serendipity you can count on

I used to expend a lot of energy on frustration when my day simply got

away from me.  You know the experience.  No matter how meticulously

you’ve planned it, no matter how much you fight it, you start to feel like

you’re slipping backward in time.


It’s as if all the entities from an all-loving God to Gaia to the Cosmic

Goof to Ronald Reagan’s ghost to random chance laugh at you as one

and say “write this one off, pal.  Better luck tomorrow.”


I had such a day Monday.  It went well at first.  I put up the day’s post,

had breakfast, noodled on the net a bit and headed to the ferry to pick

up Ian.  He installed and maintains our alternative energy system.


Ian had his 6-year-old daughter with him.  I assumed it was “Take-

Your-Daughter-to-Work Day” at his corporation.  Then I remembered

that he’s self-employed.  It was more like “Take-Your-Daughter-Who-

Is-out-of-School-for-Spring-Break-to-Work-Because-It-Would-Prove-

to-Your-Wife-that-You’re-a-Supportive-Husband-and-She-Really-

Would-Appreciate-It Day.”


Ian had to replace the tri-meter in our system that had been fried by a

lightning strike.  He added a lightning arrestor to arrest any future

lightning with similar ideas.  He was done quickly and I was able to get

he and child to the next ferry.


It was still going well.  Then I had to make a crucial decision.  I knew

the truck was low on fuel.  Do I trust it to get me the 10 miles back home,

knowing that Jude was bringing home gas that evening, or do I drive the

5 miles to the island’s gas station?


I opted for the station.  I ran dry about one click (exactly 62% of a mile)

away from it.  That was the game changer.  Although I knew I was much

better off near town than halfway home and in the middle of nowhere,

I started to curse my luck.


And then I got a grip and let go of my illusions of  total control.  It was

likely due to recent contact with my dear friend and spiritual guide

Ducks (not her real name).  I realized I had been blessed with a break

in my routine, a reminder to stay loose, and a chance to exercise on

a nice warm day.


I walked to the shop of the mechanic who keeps our vehicles running.

He and his wife were having lunch in the office.  They loaned me a gas

can.  We chatted a bit and I found out that they’re organizing the

island’s softball league this year.  They invited me to show up for the

first practice.  I might do that.  I love the sport.  It could be good for a

few amusing posts.


They offered to take me to the truck.  I declined because they were

dining.  Across the street from their shop, I ran into Dave and Matt, who

had not been able to make the good-riddance-winter party.  I told them

about it.  They admired the scar from my hand gash.  They told me that

they were getting gigs and calls for gigs.  They’re both accomplished

musicians.


Dave offered me a ride to the truck.  I accepted and told him I’d meet

him around the corner at the gas station.  My neighbour George was

there.  He was headed that way and offered me a ride.  I went back and

told Dave.  I was soon on the road.


I drove home slowly.  A lot of people were working in their yards.  There

were several folks at the community garden.  Spring was not only offi-

cial, it was here.  I complimented myself for not getting nutty over such

a minor inconvenience.  It was actually a prompt as to the direction of

The Flow.  The looser I stay, the more I realize that this place marinates

in serendipity.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

To emphasize this lesson, the first draft of this post was lost to a glitch

this morning.  That’s why I’m posting late.  But that’s cool.  This version

is better.


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yo, winter! take a bow and blow outta here

This is the first full day of spring.  The snow on the farm has been

replaced with snow drop blooms and robins.  Our community had

a great party Saturday (report tomorrow) to see winter off good and

proper.  Jude and I did some gardening Sunday.  Today I’m taking

the dogs for a walk and playing “Give Me That!” with Slinkee until

she tires of it, if that’s possible.


So while I do that, please enjoy these shots of winter in our area:


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let’s toast marshmallows over the baseboard heater

How do.  Come on in, mosey on over to the fireplace, take off

those wet boots and dry your feet while we swap yarns.

 

There’s something inherently folksy about heating with wood.

It might be because it’s our most interactive way of warming

ourselves.  Furnaces and heat pumps do their job out of sight

at the flick of a switch.  Passive solar is too laid back to earn

our affection.  Steam radiators are too moody.

 

Nobody ever told tall tales sitting around a floor register.  I’ve

never heard anyone say “let’s toast marshmallows over the

baseboard heater”.  And I’ve listened to a lot of people.

 

Heating with wood is different.  You have to actively seek out

your fuel, whether you cut your own or have it delivered.  You

learn that a grease-stained pizza box makes a good intermediary

between paper and kindling.  You realize that when nature prunes

your trees, the blown-down limbs can go into the firebox instead

of the landfill.  You appreciate that ashes can be used in your

garden.

 

We heat with wood partly out of necessity, mostly out of choice.

Since we’re off the grid, we have to use diesel gas to supplement

our micro-hydro to run the electric baseboards.  A lot of diesel.

Diesel that’s not available on the island.

 

Wood we got.  That’s one of the perks of living in a forest.  In fact,

a logging company is doing a clear-cut about a mile from the farm.

The trees are down but can’t be hauled out until March because

winter has ravaged the gravel road access.  Our friend Lee and I

plan to harvest the smaller trees in February.

 

This is not only fine with the loggers, they benefit from it.  All that

they cut and leave behind is measured.  The company then has to

pay the government a stumpage fee because it harvested on leased

crown land.  So the more of the little guys –perfect for firewood —

we take, the less they pay.

 

Besides, I save on health club dues.  Cutting, splitting and hauling

wood is strenuous.  I’ve never done it without sweating like Ted

Haggard at the YMCA.

 

I don’t have any statistics on how eco-friendly wood heat is.  Lee

says it takes him half a gallon of gas to cut a cord (128 square feet)

of wood.  Some of our neighbours only use 4 – 5 cords per season.

That’s got to be more efficient than occupying Iraq.

 

Since our wood stove is at the end of the house, heat isn’t evenly

distributed.  No matter.  The stove is in the living room where,

oddly enough, we do most of our living.  The cathedral ceiling

in the room funnels heat into the  bathroom and our bedroom

upstairs.  Because it’s so well insulated, it stays quite comfy up

there.  We even slept with the windows open last night.

 

The kitchen stays warm because of the cook stove.  Tonight it

will be especially cozy because Jude will be baking chocolate

chip cookies with Maese as we babysit her and Mowat.  Mowat

and I will be here in the office, the coldest room in the house,

playing “Harpoon Lagoon” on the computer.  We’ll likely stay

warm enough from the laughing and shouting.  If not, we’ll

find a video of a fire burning in a fireplace, put up our feet

and swap some yarns.

 



 


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Some drumroll for my blogroll, please

I’m building my blog slowly, savoring each new situation and choice.

It’s a genuine hoot to be a neophyte in one’s golden years.  I want to

build my blogroll slowly as I learn more about the craft and its best

practitioners.  I hadn’t planned to start it this soon, but today’s the

day because I want to acknowledge the wonderful bump I got yesterday

from my mentor Kathy.

 

Kathy has been blogging ten years.  I admire her warts-and-all approach

as she writes about her marriage, her cancer,  job layoffs,  you name it.

I don’t know if she actually writes about warts, but she’s voiced recent

observations on tater tots and exercising at the Mall of America.  I had

the pleasure of meeting her in October 2003 in Mankato, Minnesota.

 

Jude and Kathy are old buddies.  As I remember Jude telling it, they met

in 1979 or ’80.  They became friends fast, as Kathy noted.  They lived to-

gether in a bat-infested house.  It was actually just one bat that Kathy

used to sharpen her tennis game.  Jude claims that Kathy was always the

social director of their circle of friends.  Unfortunately, they parted ways

when Kathy got into robbing liquor stores.  Jude married a Methodist

minister who insisted she only rob Baptist discos.

 

But that was all bourbon and Holy Water under the bridge that autumn in

Mankato.  They laughed, hugged and compared prison tats.  I liked Kathy

although we didn’t get to talk much.  Several other old friends were there,

and an old friend of mine had driven down from Fargo.

 
When I first considered doing this, I started studying Kathy’s blog.  Then

I started asking her questions.  She graciously took time out from braving

the Minnesota winter to answer each one, and encouraged me to try this

vibrant medium.  Thank you, Kathy.

 

And to answer your question, we live quite comfortably off the grid.  We

have a reliable source of juice for the appliances plus satellite TV and, of

course, internet.  We heat by wood and keep our central air conditioning

outside.  A hot day up here starts in the high 20’s Celsius (mid-80’s

Farenheit).  If sitting in the maple tree swing with a refreshing beverage

doesn’t adequately cool us, we can swim in the pond or go to the beach.



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