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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

 

Ship And Sailor Both Await The Danger of Fog

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The sea plays a big part for Alison Alexandra in my manuscript There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth.  This is at the beginning of a night that is going to last a long time.

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There seems to be a touch of mist coming over the ocean as Alison Alexandra looks from the windows of her prow of a ship house on the top of her cliff. Well, she calls it her cliff and no one – yet – has said ‘nay’. But then, she thinks of it as her ocean, so what is someone going to do with that?

She turns the lights out in her prow of a ship room and settles into her comfortable winged chair. The sun is in its last minute of setting and Alison Alexandra concentrates on the positions of the ships settling in for the night. There are always ships that have no space for a berth until the next day. One or two always seem to have to wait until the day after that.

The vagaries of shipping and commerce, and the whims of an erratic sea, can only be predicted with moderate success. The tides and the winds and the atmospheric pressures high and low make merry over and under the endless horizons. They whirl and they twirl and they scud and skip with gay abandon. ‘Catch them and predict them?’ – well, Alison Alexandra knows better than that.

As it is, her sea eye – well-honed after these many years of coastal watching – is certain the touch of mist that kisses the top of the waves in a most flirtatious manner is deciding whether or not to settle in for the night and become mistress to sea and ships and those swabbies who – oh, so quickly – will be told that the watch must be doubled.

No matter that they are within sight of shore and already have their imaginations stirred by what will be offered at fine establishments such as The Tugboat Wharf And Seafood Lounge with its All You Can Eat Beef Buffet and waitresses who are never going to give them the attention they crave but will still be a damn good source to stroke the imagination and then they can hit the streets and hope to find some pliable bodies with whom to hit the sheets if only by the hour.

(Image) https://i.ytimg.com/vi/uDF-z2ZPzRg/maxresdefault.jpg

Alison Alexandra Meets R/Jane-the-Ghost For The First Time

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“That is a peculiar-looking ship.”

“It is,” agrees Alison Alexandra. She agrees because it is a peculiar-looking ship. She is studying it through her military-grade binoculars as she stands near the edge of her cliff, leaning against a waist-high barrier she had constructed just for this purpose.

Three sturdy posts painted blue.

There is a wooden knob atop each post, painted red. Four broad boards, painted white, are securely nailed to the posts, with slight gaps between them. There is room for five people to stand side-by-side. Alison Alexandra has never had more than one person at a time accompany her on this venture. A slight problem at the moment is that this is not one of those times. She is standing alone, binoculars to eyes, looking out to the ship in the harbour. The peculiar-looking ship.

“In fact, it is not just peculiar-looking, it is actually peculiar.”

It is,” agrees Alison Alexandra, who does not lower her binoculars. “Though that is not the only peculiar thing at the moment.”

“It is not?”

“It is not,” says Alison Alexandra. “One other peculiar thing is that I am standing here by myself.”

“I see.”

“I don’t,” says Alison Alexandra.

“I’m out of your vision.” The voice does not falter. “I’m R/Jane-the-Ghost.”

“R/Jane-the-Ghost?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Yes,” confirms R/Jane-the-Ghost.” Yes.”

“A for real ghost?” asks Alison Alexandra. “Not a figment produced by an undigested piece of potato?”

“I like that idea,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “Being a Dickensian ghost. I liked reading Dickens.”

“As do I,” says Alison Alexandra.

“But – no – no Dickensian ghost am I. I bring no warnings.”

“”No festive cheer?”

“Nary a candle.” Says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “No bony finger have I, pointing at anything.”

“You did – in your way – point out the peculiar ship.”

“In my way.”

“Point taken,” says Alison Alexandra.

There is a low chuckle, bordering on hearty, close beside her right ear. She does lower her binoculars at that, and moves her head to look. Her view is unobstructed all the way down her cliff. The water sparkles.

“It’s a fine, clear day, isn’t it?” asks R/Jane-the-Ghost.

“Remarkably clear.” Alison Alexandra keeps staring toward the point where she perceives a voice to be. “One might think one could see forever.”

“Perhaps you do.” R/Jane-the-Ghost chuckles again. “All things considered.”

(Image)https://digbyhotels.com/wp-content/gallery/admiral-digby-photos/Fundy-Rose-Princess-of-Acadia-.jpg

Cruise Control … Except For The Weather

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(Oceania Marina)

When I wrote about the Oceania Marina yesterday (see blog below) I had no thought that the voyage would make the National News that night.
Perhaps a bit of interest about the *first* cruise of the season might make some local newscast. But, what caught the eye of the  national network was the fact that the ship (and, of course, its passengers) landed in the middle of a snow storm.
Probably the possibility had been mentioned. After all, one does not set out on an Atlantic cruise without the chance of poor weather. And, the cruise ship, with its myriad of dining options, would be a nice place to hole up.
I know I would have no trouble saying that I would just get to a restaurant or two earlier than I had planned on the twenty-eight day trip. No problem.
And, the Oceania Marina’s next port of call was Newfoundland and Labrador, a rugged place in it’s own right; once a country in its own right; and currently well-known as the location of the hit play, Come From Away
But, most of the passengers interviewed seemed right happy to be where they were. One gentleman of solid years announced that he had “Moved to Florida twenty-five years ago so he would never have to shovel snow again.”
Which is newsworthy enough for me, who was out shovelling at 6:30 this morning.

 

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This cruise on the Oceania Marina caught my eye because 1) it actually comes to the Atlantic coast of Canada the second week of April (the earliest I have seen) and 2) it ends in Barcelona – a destination I would appreciate.

In between it goes to Ireland, France, England, France again, Spain, Portugal, Spain (again). It takes twenty-eight days out of New York.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a publicity writer for pricey cruises. If I ever did go on such a jaunt, I’d prefer a ship much smaller (the Marina can handle 1258 – 1447 passengers). And – in truth – I would rather go on a Freighter that only handles a dozen or so paying passengers. Oddly,  the main character in my  work-in-progress, Alison Alexandra, went on such a Freighter cruise and enjoyed herself immensely. But she’s that type of gal.

However, Alison Alexandra also enjoys the finer things in life (she also had a hearty jaunt on The Orient Express), and would not eschew the accommodations and offerings aboard The Marina.

In addition to the extensive voyage, and numerous ports of call, (and the complementary 24 hour room service) Alison Alexandra would enjoy a night or two in the twelve dining venues offered.

Alison Alexandra could dip into various menus to have :

Roasted veal rack: marsala sauce, mascarpone polenta, sautéed asparagus, tomato

Tournedos rossini: foie gras, truffle sauce, fried lorette potatoes

Roasted Beetroot and Garlic Goat Cheese Napoleon with Champagne and Truffle Vinaigrette

Pancetta Wrapped Filet of Veal with Bay Lobster Tail Oscar Style

Bone-In Milk-Fed Veal Chop prepared in your choice of style: Grilled to perfection and topped with Sautéed Piedmonte Wild Porcini Mushroom Sauce Pounded thin, lightly breaded and sautéed in Lemon-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vinaigrette, crowned with Trio of Diced Roma Tomatoes, Radicchio and ArugulaAged Marsala Wine Sauce

Gambas Sautées ProvençaleSautéed Jumbo Shrimp in Lessatini Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Garlic, Parsley and Tomatoes

And, from he Dom Pérignon Experience:

Curry jaune de homard bleu, nuage de coco: Brittany blue lobster, yellow curry broth, coco foam:

w/ Dom Pérignon 2006

Alison Alexandra is not (unlike her author) much for desserts.

All the menus, and other cruise details, can be found here: https://www.oceaniacruises.com/ships/marina/cuisine/

“The Alexandra” Arrives In Port On Sea And On Page

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I am four hundred pages into my new novel, There was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When the Stones Were Not So Smooth. In the current chapter I am writing, my main character, Alison Alexandra, is getting a tour on the bridge of The Alexandra.
This is a real ship, and  I have researched the ship over the course of a week. Alison Alexandra wanted to go aboard solely because of its name. However, her expectations of the visit are disappointing, in part to find that real life can not necessarily equal the fantasy about it.

 

I have just seen, in my daily News of the Port, that The Alexandra is arriving in Halifax this afternoon at 15:00. I will be down on the harbour with my binoculars to see her arrive. However, I could actually stay home and see the ship, as it passes through The Narrows at the bottom of my street, on its way to the Fairview Container Terminal.
Perhaps that is what I will do tomorrow, with a coffee in hand, and watch The Alexandra depart.

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