This is NOT really a post.  It is a diary entry.  I was ‘messing about’ with keeping a journal in 2002/2003 and tried this on…………..It is not particularly good but it was written in the moment that was then and kind of illustrates what we were going through in the early days. 

“We have enough food to feed an army!” I said as I hoisted the second large cooler up the stairs to the deck.  Another large box of dry goods and a few more bags of impulse purchases filled the larder to the point of excess and, given our lack of refrigeration, clearly indicated poor planning.  We had too much.  Or so I thought.

“Sweetie, don’t forget Sue is coming on Tuesday and Doug said that he’d come by the following weekend.  And Emily  will be with us for the next few days.  I think we’ll be fine”.  I assumed that she was right.  She usually is.

We had packed and prepared for two weeks working at the site.  We had recourse, of course, to the store on the next island, but we already had more inventory than they did so I relaxed.  We settled down to a heavy schedule of recreational building (please refer to previous articles for a definition of recreational building and the first-aid tips that accompany it).

Early the next morning after breakfast I dragged out the tools, the generator, the materials and I began the random series of steps I undertake when trying to build something. I never really know exactly where to start so I often start the genset first just to create the right atmosphere.  As a consequence of all that noise, I failed to hear the footfalls of my neighbour coming to greet us.  Genset shut off, we all sat down to a nice cup of tea and Sally broke out a few cookies and bits of fruit. They left just before noon.

On went the generator and, since I had passed the time planning my next few steps, things got underway – until Linda passed by and I made the mistake of waving.  Linda is a more distant neighbour and tends to interpret a hand waving as an invitation to lunch.  Her timing was perfect and we enjoyed her long missed company until she continued on her way an hour or so later.  I tentatively lifted a hammer and, checking to make sure that no one was approaching, began to hit things – some of them were nails.

Just as I was getting my hammering sighted in and could claim more nail hits than misses, we were hailed from the shore once again.  Neghbours from the North this time.  Nice people.  Long time, no see.  More tea.  More cookies.  Lots of nice chit chat.  Hammer rested with the nails.

Day one was a big social success.  We were genuinely pleased to see everyone and, despite no progress on the cabin, it was a good day.

Sue came the next day.  She’s great.  We love her.  Haven’t seen her for months.  Catching up with all the news was priority number one.  Hammer developed slight patina of rust.

Day three: Sue’s co-workers from nearby dropped in.  Brought cake.  Needed refreshments.  Wonderful company.  Great guys.  Noticed spider web on genset.

Day four: wife’s co-workers drop by in their kayak.  Nice couple.  Hungry.  Stayed overnight.  Everyone went for a nice hike.  I sprayed WD40 on all tools and looked longingly at the starter cord to the genset before hiking.  I figured there was something wrong with me – I kept fantasizing about sawing two-by-fours.

Day five: took daughter to greet friend arriving from city.  Returned to camp with two more people who had been looking for us as a result of mutual friends.  Lovely couple.  Wanted to work.  Sadly, they could not.  Did not know which end of the hammer to use.  They, too, got hungry.  Took them back to the other island hours later.  Feeling spiritually weak, I offered genset to them ‘cheap!’

Day six: Sue left.  Daughter left.  But Doug arrived.  Ferry logistics takes most of the day.  Neighbours come by bearing gifts.  Day gone.  Food stocks low.  Contemplate garage sale but don’t have a garage.

Day seven: Doug has a business vision: “We can sell this!  It’s beautiful!  You’ll be a millionaire! I can see it now!”  I carefully explain that the only thing I would use the millions for is to buy property like this and build a cabin. Contemplated hiring some local help to illustrate the concept.  Day shot.

Day eight: major gale restricts shopping trip.  Too dangerous.  Does not deter visitor.  Sally said that I was beginning to look a bit dangerous and so the visitor left in the middle of the gale for safety reasons.  Hunger sets in.  We ate a lot of canned rice pudding and washed it down with Vodka.  Weird.

Day nine: nine visitors so far.  Food gone.  Booze gone (my fault, mostly).  First Aid kit 100% intact.  These are bad signs.  There are no signs of anything else.  No work accomplished.  Desperation enters the holiday equation.  So do two more visitors.  We serve toast and last drops of wine.  Pretend to be Catholic.

Day ten: went shopping.  No hammering.  No nailing.  Just shopping.  Living remote means that shopping is a day-long chore.  Returned home in time to admire my tools and the long shadow they cast.

Day eleven: “We have got to get away.” said my wife.  “If we don’t, someone will come to visit!”  I agreed.  “What do you want to do?”  “Let’s go kayaking.  We can visit Ralph and Laurie!” 

The insanity of going visiting to get away from visitors didn’t hit me until we were launched.  I contemplated throwing myself on my paddle but the blade was plastic.  I hoped that Ralph was in the middle of building and couldn’t entertain or, at the very least, suffering from a contagiuos disease.  It was my only hope for not visiting.  No such luck.  We visited.

Day twelve: No visitors.  Unless you count the gale and the accompanying 50 mph winds.

Day thirteen: had a good day.  No visitors……..until 6:00 pm.  A guy rows by and I forget myself, “Hi!” I said from the deck.  Then I shut up.  I averted my eyes and quickly looked away.  But it was too late.  Damn.  He turned his rowboat toward the shore.  ‘Oh my God!  I cannot entertain anymore.  I’ll have to shoot him.  I have no choice.  No one will blame me…..’

“Hi, I’m John”, he said holding up a plaster cast of a very large foot.  “I am a Sasquatch hunter and I heard that there were some sightings in your neck of the woods.  Can you tell me anything?”

“Yes, John, I can.  Come on up and have some tea.  Why, Yeti himself visited just the other day………..”

2 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. Ambiguity and interrupted work flow are two parts sometimes overlooked in the larger calculation of, “How long will this project take?” Liked the retrospective memory lane accounting of fourteen Days in July.


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