementia, sooner or later something is going to do me in - no one gets out of here alive...cheers, eh!     

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

THOUGHT I WAS HAVING A C-SECTION!

          I wanted to write and post this blog yesterday but due to a rectal biopsy two days ago, it's taken longer than I thought to recover from the enema, anesthetic and the operation. As I was stretching out for most of yesterday, wondering why I was in so much pain, it all came back to me. Just after my hospital bed rolled down the hallway and then stopped outside the operating room, a sign on the door said, C-SECTIONS. Thinking this was sort of odd, I said to the pretty nurse who was in charge of me, "I don't know if I'm up to having a C-Section and I really don't want any more kids, especially at this age."
          She laughed and then said, "But you would make history and the Guinness Book of Records. You'd be the first man to give birth!"
          We were both laughing when she pushed me into the OR. However, after I'd skooched over onto the operating table, laid on my back in the appropriate spot, I began to get a little nervous after she strapped down my arms and especially when she said, "Now, lift up your legs so I can get them in the stirrups." 
          The last time I climbed into stirrups, it was to sit astride a magnificent steed, not lying on my back with my legs parted so the doc could get a good look up my hairy orifice. I noticed he was wearing a light on his head, which didn't surprise me because I expect it's pretty dark up there where the sun never shines. As I watched the anesthesiologist injecting the anesthetic into me she said, "Time for your afternoon cocktail."
           To which I replied, "Nothing like good drugs," and then I started counting to see how long it would take before I was out, "One...Two...Thr..."
          Apparently they had difficulty waking me after the surgery and I figure they either had to give me a shot of something else or hoisted up my bare ass and gave me a spanking - I have to admit, it was stinging a little bit.
           By the time I left the hospital, I felt great, so my wife and I went to a restaurant for lunch. I was ravenous since I hadn't had anything to eat since supper the day before. And as I was pounding back the bacon and eggs, I was thinking about cleaning the snow and ice off the roofs the next day but when I woke up the next morning, I was so stiff and sore, I could barely walk. The nurse told me that the operation would only take about 15 minutes but I have a feeling I was stretched out in the stirrups longer than that. 
          I'm still walking rather stiffly today but at least there isn't too much pain (actually don't know what it's like to go without a little pain each day). Life has certainly gone sideways for me ever since cancer invaded my A-hole but in comparison to a year ago, I've come a long way. Having been a physically active person all my life, I may push myself a little harder than necessary and the amount of pain that I may suffer feels good - makes me realize that I'm still alive...cheers, eh! 

Don't know if you read the last blog and although it might look serious, it's anything but - should put a smile on your face...cheers, eh!