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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 4:15 am 
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Location: Over there.
A few days ago I had to go to a funeral, ‘across the line’ in the US, in a little hamlet called Bow, Washington. I had driven past the Bow-Edison exit many times over the years and never took it, not even when our friend moved to Bow and more or less fell out of sight. As so often happens, the next time I saw him I didn’t see him at all, but was one of the sad crowd at his funeral.

He would have liked his funeral, I think. Many kind words were said about him, and I learned things about him that I never knew. I never knew he was a good trumpet player, for instance. And in honour of that, another very good trumpet player played two lovely solos during the service, so well that the hair stood on the back of my neck and I was overtaken with those helpless tears we shed when something is beautiful. He had many children, and many grandchildren, and even a few great-grandchildren. His second wife, a woman I like very much, was unlike herself since her usual self is bubbly and flirtatious and at the funeral she was stonily dignified. His death had been sudden and unexpected, and she is going to have a tough time without him.

The church was a little church by the side of a winding road called Chuckanut Drive, a name I fancy. The lady playing the organ was the same age as the church: 100 years. After the service there was to be a full, sitdown luncheon consisting of homemade food brought by the ladies of the congregation. Before the food there was a slide show of my friend’s life and it seemed to me that someone must have followed him around all the time with a camera. One picture stuck in my mind and always will, I guess, of this guy at the age of maybe 17 or 18 slouching against his car, his shirt open, his arms crossed. His hair was combed up into an elaborate pompadour and he was smiling and cool. They don’t seem to make boys like that any more.

I didn’t stay for the luncheon, but instead took my time driving up the hill back to the freeway. The countryside here is like the place I grew up, not surprisingly since even though it’s in a different country it’s only about fifty miles from my childhood home. These are old farmsteads, some beautifully kept old houses, some ramshackle barns tumbling into ruin. Split rail fences made of old-growth cedar like the ceiling of the church, the rails weathered into that wonderful silver-grey, old orchards with leaning trees. A little herd of beef cows with their big calves, not fancy pedigreed cattle but the kind my dad used to have, black baldies and other whiteface crosses.

There was one place I fell into instant love with, the farmhouse was sided with cedar shingles weathered like the rails, roofed with cedar shakes. There was a barn, also built of cedar and well-kept although obviously very old. Along one side of the barn was a long woodpile, neatly covered with a blue tarp, about three winters worth of wood sitting ready. The lady who lived there had a wash out snapping in the wind, and her vegetable garden was prosperous and tidy, the corn already blooming and the cucumbers and zucchini covered with yellow blossoms. I stopped on the shoulder of the road and admired it for awhile, this homestead tucked under the corner of a wooded hill. Then I drove on, not wishing them to think I was some kind of weirdo.

Though the woods and hills and cattle are the same as in Canada, there is no mistaking that you are in the US. The road signs are different, the way you are moved on and off the freeway is different, it is alien and familiar at once. There is a sign indicating the turnoff to So. Lake Samish, meaning South Lake Samish. Another sign used to say, No. Lake Samish, meaning North, but they changed it to N. Lake Samish, which I think is a shame. Every time we passed that other sign we made the same silly joke about “there is No Lake Samish” and someone could answer, “there is So Lake Samish!” In the States you can buy beer at a gas station, and the state troopers really do wear those sunglasses like in the movies. Lots of people have the Stars and Stripes in their front yards, and lots of them have yellow ribbons tied to their mailboxes. There are signs everywhere saying “Support our troops”. There is an election of some kind going on in Whatcom county (right next to the border) and the candidates are identified as Republican or Democrat, which seems odd to us Canucks.

Though I have never had a bad experience with the Law in the US, I am still always nervous of the State Troopers. ( We believe they love to pull Canadians over and scare us, they all carry those enormous pistols and they all walk like John Wayne.) So I am always glad to see the border crossing ahead of me on Guide Meridian, the Maple Leaf flag welcoming me home. Just before I get there I stop at a famous dairy and buy an ice cream cone and when the customs guy asks me what I bought I can hold up the dripping Maple Walnut cone and say, “Just this.”

It’s the time of year when the grass along the roadside is burnt yellow. The fireweed is in flower and the goldenrod and aster, the apple trees are dropping apples and the wasps are thick around the golden plums. Full ripe summer, and this year it’s dry and hot here. I love the dry fields and the tough, hardy weeds that stand out in bright green where the softer plants have shrivelled. I remember going to get the cows, when I was a kid, walking barefoot along the cowpath, the dust puffing up with every step. The cows and I walked here and there through a kind of tunnel made of blackberries and you could reach out and help yourself. The cows ate blackberries at times, and cowdrool mixed with blackberry juice was as icky to step in as fresh cowpies.

There were wasps that lived in the dry dirt of an old gravel pit in the back of my Dad’s place and we would poke sticks down the little holes and then run like hell when they came out. We called the old gravel pit Dead Horse Gulch. Right smack in the middle of it was what they call an “erratic”, a huge boulder dropped there by a glacier ages ago. That rock served many purposes in our play, but one of the best things it did was to be warm and covered with moss on top and you could lie there and look straight up into the sky. It was a bit of a tussle to get up, since it overhung itself and you had to swing up, but it was worth it. Now there are million dollar houses built in Dead Horse Gulch, and I wonder what they did with the rock? Dynamite, I guess. It was too big to be a landscape feature.

In my front yard the Yellow Transparent apple tree is dropping apples. They make the best apple pie going, the Yellow Transparents. I made a pie the other day and it was much admired. Pretty soon there will be blackberries and I’ll take a pair to my Mum’s family picnic. I always think of my uncle Bert when I make blackberry pies, he used to fuss over them and eat about five pieces and why I never told uncle Bert how much that meant to me, I’ll never know.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:09 am 
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Vison, you write so well that those almost seem like my memories - thank you.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:20 pm 
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Location: beachcombing, or hiking, or dragon boating
It seems to me that "there alway, alway something sings" applies to any place if you know how to listen for it. And you certainly do know how, vison, and you can make it sing for us as well. Perhaps I need to build my own aeolian harp.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:48 pm 
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narya wrote:
Perhaps I need to build my own aeolian harp.

Aeolian? I prefer hypermixolydian myself. ;)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:31 pm 
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vison, sometimes I wish I could see what you do, with your eyes and heart. Then I realize that's exactly what you give us in your writing.

Then I realize that's what writing is for.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:26 am 
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Location: Over there.
Prim, thank you.

Thank everyone.

I'm sure you all remember that Frodo and Sam set out in September to go to Rivendell. It's getting to that time of year, isn't it? I look at the road going ahead of me, sometimes, and I just want to keep driving. Or, I imagine myself putting on a pack and walking away. When you walk on the dry grass, it crunches almost like snow under your feet. It's hot but not oppressive and as soon as the sun goes westering you'd look for a nice spot to camp. In the lee of a big rock beside a creek. The water would be cold and pure enough to drink. You'd make a little fire and boil some water for tea and eat the sandwiches you made before setting out. There would be a splendid sunset and then the stars would come out. No moon tonight.

In the morning, splash your face clean in the creek, more tea, some cheese and beef jerky and ryekrisp crackers and walking until lunch time. Just about then you'd come across a little store where they could make you a sandwich and they'd have some home-made pies to cut.

A couple of days of this and you'd be ready to go home, or maybe you wouldn't.

It's something I always think of in the late summer. Is it some kind of migratory instinct? Only, I never want to walk south, only east or north.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:45 am 
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Slightly left-field, but there we were watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang just before the credits, when it cuts to a scene after the climax.

Voice over: "Don't worry, I saw Lord of the Rings. I'm not going to end this 17 times."

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It's about time.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 4:06 pm 
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hee-heeeee-heeee.... thats incorrigible Lidless!! :)

Something which I thought was fitting for here:

Image

Image

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'You just said "your getting shorter": you've obviously been drinking too much ent-draught and not enough Prim's.' - Jude (as Merry)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:32 pm 
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The first pic is dizzying! And the house on the right looks as if it wasn't really there - somehow immaterial. :shock:
Cool pics, Mahima. :D

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Image Artwork by Breogán - thank you, my friend! :foryou:


Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:03 am 
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thanks, Hobby. :hug:

Another one for King's Henglish... calling a commercial building a "house";)
I went over the pics again wondering... what house???

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'You just said "your getting shorter": you've obviously been drinking too much ent-draught and not enough Prim's.' - Jude (as Merry)


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