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Onions And Eggs Feed A Crew On A Sailing Ship To China

Excerpt from the novel “China Lily”

In 1293,  Cepa  and Matzerath  were part of the crew of The Pegasus, a ship that had sailed from Italy to China on a trading mission. After a couple of months, they arrived in the port of Zaitun,  where they encountered a local trader, Lu-Hsing.

Lu-Hsing takes the two men to a communal dining hall. This is part of their meal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Compared to others of his experience, the crew of The Pegasus appears content with their lot. They are certainly fitting in well in the dining hall, and even mingling with other diners. Thanks to the Captain’s instructions, they are willing to try any of the dishes they encounter, though it helps that they are ignorant of many of the ingredients.

“You want something other than onions?” Lu-Hsing jabs Cepa in the ribs with his shoulder.

“I want something with my onions.”

“You’ve been looking intently at everything.” Lu-Hsing opens his arms expansively. “What do you wish?”

“What do you suggest?”

“Look at me.” Lu-Hsing rubs his belly with a roar. “I am not a picky eater. I’ll suggest anything.”

“You’ve already warned me away from soup.”

“Not warned.” Lu Hsing points back to the bubbling soup they had been looking at. “You can add a lot to soup and make a stew.” He grimaces. “But you still slurp more than you chew. Lu-Hsing wants to use his teeth when he eats.”

“We can stay away from soup.” Cepa smiles. “And I’d just as soon avoid fish.”

“Me, too.” Matzerath puts his hands up in surrender. “We eat enough salted fish to swim.”

“You boys are in the Port of Zaitun.” Lu-Hsing speaks in an authoritative tone. “Fish a specialty.”

“There must be something else.” Matzerath points. “Look at all the cooks.”

“No soup?”

“Pah!”

“Trouble-making Round Eyes.” Lu-Hsing points to a wok near the end of the aisle and starts to walk. “We’ll try there.”

“What does he have?” Cepa falls into step behind Lu-Hsing, followed by Matzerath.

“Oyster omelette.”

“Eggs?” asks Matzerath.

“As many as you want.”

“That will take a big pan.”

“He can use a high-sided wok.” Lu-Hsing pretends to whisk something in a wok. “Plop it right onto a plate.”

“We don’t have dishes.” Cepa suddenly realizes the fact. “We haven’t been back to The Pegasus all day.”

“Lu-Hsing share you his.” He barks an order at the cook, and then turns back to Cepa. “Stay right here. I’ll get them from my table.”

Cepa and Matzerath stand and watch the cook. Cepa notes he is using wood and not the black rocks for his fire. Some oil is dropped onto the metal and immediately sizzles. The cook holds up his hand and extends his fingers; one, two, three, four, five.

“Will you want some?”

“God – yes.” Matzerath nods.

Cepa holds up five fingers and the cook grins. He takes an egg in each hand and hits them together. The upper shell is flipped off and they pour into the wok. He repeats the gesture and the eggs land on top of the others. The last egg is dispatched on the metal rim of the wok and added to the rest before a hint of cooking has begun. The cook then begins to whisk and slide the eggs along the side of the wok before Matzerath has time to make a comment.

“I’d like to see you do that on The Pegasus,” says Cepa.

“I break eggs all the time.”

“I know.” Cepa laughs. And we eat the shells to prove it.”

The cook now twists and shakes the wok by its two handles over the fire. The eggs slide up and along the sides, and then settle more thickly near the bottom. With a grin and a twist of his hands, the cook turns the wok right over. The eggs start to slide out with a couple of drops hissing into the fire. Matzerath’s mouth falls open as the cook rights the wok so quickly that the eggs drop right back into it, now cooking on the other side. The cook puts the wok back on the fire.

“Bet you can’t do that,” says Cepa.

“Just once.” Matzerath laughs. “But the whole ship was heaving at the time.”

The cook begins to nudge the eggs together with a spatula. With his other hand he sprinkles a few drops of brown liquid. Then he adds some coarsely chopped shoots of a green onion.

“Hah!” Matzerath slaps Cepa on the shoulder.

After a quick swirl of these ingredients the cook plops in a bowl of small oysters. He takes his time with these, spacing them with deliberation over the quickly cooking eggs. Then – with a flourish – he scoops up a handful of flower blossoms and sprinkles them over the whole bubbling mixture.

“What are those?” Matzerath peers into the wok.

“Chrysanthemums.”

“We’re eating flowers?’

“When in Rome …”

The cook adds a further dash of the brown liquid and then folds the eggs neatly in half. He flips the whole omelette to the center of the wok and sprinkles a palm full of spring onion – this time finely chopped – over of the still-bubbling omelette. He presses the onion in place with his spatula then removes the wok from the fire.

“Timing is everything.”

The voice startles them both. They turn to see Lu-Hsing standing behind them, holding a large platter. He barks instructions to the cook, speaking too quickly for the two men to understand.

“Stick to ribs – make you happy.”

The cook divides the omelette in half and slides it onto the platter. He then takes the wicker top off a steamer and starts to add heaping ladles of red rice along the sides of the platter.

“What’s that?” Matzerath sounds suspicious.

Hong qu mi.”

“You can see its rice,” hisses Cepa.

“But it’s red.”

“Fermented with yeast.” Lu-Hsing scoops some into his palm and eats it. “Looks good. Tastes great.”

“Aren’t you having a meal?”

“Lu-Hsing eats later – with family.” He moves his hand over the top of the platter and inhales the aroma. “We eat at home – wife is a great cook.”

“I thought you’d be joining us.” Matzerath is clearly disappointed.

“Too crowded. Too smoky.” Lu-Hsing laughs. “Just the place for Round-eyes who want to make contacts. I already know people.”

Lu-Hsing abruptly steps behind the counter and stands beside the cook. He takes a look into the bubbling pots and lifts the tops off of steamers. He finally points with a barrage of Chinese. The cook gets two porcelain bowls and ladles a heaping amount of food into each.

“Got your spoon?” asks Cepa.

Matzerath takes a spoon from his pant’s pocket and holds it up.

“You?”

“Yes.” Cepa has his spoon on a chain around his neck. He takes it out from underneath his shirt and lets it dangle against his chest.

“You boys prepared – good.” Lu-Hsing takes the platter with the omelette and rice. He then points with his chin. “Take your bowls and follow me.”

Matzerath anxiously sees the platter of steaming food being taken away. He nudges Cepa and they again get into step behind Lu-Hsing, who again clears a path through the crowded eating hall. They approach a raised platform under a row of windows, much like the noble’s section in the Cannara’s own tavern. It is still a crowded space, with ten tables set not far apart from each other. Half are vacant, so Cepa can’t tell if Lu-Hsing heads for his ‘own’ table, or has the use of any that is available. He places the platter crosswise near one end of the table.

“You need drink.” Lu-Hsing unrolls a half dozen chopsticks from a cotton napkin, so they lay beside the platter. “Tea or rice wine?”

“Dear God – wine!” Matzerath plunks his bowl on the table. “It’s been a day.”

“Bring both, please.” Cepa sits across the table from Matzerath. “For both of us.”

“Tea is for thirst.” Matzerath takes his spoon from his pocket. “I want drink for more than that.”

“We can’t have you getting drunk.” Cepa lifts his own spoon from around his neck. “Even the crew has orders not to get drunk.”

You are sticking to tea?” Matzerath begins to wield his chopsticks over the rice.

“No.” Cepa laughs. “Although I am also thirsty, I have no objection to feeling ‘mellow’ as I eat.”

“And it will help you sleep.” Lu-Hsing slaps Cepa on the back. “Like mother’s milk.”

“I wish my mother had had tits of wine.” Matzerath wipes some rice from his chin and sucks his fingers. “I would have been a better child.”

The Ghosts In The Fog

robbie-george-sea-smoke-rises-up-around-maine-s-portland-head-light-on-a-cold-winter-s-day
I can see my hand
In the fog,
And
The building,
Across the street.
 
That is about all.
 
So, I know
The ghosts,
Are not
As close
As they sound.
 
The Ghosts sound like Fog Horns
 
And that’s what folk
Up
And down
The coast
Say
That they are.
 
Fog Horns.
 
But – they aren’t.
 
They are ghosts that moan,
And wail,
And cough,
And even
Sputter,
On the wind,
In the fog,
Where they can hide
Out in the open.
 
It is true that they do moan
For ships.
That they do give warnings
In the fog,
Where they can not
Be seen,
Because they look
Like fog.
 
They give warnings
Because
They have all come
From ships,
Where once they lived.
 
But now they don’t.
 
They went down with ships
At sea
And
Along the coast
To their
Cold and wet
Death.
 
Days ago
Years ago
Centuries ago.
 
To be buried at sea
Is not
To be buried
At all.
~ D.E. BA U.E.
(image) imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/89/8955/8SOR300Z/posters/robbie-george-sea-smoke-rises-up-around-maine-s-portland-head-light-on-a-cold-winter-s-day.jpg

Bluenose II – Ghostly Ship Under Sail, Updated

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It now is Sunday, and The Bluenose II has come and gone. And, it was not exactly a Ghost ship, but I had difficulty seeing it as it slipped into view from the fog. Even with binoculars. For awhile the ship did slip in and out as the fog wafted in front of it.  But – finally – it appeared side-too (much as it is on the Canadian dime) and all was right with the world.
Also, it stayed insight a good long time – around half an hour. From our reasonably-secluded viewing spot from a hill, there was an uninterrupted view, with just a few small pleasure craft keeping it company.  It was during this leisurely exposure that my partner casually noted that her grandfather had helped build the original Bluenose fishing vessel, at The Smith and Rhuland Shipyard. back in 1921, as he lived in Lunenburg NS. That was the home port of the original sailing ship, and is the home port of the current Bluenose II.
When it was time for the Bluenose II to leave, it went around the island which had been the backdrop as we watched, and started along the coast, headed for Grand Manan Island.
Original post:
Sunday, if there is no fog, I’ll be able (binoculars at the ready) be able to see a famed sailing ship pass the island at the mouth of the harbour. A replica of the ship, at any rate, itself now quite an acclaimed sailing vessel. In addition to setting into many a  port as a nautical ambassador, it is a training vessel for young sailors.
This is the site of the Bluenose II (replica of the original Bluenose).https://bluenose.novascotia.ca/
A detailed history can be found there. Needless to say, it is an impressive .schooner when under sail, and will be an impressive site out on the open sea. I hope it lingers.
I had dealings with The Bluenose II many a year ago.
I was seated on a bench on a wharf in Halifax harbour. I had noted a tall masted sailing boat pass, but I was watching a large cruise ship prepare to leave.
Suddenly a man was at my back. He was asking me to move so I would not get struck in the head. I turned to see the sailing boat – The Bluenose II – coming alongside. It edged toward the dock, closer and closer, and then a crew member on the bow shouted to me.
He asked if I would grab the rope when it was thrown. I agreed. Soon I had the bow line in my hands and at my feet.
I was asked to put it over the ‘second’ post. That proved to be quite a chore for something thicker than my arm and heavy in weight. But, I had had some practise doing such a thing, just not so unexpectedly and on the fly..
It took a couple of minutes, but I slipped it over and jumped back.  It was a taut rope indeed.
Someone yelled thanks, and the crew started preparing the ship to be secure at the dock.
I did write a blog about it at the time, and sent it to the Bluenose II web site. I received the answer below. I’ll have no similar chores to perform when I see The Bluenose II (I hope) out in the mouth of the harbour.
Thanks again for your help. I will pass this along to the ship.

bstrgds

ww

 

Capt Wayne Walters
Director of Operations – Bluenose II

A Ship Under Sail At Sea – The Bluenose II

bluenose-1024x576-1

Sunday, if there is no fog, I’ll be able (binoculars at the ready) be able to see a famed sailing ship pass the island at the mouth of the harbour. A replica of the ship, at any rate, itself now quite an acclaimed sailing vessel. In addition to setting into many a  port as a nautical ambassador, it is a training vessel for young sailors.
This is the site of the Bluenose II (replica of the original Bluenose) .https://bluenose.novascotia.ca/
A detailed history can be found there. Needless to say, it is an impressive .schooner when under sail, and will be an impressive site out on the open sea. I hope it lingers.
I had dealings with The Bluenose II many a year ago.
I was seated on a bench on a wharf in Halifax harbour. I had noted a tall masted sailing boat pass, but I was watching a large cruise ship prepare to leave.
Suddenly a man was at my back. He was asking me to move so I would not get struck in the head. I turned to see the sailing boat – The Bluenose II – coming alongside. It edged toward the dock, closer and closer, and then a crew member on the bow shouted to me.
He asked if I would grab the rope when it was thrown. I agreed. Soon I had the bow line in my hands and at my feet.
I was asked to put it over the ‘second’ post. That proved to be quite a chore for something thicker than my arm and heavy in weight. But, I had had some practise doing such a thing, just not so unexpectedly and on the fly..
It took a couple of minutes, but I slipped it over and jumped back.  It was a taut rope indeed.
Someone yelled thanks, and the crew started preparing the ship to be secure at the dock.
I did write a blog about it at the time, and sent it to the Bluenose II web site. I received the answer below. I’ll have no similar chores to perform when I see The Bluenose II (I hope) out in the mouth of the harbour.
Thanks again for your help. I will pass this along to the ship.
bstrgds
ww
Capt Wayne Walters
Director of Operations – Bluenose II

Alive In The World & Not Coming Home Dead

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So, fourteen days of self-isolation ended yesterday, and I went into the world. That, plus being super careful at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, meant I had not stepped into society for three and a half months (except for the inter-city bus ride to get me here).

Mask on face, I got on the city bus and sat in a designated seat, keeping folk (hopefully) at a healthy distance. Seating was reduced by half. Not everyone wore masks.

Reaching my destination, and out on the street where I could keep my distance, I pushed my mask off (though I did not put it away). There was moderate foot traffic, and it was not difficult to keep from getting close to people. I ‘d guess only one in twenty wore a mask.

I have a favourite walk along the harbour, and when I reached the water I attempted to set out on it. First, I did check to see if the public washroom was operating. It was. However, I found my usual trek was restricted by construction. I had to start along a city street, which is narrow this close to the harbour. There was no way not to be close to folk walking in my direction, and I pulled up my mask. Again, few others were wearing masks.

Once beside the water, where the wooden walkways are wide, it was much easier keeping away from other folk. There were many people there (it was a nice summer day) and the majority of them did not wear masks. Outside bars were open, and I saw groups of people (10 – 20) sitting at long tables. There were  also folk in twos and threes sitting on public benches.

I knew there would be no cruise ships in port (that business is dead for the year), but I eventually realised there were no pleasure crafts, either. All of the moorings were deserted, and it made quite a difference. The only marine traffic I saw was a Pilot Boat on its way out.

I did sit awhile (a favourite pass time) at an individual chair, and looked out toward the Atlantic Ocean. And was happy there was some breeze.

As I continued, I was surprised that (I believe) all the restaurants were open. Folk were inside and out on the patios. No masks were visible (except on the servers). There were reduced numbers, of course,  but I bet the restaurants were as full as they could be.

I eventually continued along the streets to get of a large grocery store. I had not been in a commercial building for three months. I lucked out when, as I entered, one employee was wiping down a shopping cart. I grabbed it. I was only getting a few items (though – as usual – there were some unplanned purchases). More shoppers had masks, but I’d guess 50% did not. Nor (you can believe this) did they all follow the arrows on the floor. Still, I was in and out quickly, paying with a credit card (I did see one person use cash).

Next door is a Liquor Store, and I made some purchases there. No one else wore masks. I did not stay long, knowing full well what I wanted.

The bus back was much like the one I took to the harbour. Enter by the side door. Designated seat. No ticket necessary.

So a day has passed. Purchases requiring refrigeration were disinfected and put away. The rest I’m just going to let sit until the respective safe time frames for the respective containers passes.

I decided to stay put today.

(image) https://i.pinimg.com/originals/64/9a/83/649a839d99330f27cfb30eaa867f3d61.jpg

Birds Of A Feather / Loons Of The Water

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The surface of the lake is so smooth, the flow of the differing currents are clearly seen as shimmering streaks reflecting the sunshine.

Breaking through these jewelled bands, like shadows over unrecognized borders, are three loons. Two black-capped Common and one red-throated.  They stray apart, become lost in shafts of sparkling water, and as unexpectedly re-appear further along the shore.

The red-throated loon keeps a slight distance from the other two. Usually, it is the first to dive. Dive and disappear so cleanly there is only the barest ripple to betray it.

The other two then quickly go without a sound, a liquid dive that leaves the water empty, save for the dancing sunshine.

And then a head.

And then two more bodies break the surface, far from where they went under. They move with an ease that makes them seem part of the water.

One of them wallows slightly on its side, then reaches far down its breast to preen. After a few nibbles, it rights itself and unhurriedly joins its companions.

They become a distant trio of sleek shapes, and disappear in the haze of horizon and glinting sun.

When I Helped Harrison Ford Make A Movie

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I note that Harrison Ford is starring in a new movie, The Call Of The Wild. This seems reason enough to reprise my wild time working with Harrison, and dropping his name yet again.

In 2001/02 the movie, WIDOWMAKER K-19, was made, much of it filmed in Halifax harbour and out on the nearby ocean. It deals with submarines and an in-ship disaster, staring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.

I was not aware of this when I visited Halifax. I went down to the waterfront and went along the boardwalk. It was very foggy on the water (which it can be without having much on land). I was exceedingly surprised to see, looming out of the fog, a submarine next to the wharf. There are submarines in Halifax, but they are berthed at the navel dockyard a couple of kilometers from where I was walking. 

It took a couple of minutes to realize that it was not a naval submarine (no markings). What was happening was that the submarine was being turned by a couple of tugboats. I read later that each side of the same submarine was altered differently so, in close ups and aerial footage, it could appear to be two different submarines.

However, there quickly appeared to be a problem. From the shouts and gesticulations of a man on the wharf, I found out that one of the mooring lines had not been cast from the wharf. The submarine was being pulled away from the dock, but it was still attached. It was a gigantic and thick mooring line, and I do not know what damage would have been done to either ship or dock.

The man was yelling to another man on the deck of the sub, who had a bullhorn and in turn was bellowing to the crew of the tug boat. However, nothing was heard over the roar of the engines (tugboats have powerful engines). The man on the wharf was trying to lift the mooring line from its post before it got too taut to move. I ran over and helped him, and we managed to get it from the post just as it started to be pulled into the water.

Of course I watched the movie credits closely, but I was not mentioned.

No famous movie actors were involved in this incident.

[image] https://s.ying.com/ny/api/res/1.2/q7BOT9JdHZPOFk9mbrIy8A–~A/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRl

The Titanic And Her Dead And Long Buried

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The Titanic was recently in the news. The first drive to the sunken ship in fourteen years reveals that it is deteriorating at a rapid rate. It is literally falling apart.

Not long ago I visited the dead from the Titanic, buried in graveyards in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I went to the Mount Olivet Cemetery, where nineteen of the dead are buried. Mount Olivet is A Roman Catholic cemetery, and the bodies had identification, or at least clues, that they belonged to that Faith.

Four of the bodies are unidentified. The listing of the others include designations from first (1) to third class (8);  waiters (3); pastry chef (1); fireman(1);  bass violinist (1).

The violinist, John F. P. Clarke, was one of the ship’s band. The band of the Titanic entered the land of fame and lore for their exploits during the hours of the actual sinking. They played on deck, amid the turmoil of frantic passengers, the lowering of the too few lifeboats, and the outright fear and panic surrounding them, as the Titanic inched closer and closer to its destruction.

I leave him for the last because of what I found at his grave site. Beside his individual burial marker, someone had placed a small red box, that could fit in the palm of your hand.

Inside the box was: “SPECIAL Double Bass Resin FOR Cold Weather” By the Hidersine Co. Ltd – made In England.”

It had not been used.

 

[Image] inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bigpicture/titanic_040612/bp25.jpg

Stinking Hot Weather Meets The North Atlantic Ocean

Pier 21, Halifax

I was perched on my favourite bench looking out the mouth of the harbour to the North Atlantic, when three twenty-somethings decided to perch on the edge of the wharf in front of me.

They obviously had been having the following discussion a good time before they arrived. Buddy 1 told the other two he was going to jump into the harbour. Buddy 2 was saying he wouldn’t dare, all the while daring him. The Girl was mostly quiet with an occasional laugh. She did say once or twice it was ass silly idea.

This discussion went on about ten minutes, Buddy 1 getting more determined, Buddy 2 egging him on more and more, and the Girl’s laughter getting a bit more nervous.

I felt I was an audience for them, though their voices did get higher whenever other folk passed. I noted that the idea to jump was not getting any less insistent.  I felt that none of them were under any influence of drink or drugs, they were obviously physically fit, and I noted the closest Life Preserver was two minutes away if I had to throw it. I, myself, was not going in after anyone, no matter how refreshing the splash.

Usually, such joking around does not persist, so I was less surprised than the other two when Buddy 1 started taking off shoes and socks. Then his shirt. Buddy 2 kept daring him. The word “chicken” was bandied. The Girl was now voicing more cautious comments.

Buddy 1, who had made certain they were near a ladder, stood up on the foot-high wooden planking at the edge of the pier. Buddy 2 switched between comments that Buddy 1 was crazy, to more outlandish dares. The Girl sighed dramatically and just said he was crazy. I agreed – but silently. And over Buddy 1 went. He didn’t dive, but side way flopped. It was six to ten feet to the water. The splash was impressive. His scrambling up the ladder even more so.

Now, Buddy 1 was standing, soaking wet in a pool of water. Other people were paying attention. Some made comments as they passed “Was it cold enough for ya? Haw haw.” The Girl was shaking her head. Buddy 1 dared Buddy 2 to jump in. Buddy 2 said he would, if Buddy 1 jumped in again. The Girl said for them to stop being crazy. But, once in, what was there to lose?

Into the ocean goes Buddy 1 again. A side way splash. Up the ladder as fast as ever.

More people are walking past, making comments.

Buddy 2 said there were even people  further away filming with their phones. He told the Girl to take out her phone and take some pictures. He took off his shoes and his shirt. He gave his hat to the Girl. He jumped. He called from the water for Buddy 1 to join him. Buddy 1 did. They both were up the ladder right quick. They were both dripping. They were both shivering. The both dared the Girl to jump.

The Girl handed her phone to Buddy 2. She slipped out of her sandals.  She might have heard one of the Buddies start to say “You wouldn’t dare.” In she went. She was not quite as quick up the ladder,  but both Buddy 1 and Buddy 2 helped her.

They all three were uncontrollably shivering. They all put on their foot ware. One passer by told them how cold the North Atlantic really was. He said they should get home and get into a hot shower or bath.  They were all shivering greatly, but I think they shook their heads in agreement.

And away they went.

[Image] https: //farm8.staticflickr.com/7031/6700698963_b7a10e3063_z.jpg

 

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