Thursday, May 23, 2019

READING BETWEEN THE LINES

Lookin' for a Ride
          As some may know, my wife and I have been planning a road trip to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in our wee Hippie-Hangout trailer but because I haven't been in the best physical condition for quite some time, actually almost two years and still not in the best of shape, we've decided to fly there. That being said, I'm not sure if I should go for the blue or the brown diapers. I could wear the blue because even I am not quite sure anymore whether I'm male or not and that would at least reinforce my gender. And then again, I'm leaning towards the brown, besides matching the colour of my eyes, the deposit, if I somehow don't make it to a bathroom in time, might be camouflaged...hmm...then again the aroma, eu de toilette, I'm sure cannot be disguised. I suppose if passengers are turning to look at me or everyone is wearing an oxygen mask in case of an emergency, I'll get the hint that the jig's up, that I crapped my pants. Hopefully I won't be given a parachute and tossed out of the plane or the pilot doesn't pass out from the stink. 
Peace, eh!
          Up until a few days ago, I was pretty sure I wouldn't go. However, after receiving an email and reading between the lines, from a 70 year old friend who has been living in Mexico and Guatemala for about the last ten years and gives most of his old age pension to educate some kids - he lives in cheap places, sleeps on beaches when the tourists leave and rides a bicycle (not that long ago he got hit by a van, which destroyed his bike and broke three of his ribs) - I decided, even if I'm in rough shape now, which might be the best I will ever be again, to pack my bag, paints and brushes and head west for a month. It's been eight years since I've been back and I know, besides Sarah (who would have been excruciatingly disappointed) my kids, ex-wife and friends will all be pleased to see me. Of course, because of our finances, I still wouldn't be going if my daughter Brandi, who was planning to come to see me with her family in Saint John when I have a cancer check-up, rented us a place to stay. She said the price of our place would have equaled the cost of their two day visit. And where we'll be staying in Nanaimo is within walking distance from where I used to live on my sailboat - now how great is that! Also, Newcastle Island, where me and my little dog Misty walked around many times, is a short ferry ride away - I won't be walking far but it would be nice to just have these old feet shuffle around on friendly familiar ground for a little while once again, even if the feelings that arise might be bitter/sweet.
          It's amazing how hellos are uplifting and sometimes goodbyes are too (depending on the persons). But I don't kid myself, at this age and the problems I have, some of the people I'll be seeing when I get to Nanaimo, the hellos and goodbyes could be for the very last time. And even if they aren't, one has to make the best of it, and that my friends is one of the reasons why I'm going. I've always been a risk-taker - going down the middle of the road with a turn up ahead is what I've always been about...cheers, eh!

Monday, May 13, 2019

INCREDIBLE MARIJUANA HEIST

Page from my recent colouring book
that I drew and wrote the poetry.
18 pages dedicated to the hippie era
Only $10. plus $2.00 shipping
           The thing about an old guy like me, there's not much of a future ahead but looking back, in comparison, there's a helluva lot more past. And the thing about getting old, you never want to get me yappin' because I don't know when to shut up. However, since my fingers don't do a rapid tap-dance on the computer keys, like my mouth flappin' in the breeze, I have to say a lot in as few words as possible.
               Due to some physical issues, which at times can get a wee bit depressive, I try to keep this blog a touch on the funny side if I can. Thinking back to a time, only months into my first marriage, which although the event was a bit risky, I'd like to share a tale about when my friend and I pulled off an incredible marijuana heist.
          The tale starts at the beginning of the 70's in the summer time, the real hippie-dippy era, when everything was cool man, far out and outta sight. My friend Jimmy and I met when we were working in TV together in Lethbridge. When he moved to Calgary  to become a DJ for a radio station, I followed in his footsteps a few months later, when I landed a job at a sign company designing signs. He was single then and living with his parents and I was sorta single. Well...not really, my wife and kids had yet to arrive. Anyway, I'm over at his folk's place this day and we step outside with a couple of cold beers to greet the setting sun, dusk quickly descending and more importantly, share some pot.
                As we're standing on the porch passing the joint back and forth, he says to me, "How do you like our neighbour's garden?"
             It was a small backyard so the garden wasn't very big. Besides some lettuce and other tasty edibles, they were mainly growing corn, so I replied, "It's alright."
            "Take a closer look at the corn," he said.
            Although it was almost dark, I'm sure when my eyes bugged out, the whites glowed and could most likely be seen a block away. "Is that what I think it is?" I asked in disbelief.
            He nodded his head and answered, "Yup. I'd like to rip it off but as you can see, I don't feel like having my ass bit off." 
              His neighbours had two huge dogs roaming about the backyard, leaving gobs of spittle on the ground with every step. They were about the size of rottweilers that never seemed to take their eyes off of us. If there was a staring contest going on, they were definitely the winners! More out of curiosity than anything else I asked Jimmy, "Are they always outside?"
          "They seem to be, at least every time I come out here, they're always there watching me. They must be guarding his pot plants."
           "Too bad."
            And then suddenly, just as we toked up the last of the pot, a miracle occurred, it was as if we had made a wish on the first star of the night. The man of the house stuck his head outside and called in his dogs - most likely their time to eat.  Jimmy and I looked at one another and he says, "Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"
           "Do bears poop in the woods?" and then continued, "Have you got any ideas how to snatch those plants and getaway without being seen?"
             "It's not as easy as it looks is it? They could let those two mean looking dogs out at any moment."
           Free pot! This was too good to be true and before I knew what I was going to say the words just popped out of my mouth, "You grab your Volkswagen Beetle and pull up in the front of their house and I'll grab the pot!"
              While Jimmy went to get his car, I leaped the fence like Superman in a single bound. Like a ninja, I cautiously looked around and my ears were on high alert too for an opening door, the last thing I needed was a dog attached to my ass with his sharp teeth. Adrenaline pumping through my veins I dropped down on my ass and back and skooched along the rows of corn, ripping out marijuana plants as I went. Unable to hold anymore, I dashed down alongside the side of Jimmy's neighbour's house towards the street. I was young then and sprinting from any form of danger wasn't a problem - now you see me - now you don't!
          Jimmy was right on the ball! The back door of his Beetle was wide open as I tossed the huge armful of pot into the back seat and jumped in! I don't know which was loudest, the screeching of Jimmy's tires as he pulled away from the curb or us roaring from laughter. I'm sure just the aroma from the freshly-picked pot made us even more stoned than we already were until we looked at one another and Jimmy said what I was thinking, "You do realize we're stoned, half drunk and we're packin' a shit load of pot in the back seat. We could go to jail if we're pulled over." 
          Needless to say, we got clean away and had a very hazy summer due to his neighbour's crop...cheers, eh!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

SPECIAL MOM'S IN MY LIFE

           Mom's day is a great day! For me, there's a touch of bitter sweet on this day - for mom's I had and mom's of my children and my mom in law, not to mention my grandmoms. I've been fortunate to have and have had all of these special ladies in my life and I love them all. 
          One certainly has to tip his hat to mothers, their endurance is profound and for the most part, their love is unconditional - somehow they always see the good in their kids, no matter what. As a kid, if I skinned my knee or was scared of something, I would go running to my mom crying but not my dad - somehow crying for a guy at any age doesn't seem so manly.  And besides, if I ran to my dad as a boy and showed him my bleeding knee, he might have said, "Hmm, that's quite a scratch. Don't worry though, it's a long way from your heart." Mommy's lap was always my first choice, not just because it felt warm and comforting but because it felt safe. There's a softness to a woman's body and her touch that even today, I still find assurance that everything will turn out alright, work itself out for the better. It's not that men can't be tender or considerate, to me, we always seem a little overbearing, like the world is tough, so toughen up.
              Yeah, mom's are great! When my mother was dying from lung cancer, I looked after her during her last six months. I almost took up smoking again from lighting her cigarettes - she set the bed on fire twice till I took her smokes and matches away - she was a smoker to the end. For her last birthday, since I enjoy doing calligraphy, I wrote her a poem and gave it a little flair of its own. Miss you mom...cheers, eh! 
           

Thursday, May 9, 2019

TRAMS, TRAINS AND TRACKS

          Painting this train brings back more than a few wonderful and joyful memories about trams, trains and a racehorse. 
          When I was around thirteen, a tram, somewhat larger than a streetcar traveled from Vancouver to Richmond, which took about an hour. There's just something about a tram rolling along the steel rails, rocking from side to side that's really enjoyable, especially for a boy with adventure on his mind. I only rode the tram a couple of times with my parents and sisters to Lansdowne Park, so my dad could bet the horses. There was a trestle a very short distance from where I lived and just like in my painting, it was very narrow and had a couple of small platforms with a 45 gallon barrel full of water on each one in case of fire. My friends and I had a lot of fun playing around on the trestle, which if we had fallen off could have killed or seriously injured us but kids being kids, we were fearless. We'd even walk the rails and when the tram came, if we didn't have enough time to make it to one of the platforms, we'd hang off the sides of the trestle till it thundered by, which was a little unnerving since it shook. 
           Traveling by train is a cool experience too and I've been on several trains. I rode the day-liner on Vancouver Island a couple of times and going across a high trestle near the Malahat highway, if you're afraid of heights, is not a good idea to look down and think about crashing on the rocks below. I also took one of my daughters to see her grandfolks on a train from Vancouver to Prince George; the route spectacular.  I've also traveled by train a few times from Calgary to Vancouver, the most memorable time was during my honeymoon with my first wife Doreen to meet my folks and sisters. We had our own compartment, which was very cool. 
          When I worked as a groom at Exhibition Park, a racetrack in Vancouver, which is only a hop, skip and a jump from the railroad tracks and a huge grain elevator, a couple of us young guys would jump into an empty boxcar with a sack and a broom to gather wheat that was lying around on the wooden floor. One day, while we were sweeping grains of wheat into a sack, a locomotive backed into the cars with a jolt that almost knocked us off our feet. Thinking it would be fun to ride it for awhile, we decided to stay, that is until it began going faster and faster. It's more than a little frightening to leap out of a boxcar when it's moving down the tracks, the clickity-clacks becoming more rapid but that's what we did. We didn't hit the dirt with our feet and a roll, our feet were running as fast as they could to keep our balance when we landed. 
             You might think what's a racehorse got to do with a train? Well this was a special horse that was entered in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs near Seattle. Little Choo Choo was his name and since I was the groom, I got to ride with the horse in it's own boxcar, now how special is that? Little Choo Choo didn't win the race but to me, the whole trip was a big time winner. What's not to like about curling up in sweet-smelling straw, watch a horse by the name of Little Choo Choo nibbling hay as the train rumbles along the track? For a young lad, it doesn't get much better than that...cheers, eh!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

MY FIRST BEER


          Yesterday was gorgeous; joyful flowers popping up, cheerful birds singing and the happy humming of bees in the air could be heard. It was the first time in over a year that I was able to sit outside and enjoy the sun on my back. Now one might think I'm knockin' back a cool brew and in a sense, I am. Well...a near-beer anyway - no alcohol.  
          I was around 16 years of age when I had my first beer and I guess I have my mother to thank for introducing me to that wonderful amber liquid - I loved the taste and the tartness as it hit the back of my throat right from the first sip. Having that first beer was like having sex for the first time - not only were they great experiences and memorable, in my case, they both  became rather addictive - cold beer and a hot chick - for a man like me, a great combination.  
          It was a hot day in July, the kind of day where beads of sweat instantly form on one's brow, when I tilted back my first bottle of beer. I was staying with my mom at my grandfolk's homestead alongside the Fraser River, which is not a river to mess around with - the current is extremely strong and the undertow can be extremely dangerous as well, suck your britches off with a single swallow.              There was a small island situated closer to the other side of the river that a nearby neighbour Len Lutz wanted to take us to in his little motor boat - thought it would be a good place to have sort of a picnic. At first, I thought it was a great idea until the three of us were seated in his little tin boat, our weight plus the combined weight of the motor almost had the river sloshing over the sides before we even pushed off shore; then I had my doubts. The current was so swift, he had difficulty steering the boat at such an angle, it was almost as if we were going upstream rather than directly across to the island. I have to admit I was a little bit scared and if that little boat is still around, which is highly unlikely, I expect my fingerprints can still be seen where I tightly held on.
           While my mom and Len leisurely stretched out on the sandy beach, their backs against a big tree that had washed up onto the island, most likely in the spring when the snow and ice melted, being a young lad, I decided to wander around and explore it's wildness. At one end of the island, was a stack of trees of various sizes that had grounded out when the river was higher, so I decided to climb up to the top and take a look around; nothing like height for a short kid. Upon reaching the apex, the stack of intertwined twisted trees seemed like a miniature volcano because the centre was open all the way down to the ground. When I climbed down  inside, all of a sudden, like obedient soldiers, the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention - the muddy soil was surrounded by bear tracks and they appeared to be very fresh. Well...I can tell you, for a short little guy, I flew up the inside of that stack of trees as fast as a blob of red-hot lava shooting out of a volcano. 
          When I returned to where they were sitting and casually talking, I couldn't help noticing that my mom and Len were sipping a couple of beers. I could scarce believe my eaves-dropping ears when Len asked my mom if it was alright for me to have one and she said sure. At that glorious moment, sweat running down my back from running away from a bear, which I had been certain was hot on my tail, I almost felt as if I had suddenly grown up. My first but far from my last beer, which at times have been a problem over the years, I felt as if I was in a mystical wonderland as I sat down and enjoyed a nice cold bottle of beer with them. Why I can even remember the brand - Old Style - the label had a tepee with some Indians on it! It was a pilsner beer and I drank it for many years before ever trying another brand, it tasted that good to me. 
          I still remember part of the conversation on that hot summer day. Len Lutz was sort of an odd single man, a live-alone bachelor, not crazy or anything but somewhat unusual and he told us why he limped, which I thought was one hell of a tale and still do.  He had been a soldier in WWII and had been blown up by a grenade during a battle. He said that when he came to, his head was sticking out between his legs and a medic was nonchalantly looking him over. When the medic told his aid to forget about him, they'd come back later, he felt that he was a gonner but much to his surprise, he survived! I still can hear his voice to this day when he grinned and said, "I may not have much meat on my legs but they're legs of steel."
          Funny the things a person remembers, but when I looked at the above photo of me enjoying a cold near-beer, that memory of me, my mom and Len Lutz sitting on a small island in the Fraser River brought that hot July afternoon back to life. As much as I still love beer, I just can't take a chance  since the last one I drank, I went blind for about 20 minutes and no, I wasn't blind drunk...cheers, eh! 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

LET THE MAGIC BEGIN

          It feels good to be able to paint artistically again, plus do other things that I was no longer capable of achieving. However, something I've always found a little surprising throughout the years, is that after I've sketched whatever the subject matter may be and the canvas is still devoid of paint, a sense of incapability seems to pervade my being. While I sit and look at the white canvas, pencil marks here, there and everywhere, often just a scribble, I then look at my hands as I reach for a brush and say, "Let the magic begin." And, this painting of the train began no differently and I'm hoping the magic hasn't left me yet.
          My eyesight is quite limited at the moment, but like I told my brother the other day when he phoned to check up on me, "While I paint, my face is so close that my nose almost touches the canvas and it's the same when I mix the paint on the palette. However, although I'm seeing a blurry double line, at least my brush is a double image too, so luckily, everything seems to be lining up so far."  
          I find it frustrating that the painting process has become so slow and I often get angry with myself, even though there is nothing I can do about it. I'm hoping that when the cataract is removed from my right eye on May 27, even though the left eye isn't much better, my eyesight will improve. If nothing else, I'll stop seeing double. And then again, if I'm seeing double and painting double, since there will be two paintings in one, perhaps I should charge double the price - hahaha. 
          Since we went to Fredericton to display some of our art wares yesterday, I had to put off painting the train.  Me (Trip) and Sarah (Daisy) were part of an event and although we broke about even, we weren't discouraged because of the good response we got from the few people that walked through the door. The venue we had signed up for was poorly advertised, if at all. There wasn't even a sign on the street to be seen or any sort of directions as to where it was being held. Perhaps we wasted our time, but for me that doesn't matter because at least it gave me something to do and look forward to while I'm healing. 
          I was really excited about travelling and then staying overnight in our "Hippie-Hangout" and although a touch cool in the night and neither of us didn't sleep so well, we had a lot of fun - perhaps it was the brownies Sarah baked that had something to do with it...hahaha. However, that being said, because I'm still quite a distance from being well and I'm still feeling pretty good since our return, I'm still wondering if our participation will set me back. Not that long ago, just a day in town took me two to four days to recover. However, regardless of the outcome, I've never really been one to sit back and avoid the risks - sometimes living on the edge has its rewards - nothing ventured; nothing gained. 
          One of things which sold well was my haiku colouring book. I haven't turned it into a little chapbook yet but the 8.5"x11" (18 pages to colour) version is now available for ten bucks, plus two bucks shipping. I had fun colouring the front cover and hopefully anyone who buys a copy will find it real cool colouring the hippie inspired images and reading the haiku Trip wrote. 
          Looks like I'm back painting the train again and that's fine by me. While living on my sailboat, I thought I had a small studio area then. Now, one turn in my swivel-chair, I'm facing the painting, next turn I'm facing the computer, next turn I'm facing the bed and the final turn lets me walk away, careful that I don't knock anything over or stumble and fall down. The whole size of my small space is about 6'x8' and as odd as it seems, I don't really feel that enclosed, maybe because my mind like a butterfly flits free...cheers, eh! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

BACK TO THE BRUSHES - My Old Friends

Train Sketch for Painting 
           I've been kind of  artsy-busy the last while, of course it doesn't take much for me to be busy these days. I'm actually working on a fairly large (2'x4') painting for a friend. Since my eyesight is impaired and my hands tremble a touch (no, I haven't been hitting the sauce, can't remember the last time I had a drink) drawing all the intricate details of a train can be very difficult and the logos have to be accurate as well. Automobiles, trains, planes,B ships, buildings and anything else that has a lot of straight lines has never been high on my list to paint. However, over the years, I've had to draw or paint a lot of those man-made objects. People, animals, seascapes and landscapes are more to my liking; I tend to lean towards Nature  and nudes too, just something adorable about how a woman is put together. The thing about man-made objects, they have to be more precise but in Nature, if I add more leaves to a tree or take out a lake or a mountain in the background, no one will be the wiser. However, if I'm drawing or painting a particular person or pet, if the end result doesn't look like them, then the painting is most likely a failure and I won't get paid. And speaking of portraits, one of the first ones I was commissioned to paint was an old rabbi who had a long white beard. Apparently the old rabbi's son was now old and both his sons wanted the painting when he died, so he was hoping I could reproduce it. It was quite a challenge mixing the same colours and then trying to match the brush strokes as close as possible. As it turned out, when I had finished the painting, I put them side by side on a shelf and enjoyed his complement. He said, "I can't tell which one is the original." 
          Physically, there are a lot of things wrong with me, and wouldn't you know it, my back went out while I was drawing the train. I didn't think it was possible to throw one's back out while sitting down but I'm living proof it can be done. Nothing like having 5 compressed discs and they're arthritic too, so the added pain could put a whole new meaning to this painting. What with the poor eyesight, trembling hands and a screwed up back, this realistic painting could easily become an abstract. Ah, the life of an artist! I've read quite a few biographies concerning well-known artists and discovered, if they lived long enough, many of the maladies that I have, they also experienced. The one thing about life, no matter how long we live, get ancient, wrinkles on the wrinkles, lines so deep they could have been used as trenches during WWI,  nobody gets out of here alive do they?
          I find it odd to be this incredibly weak after being so physically active, not supposed to lift anything over 5 lbs. So as I toddle about the yard or through the house I see a lot of things I'd like to do, especially fix or mend. I also wouldn't mind getting some more little cluckers, nothing like fresh eggs in the morning. Now, some people I know would love to simply lie around and watch Netflix or a TV program, but I have a difficult time with that sort of lifestyle. Fortunately, since I'm an artistic sort of guy, I'm still able to keep myself somewhat busy, even while in a prone position. My idea of the horizontal position is...no...better not go there - chuckle, chuckle. 
Our Hippie Hangout 
          Sarah and I are off to Fredericton this weekend to try and sell some of our artistic hippie-type art and although I'm excited about the event and spending time in our hippie-trailer, I'm a little worried concerning my health. Like one of my blogs mentioned, going for a crap can be a little unnerving, nothing like a warm turd sliding down one's leg if I can't get to a washroom in a real hurry. Also, my energy level is somewhere well below sea level, you know, the place where the strangest looking creatures dwell and sunlight can't reach. In the not too distant past, a simple trip to town usually set me back two or three days - besides some extra pain, I just seem to fade away. Hopefully all will be well, and if not, at least if I get worn out, I can go for a lie down in the trailer. And how about this for an extra bonus! A woman who has been following Trip 'n' Daisy on Facebook wants to see our trailer and has offered a place to park it - now, how great is that? And hey, if anyone is heading to Fredericton or is already there, do drop into our booth, check it out, spend a little cash or at least say hi - cheers, eh!