Challenges

By Sunday, I understood that the movers wouldn’t come Monday as I had thought. It was just as well. Lizbet was in town with one of my second cousins whom I had met only briefly a week or so before when they came through town on their way to one of those resort condominium things in Parksville. They were back now, happy for the holiday, disgusted with the treatment they got at the resort and ready to enjoy complaining about it as they recounted their week away. On Monday, that left us with a free day. I kept on packing my infinte belongings that never seem to diminish on the leaving side and seem to be piling up on the receiving side. How can that be?

Lizbet went to the art store and visited with a Little Ethel at Mom’s previous residence. Alice went across the street to the mall looking for things she could take home to her grandchildren. We agreed to meet in the afternoon and go down to Spanish Banks where there is a Concession stand that sells the best fish and chips in the world, bar none.

At six o’clock, we piled into one car complete with Sara the dog and drove out to the beach no more encumbered than by our sun glasses and sun hats. No towels, no blankets, no shovels (now what would three middle age ladies do with shovels at the beach?) no sun screen. We were only going for fish and chips.

It was the long weekend. It was a Provincial holiday. The beach was packed; there wasn’t a parking spot to be had. We waited in the parking road space waiting for someone to leave and finally got a spot far from the concession.

A light breeze was picking up. The sun was gloriously sinking to the horizon in a leisurely way. It still had two hours to fulfill it’s daily commitment. The tide was in and we could see the life guard in his red t-shirt lazily rowing his boat near to shore and the swimmers. Way out in the bay, there were three tankers floating high, indicating they were waiting to lade cargo before they left port.

There were family picnics and association picnics. A whole community of African-Canadians were gathered together joyfully barbecuing dinner, kids playing and cavorting, mamas sashaying and flirting while keeping an eagle eye on their charges, men playing frisbee and gossiping in groups.

In other areas, people lay on blankets or lounged in canvas portable chairs. It was a holiday and people here were taking full advantage of it.

Lizbet and Sara-dog went to find us a place to sit and eat while I went to get three orders of fish and chips. Cousin Alice went with Lizbet too, and once the spot was chosen, came back to help me transport our dinner to the beach.

We sat watching seagulls scrap over someone else’s left over meal. Crows hovered but did not drive off the community of gulls that had congregated. One log over and one log down, three Phillipina girls sat with a young Caucasian lad having a celebration – probably a birthday – because one of the girls had a lovely bright bouquet of flowers carefully wrapped in a beach towel to protect it from the heat. Early evening light fell gloriously on the group creating long shadows typical of late day. With my trusty digital camera I was able to surreptitiously take photos that might translate into a drawing some time. Lizbet, Alice and I speculated on the relationships of those four and then cast our eyes out on the other beach figures, looking for beach beauty.

Eventually our chips were gone and we reluctantly brushed off our sandy bottoms, , dumped our little cardboard chips containers in the garbage container, and turned for home.

As we walked back to the find the car, we were fascinated by a young couple that stood swaying at the shore, lip-locked and body-locked, oblivious to the passers-by, kissing as if the world it were a World Championship marathon. The tide came in closer and closer, sweeping in in a three-waves-small, fourth-wave-a-big-one pattern, drenching them to the knees and they continued to kiss on. Every once in a while they would brace against the spray from the fourth wave, slightly shift their swaying position. Perhaps they took breath. There was a shift, in any case, and they seemed to start afresh.

Isn’t that romantic? Lizbet opined as she continued to commentate on the lovers’ status as if it were a skating championship on television.. “I mean, if you were going to make the most romantic scene in a movie, wouldn’t this be it, with wave crashing a brilliant spray about you while you obliviously cling to your lover in an endless embrace?”

And

They haven’t come up for air in twenty minutes. Are they actually taking a breath?

And

Ah! I see a shift. Did you notice that shift in position? He’s moved his hand from the upper back to the centre waist. That’s a classic move. They haven’t separated yet!”

What a marathon! You’ll never see better than this!”

In the meantime, Alice and I were laughing hilariously. Lizbet and Alice set each other off. I’ve seen them engage in more fou-rires, those uncontrollable fits of laughter that end in tears running down your face and you, gasping for air. I was doing it, too. If only the couple knew what a spectacle they were providing! It probably would have changed nothing.

I thought of Mama; how she would have been disgusted with these kiss marathoners; how she would have scurried us away to not look in case this unacceptable behaviour was somehow a virulently contagious disease.

We continued to the car, the sun now giving it’s last brilliant show, yellow and gold blazing low through tree branches, picking up wavelets and shattering them against the seashore with golden glitter. We reluctantly set off back home.

Just one other story of note from our beach trip: When we were arriving, we stopped by a panel that wrote out in detail the dog walking etiquette for the beach. We read it and ho-hummed. It was much like every other park. We knew the rules.

On our way back to the car, we noticed another sign that we had missed on the way in. It said that dogs were completely forbidden from the sandy beach area. The fine for disregarding this rule was $2,000. We had been sitting at our log nonchalantly eating dinner and people watching, entirely ignorant of this rule, and Sara the dog was at our feet, patiently hoping that the left overs would be for her and not for the seagulls. Little had we realized the monetary peril we had narrowly escaped.

Oops.

But I started this tale with no intention of telling you about the beach. I started to tell you that the movers never came. I’m at odds with Otto about the rent and me still being in the house, while I should be inhabiting my own premises. If he has to pay a larger portion of rent this month, because I’m out of there, then I should be out of there.

There is enough contention in our family over the will and selling of the house, that I am desperate to keep the peace. I don’t like arguments at all. Though Otto has apologized for his angry and violent outburst prior to Lizbet’s and Alice’s arrival, (and I’ve let this lie quietly as a result), I don’t want to give him any further opportunity to find excuses for not meeting his commitments. So I do want to be out of there.

But here I am with no mover and I think I’ll have to find another one. So I’ve made two more trips with the car to bring things to my new home. This last one has been a commitment to living in my new place, even though I still have a room full of boxes and all my furniture still there at Mother’s house in Burnaby.

I’m camping. But I’m proud of myself.

Hugh happened by as I was loading the car. He made me unhook all the cables from the computer so that I would have an idea of where they would be hooked back up when the computer and peripherals were reassembled. Hugh carried it all to the car. It was delightful and unexpected to see him again. He’s about to leave for Ottawa to study for his Masters degree. I got a few more hugs and bit more conversation and was grateful for it.

I also took my hair dryer and my medication. That is all at this end, the new house, now, and I’m really here.

I’m sleeping on a day bed couch-become-mattress on the floor. I have an unpacked box of files for a night table. The pillow is a chair cushion. I sleep luxuriously under a duvet that is feather light and keeps me warm. I’ve been camping out more roughly up until now with just the overhead light, nowhere to sit (no furniture) except this daybed mattress. It’s hard to read at night before I go to bed under these conditions. However, on this last trip, I brought my bedside lamp, so now I also luxuriously read my way to sleep in camping comfort last night, without having to hoist myself off the floor to turn out the light.

I’m proud that I was able to assemble my electronic piano by myself. There were only four screws, but I got that right, and it’s up and the connections are made and it plays as well as I can make it.

I’m proud that I assembled the computer with only one glitch. All the terminals are plugged in the right places. Everything operates. The printer prints, the scanner scans, the mouse scampers. That was last night.

The only glitch was the keyboard. I had proven that the computer worked by playing several games of FreeCell, but when I tried to input a new telephone number to the Address Book, nothing worked on the keyboard.

I made a distress telephone call to Hugh who knows everything about the computer. His last advice was for me to try the keyboard on Mrs. Stepford’s computer. If it worked, then it was the computer at fault, but if it didn’t work, it was the keyboard at fault.

Worst case,” he said, it’s the motherboard.” My heart sank. Why do I have to have problems with it when Hugh is going away. I guess I’m going to grow up with my computer and learn to do more myself. None of this leaning-on-a geek business.

As he said good-bye, casually as a statement of an everyone-knows-this,-you-know fact, he said, “You know that the keyboard has to be plugged in before you turn the computer on or it won’t work?”

We signed off. As a last effort before I traipsed over to my neighbour, I turned the computer off, reconnected the keyboard, fired the computer back up again and, lo and behold, the keyboard works.

So I’m back in business. Except the CPU of the computer is on the floor as is the scanner and the printer. I tried sitting on the floor to work but the only flat surface I have to mount the monitor on is a less than stable cardboard box. It took me five long minutes to get up from the floor with these old bones.

When I use the mouse at floor level, the old carpal tunnel flares. With the monitor at one angle and me at another, I’ve cricked my neck trying to see what I’m doing. Is this what computer camp is like?

Since dinner, I’ve assembled a little low coffee table (again, with four bolts.) It’s raised the mouse by a foot and a half. I found the Reader’s Digest Atlas for a lap table; I borrowed a chair from my patient and generous neighbour, Mrs Stepford. So I’m now happily back in business:
Oh Suzanna, oh don’t you cry for me,

‘Cause I’m off to Alabamy with

A keyboard on my knee.

And in this quiet house, I’ve done my first post from here, waiting for my Internet connection to be installed seven days from now, to publish; and I’m thrilled that I’ve assembled my electronic piano, a taken-apart-for-shipping coffee table and a computer all in one day. I feel I’m reaping the benefits of my Hippie days in making do with what I’ve got.

“Let tomorrow come! I’m ready!”

 

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