Category Archives: Amber

Wednesday 9th October 2019 – WE’VE HAD …

… another tremendously busy day down at the tyre depot.

This morning, with nothing much to do although everyone else was rushing around, I filed away all of the bills, invoices and charging sheets. And that wasn’t the work of five minutes either. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve been very busy just recently and done a lot of work.

This afternoon involved even more of an effort on my part. I had to go off down to Bristol and the auto spares shop for parts for not one but two jobs that were ongoing in the garage.

And then we had an extremely complicated enquiry about tyres.

Someone has a pick-up with tyres on it that have long-been obsolete and reliable heavy-duty ones can no longer be obtained – except at some kind of silly astronomical price for “specials”. We managed to source a set of wheels of a different diameter and then we had to hunt down a set of tyres for those wheels that would have exactly the same circumference as the original tyres on the original wheels.

It was a good thing that I made the old laptop work yesterday because I could sit down and hunt for a tyre conversion program on the internet – and in the end I found one – and having downloaded and installed it, I could get it to work it gave me a choice of half a dozen different tyre sizes.

And this will please the guy intensely because one of the sizes of tyre is a much-more mainstream size of truck tyre, and even with the cost of new wheels for his truck, he’s going to come out ell on the right side.

I ought to be on a commission.

But that wasn’t all the excitement. yesterday as we were closing a guy came in for a new wheel that he had ordered and to have a tyre fitted on it. All in all, there wasn’t much change out of $1000. When it had been done, he just threw it into the back of his truck.

“Aren’t you going to strap it down?” asked Darren
“no” replied the guy. “It’ll be fine in there. Its own weight will hold it in”.
So Darren shook his head and came back in.

This afternoon the guy came back for some other things.
“You know that wheel and tyre that you sold me yesterday afternoon?”
“I do” replied Darren.
“Well, it’s in the river”.

Luckily he managed to rescue it otherwise that would have been very expensive.

Last night, with having not felt so good, I was in bed something-like and even though I heard the alarms go off, it was still 07:15 when I finally surfaced.

The girls had a ride in to school and so I had another leisurely breakfast followed by a nice stinking hot shower which made me feel so much better.

Plenty of time to make my lunch and then head off to the tyre depot. And I’d noticed that we were low on bread so I stopped to buy some another couple of loaves. Only to find up at the office that Rachel had also noticed that we were low on bread this morning and had already bought two on her way in to work.

Later this afternoon I fetched Amber from her cheerleading practice after school and brought her home. Rachel had gone to Fredericton so there were just us at home. Our little visitor had told us a while ago that she had a really good recipe for a vegan chili so we set her to work in the kitchen this evening.

And I’ll tell you all something for nothing – and that is that it really was excellent too. So much so that Darren, who isn’t usually a fan of exotic vegan cooking, helped himself to a second full helping.

I made a second visit to the pan too and decided that she can cook again for us!

So it’s bedtime now, and I’m looking forward to another decent sleep. I certainly need it. So goodnight to everyone, including my readers in Celbridge, Ottawa and Montreal. One day you really will have to introduce yourselves and say “hello”.

Meanwhile, I’m saying “goodbye”. Until the morning.

‘.

Tuesday 8th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… Mr Computer Repair Man again today.

having revelled in my triumphs a few days ago about getting my old Acer Laptop up and running after it crashed out on me in the USA and being able to salvage all of the data, down at the office today Rachel bunged another old laptop at me to see if I could raise that one from the dead too.

I spent a couple of hours working on it and, as much to my own surprise as anyone else’s, it’s now up and running again with not only all of the data still intact but all of the programs too.

It’s an old 2009 Lenovo with a 1.3ghz processor running Windows 7, but now that it’s working again it’s quite sprightly for its age as long as you don’t try to do anything too ambitious with it, but for taking down to the storeroom to do an inventory (which is why it was here in the first place) it’s just the job.

And talking of the storeroom, I’ve checked again and we do have indeed a large supply of 165/80 x 13 and 185/70 x 13 tyres for Ford Cortinas, as well as several other obsolete sizes too for other makes, so I’ve been posting the info on various North American classic car groups to try to drum up the sales.

All in all, I’ve had quite a busy morning.

A relaxing morning too. Although I heard all of the alarms go off, it was about 07:00 when I finally managed to raise myself from the dead. And with no school run this morning I was able to have a leisurely start to the day.

Not to transcribe the dictaphone notes though. There’s a couple on there from during the night and I’ll have to copy those over as soon as I can.

For once, Cujo the Killer Cat co-operated with me so I was able to leave the house pretty much when I wanted to without having to hunt her down.

This afternoon was more running around. Taking the cheques to be posted (it’s that time of the year) mainly.

But I had another task assigned to me which I managed to accomplish. In the garage is a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up with a major electrical problem. With my little home-made testing apparatus I can tell that there’s a live feed reaching the relays at contacts where no live feed should be. This points to a short circuit in the fuse box somewhere and these are impossible to repair.

The easy answer is to replace the fuse box but, to my amazement (or maybe not, because I’ve long-since ceased to be amazed at the antics of modern motor manufacturers) the part is “no longer available” from the manufacturers.

Consequently, with the repaired laptop (and I’m glad now that I repaired it), I’ve been scouring the scrapyards of North America and I’ve eventually tracked down a rear-ended Dodge of the correct year and model in a scrapyard in Colorado.

A photo of the part on that truck looks identical to the one here, and so that’s now winging its way northwards in our direction. And who knows? We might even be able to make this Dodge start properly without having to hot-wire it all the time.

Fighting off waves of fatigue yet again (and I’ve no idea why) I went to pick up Amber from cheerleading practice after school, only to find that our little visitor had stayed behind too. Never mind the crowded cab when we have half-a-million strong therein by the time we get to Woodstock, it was pretty cramped in there with three, but we managed all the same.

Everyone was out this evening so I made myself some potato thins with onions, carrots garlic and assorted herbs with some vegan sausages, and it was delicious. Especially when followed down by one of the vegan muffins from the weekend.

Later this evening after tea I retreated to my room. I’m not feeling myself at the moment … “and quite right too” – ed … so some peace and quiet will do me good. I’m beginning to feel the strain and I really need a couple of days in bed to haul myself up again, but I doubt whether that will happen any time soon.

Looking at my schedule over the past three and a half months, it would have been pretty hectic for a younger person in good health. For an older person who is slowly dying, it’s been taxing to the limit and beyond.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday 7th October 2019 – JUST LIKE OLD TIMES!

Just pulling into the yard this evening with Amber after picking her up after cheerleading practice when Rachel stuck her head out of the door
“Could you go down to the tyre depot and pick up Darren?”

So I dropped off my passenger and headed off to my next job, musing that I ought to fit a meter under Strider’s dashboard and a taxi sign on the roof. When I sold my taxi business in 1989 I thought that I had put this kind of thing well-and-truly to bed.

But no. It was just like old times.

However, if anyone thinks that I’m complaining or that I’m unhappy about it, then that’s far from the truth. I was actually enjoying myself being out and about, especially with some decent music churning away on Strider’s hi-fi.

Actually, one of my old Mancunian acquaintances had made an appearance on my playlist. And as I listened to the words, I realised that they are really quite appropriate to the situation in which I have found myself these days as I struggle with my illness and events associated with it all.

The killer lives inside me: yes, I can feel him move
Sometimes he’s lightly sleeping in the quiet of his room
But then his eyes will rise and stare through mine;
He’ll speak my words and slice my mind inside
Yes the killer lives

Angels live inside me: I can feel them smile…
Their presence strokes and soothes the tempest in my mind
And their love can heal the wounds that I have wrought
They watch me as I go to fall – well, I know I shall be caught
While the angels live

And I too, live inside me and very often don’t know who I am
I know I’m not a hero, but I hope that I’m not damned:
I’m just a man, and killers, angels, all are me:
Dictators, saviours, refugees in war and peace
As long as Man lives…

Because, make no mistake, I am starting to struggle now. I had a really miserable afternoon yesterday and even though I was in bed early and had (for once) a really decent night’s sleep, I wasn’t feeling much better.

Luckily the girls had a lift into school so that I could take things easy this morning. I was in no hurry to surface. I had some food for breakfast, and a coffee, and then a play around on the laptop doing some stuff.

Zoe had told me when she left that she hadn’t been able to find Cujo the Killer Cat, so before I left I tried to hunt her down so that I could put her in one of the rooms where there’s no alarm sensor.

45 minutes I spent trying to find that blasted cat and when I went to the front door to accept a huge parcel delivery, there she was sitting on the bonnet of Strider. Outside all the time!

For most of the day I’ve been running around western New Brunswick fetching parts. It’s been really busy at work today. What added to the confusion was that just as everyone had something important to do, we had a delivery of 72 winter tyres and they all needed sorting and stacking.

Not only that, I’ve been doing my salemanship efforts today. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m something of an expert in Ford Cortina Mk III, Mk IV and Mk V, having made my fortune with them when I ran my taxi company. There are one or two in North America and someone posted on a forum that he couldn’t find any tyres anywhere to fit them

This place where I’m working right now is like an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures dating back years so I had a good look around. And sure enough, there are a handful just the correct size stuck down the back of the depot. And so I put an advert on the appropriate forum.

Back here, still in the driving rainstorm, i went to the Post Office on the way home to post the letters and then came back for tea. Plenty of pasta left over from the weekend, and rice pudding left over from last week. A meal fit for a king.

And then out taxiing until late. Just like old times.

But that’s enough for tonight, I reckon. I’m going to bed and I’m hoping to sleep. I need to pull myself round if I can but then again it’s been almost four months since my last blood transfusion, which I’m supposed to have every four weeks.

But do I care? Of course not. I’ve had a good time. And who wants to lie in bed at home to sit and stare at the bedroom ceiling anyway?

Saturday 5th October 2019 – I’VE BEEN …

… a very busy boy today.

And that’s hardly a surprise because I had, for the first time since I don’t know when, had a really good sleep last night and I’ve not yet set foot outside the house.

A few items on the dictaphone, although what there is I really don’t know. And I was up and about by 06:40 too.

Rachel and Amber went to work this morning so I decided on a day off. A leisurely breakfast and a long chat with Hannah and our visitor and then I cracked on to work, with just a brief interruption for lunch.

During the course of the day, people were coming and going but I paid no attention whatever and by the time supper was served, I’d finished all of the blog entries for July (including the missing one when I was ill) and most of them for August too. There are only three or four that need to be added, I reckon.

And those that are there make interesting reading. As Kenneth Williams once famously said, “I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance”.

Or, as the Duke of Wellington once remarked about the Battle of Waterloo and which sums up my voyage completely – “By God! I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there”.

But now Amber is down with the dreaded lurgy. It’s doing the rounds here so I’ll probably catch it the evening that I’m due to catch my bus back to Montreal.

A brief interruption though. US Granville’s match against C Chartres Football was televised this evening and I managed to catch the second half.

Hannah and her friend Journee made tea tonight. For we vegans, she made a stir-fry tofu in a creamy vegan sauce with pasta, and it was absolutely delicious. She followed that up with some vegan muffins that she had found in the Atlantic Superstore and which I will be visiting again.

So it’s bedtime now. No alarm and a day of rest. I’m going to be attacking the rear of Strider and empty out some of the stuff that I fetched back from Montreal. Some is for Darren, some is for Zoe and the rest is for filing under CS.

See you in the morning.

Thursday 3rd October 2019 – I HAVE HAD …

… one of the best Indian meals that I have had for quite a while in North America. Outside Montreal, of course, because nothing can improve upon the Indian cafe that I discovered at Cote Vertu in Montreal.

It seems that a family of Indians – “those” Indians, not “those Indians” = have recently taken over a motel in Woodstock (a phenomenon that I first observed about 15 years or so ago) and converted the restaurant into an Indian restaurant.

I had a vegetable biryani and it was excellent, as indeed was everyone else’s meal. The service unfortunately did not match the food, but I’m sure that it will improve.

And I felt like a good meal tonight too because I’ve had a harrowing day. It all went wrong during the night where I reckoned that I had hardly slept at all. Three dictated files on the dictaphone told a different story but nevertheless that was how I felt.

There was no school run either so I hitched a lift up to the office with Rachel so that I could pick up Strider. But then we had an urgent phone call. The boy who was taking Amber to school failed to turn up so I had to dash home. Amber isn’t a fan of Strider but she had no choice in the matter this morning.

Quite a few stresses and strains at the tyre depot today. It seems that everyone is having weekend blues a few days early. But at least the cashing up was no problem tonight – we were $0:90 over so we decided to Spend Spend Spend!

At lunchtime though I’d come home for a shower and a change of clothes, and also to salvage the Note-Tab clipboard libraries from the old computer – a task that I had forgotten. But that’s now accomplished. And I do have to say that the old computer now that it’s “fixed” seems to be working better than it ever did.

We all went down for an Indian meal tonight, all seven of us. And on the way back Rachel, Zoe and I went to visit one of Rachel’s friends who is on the point of leaving for the winter.

But now I’m set up in my room on my way to bed. Let’s hope that tomorrow will bring us some happiness. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 – REGULAR READERS …

… of this rubbish will recall that my writings ground out round about the 16th July for a short while after my elderly Acer laptop expired before I could upload to it the entries that I had made on board The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour.

However, the more astute, cunning reader will have noticed that there is now an entry for 17th July 2019.

And if you aren’t careful, or aren’t quick, you might even find some subsequent ones.

Last night I had a very late, disturbed night because I was working. And working quite hard too. Not only have I finally succeeded in firing up the old Acer, I’ve even managed to salvage all of the data that was on it.

Those two years that I spent studying for my Diploma in Computing back in 1998/99 have proved their worth and I’m surprised that I could remember as much as I did. But then again, having one’s back to the wall is a very good way of concentrating the mind.

So the result of all of this is that we might be completely back in business sometime soon.

So with having had a very disturbed night, with one or two nocturnal voyages thrown in for good measure, I wasn’t in very much of a mood this morning.

There was also the school run too, but only for Amber because our little visitor is feeling under the weather. I think that the strain of life in New Brunswick is proving too much for her.

After dropping off Amber, I headed on down to Woodstock for my gearchange arm, and by the time we got … “you said that yesterday” – ed

They hadn’t unpacked the deliveries when I arrived so I had to loiter around for a while. There’s a huge Amish community in the region so I spent some time watching their horse grazing on the grass verge while they went to the shops. I went to the shops too – for a few bits and pieces here and there

Eventually I returned to the garage and compared the old arm with the new one. The old arm had rusted and worn away to just a fraction of the thickness to I reckon that it was about time that it was replaced.

Mind you, it’s not made the gearchange any more precise, so there must be plenty of wear elsewhere. But I’m not going to strip down the column change mechanism. I’ll go with what I have.

Having said that though, regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few years ago the overdrive unit was taken out and repaired. I’m disappointed that the people who did it didn’t replace the mechanism – it must have been pretty bad even then.

Back at the tyre depot I’ve been labouring in the workshop, answering the phone, dealing with customers, all this kind of thing, and then I went to pick up Amber from school. She’s been staying late because they have a cheerleading competition coming up and they are rehearsing.

Later this evening I went out with Zoe. She’s recently bought a little house in Woodstock so I bought her a housewarming present – a water cooler for her kitchen. And then we spent an hour or so doing some tidying up in her house to make some room.

On the way back we had a moment or two of excitement as I screeched to a halt to let a family of raccoons stranded in the middle of the road escape to the verge out of my way.

So now I’m off to bed. I had a rough night last night and I need to catch up with my beauty sleep. And looking at myself in the mirror, I need quite a lot of that.

Tuesday 1st October 2019 – A PECULIAR THING …

… happened during the night.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that occasionally (but far more frequently these days) I have sometimes awoken during the middle of the night and then gone back to sleep and re-entered a dream at exactly the same point where I left off.

But last night we had something completely different. I awoke in the middle of the night and went back to sleep again, stepping back into a dream not at the end where I left off, but right back at the beginning where I had started.

And furthermore, as far as I could tell, it went on more-or-less (as near as I can tell) exactly as it had the first time round.

That has never happened before, and it was certainly an interesting experience.

For a change, I was relieved of duty on the school run today so I was in no rush to start the day off. Instead, I had a lounge around and when Rachel sent me a text message to say that my gearchange cable was in, I went off down to Woodstock in her car.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong so it was pretty crowded in the Golf, but I found room for the cable and some shopping from the Atlantic Superstore, including more of the vegan sorbet that we like and some fruit bread for me for lunch today and tomorrow – on special offer today.

Having stopped off at home to put the sorbet in the freezer, I continued on to the tire depot and had a look at Strider.

After much effort and difficulty, we managed to fit the cable. But now we have found another problem. The operating arm has a piece broken off it (which is probably what caused the fault in the first place) and the new cable isn’t holding on as well as it might. No point in spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar, so I’ve ordered a new operating arm and that will (hopefully) be there at Ford’s tomorrow.

But while we were underneath it, we did manage to find an aperture through which we can pass a cable or two. That means that I may at last be able to run a live cable or two through into the cab of Strider.

Apart from that, I’ve been going for parts, carrying sacks of grain about and answering the telephone as well as entertaining the customers. It’s all go here.

Later on, I went to pick up Amber from school (so I wasn’t totally relieved of duty) and had to fight the torrential rainstorm back home.

Tea was pasta tonight, and then I had a play with the failed laptop. Much to my surprise I managed to make it fire up and I can access part of the Windows directory now. Not the part that I want, but it does show me that the thing is not as totally dead as I was imagining.

That means that back home, I may be able to salvage some of the missing data, and that will be good news.

So now it’s bedtime. No idea what I’m doing tomorrow – I shall make it up as I go along. But an early night never goes amiss.

But remember the old Ford 1-tonne that mysteriously moved the other week? The old 20-tonne Ford that was next to it has also mysteriously moved today. But not as far.

After 20 years of standing it fired up first time with some accelerant and a new battery but the accelerator cable is stuck. It’s a long time since I’ve used a hand throttle.

Friday 13th September 2019 – WHAT A NIGHT …

… that turned out to be!

It’s one thing to be accompanied on a nocturnal ramble by people such as Castor and Pollux, but it’s quite something else when a dramatic appearance is made therein by my father and my brother.

And when all of the action (including five children all riding on the same push-bike at the same time) takes place in Edleston Road in Crewe, then that is the stuff from which nightmares are made.

And so it should be no surprise to anyone that I sat up bolt-upright at about 01:30 in the morning in a state of shock, anger and emotion and drenched in a feverish sweat.

I’m not going to go into the gory details of all of this, which I remember totally vividly without having consulted the lengthy notes on the dictaphone, because you are probably eating your lunch right now. But let’s just say that I’m a different person today than I was 30 or so years ago and the rage and anger that was consuming me at the time and for which there is no Statute of Limitations was, I thought, long-since dead and buried like a couple of people I could mention and that I’d moved a long way further on from there.

Consequently the emotion, the violence and the anger that was going around in my head when I awoke was something that took me completely by surprise and knocked me right off balance. It’s a good job that I don’t have too many wits these days because it took me quite a while to gather those that I still have.

Going back to sleep for a while was quite out of the question so I vegetated in bed for ages, musing over the events that had led up to my rather rude awakening. And it ended up as being one of those really uncertain events – did my family connections YET AGAIN contrive to put a spanner into the works and do their best to spoil any kind of enjoyment that I might be trying to have, or did my family all club together once more to save me from a fate worse than a fate worse than death?

Bearing in mind the vicarious pleasure that they once enjoyed from watching me skid towards the precipice a long time ago, I suspect the former. But things have a strange way of working themselves out for the best if you are able to stand back and review them from a detached point of view, and you are quite often able to find a totally different perspective.

Eventually I was off on yet another ramble at some point, to such an extent that I distinctly remember dreaming that I was dictating into a dictaphone some notes of a dream.

I didn’t quite manage to beat the alarms this morning, but I was good and ready for the girls when it was time to go to school (in nice weather too).

And I was right about the garage being empty this morning. There was a queue of vehicles, including a potato lorry, right across and down the yard awaiting attention this morning. We were rushed off our feet.

At lunchtime I came back home for a shower, a change of clothes, some butties and to do some work, such as converting to *.mp3 format a live concert that I tracked down on the internet last night.

The afternoon was spent running to Florenceville for parts and shunting cars around the yard as the pressure slowly eased off. And, of course, fighting off an enormous wave of fatigue.

This evening we had burgers for tea. The carnivores had bison burgers and we two vegans (and Amber) had vegan burgers, followed by lemon whirl vegan mousse.

With it being Friday night, everyone is relaxing. But I have too much to do right now so I’m working.

And I might be some time.

Wednesday 11th September 2019 – EVEN THOUGH …

… I promised myself an early night last night, it didn’t quite work out like that. Just after I had finished writing up my notes, the heavens opened and we were soaked in a torrential downpour.

There are many advantages of tin roofs over the old-fashioned shingle roofs, but soundproofing qualities is not one of them, especially when there is a metal trailer roof parked right underneath my window.

As a result it was long after 23:00 when I finally nodded off.

we had what seemed to be the usual wake-up round about 04:00 and we must have been on a voyage at one point or another because there are some files registered on the dictaphone. No idea what’s in them yet but, as usual, I’m keen to find out.

The alarms went off as usual but I hid down the bed until Amber banged on the door. It seems that I’m doing the school run again today. Not that I mind of course – I have to make myself useful here and earn my corn.

The last time that I took the girls to school we had a thick fog and mist. Today we were having a torrential rainstorm. The next time I take them it will probably be a plague of locusts.

At the shop there were errands to run. I ended up having to go back to the house, rescuing a couple of pushbikes, bringing them back to the garage and overhauling them. It’s a long time since I’ve had to do that – I’ve not had any real involvement with pushbikes for almost half a century I reckon.

Once they were done I had to wait until lunchtime and then go back to Amber’s school to take her some money for the cinema tonight and to deliver the bikes (good job that I have a truck).

While I was at Amber’s school we had a delightful conversation –
Amber – “some boy called me a dumbass in class this morning”
Our Hero – “really? When’s his funeral?”

This afternoon we were having printer issues. The accounting program wouldn’t permit any printing so Yours Truly was required to look into the situation.

Eventually, after much binding in the marsh, I worked out that it seems that the program had performed an automatic upgrade at midday and for some reason that I have yet to understand it had created a clone of the accounts printer and was sending instructions to the clone, not the veritable one.

When I tried to transfer printers over, it still refused to accept the change – it simply stopped sending out any printfile instructions.

Finally, after about an hour, by going way back in my mind as far as 1998 and what I could remember about BIOS settings, I managed to make the program recognise the letter printer on another port and it’s now printing really satisfactorily from there.

But there have been so many printers connected up to that setup over the years that if it were me, I’d go through and delete every printer and device that is no longer active and go for a leaner, fitter machine. But it’s not my business, not my company, not my set-up etc.

This afternoon I was hit with another wave of fatigue. I’d been on the ropes once or twice during the morning but this was serious.

But what I couldn’t understand is that I had been swinging myself in and out of the back of Strider like I might have done before 2014 with no pain or effort whatsoever. Past experience tells me though that whenever I feel really well and really energetic, it usually means that I’ve had a substantial drop in blood count and that there has been a release of adrenalin ( as if there hasn’t been enough adrenalin released just recently). And still at least 30 days (and maybe more) until my next blood transfusion.

We were away from here fairly early tonight and back here Darren and I fixed the door (it has become unhinged since I’ve been here and who can blame it?) while Rachel fixed tea. Another one of her delicious herb-laden vegetable stir-fries in olive oil. Hannah lent a big hand to the mixture so there was plenty of garlic.

And I’m well-impressed (as always) with Hannah. She’s just had her annual appraisal at work – the end of her first year’s employment. “Above and beyond expectations” was the result.

Now I’m in my room with the bass guitar, hoping for another early night. Rachel is cooking chicken soup so the whole house smells of food, Zoe is doing Hannah’s fingernails (she’s off to Wisconsin in the morning) and the other two are out at the cinema.

But searching around on the internet I came across one of the albums of the days of my youth, featuring a bassist who I admired greatly.

Long out of print now, my album is scratched and damaged beyond all recognition these days (two years of living in vans and various squats in my youth didn’t help matters) so I hunted down a file ripper and downloaded the tracks.

That took an age but converting them to *.mp3 was quite quick. Now I’m up and running, over an hour later than I had intended.

So I’m off to bed. I’m not sure what the plan is tomorrow but I’ll work it out as I go along.

Monday 9th September 2019 – WITH HAVING TO …

… go to bed early last night in order to be on form for today, it goes without saying that I had another bad night last night.

Still awake at 01:30, and when I finally did drop off, it was just in 20 minute segments where I was off on various travels. When I unwind the dictaphone at some point in the future I can tell you all about them, but what I can say is that at one point Castor and I were joined just for a change by Pollux.

Is it the first time that the aforementioned has accompanied me on a nocturnal voyage? I shall have to check

And it was one of those nights where I kept stepping back into the voyage at exactly the same place that I had stepped out. That’s something that I’m noticing is happening more and more frequently these days and when I was having similar situations back 15 or so years ago, I found myself able eventually to move onto a third plane, and that’s when it all became exciting.

That was during the period that we were researching dreams (that lasted from about 1998 to 2006 or so) for someone’s PhD at University and so our individual research was never individually published. But I still have the notes somewhere and I’ll have to look them out when I’m back home.

The spell was however unfortunately broken round about 04:00. The batteries in the dictaphone went flat at an inopportune moment and, determined not to miss a moment, I left the bed for a spare set.

They were flat too so I had to find some more and in the meantime find the charger to charge up the flat ones.

Unfortunately this meant that by the time that I was organised and went back to bed, I’d missed my spot and ended up going off somewhere else instead and isn’t that a shame?

When Amber banged on my door, I’d been up for quite a while. Before the third alarm in fact and that’s a rare deal right now. So we went outside ready for school.

Amber doesn’t like the idea of travelling cramped up in Strider so she had negotiated use of her mother’s car for me. It was cold, damp, misty and foggy outside and I had to clean off the car before we could go anywhere.

We negotiated out way through the queues at the covered bridge (the highway is down) and much to my (and everyone else’s) surprise, the St John River valley was clear of fog and mist. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s usually the place that GETS it first.

The girls clambered out at school and I drove back to the Co-op for apples (seems that we have a little fruit-eater amongst us) and to Tim Horton’s for bagels for me for breakfast.

At the tyre depot the morning passed quickly. There were lots of people around there and we were quite busy. I sorted out some paperwork and then, grasping the nettle, I telephoned the hospital back in Leuven.

They offered me a blood transfusion on 11th October on a “take it or leave it” basis. And so I took it. After all, chemotherapy and mapthera didn’t work as we know and the product that they are trying out on me is still in the trial stage so it’s not licensed as yet in North America.

And with having missed already three of my four-weekly transfusions, heaven alone knows what my blood count might be like. It was knocking on the “critical level” back in June.

Nevertheless, I’m going to try to see if I can push it back a week or so. I have may things to do that are as yet undone and there are many opportunities waiting to come my way and that won’t be accomplished if I’m not here.

After that I went to see Ellen. She’s quite ill too and doesn’t look anything like the woman that I remember. It’s a shame but I reckon that we will both be stoking the fires of eternity together, and quite soon too. But I kept her company for an hour or so and we had a good chat.

At lunchtime I took Rachel’s car back home and picked up Strider. Then went to the Irving for lunch. Afterwards I hopped off to pick up my mail from my mail box but SHOCK! HORROR! the whole battery or mailboxes out on the River du Chute road has been flattened.

A brief drive enabled me to find another battery of mailboxes but my key didn’t work. Off to the Post Office then, where she explained that the boxes have been moved and I needed a new key. She confirmed my Canada address and gave me a new key to a different box

But even more SHOCK! HORROR! It seems that my new licence tags for Strider haven’t come through. They expire at the end of the month so I need to chase them up before I go off to Montreal and Ottawa.

And I forgot to add that with the road up there being as it is and with Strider being as he is, it was an exceedingly lively drive. Next time that I go to Labrador I shall need to take with me a change of underwear

This afternoon there was yet more work to be done. Darren needed to take some heavy springs down to the welders in Woodstock so I went along to help. By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong but in the big Chevrolet lorry there was plenty of room.

Having brought the petrol back on Saturday it was the turn of the diesel. But this time, now that the lorry is mobile again, we had a proper licensed fuel tank to move the stuff about.

I have deliberately refrained from mention the world’s worst customer service that I have ever received – service that would knock Belgium’s legendary incivility to its customers into a cocked hat.

I rang Walmart in Fargo about the splash screen on my laptop and after repeating my story 7 times to 7 different people the best advice that I was given was to “reformat your hard drive and tough s**t for your data”.

That’s advice and assistance that I can well do without.

There was a major issue trying to reconcile the cash account this evening on closing so we had to stay behind to resolve the problem. Eventually, at about 18:30 we suddenly twigged – payments received after closing on Saturday lunchtime, credited though on Saturday, had been put into the till on Monday instead of being added to Saturday’s pouch.

Of course, neither I nor Rachel had been there at close on Saturday or opening on Monday, had we?

It meant that we weren’t back home until 19:00 and, much to our surprise, the girls had cooked tea. I went for a shower afterwards and then tried some of Rachel’s home-brew ice coffee, which was delicious.

Now even though it’s early, I’m off to bed. It seems that the school run is required for tomorrow (the school bus arrives too late, what with the issues on the bridge and Amber has already been cautioned once by an unreasonable Principal, and she can’t take a passenger on her scooter) and once more, Yours Truly has drawn the short straw.

And a big hello to my new readers from Montreal and Mississauga.

Sunday 8th September 2019 – MY PHANTOM READER …

… is back again today (having had a day off yesterday) and at the time of writing has read just over 100 pages – that is, 1500 blog entries.

My hat goes off to you, sir or madam. That shows perseverence and determination that not even I, the author, possess. I wish that you would introduce yourself.

I was right about last night. 04:30 and the party was still going on. They had come in from the pool and were continuing in the basement, keeping us all awake. I managed to drift off into a very intermittent sleep but it wasn’t until the last body crashed out round about 08:00 that I finally went into a deep sleep.

In the meantime, for some reason that I don’t understand, I had been urging myself to rise up from my bed and take photos of the breaking dawn. It was certainly a persistent impulse and I’ve no idea what was going on there.

The noise started up again at about 10:00 as Amber’s friends made ready to leave. And once they had gone, I felt it safe to venture out into the open.

Everyone was getting ready to leave and we hopped into various vehicles and headed for the US border.

Of course, I had already had a valid temporary visa but it had been withdrawn when I left for Greenland, so I had to go through the process yet again. And as regular readers of this rubbish might recall, it was shift change time, all of the electrical equipment was down and they couldn’t find the key for the cash desk All in all, it took us well over 30 minutes for me to be processed.

The border guard gave me a lecture about “surrendering the card unnecessarily” but I didn’t want to prolong the matter by telling him about Greenland otherwise we would still be there now. Instead I replied rather meekly “yes, thanks, I’ll remember” and he let me go.

But it’s a shame when one is on the receiving end of a lecture for having obeyed quite rigorously the letter of the law.

And to my amazement, I noticed that my temporary visa is dated
2nd September 2019, not 8th September as it ought to be.

At the Oriental Pearl in Presque Ile everyone else was straining at the leash to get at the buffet and were quite relieved when we finally arrived. There’s very little on the buffet that I can eat so they made me steamed veg and boiled rice.

I picked up the bill at the end – it’s the least that I can do for being housed so hospitably and then we all went to Mardens for a browse, where I found some gelatine-free licorice.

Darren and the three younger girls went home afterwards but Zoe, Rachel and I went for a coffee. Then we attacked Walmart and then down to Mars Hill for the IGA supermarket, where the vegan ice cream and sorbet were sold out.

Crossing back into Canada was rather painless (I had half-expected the phantom reader to have found enough in what he or she has read already in the blog to have me incarcerated) and we came back. In the IGA I’d found some almond milk with real banana so I gave it a try. And delicious it was too.

Now it’s bed time. I have an early start. Due to various considerations it looks as if I’ve drawn the short straw and am doing the school run tomorrow. I need to be on form.

Saturday 7th September 2019 – I HAVE THROWN AWAY …

… a whole lifetime today.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I travel around the world in some kind of peripatetic idyll, all of my possessions either on my back or in one of my trucks (Caliburn in Europe, Strider in North America).

But today, up at the mill, I heaved almost all of my North American possessions into a skip (dumpster to you North Americans) and put an end to my nomadic lifestyle.

It’s simply that I can’t do it any more and it’s no point pretending that I can continue. Watching the blood count slowly decline over the last two years down to the critical level (which it must surely have reached by now seeing as I haven’t had it checked for almost 3 months) and knowing that my days are numbered, it’s just useless weight that I’m dragging around with me.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be up in Montreal and I’ll be emptying out my storage locker. The only thing that I’ll be salvaging from there will be the amplifier and speaker for the bass and the remainder will be joining the rest of the travelling gear in that great camp site in the sky.

That’ll be the first time in Montreal this year. It’s not like me, is it?

But I’ll tell you something. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my mentioning the rather lively back end of Strider, how we travelled mainly sideways down a variety of gravel roads in Labrador. “Lively” back in those days had absolutely nothing on “lively” today, with almost nothing on the pick-up bed.

If I ever make it back to Labrador, we shall certainly be living in interesting times.

Having crowed about my really good nights just recently, it’s almost inevitable that they should catch up on me sooner or later.

And so it was last night.

For a start, we were still awake, the bass guitar and me, at well past midnight as I was picking away at various bass lines, unable to sleep. One thing about life on The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour is that it has pumped music back into my soul.

But when I finally did manage to drop off, the dictaphone tell its own story. There’s a record on average about every 20 minutes over a three-hour period, and what I do remember from the various nocturnal rambles is that every single one of them concerned Castor pursuing me around the ship.

Not that I’m complaining of course. Usually, anyone pursuing me anywhere would be almost certainly brandishing the kind of offensive weapon that would paralyse a polar bear, so it makes a nice change to be pursued by pleasant company. What I don’t understand is why I thought it necessary to run away. I’m definitely losing my grip.

Once all of that was over I was up and about, only to find that we had run out of bread for breakfast. With Zoe not coming back last night, we hadn’t been to the shops had we?

Instead Rachel and I went straight up to the garage and made coffee, and slowly woke up.

Then it was that I attacked the emptying of Strider and that took me almost up to lunchtime. But lunchtime was late – there was a queue of trucks needing attention in the workshop and we couldn’t move one out until almost 12:45.

Zoe, who had by now put in an appearance, and I shot back to the house, picked up all of her belongings and, now that Strider was almost empty, whipped them down to her new house. And I’m glad that we had emptied Strider because by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and there wasn’t much room inside the truck.

Atlantic Superstore was next for a week or two’s load of vegan food so that I can eat properly, and also due to the fact that we are having another vegan messing with us for a while.

There’s a hurricane threatening here and out in the sticks a back-up generator is necessary. But believe it or not, in a household with 6 cars, three trucks, two heavy trucks and assorted 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, golf carts and Amber’s motor scooter, there wasn’t a drop of spare fuel.

Consequently Hannah had thrown a pile of empty fuel cans into the back of Strider and I came back from Irvings at Woodstock with 157.6 litres of petrol in the back of Strider. The rear end of Strider wasn’t bouncing around at all then!

Next stop was back at the garage. Darren had a rear wheel bearing, driveshaft oil seal, brake disk and caliper to change on the rear of a Chevrolet D5500 heavy truck – the one that I drove down to New Hampshire a couple of years ago to take that racing engine for repair.

It’s not difficult task but it’s heavy, dirty and complex, and four hands are always better than two working down a cramped inspection pit.

The task involved a judicious amount of heat and with an oxy-acetylene welding torch it brought back many happy memories. The last time that I did any welding on a car was the old Passat back in 1997 but that was with the mig-welder. With oxy-acetylene, the last time that I did any welding was stitching Nerina’s Ford Fiasco back together back in something like 1991. When I had my taxi company I was probably welding up one car or other almost every day.

We’d finished by about 18:00 and staggered off back home.

And I couldn’t resist a smile. Driving 20 miles with 157 litres of petrol floating around in the back of the truck and having to invent a makeshift stopper for one of the cans – getting out the oxy-acetylene welding bottles – crawling around an inspection pit in a garage taking driveshafts out of lorries and showering myself in Hypoid 90 – I thought that I had left all of that behind me more than 30 years ago.

You can take the boy out of Crewe right enough, but you can’t ever take Crewe out of the boy.

But then that’s why I like New Brunswick. It’s about 50 years behind the times and suits me perfectly.

Rachel came to awaken me later. It seems that I had crashed out for a while (hardly a surprise) and it was now tea-time. A chick pea curry which was delicious, and then we were descended upon by hordes of people. Amber is having a party and despite the rain and the winds, there are dozens of teenagers all attired in a variety of swimwear and heading for the hot tub outside.

I’ve locked myself in my room with the bass guitar and I am refusing to come out until the coast is clear. It’s a good job that it’s Sunday tomorrow and a lie-in is on the cards. I think that I’m going to need it.

Friday 6th September 2019 – HATS OFF …

… to whoever has had the patience (or maybe it’s the motivation LOL) to sit and read their way through 29 pages of my website followed by no less than 55 pages of my blog.

I know that what I write is right riveting stuff but with 15 blog entries on a page, that’s 825 days’ worth of entries – not far short of 2.5 years and that calls for a lot of persistence and determination.

Either someone has nothing better to do with his or her time, or it’s someone else collecting evidence for my incarceration LOL. But just remember the Hispano-Roman rhetorican Quintilian who once famously said (with paraphrased lines much-later quoted by people such as Richelieu and Laubardemont) something along the lines of “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”.

But no matter what – I admire your persistence. Hats off to you.

Last night was another excellent sleep and I was off on a voyage or two during the night. High time I started attacking the dictaphone notes so that I can see where I’ve been.

Slept right through the alarms yet again and finally managed to crawl out of my stinking pit at about 10:30.

It took a while to come round but when I did, I made a start on going through the suitcase.

But, as usual, I was sidetracked. Since I had awoken, I had had a couple of lines of a poem going around in my head – something that I must have had going on during the night on a voyage somewhere.

These things usually escape me but for some reason or other, seeing as it was something rather emotional that related to something intense that happened on one of my voyages, I determined to write it down before I forgot.

By the time that I had finished, I’d ended up with a poem of seven verses and I’m working on an eighth) and a chorus, and by the time I’d read through it a few times I had a beat and a rhythm going on in my head.

There are a couple of 6-string guitars around here but could I find them? Could I ‘eck as, so I turned to the piano. The piano is not my forte so I dashed outside to Strider and rescued the perishing bass.

Two years since it’s been out and about and much to my surprise it was still in tune (these mobile phone apps are quite good) so I picked out a bass line, a rhythm and a lead break.

It needs more work of course, but I’m impressed about how it worked out.

By now Amber was back from school so we had a chat. And it looks as if I’m going to resume my duties as a driving monitor at some point. She’s spent her summer shop wages on a car – a VW Jetta diesel – and now she needs to put the hours in. She shouldn’t have any trouble though – she’s been throwing around a 3,500hp tractor for the last two years so a Jetta should be child’s play.

And I’m still wondering who it was who took Strider down to the garage that day just over two years ago when it needed the gearbox linkage adjusting. Amber was the only one here but she was only days past her 14th birthday. She wouldn’t have done it.

Rachel came in and went out again, then Hannah came in later. We exchanged a few words and then she and Amber went off to do girly things down in Woodstock.

I waited for Zoe but she never turned up, so I went to make myself some beans on toast – only for the tin opener to hold onto the lid and drop the can and all of the beans all over the floor. Last tin of beans too.

It’s not my day, is it?

Darren and I had a chat about trucks and his plan for the new tractor-pulling season and then I went off to my room.

There’s a lot to do tomorrow. I’ve made a conscious decision that I’m not ever going out roughing it in Strider (or anything else) again so I’m going to throw away all of my gear – stuff that I won’t need any longer.

There’s a skip at the mill right now so I’m going to take full advantage of it.

So I need to gird up my loins and gather my strength.

And if my phantom follower is still out there, then good night to you, sir! Identify yourself and I’ll buy you a beer.

Thursday 5th September 2019 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the bed in here.

It took me a while to settle myself down but once I’d gone, I’d gone for good and I had the best sleep that I have had for at least two weeks.

Off on a few voyages too, for the first time for a week, and I’ll tell you all about them once I’ve organised the dictaphone.

During one of my voyages, I heard one of the participants call my name, so I sat up bolt-upright. I’ve not had a moment like that for several years and when I did it was usually a plea for help or for me to get in touch.

For a fact, I know that Castor was in one of my voyages, and so, when I heard the call, I wondered if it was she. But who knows, and this is not the moment for me to find out, I reckon, even if, to paraphrase the words of Adolphus Greely whose expedition came to grief on Cape Sabine, “I know of no law, human or divine, that was broken …”.

If Castor wants to get in touch with me then she can. She has the means or if not, she can find them. But it’s not the moment for me to be taking any initiative.

For once I slept right through the alarms and it was 10:30, when the telephone rang, that I awoke. I wasn’t quick enough to answer the telephone though.

Instead I carried on with a few tasks that needed attention – I still wasn’t in work mode – then round about 14:30 went for a shower and a clean-up.

Back in bed afterwards until Hannah came home and we had one of our lengthy chats. I’m glad to see her doing so well after her spell at University.

She’s been offered a chance to study for her CPA but she’s not sure. I was explaining to her the benefits, particularly if someone else is paying for the course.

Darren came back later and we had a chat while Amber made tea. And even though it’s only 21:45 I’m off to bed.

I have a lot of sleep to catch up on.

Friday 28th September 2018 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

And in spades too. The kind of thing that only I can do, and I’m pretty good at it, having had years of practice.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves right now. Retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Having extolled the virtues of a really good night’s sleep yesterday we returned to our customary habits by being wide awake at 01:45, for a reason that I can’t fathom, save as to say that it disturbed me.

From there on in I drifted in and out of sleep until the alarm went off. And then I dashed out of bed because I wanted to see Hannah. It’s homecoming weekend at St F-X so she’s off to Antigonish to meet up with her former colleagues and do a little celebrating.

And quite right too. It’s a kind of end of a long goodbye to an important period in her life. She’s graduated (with distinction, I’m proud to say) from the best University in Canada with enough certificates to cover her bedroom wall and she’s ready to move on into the big wide world.

But she needs to say goodbye in this one before she goes.

She’s like a typical young University graduate – torn between home and family on one side and what the big wide world has to offer on the other side, and so why make your own mistakes when you can listen to the mistakes that other people have made?

And as a result we had a good chat for several hours. After all, no-one has made as many mistakes in their life as I have in mine.

I hadn’t bought her a graduation present because, after all, what do I know about people’s tastes? I gave her some cash and told her to choose a really nice piece of jewellery that she likes, and wear it for me. And then I bunged her a bit more cash to go and have a party.

With having had a bad night, I was ready to go back to bed for half an hour or so. And that turned out to be a couple of hours or so. I still can’t shake off this health issue. I might be feeling better than i was earlier in the week, but that’s a long way from saying that I’m well.

Once I was back in the Land of the Living I had a shower, packed my suitcase and had a very late lunch. Following which I leapt aboard Strider and we went down to the office.

Zoe was there, telling us about her wedding plans. She’s Rachel’s eldest daughter and decided a few years ago to make her own way in the world. She’s finding it tough going and struggling along, and this wedding is proving to be quite a problem.

She’s seen a wedding dress that she absolutely loves and which is apparently beautiful, but she has to pay a 50% deposit to secure it and have the fitting done, and she can’t rustle up the money.

No girl should ever have to settle for second-best on the most important day in her life (a comment which will have made Nerina’s eyes pop out on stalks wondering how she managed to end up with me) and so I gave her her wedding present in advance. Tomorrow she can go and sign up for her dress.

There were a few of us down there this afternoon, with people coming and going, and we ended up having quite a chat.

So much so that we were down there long after closing time, which was just as well because quite late on, someone phoned up with a speculative enquiry about tyres to solve a crisis, and we could actually help out.

Tea was, basically, everything that was left over from earlier in the week and you would be surprised at how nice you can make stuff like that when you have a good imagination and some culinary talent. I certainly enjoyed mine!

Time to hit the road now and so I said goodbye to Darren and Amber. And not wishing to leave Amber out, I slipped her a little present so that she could go shopping. I also had a little word or two in her ear about something or other.

Rachel and I trundled off to Florenceville and the Coach Atlantic bus. Plenty of time to wait and so I started to search my pockets to see what I had forgotten to leave behind.

I found the pot of glue that Darren had given me to look after, and then I boarded the bus.

We stopped at quite a few places along the route, and at the coffee pause at Edmundston I realised that I hadn’t continued the search of my pockets.

And so I did – and found the keys to Strider and Rachel’s spare front door key.

D’ohhhh! That’s really the kind of thing that only I can do, isn’t it?

At Rivieère-du-Loup where I change for the Orleans Express bus to Montreal, I had a chat with the Coach Atlantic driver. She’s doing the return to Moncton tomorrow afternoon and, as luck would have it, is having to call at Florenceville on her way down.

So I negotiated an envelope from the guy in the ticket office, put the keys inside and she dropped it on the dashboard of her bus.

And I settled down ready for the next stage of my journey.