The Moment in Time


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A few nights ago I attended a short story open mic event. I noted that many of us seemed to collectively be in a mood to reflect and ponder on this world and the space that surrounds us.

A few of my fellow writers’ shared those moments when they realized that the world was far bigger than they could ever imagine and that the space they were gazing out at could well be infinite.

This induced a rather deep and ponderous thought process for me.

I began to study a little deeper the time factor after writing the piece inspired by the phrase ‘Time Died.’

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I have been reviewing calendars and when they came into being.  I’ve been researching civilizations and when they too began to develop in earnest, and then of course there is my fascination with the written word and its evolution.

And all that I have read over the last few days has sparked the detective in me to try and find out some of life’s little mysteries.

I’m going to begin by following the importance of the Mayan calendar for the moment simply because there are some rather interesting facts that seem to correspond with this particular calendar and the manner by which it tells time and records history.

Five ages, each one 5,125 years approximately in length, have now passed in accordance with the timeline the calendar offers us. The most recent age to have completed its cycle occurred in December 2012.  We have now entered the sixth age.

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I will try to create a brief timeline based upon the Mayan cycle of an Age.

Mayan culture wasn’t around when these ‘Ages’ began.  How is it that the Mayans came upon this knowledge and how is it that they ascertained it meaning that resulted in an exquisitely detailed calendar?

So many questions are slipping through me at this moment.

When did humanity have its ‘Aha!’ moment?

When did we collectively decide to record certain events? When did we begin to see the patterns the stars had mapped out for us?

And then begin to move around this planet based upon their guidance.

What I’ve found is that when I referenced the calendar certain very critical events in our evolution occurred in approximation with the calendar and its timeline.

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The hunt was one of the first events to be recorded as many caves worldwide will tell us.

Several old caves containing Stone Age parietal art can be found in central India, South Africa, Australia, Namibia, Argentina and South-East Asia, among other locations around the world.

What occurred to inspire this activity?

When did we collectively begin to draw images of animals and tell stories through song?

Did humankind lay staring at the stars and have that moment of beautiful awareness of what they were and what they could become?

Or did something happen?

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Home Sapiens have been around for at least 200,000 some odd years. It appears our species didn’t rush into the idea of civilization.

Like much of the life on this planet they likely lived simply and instinctually.

Much has been said about the Neanderthal and how they in fact died out.

Sure, there were obvious similarities between Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens of the day. There is no doubt that they met and co-mingled.

What would that experience have been like?

Your tribe is roaming this globe in search of food and water. In search of shelter and you come upon another being that looks somewhat like you…but different.

Were they afraid? Angry? Territorial?

And at some point around 35,000 some odd years ago humans began to record things.

Hand prints also began to litter the walls of caves worldwide.

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Why?

(I was here)

That is the message that reaches out across the span of time. They had found an awareness of who they were and they didn’t want to be forgotten? In the images recorded what is it that they were trying to tell us?

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Fabulous drawings began to adorn the walls of caves worldwide.

How is it that this phenomenon struck the inhabitants of this globe collectively?

What event precipitated this sense of keeping records? What instilled the desire and necessity to make it so?

A hand print on a wall is most definitely a record.

The Cave Chauvet in France is one the most pristine caves filled with art in such magnificent detail.

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And I have to wonder how it came to be so popular worldwide at that time considering they did not have mass communications…or did they?

Perhaps they did, only it was in a very different format than what we might imagine.

Every culture, every cave dweller would come to know the stars and their importance and they would come to know how to read them in order to note where they were on this planet.

How did they come by this knowledge?

That is why I am convinced that at some point collectively all humans from all the corners of this earth witnessed something quite remarkable.

Did they witness the arrival of the Gods?   Visitations perhaps?

Early humans would not have known just how expansive space really was and I can see how they imagined the Gods sitting upon those lofty clouds gazing down at the lot of them.

The similarity in stories world wide regarding the advent of God is remarkabley close. What changes is the interpretation of what was witnessed.  This too speaks to human nature.

At one point a few cultures had twelve such Gods running amok.  These beings had a variety of skills and powers.

Civilization had been born at this point. A hierarchy had been created to feed it that still exists to this day.

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Somewhere along the way the idea of God was whittled down to just one entity.

Strangely or perhaps not, various cultures chose different definitions of this singular God to represent them, protect or define them.

It was in the fourth age that civilization seems to emerged and began form and develop.

And it was during the formation of this civilization thing that time was truly established and cycles were set down.

And how did we come to have the calendar that we currently have? This too has been changed over the course of time.

I had to smile as I read about the above as it seems we’ve really muddled through on recording time and its cycles.  From the Roman calendar, which was rather complicated as it only had ten months and the winter season was not included so there were 61 days unaccounted for. Curious.  The Julian calendar remedied this by adhering to the lunar cycles.  Still there were errors that were corrected when the Gregorian calendar was introduced back in 1532 or thereabouts.

Theories abound! And not all countries adopted the new calendar.

Geometrics then come into play. Between the 3rd and 4th Ages in accordance with the Mayan calendar a whole lot of building began to take place.

We are talking big building! Massive big, man!

Pyramids, temples, Stonehenge…

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Again…not just in one location but all over this globe and likely there were many that did not stand the test of time or may well have been destroyed.

Behind the erection of these monuments there seems to have been a underlying call of divinity? Is this when men began to equate themselves as Gods?

The misinterpretation of power.

And we today have the conceit and ignorance to say they did not have the technology to do what they did regardless of the fact that these monuments stand before us as testament that indeed it was done.

Power is and always has been an intoxicating elixir.

Those at the helm of these projects must have indeed felt like gods.

Was this our imminent downfall?

Did we hunger for the knowledge that was bestowed upon us? Did we, in our human condition, decide at some point that we knew better?

Was there some level of anger shown toward the children of the stars sent to instruct us? In our infancy did we demand to much?

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And at the moment my imagination is skipping back to the innocence of when awareness truly occurred.

I see a meeting between early humans and star travelers. I see an intense and beautiful curiosity from both.

Did our space travelers ignore their own ‘prime directive’ (i.e. Star Trek) and feed us information that may wall have been forbidden to give?

Were we an experiment on a grand scale?

Where did the knowledge of the early sciences come from?

Mathematics, charting the stars, masonry, architecture?

All of these are exact in their implementation. They must be else wise they fail.

Travel, velocity and art are but conundrums in the grand scheme of things.

This planet hurdles through space on a daily basis. Not two days are ever the same.

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And were we, as humans, seeds that were planted amongst the stars?

And I must wonder if we were forgotten in this expanse we know as space.

There are times when as I slip into sleep or begin my ascent from it that the whisper of a long ago time speaks to me.

I was there.

Peace to all of you.

 

Below are some of the websites I found of interest in putting this piece together.  Thanks.

http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab25

http://www.walkinthelight.ca/History%20of%20the%20Calendar.htm

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/the-origin-of-the-7-day-week-and-the-names-of-the-days-of-the-week/

http://www.evoanth.net/2015/03/12/retracing-the-evolution-of-language/

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The First Time Ever….


 

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The traffic was horrible on this evening.  I left the office at 4:00 PM.  I would have to navigate over two bridges on this evening’s commute.  I listened to the first traffic report that indicated a few issues on some of the bridges.

As I passed through the Cassiar Connector. which is a tunnel just past the Iron Workers Memorial bridge (a.k.a. 2nd Narrows), the traffic was backing up and beginning to resemble a parking lot.  I opted to take the 1st Avenue exit and travel along Boundary Road to Marine Way and access the Queensborough Bridge via this route.

I was making a special trip this evening as I was on my way to pick up the books I’d ordered.

This would be the first time I saw my work in print.

I cruised along extremely well and motored to Big Bend shopping centre where the traffic kinda slowed to crawl and sorta stopped altogether at times.

I cranked the radio and checked the gas gauge.  I had a 1/4 tank and should be just fine.  I switched the engine onto economy the sat back and sang out of tune to the songs on the radio.

Time wise I really wasn’t worried as U.P.S. closes at 8:00 PM and it was just 4:40 PM.

The minutes ticked by as the gas gauge slipped closer to empty.  The wild imagination that inhabits this head of mine began to nibble anxiously as the possibility of running of gas surfaced.

I reassured myself and my vehicle that we would be fine.

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An hour and half on the road and I was now approaching the bridge deck to the Queensborough.

Several traffic reports confirmed that accidents or breakdowns had somehow occurred on every bridge this day seemingly.

Michael Jackson crooned, “I wanna rock with you, all night…”

“You’ll get there” I whispered and ran my hand along the steering column like I would a familiar lover.

I squirted past the accident scene, saying a prayer and hoping no one was hurt.  I needed gas and I had to pee!

I seldom venture into this part of the world.  Surely there was a gas station somewhere around here?  Hadn’t I noticed one at some point?

I was down to an 1/8 of a tank when I saw the U.P.S. building and pulled in.

There was a fellow in front of me wanting to courier a watch face embedded with diamonds.  He wanted to insure it for more than $500 which was the limit U.P.S. apparently sets.  A kindly woman was on the phone making an inquiry on his behalf.

Twisting my legs a little tighter, I really didn’t mind waiting, I just need to pee!

The woman gave the fellow the phone so that the individual with the expertise could better explain to him why there was a cap on courier insurance.

After a moment she smiled and asked “Are you picking up a parcel?”

I grinned back “Yes.”

I handed her the tickets then asked if there was a washroom I could use.

She showed me where I could find relief.  Ahhhhhh!

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Upon my return the fellow had left and the woman retrieved my package.

My heart suddenly skipped a beat and crazy excitement began to build.

Completing the transaction my final question was where I might locate a gas station.

She gave me directions and it really wasn’t far.  Now I had the car gassed up and a box full books…my books.

I got back on track and head home to New Westminster.

A warm pleasure ran through me then.  I had been on the road for just over two hours and that was cool.  I was now basking in a strange warm glow as I maneuvered back through rush hour traffic.

The euphoria was building as I crawled back over the bridge.  I pulled out my nail clippers and opened the box then fished about and pulled out a book.  Reaching out I ran my hands along the cover and felt the tears sting my eyes.

I needed to record this moment and I needed food.  There was no way I could cook as every part of my being had surrendered to the sweet emotions that had engulfed me when I saw my first ever book in print.

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I order some food and a beer then opened the book reverently.

I gazed down at the dedication page and burst into laughter.  My first grammatical error glared at me.

To my daughter I wrote, “Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate the woman you ‘has’ become!’

I shook my head and smiled.  That’s just me trying so hard to get it right.

My daughter did the cover and I love it.  It works.

I knew I would come across a few spelling and grammar issues but I did try my damnedest to get it right.

And then I was just so overwhelmed by all of it.  I did it!  I really did!

This is a first.  This is a moment that will never come again.

Mistakes and all I’ve put it out there and bared my soul in the process.

While writing this book I found a strength and truth in my vulnerability that surprised me.

In doing this I am experiencing a  rush so sweet and pure….this is the first time.

Let me savour this for just a moment or two.

Peace.

 

Va…Va…Va…Vacation!


 

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Finishing up our drive through Red Rock Canyon, Vegas 2015

Grace and I chatted casually about the trip we were embarking upon. It was still dark out and the rain was coming down pretty good.

We’d stopped to pick up a coffee at Starbuck’s and they both sat untouched in the cup holders. Gotta let them cool down, you know.

We were just coming to the end of the Alex Fraser Bridge on Highway 91 southbound when we saw the red and blue flashing lights ahead.

I slowed then signaled to merge into the left lane. There was not much in the way of traffic at 5:45 AM.

Orange cones surrounded the accident scene. In the quick glance that I took it was evident this was a serious accident. A car had flipped. I hoped no one was seriously hurt.

I had reduced my speed to about 60-70 KM and checked the road ahead for debris. We had almost passed the scene and I began to give the accelerator some juice.

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My car was a 2003 Toyota Echo with just 167,000 km on it. 

Best car ever!

Bang!

It was a loud, intrusive sound. There was an odd sensation of movement in a disjointed kind of way. The air bags were not deployed.

Grace and I simultaneously questioned ‘What the hell just happened?”

I slowed and came to a stop approximately 150-200 feet from the original accident scene.

This was definitely a ‘W.T.F.’ moment.

Grace was asking the question again. “What just happened?”

I replied something to the effect of ‘I think we just got hit.’ Or ‘Were we just hit?’

We were understandably stunned and likely a little in shock.

Next I said something like, ‘I don’t fucking believe this.” It was a statement, a declaration.

We were on our way to Vegas. This couldn’t possibly be happening, could it?

I slipped from the car to find out what was going on.

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A young man emerged from an older white vehicle adorned in a security guard uniform.

“Did you just hit me?” I asked.

“It’s slippery.” He replied.

It didn’t sink in. I asked once more. “Did you hit me?”

His vehicle really didn’t look too bad and I wasn’t certain just what had happened just yet.

“Couldn’t stop…too slippery.” He stated

“Then you hit me?” I asked once more for clarification.

“I want to call my parents.” He replied.

A RCMP police officer approached then.

“Is everyone okay?” he enquired, “ Does anyone need an ambulance?”

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The young man turned to him “Can I call my parents?”

The officer instructed us to get back in our vehicles. No point in getting soaked. He would call for back up and get our information. Everything would be taken care of he assured.

I turned then and really looked at my car.

Holy shit!

The backend had been completely mashed in and the bumper was hanging by a hair in a tangled mess.

Conversations occurred now.

Telling the officer where were coming from and where we were going. He called us a cab. Then Grace’s husband said he’d come for us and take us to the airport in Bellingham. Grace ran out in the rain to have the officer cancel the taxi and not five minutes later he called back saying he couldn’t do it. His passport was at home. By the time he got home to pick it up then came to us it would be way too late to make our flight.

I called my daughter and she started to cry.

“I’m okay.” I reassured her.

I had to cut her short initially as the police had arrived once more, but I called her back later.

Taps on my window were constant now with the condensation making it difficult to see who was beckoning us, Grace and I wiped the windows so that we might see what was going on in the world outside this space.

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The Vegas vacation now seemed to slip a little further into the shadows.

My car had been rendered un-drivable yet I was thinking about the vacation we’d planned. A friend of ours lived down there now and the plan had been to reconnect and get caught up.

All we had to do was get the Bellingham Airport.

I could clean up this mess when I got back.

The thing about messes is they never go away. As much as you’d like them to disappear they’ll stay just the way you left them.

This little adventure of ours was slipping away. Grace and I sat quietly as the minutes slipped past. The possibility of a taxi coming and making its way in time becoming more remote by the moment.

I began to process that this little adventure wasn’t going to happen. I was trying to make sense of that which cannot be explained. I was trying to turn it over in my head and reconcile it.

The damage to my car was extreme.

Green garbage bags in the trunk that has been prepped for charity bins  now appeared rather grotesque.

“You got body parts back there?” Grace had asked smiling getting back in the car. Thankfully we’d stowed our luggage in the backseat.

Another tap on the window. The officer who had responded to Constable Mathew Taylor’s call for back up was Milo.

“Come on.I can give you a lift to the border,” Milo stated.

Hope sprang up in that damp dark moment. Grace and I were suddenly mobile.

I couldn’t get the backdoor open at first. The impact had tightened it considerably. I became herculean in that moment. I ripped the door open and I grabbed my suitcase and umbrella then tossed them into the back of the RCMP cruiser.

Milo escorted us to the border. He was a charming young man; lovely and warm, funny with a quirky side to him. He advised that should we wake sore and stiff to drink excessively.

It was a strange and surreal moment.

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Then again, all the events that had occurred thus far were.

But even in this telling I don’t want to see the young officer who gave us a ride to the border be reprimanded for his kindness.

Milo took us to the truck border crossing. Had he taken us to the Peace Arch crossing we would have had to hike for a good half mile if not more in the rain that was coming down even harder now.

Grace and I thanked our host and made our way toward the border patrol office. Milo called my name then ran up and gave me back my driver’s license.

We laughed lightly then Grace and I continued our trek. I pulled out my umbrella that I’d rescued from the floor of my car and tried to keep the two of dry as we slipped through the dark of morning.

Unsmiling faces greeted us with suspicion as we explained our circumstance and that we were enroute to Vegas.

The gentle kindness of the RCMP officder was now countered with the cold suspicion of the U.S. border patrol.

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“Could you call us a cab?” I asked hopefully.

‘Which one?’ was the reply as several business cards were displayed.

“Whomever you feel is a reputable company.” I replied.

We were instructed to sit. I would find a few minutes later this was more of a demand rather than a courtesy request.

The taxi arrived at length. An odd conversation ensued with the driver revealing that he had done time at Rikers, a well know prison in the States.  I had been making small talk, you know the kind where you enquire if the person gets up to Canada very often.

I didn’t see it at the moment but now I realize I was in shock to some degree. I’d entered that zone where you give it up to the fates. As the cab driver rambled about all the places he’d been to I kept praying I’d see the sign indicating the turnoff for the Bellingham Airport.

And even as we boarded the plane at 8:11 AM for an 8:30 AM take-off, there was an odd separation of sorts.

I’ve only been to Las Vegas once back in 2009 and stayed on the strip for the most part.

This time out I really got a feel for this place and really got to know it a little more intimately. It is still a very strange and contradictory city in many ways.

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We drove through Red Rock Canyon. A stunning visage of limestone and perhaps some other rock variations.

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Las Vegas 2015 023It has a lush obscurity to it. Then you drive into a city of extremes which is an architect’s dream to build big. To build the most elaborate and detailed structure possible where money is no object. But of course there is a cost.

All the houses in the subdivisions are the same colour in various shades of beige and tan earth tones. There is western motif that runs throughout the architecture here and it fits.

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I had a good time despite the auspicious beginnings of this vacation. At the end of the day you gotta make the most of it.

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And, damn, I did enjoy myself.

Now I am back home beginning to clean up the mess.  My neck and back are mucked up and I will have to take some time off from the exercise regiment I’d been establishing.

I have to refrain from running for a while too.  I was feeling a little down for a day or two as result of all this and the fact that all the headway I’d been making had now been sidetracked.

I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself and I really detest this mindset.

I went for my first physiotherapy session yesterday and it was painful.

I’ll be at my doctor’s tomorrow and get set up with a massage therapist as well.

At the moment the discomfort and pain is a bitch.  The physiotherapist did give me exercises to assist in releasing the muscles that are still seized up

My car is a write-off and I have to figure that out as well.  I’m driving a rental provided by ICBC.

I hope the young man that hit us is okay. Grace is having massage treatments done as well.

And I can only hope that we will all have a speedy recovery.

What I do know is this could have been so much worse.  I’ll get better.  I always do.

I’ll release the book shortly and get on with that as well.

Thanks for checking in.

Namaste!

 

In Search Of….


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I just finished a piece for Caitlin Press Inc. for an anthology that they are putting together of women travelling alone and what the experience was like.   My submission is regarding an impromptu trip to California circa 1976 that I took.

A young man named John assisted me in a big way back in the day.  After my return to Vancouver we wrote to each for a few years.  Then we lost touch.

Some 38 years have passed since that time.  The photo I am sharing shows me with John, who is standing next to me and two of his friends. 

I can’t recall his last name, however, he was a fabulous artist on his way to university. His dad was a movie producer and they lived in the Hollywood Hills.  

I would love to touch base with John again.  Just to tell him how much I appreciate all he did for me at that time.  Of the some eight million that lived in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, I managed to find an angel. 

If you know John, please pass this along to him.  Thanks.

Adventures in Wine Country



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The Love Boat (aka Star Princess) docked at Ogden Point in Victoria

We had bid the Star Princess adieu. Nine women with a piece of luggage in tow navigated the streets of San Francisco…well, only two blocks of them. A colourful train we certainly made.

Five were dressed in identical deep pink golf shirts while the remainder of us were in equally brilliant attire. Napa Valley Wine Tours had agreed to pick us up and show us their magic kingdom. It is a cloudless day in San Francisco.  A cool breeze filters off the ocean.

The van that will be our transport comes into view as does Paul, who will be our host. He is dressed for Wall Street and as the persona of a college professor and in appearance looks as though he has stepped out from the set for the movie ‘Goodfellas’. Cruise May 9, 2014 685

Paul…taking care of the girls

Upon meeting Paul, his charm is immediately present, and what unfolds next as we make our way onto the Bay Bridge is his profound knowledge of the area. The history lesson begins. The Bay Bridge is five miles in length. Cruise May 9, 2014 507

The Bay Bridge taken from the van

I can’t imagine running over it. It is a double decker and back in 1989 during the World Series part of the bridge collapsed due an earthquake. I am transported to the basement suite I was living in on 2nd Avenue.

I was making dinner that evening and I’ve got the baseball game on. The screen begins to shake and then transmission is lost.  Voices can be heard speculating ‘Was that an earthquake just now?” They continue to talk not certain that they are on the air.

I have no doubt that there must be a certain amount of confusion that occurs in the first few moments of such an event.

Having gone through a couple of tremblers here in Vancouver, I understand the cognitive function that it takes a moment to comprehend and digest that a potentially dangerous situation is unfolding.

Back in 2000 I was working at an engineering office. My chair, which had wheels on it, began to shake back and forth violently and I reached out and grabbed my desk to steady myself. James and John simultaneously jumped up and braced themselves in their respective doorways.

A big grin on both faces and John declared the obvious.  “Earthquake!” It must be an aphrodisiac for structural engineers.

In any case, as we moved further along the bridge, Paul pointed out San Quentin Prison to our left. It is much bigger than Alcatraz. Cruise May 9, 2014 515

Alcatraz

And Johnny Cash came to mind.  Then I pondered why as Johnny had sung about Folsom Prison, yes? I don’t dwell too long on this vague memory. As we leave the city, we are treated to lush green hills that are never ending. Cruise May 9, 2014 706 Paul points out a mountain range, whose name I can’t recall, but it was so named as the range looks like an Indian princess lying on her back, arms folded over her chest with hair trailing out about her head.

I followed the imagery he provided with his words. I’ll have to look up the story but there was an odd sadness in the tale. I was sitting with Dale, a woman I’d gone to school with and have not seen in close to forty years.

So during this history lesson, we were catching up.  In an odd way, it was reminiscent of some of our classes.

And so the hills continued to roll past and then they turned into vineyards. Once they start, they never seem to end.  I never saw anyone in them…just these endless vines in perfect rows. I wondered when they check the vineyards and how often. All of us were giddy  at the prospect of this part of our adventure. We pulled up to Domaine Carneros, our first stop in this wine tasting dealio. Cruise May 9, 2014 614

Domaine Carneros

I’m not going to pretend that I know all that much about the process of wine making.  I did, however, learn a great deal, at least at the start of this venture. While the education continued throughout, the mind became inebriated and just wanted to play.

The first estate dealt mainly with sparkling wines and pinot noirs. Cheryl and I opted to sample their reds.  They got progressively better. I purchased a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir to cozy up to one of these nights. My daughter had requested a bottle of Pinot Gris, so I would have to stray from the red sector at some point.

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We nibbled on cheese as Nick, our sommelier, briefed us on what it was we were drinking. Ninety degree heat made us feel rather happy after this first tasting. Photos were in order. I had begun my before and after composite.

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We were sinking delightfully fast. Playfully we had Paul take our picture just prior to hopping back on the van to proceed to our second destination.

We pulled up to Luna Winery.  It held the appearance of a setting in Tuscany  And I’ve never been to Tuscany. It is quaint and elegantly rustic.

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Luna Winery

The ‘Holly Golightly’ in me felt the desire to don a light dress with my head wrapped loosely in a scarf with sunglasses that covered half my face as I tossed myself across the barrels of wine in the courtyard. This was a fleeting fantasy.

The charm and ambience of the place was immediate. Lemon and Olive trees offered an intoxicatingly fragrance as Chris spoke of the wines we’d be sampling. Two reds, two whites in this tasting. The Pinot Gris was divine.  I had found my daughter’s prize!

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Arlene fell in love with the table as Paul pulled out the makings for our lunch. We were having and ‘illegal’ picnic. Weddings and picnics are not permitted at the wineries in the Napa Valley. Today were on the sly.  I loved the decadence of the moment.

We ordered a red and a white wine to accent out meal.

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As we said our ‘good-byes’ to this fine little winery I was definitely feeling loosey-goosey. How do I know this?

I was talking quite openly about my boobs and my need to try and restrain the darlings and the methods by which I attempted such feats. I’m not vulgar.  Perhaps a little crass at times.

We hopped back onto the Van and made our way to Trefethern. Paul had chosen each winery to showcase the various character. And they were all very unique. Adam welcomed us at Trefethern and we sat in an expansive room shrouded in dark wood. Barrels of wine were mounted along one wall, photographs of the family adorned the other portion of the wall.

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Trefethern

Their signature wine HaLo so named after their children. A bar ran along another wall adjacent to our table. I would note the spittoons on the table for the first time. Dappled sunlight filtered in through the lemon trees that crowded the windows.

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Adam gave the history, it seems, of every grape they’d ever grown. He did it in a manner that gave a certain intimacy to the experience of drinking the wine.

Upon seeing someone pour their wine into a spittoon, I reacted with horror! I thrust my now empty glass forward. I would make the sacrifice and lovingly consume any unwanted wine. Red wine is an acquired taste, a progression.

But once you give yourself over to the way these wines seduce your taste buds there is no going back. I think we had a Bordeaux here.

I love Bordeaux’s and Adam proclaimed their victory over a French offering. We cursed the French enthusiastically. My quota of two bottles to bring back to Canada had been met so I asked about purchasing opportunities down the road.

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A barrel of fresh lemons stood at the front and we were encouraged to take one. My friends warned I could not hope to bring this back with me.  I decided I would try. Then we boarded the van after Cheryl hugged it out with Cork Oak tree. I confess, at this point I was feeling the effects.

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The lot of us were now a giggling and boisterous crew. It was off to our final destination which was Goosecross. It is a very small winery. I chatted amiably with ‘Ryan or Cal’ about the process of purification.

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My brain cells morphed into Teflon as the information, for the most part, wasn’t sticking.  I enjoyed our conversation none the less. I then ran into the winery so as not to miss or be late for the tasting.

The moment I entered I felt as though I’d entered a saloon from a time long since passed. Instead of slamming a whiskey glass down and demanding ‘Barkeep, gimmee another shot!” which I really wanted to do, I practiced the art of compromise on this one. I placed my glass firmly on the bar, hitched my foot up on the stoop and said, “I’m ready for another sample, Kim.”

And I did this with pinky firmly extended, thank you…thank you very much. Every wine that Cheryl now tasted elicited a delightful, “This is lovely, just lovely.”

Somewhere in the mayhem I recall a glass breaking. And in that moment I played out a fight at a wine bar. It was an odd little fantasy of strange and diluted proportions that saw my attention wane fast enough as I decided that shit happens. We managed to convince Paul to take us to Inglenook.

There would be no tasting but we did want to see it.  It is one of the oldest wineries first established in 1881. It is now owned by Frances Ford Coppola of ‘The Godfather’ fame among many others. Paul told us we would never see the owners of these establishments, just the worker bees.

That’s cool  I’m a worker bee along with the rest of them.  I don’t just feed off the proceeds, I help to sweeten the pot. Winnie the Pooh would be proud. Inglenook is beautiful, rustic and aged.  There is a certain elegance to the Grande dame. I slipped tipsily through several arched doorways comprised of brick. Inglenook,

I would discover was the most costly of the bunch. I ordered a glass of wine, red.  I was not too certain what the choices were or if there were choices. I gleefully took the glass which cost $21.00 American and sauntered back up to the gift shop taking in the ambiance of the place.

I engaged in a lovely conversation with an elderly fellow whose name regrettably got lost in the dissolution of too much wine in 90 degree heat. He had worked at Inglenook for twelve years. “What do you like the most about your job?” I asked. “This isn’t a job, it’s a complete joy.” he replied with a smile. I looped my arm through his and asked for the grand tour.

Leaning forward I advised rather conspiratorially that I only had half an hour. Somehow in that brief span of time I managed to spend $100.  Go figure!

We were now herded back onto the van.  We had a plane to catch. This whirlwind of an adventure was coming to a close. And I was trying to absorb so much. As we made our way back to San Francisco attempts were made to have a sing-a-long.

Oddly enough, as a collective we seemed to forget the words at precisely the same time. And as I sat back and just let the memories and magic commit themselves I smiled. “Damn, I’m blessed!” How’s that for an oxymoron? Good-byes were made as we parted ways. Finding our check-in point in the airport we through open our suitcases proceeding to pack all our purchases inside.

I slipped the two bottles of wine, a lemon, a wine glass that I inadvertently removed from Inglenook and a couple of other trinkets into my bag. Sleepily we boarded the plane that would take us home.

All I can say is thank you.  It truly was magical. The lemon made it through customs and as sweetened my drinking water as of late.  The glass from Inglenook survived the trip as well.

This was epic.

Dissing Disembarkation!


 

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Leaving Vancouver on May 9th, 2014

 

“Easy peasy lemon squeezie!”

These were the words our cruise director, Marchand, uttered reassuringly to us regarding the process of getting off the boat. It would be seamless if we came when we were supposed to and if we followed the instructions he had, in a confused and repetitive manner, tried to impress upon us.

We became a little agitated.

Still, this was on Princess channel 39 in our stateroom.  I listened to the announcement twice while preparing myself for the evening ahead, though I failed to actually watch it.

We were given a time to arrive at U.S. customs on the boat.  Do not show up early and do not arrive late.  We were instructed to bring our passport, onboard account card and a letter with a card that displayed a letter which would validated our time.

Do not bring your luggage!

We rose at 5:00 AM wanting to witness passage beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.  Our reward was a spectacular sunrise along with it.

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Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge at 5:40 AM and beautiful sunrise!

The bay of San Francisco yawned sleepily awake bathed in a rich gold as the sun crested the horizon.

Alcatraz stood conspicuously out-of-place on “The Rock.”

A U.S. Customs tugboat moved toward us to assist in berthing the vessel.  Harbour seals barked an enthusiastic and loud greeting as they woke stretched out along Fisherman’s Wharf.

The breeze off the water kissed our skin as we gazed into a cloudless sky that shifted from a deep gold to vibrant blue.

Originally we’d thought to have breakfast after passing through the onboard customs procedure.  We had an hour still and a yearning for coffee so off to the Horizon Court buffet we went to satisfy our requirement of said caffeine and appease our hunger.

At 7:45 we sauntered back down to the Vista Lounge where we would begin our disembarkation.  Our time arrival time that had been dictated was 7:55.

There was a line-up so we proceeded to move to the end of the line.  We had now moved to the other end of the ship and it was looping around the on the otherside before we reached the line’s end.

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Girls just gotta have fun!  My gal pals!

“Easy peasy lemon squeezie?” I don’t think so.

Half the passengers that we saw had their luggage with them and for the next hour we moved at a snail’s pace as the whole of the ship had seemingly arrived collectively for disembarkation.

The happy bunch who we’d sailed with, whom we had smiled and cajoled with over the past few days now sneered and growled.

Teeth were bared at those who tried to line jump ever so casually.  The feral side of the human equation was now on display.

“Conga line anyone?  Let’s do the limbo!”

Gazes of contempt and disdain greeted the suggestion.  One of my companions made mention that if our illustrious cruise director, Marchand were to make an appearance, she’d take him out

I laughed gleefully at the pleasure of this scenario.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!

Indeed, our auspicious cruise director did not make an appearance.  Staff barked orders at the mob now.  With swift authority they whipped the crowd into submission.

I was thoroughly impressed!

We attempted a conga line when in fact we began to move but the weary lot just bustled forward like zombies that were so utterly tired of bustling forward.

As we approached the Vista Lounge a staff member tiredly explained that U.S. Customs had arrived half hour late and changed a thing of two.

This was a ‘one off.’

My friends and I were grateful we’d had our breakfast when we did.  It’s doubtful we’d have had the time otherwise.

Now cleared to get off the boat we made our way back to our stateroom to retrieve our luggage.

Disembarkation could well have become a few other disses. Dismemberment being right up there.

We had, at the beginning of our three-day adventure, been shown how to jump off the ship should the need arise.  I found this exercise informative and delightfully amusing.  After being shown how to put on the life jackets we then had to do a reenactment to ensure we were all paying attention.

I tried blowing the whistle that was attached.  It didn’t work all that well as the instructor quipped about the germs on them.  All of those that had given over to their inquisitive nature like me now spat the thing from their lips.

We were shown how to plug our nose then cross our other arm over our chest to embrace the forearm.  Don’t jump! Just step off the side of the ship.  Hmm.

I envisioned the lot of us doing this.  Saw us landing on each other.  Saw my wig take flight and being swept up and away by a wicked sea breeze.  Later it was adopted by a swordfish or some other permanent resident of the ocean.

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Our last eveing of dining out and a wine tasting.  We needed to practice for the real thing!

Between embarkation and disembarkation, however, a fabulous time was had by all.  The energy and mood were festive and high.

The Motown and British Invasion shows were fun and the comedian Steve White made us giggle.

The food was fabulous.  Our host servers Ciria and Luis were gracious, informative and always accommodating.

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Our gracious hosts!

The piano bar was a blast.  Dave Williams, our piano man, was fun and engaging.  Mind you we ramped it up a bit..  Safe to say the energy from our group was truly infectious on Saturday night.

It wasn’t just the microphone that smelled like a beer as Dave wailed into it along with the rest of us.  The place smelled of wine, Margueritas, Pinas Colades and Marie’s special ‘Tea.’

She patiently in an intoxicated and authoritative voice instructed the server what concoctions would be required to produce this magic.

Sandy, who had joined our ranks, had become a fan of this beverage.

Laurie seemed to have a Marguerita tha grew proportionately as the cruise progressed.

Martinis were definitely shaken and not stirred as the servers performed their rendition of an exotic latin dance whilst mixing said drink.

Hips undulated in delight as the martini shaker promised a delightful treat to the taste buds of those anticipating the result.

In our rabble roused state we challenged all of those around us to sing and have fun right along with us.  And they did.

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Arlene stealing the scene and an attempt at a ‘selfie’ with a normal camera! 

Disembarkation was successful.  No walking the plank, no jumping ship, no fish fighting over my wig.

And as we danced up a street in San Francisco toward our little bus that would sweep us away to the Napa Valley for a day of indulging in some fine wines, we bid the Star Princess adieu.

All dissing aside a grand time was had by all!

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