I have reorganized this
from the chronology of my website: Now this
begins with our wedding and honeymoon, the slips back in time to the
preamble, the month preceding our nuptials. Enjoy.
July 24, 2010
was a perfect day, and a perfect wedding.
- wedding photos by Jerry Corwin unless otherwise
Baardman, Susan Israel and Dave Clement provided music while the
guests took their seats. The event proper began with the sounding
of a Chinese gong. Then Dave Clement set the mood for the ceremony
with a Kate Wolf song, "Give Yourself to Love".
wonderful officiant was Norma Drosdowech. She positively radiates
warmth and good cheer, and she kept the program moving along, handing
scripts to Ruth and David in turn.
Expected to Find in China
I didnít expect to find a
woman from Winnipeg when I went to China. I was expecting an
exotic romance with a beautiful Chinese woman. Probably a
short Chinese woman. Ruth didnít fit my expectations, and I
have to admit that it took me almost a whole month to revise my
We were instant friends, and I
found an ease and comfort with Ruth that I have never found with
And then we became lovers, but
still with no commitment. I kept saying to myself:
This woman is perfect. What is the matter with you?
Economists call this an
opportunity cost. Accepting one relationship shuts out the
potential of all other relationships.
Sometimes itís not easy to
give up the fantasies, and to see what is in front of my eyes.
This woman is perfect. This woman is perfect.
And then finally I listened.
So we became more than just
lovers. We became partners.
Thereís a book by George
Lakoff and Mark Johnson called ďMetaphors We Live ByĒ
We have to use metaphors when we talk about anything intangible.
And of course there are many
metaphors for love.
Love is a journey Ė Our
relationship has progressed beyond friendship.
Love is mental illness Ė Iím
crazy about her.
Love is a battle Ė she
completely conquered my heart.
But the metaphor I really like
is: Love is a collaborative work of art.
Love is work
Love is active
Love requires cooperation
Love requires dedication
Love requires compromise
Love requires discipline
Love involves sharing responsibility
Love requires patience
Love requires shared values and goals
Love demands sacrifice
Love regularly brings frustration
Love requires instinctive communication
Love is an aesthetic experience
Love is primarily valued for its own sake
Love involves creativity
Love requires a shared aesthetic
Love cannot be achieved by formula
Love is unique in each instance
Love is an expression of who you are
Love creates a reality
Love reflects how you see the world
Love requires the greatest honesty
Love may be transient or permanent
Love needs funding
Love yields a shared aesthetic satisfaction from your joint
All of these attributes of
love I find with Ruth. Sheís perfect.
Met (Davidís Dramatic Entrance)
not go to China expecting to meet someone. As a matter of fact I
expected to be single for my entire time overseas.
I was offered a job by SEPIS, a school in the Chinese city, Taiían,
I asked for the email addresses of current and former teachers.
David was one of several teachers at SEPIS that wrote back to me,
and one of two teachers there who wrote extensively about what I
could expect (both good and bad) if I took the job there. I did
sign on with the school and several weeks later was winging my way
towards a new life.
supposed to arrive in the late evening, but very heavy fog delayed
flights and more than doubled the normal hour drive from the
airport. I didnít end up reaching my new apartment until well
after 3 in the morning. After saying good night to the
administrators who had gotten me safely from airport to room I
wasnít tired despite the long day of travel. I was in China!!
Though I hadnít seen much of it yet through the fog and the dark,
it was still rather exciting. Not being sleepy I started
unpacking, setting about getting myself settled in my new home.
fifteen minutes into my unpacking there was a knock at my door. I
was startled. Who could it be? Itís 4:00 in the morning. Iím in
China. I donít know anyone in China.
opened the door, and there was David, scrubbed and spiffed and
cutting a fine figure in my doorway. He smiled and said ďWelcome
had had the young women who looked after our apartment blocks wake
him when the administrators arrived with me. He had gotten cleaned
up (even shaved Ė no small feat when the water is turned off at
midnight) and dressed up to come and greet me, to make me feel
made a good first impression and has continued impressing me ever
since. That was early November in 2004. By Christmas that year we
were dating. And the rest as they sayÖ
I Want to Marry Ruth
Why do I want to marry Ruth? Aside from the
fact that I love her, love being with her, and don't ever want to
live without her? I have all of this without the formality and
legality of being married to her. What is it about marriage that
makes it something I want to do? Actually, this breaks down into
two questions: Why do I want to marry? And why do I want to marry
I'll tackle the first, and more difficult question first. For me,
marriage is a public declaration of relationship. It is not a
list of promises, which most mortals may or may not be able to
keep depending on their brain functions. Marriage says to the
whole world "This person is central to my life. This is not a
casual paring. This is not a one night, or one month or one year
stand. This relationship is IMPORTANT. I want to announce it to
the world. I want everybody to know that I value this person
above all others." While I don't believe that a marriage should
contain unrealistic promises Ė who knows what life will bring us -
I do believe that it sets out some property rights. What's mine
is hers. If I prosper and become wealthy, she will prosper too.
If I fall upon hard times, I have no doubts that she will give me
whatever support she can, just as I would for her. We are a team.
We are a couple. We are equal partners in life and we make
decisions as a couple, with discussion and honesty. Being married
is more than just living together, as we have for the past six
years. Being married is living together publicly, making a public
statement of our commitment to each other.
I know Ruth agrees with me that neither one of
us should be the "boss" in this marriage. She has a right to her
own thoughts, emotions, and decisions. I have a right to mine.
Where our actions affect the other, we will discuss our choices
and come to an agreement. We may not always be totally happy with
this agreement, but we will respect the individuality of our
partner. I also know that Ruth agrees with me that we have
ownership of our own past, and our own feelings for others.
Marriage is not something that narrows our emotional life. On
the contrary, it welcomes in those whom our partner loves. We
both have the confidence in ourselves to accept whatever "baggage"
the other brings to this marriage. So, there is no downside to
marriage for me. There's no risk. Marriage feels like an obvious
evolution of a relationship that started with intellectual
attraction, developed into a close friendship, and resulted in
intimacy. We already are married. We have been married for some
time. Isn't it time to admit it?
The second question, why do I want to marry Ruth, is much easier
to answer. Ruth is simply one of the best people I have ever met.
She's caring. She's honest. She's very very intelligent. I can
be with her for months on end without ever running out of
conversation or becoming bored. We share many attitudes towards
life, people, society, and ideology.
Somebody once described us as one person in two
bodies. This is not quite accurate, but sometimes it feels
perfectly descriptive. I've never met anybody I could be as
comfortable with as Ruth. Most of all, she's a "good" person. If
there's anything mean or nasty about Ruth, I haven't been able to
discover it. In this regard she's much better than me, and she
makes me want to be a better person.
Just one recent example. We were in Australia for our winter
holiday. I'd been wanting to see an echidna. But when we found
one at the side of the road, it buried it's head in the bushes and
braced it's feet. All I could see was its backside. I took a
stick and was going to force the animal out of this position, so I
could take a good look at it. Ruth objected. And of course she
was right and I was wrong. The poor terrified creature did not
want anything more than its prickly spines expose. I won't go so
far as to say I feel ashamed of my impulse to terrify this
creature. But I do recognize that Ruth has instincts that are
less... primitive than mine. Her very name says it. Ruth,
the opposite of ruthless, a word seldom used now that means
"compassion". Her empathy level is always high, for everybody and
every creature. In this, and in many other ways, I learn from
I've told Ruth that I think she's perfect. She laughs at this,
and says she hopes I will remain deluded. But really she is
perfect, or at least perfect for me. I'm very happy that she has
decided that I qualify as a life partner. I'm very happy to be
able to stand before you today and declare that Ruth is my wife.
Why I Want to Marry David
I love you.
You love me.
You express that love every day in many ways and
I feel it.
I feel very comfortable when I am with you.
I feel incredibly supported by you.
I have fun living and travelling with you.
You know more about me than anyone else in the
world and you still say I am perfect.
You laugh when I say youíre delusional.
You are smart and you challenge me
You have a wild, spontaneous edge that is good
for me to be around.
You love dogs.
You love to learn and so do I. We share what we
learn and we both grow by it.
My life is better for having you in it.
We talk through our problems and strive to be
honest (and compassionate) with each other.
You can (and have) said Iím sorry.
You point out when I stumble in living up to who
I want to be, when I am bitchy or hurtful or cutting.
You donít hold grudges after a heartfelt
You help me to be a better person.
You are a good roommate and take the
responsibilities of sharing a household seriously.
After 5 and half years of almost daily contact
for hours a day (except in the summers) I still enjoy being with
you and we donít seem to run out of interesting things to say to
I donít foresee that changing.
You are a good cook.
You introduce me to new things.
You let me prod you into going places you may
not be inspired to go to on your own,
and you tell me when you enjoyed them.
I like who I am when I am with you.
You are a fine musician and I love to perform
You are comfortable with me having center stage
You say your life is all about you, but many
times you make me feel it is all about you and me, and sometimes
even just all about me.
You donít try to dominate me and you donít want
me to dominate you.
I have never felt this compatible with anyone
before in my life.
You appreciate me.
So that says why I want to be with you, but why
do I want to marry you?
Marriage is a public statement of intent. There
is power in a public statement. To make one requires a stronger
level of conviction than a statement made behind closed doors.
When I made the decision to be a vegetarian 11 years ago I didnít
tell anyone else for a few weeks because I knew the power of a
public statement. I knew I would feel more bound to follow through
on being a vegetarian once I had announced it publicly. I wanted
to be sure it was something I really wanted, and could do, before
I invoked that power. That public statement, which had not been
made as a lifelong commitment, helped maintain my vegetarian
convictions for five years.
The fact that I did not stay a vegetarian should
be no reason for concern. Vegetarianism hadnít make a reciprocal
commitment to me, and it didnít add even a fraction of the things
to my life that you do.
When I say my vows to you, you will know, and
feel, that stronger conviction. I will be telling you that I am
not just taking it day by day to see how it goes, but that I am
planning my life with you as a central part of it. And when you
say your vows to me I will know and feel the same. I think that
this mutual knowing and feeling will deepen the bond that we feel
with each other, that it will move us to a deeper level of
Do I expect our relationship to change after we
Right now I donít think so. I think our feelings
may intensify and I may feel a greater sense of emotional
certainty, but the day to day arrangements of our living I expect
to continue much as they have. We will work out new things as they
come up. I donít think I have ideas of what a husband should be or
do lurking in the back corners of my mind. But I do know that if
you start to notice behaviours on my part that show that I
actually do, that youíll be quick to point them out to me, and
weíll work through any bumps.
Our Wedding Vows (each in turn)
I vow to you that I will be the best
partner, friend and husband/wife I can imagine being.
I will do my best to always have my words come from a place of
love, seeking to support and encourage the wonderful person that
I will do my best to give you space to be yourself, and I will be
your number one fan when you express yourself as you are.
I will do my best to make the collaborative work of art that is
our love continue to grow in beauty, intricacy, complexity, and
I will do my best to be considerate, and to remember that you live
your own dream, a dream that I am privileged to witness, but not
Most of all I will be here for you to the best of my ability. I
will give you my very best, and keep you in the central position
in my life for as long as you want to share yourself with me.
I appreciate you. You bring comfort and joy to my life. You
impress me and inspire me. I commit myself to our partnership
without doubts, qualms, or fears. There is simply nothing I want
more than to be with you.
Scott, brother of the bride, provided the PA system and sound
Then it was time for the official paperwork
to be signed.
During the signing, Dave Clement entertained with a song he wrote for
his daughter's wedding - "Husband and Wife".
the official signing, we sang the song that has become "our song".
"You Belong to Me" by Peewee King.
wind up the ceremony, Ruth led the audience in a three part song she
wrote for my sixtieth birthday. Half the audience sang "Being
gentle showing loving kindness." while the other half sang "Be aware,
have self acceptance." and Ruth and David sang the third part: "I
am grateful, for everything I have in my life - with you." The
three parts fit together like a Gregorian chant. Simply brilliant.
wedding concluded with an open mic session. Guests were invited to
come up and sing a song, read a poem, present a dance or say a few
- Blair Mahaffy photo
- Blair Mahaffy photo
- Blair Mahaffy photo
was followed by a pot luck feast in a Canadian/Chinese style - perogies
and cabbage rolls eaten with souvenir chopsticks, and a music circle
that continued into the late evening.
I can't say
too much about the kindness and generosity of Ruth's family and friends.
Special thanks to Elizabeth Clement for all her hard work accommodating
guests and arranging food. Also, special thanks to all those who
contributed so generously to our travel funds. You have all made
our wedding day special beyond words.
The Honeymoon Tour
First stop was a visit to Donna and Terry. Donna was Ruth's eighth
grade teacher, and is now a lifelong friend living south and east of
Winnipeg, just north of the American border in a serene country home
they call "the ReTreat".
Their yard was full of dragon flies, snapping up the mosquitoes, and
regularly visited by deer.
slightly tense border crossing (The American border seems to have turned
ugly since 9/11 and visitors are no longer greeted with smiles.) it was
on to the
wedding recreation at Nancy's place in
July 31, 2010
virus has messed with my camera card, so I can't download any pictures
until I figure out how to clear it. We're in Minneapolis today,
visiting Ruth's friend Nancy Hansen. There's another big party
planned for tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a message from one
of our very favorite students, Spacefish (His English name is a direct
translation of his Chinese name,
Subject: Congratulations & Best wishes for our
Dear David& Ruth:
This is Spacefish, a student of both of you. I
can still remember the time when we first met. Four years' time
has gone and past, we graduated and you finally get married. It is
a pity not having the chance to present on the scene to witness
your wedding, it was definitely moving and marvelous!
I made a small card for you. The
color of red represents joy in chinese culture. The red pattern in
the center of the card is traditional chinese pattern for wedding.
You may found that there is decorative character "囍" in the
middle, which express the idea of shared happiness of two
families; phoenix and dragon on each side represents the bride and
the bridegroom. We often believe that the dragon and the phoenix
will bring happiness and prosperity. I hope your have a marriage
with a lifetime of togetherness and happiness!
I'd like to end this letter with some tradtional chinese
expressions for you:
心心相印（xīn xīn xiāng yžn Have mutual affinity)！
百年好合( bǎi niŠn hǎo hť Love for all seasons)！
天长地久（tiān chŠng dž jiǔ Everlasting and unchanging love）！
白头偕老(bŠi tůu xiť lǎo Live to old age in conjugal bliss)！
from English 0601
suppose the downside of really liking our students is seeing them
graduate and move on. We're really going to miss the students of
Spacefish's year. I do hope they keep in touch. Keeping in touch
is a lot easier now than it used to be, before websites and the
2010 The Wedding Tour Hits Minneapolis
city, another party. What can I say? Food. Smiling
happy people. Music. We recreated the ceremony with Nancy
playing the part of Norma for Ruth's Minneapolis friends. Most of
you won't know the people in these pictures, but the people in these
pictures will know who they are.
There are more pictures to come, and tags to put on these ones.
But we're on the road again at 6:30am heading for Longmont, Colorado.
So refinements can wait. My thanks to all of you for sharing in
our celebration, and for bringing such good feelings to our lives.
Theft - an
we were loading up to leave Winnipeg we noticed that
the side window visors were missing from our little blue traveling
machine. Since both sides were missing, it's obvious that they
were stolen by somebody who has a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier. We
didn't think that the CSI people would be very interested, and hanging
around Winnipeg looking for a car like ours with (identifiably our) side
vents seemed futile, so we got underway, trying to not let this bring us
I tracked down an auto supply that could get new visors in for us.
$44 U.S., which is a lot less than I feared they would cost.
Installation was simple. The toughest part was removing the old
glue, and washing off the glue remover.
little blue car has been running like a top, and using very little fuel.
We are constantly reminded of the kindness of my former in-laws, Sadie
August 03, 2010 On to Colorado
After saying goodbye to Nancy in Minneapolis, we were off on the tour.
First stop, a visit with Thomas and Marina in Longmont, Colorado.
We met Thomas during our first teaching job at the Shandong Electric
Power Company International School (SEPIS) in Tai'an, Shandong, China,
just before he trekked off to Russia to marry Marina. They now
live in Longmont, Colorado.
two days in Longmont, with trips into the mountains, a soak at a
hotsprings resort, and a visit to Boulder to check out their pedestrian
mall, we were on our own, following Thomas's suggestions for places to
of the Gods, then on to
ancient Anasazi ruins, the
Petrified Forest, the
Painted Desert, the
Grand Canyon, and the
Little Colorado Canyon. Details
and pictures as soon as I get time to sort them out and post them.
For now let me just say that America is living up to its Chinese name -
guů, "beautiful country".
The Honeymoon Tour - on
to the Grand Canyon
Pouring rain in Flagstaff, no weather for viewing the Grand Canyon.
We decided to cut the day short and take a motel. Unfortunately,
all were full up or otherwise unacceptable. So we pushed on.
By the time we reached the Grand Canyon we had clear blue skies.
The sunset was incredible. We managed to find a motel room, then
went out to dinner in a cowboy steak house, sharing a table with a
nice girl from Paris and a clothing
designer from Switzerland.
Pictures as soon as I have time to organize and post them.
morning the canyon was fogged in and there was very little to see.
We left for Yellowstone Park.
Tonight we're in Manti, Utah. It's been a great day.
Tomorrow we should make
Yellowstone National Park.
August 11, 2010
Dragon's Keep, Provo, Utah
As luck would have it, our route to Yellowstone took us right past
Dragon's Keep in Provo, Utah. I mean right past. On the route. We
know of this place because it's the working base for our favourite web
cartoonist, Howard Tayler, author of
Schlock Mercenary. We didn't
expect to catch Howard at work (his blog said he's off at a convention),
but we did get to do the fan thing of seeing his drafting table, and
picking up a couple of his more recent signed books.
We also got to
take a good look at
Dragon's Keep, and meet Jeremy the
manager. Ruth has been a gamer for years. I haven't. So some
of the excitement goes over my head. But I could see, and Ruth
confirms, that Dragon's Keep is a deluxe place for gamers to hang out.
I just enjoyed seeing where Howard gets writer's cramp signing his
I have great admiration for Mr. Tayler. His site is good hearted
and innocent, yet occasionally sexy and scatological, good clean fun.
He's built himself a job based on the Internet and a business model that
he claims to love. His work ethic is impressive, and I expect him
to become very famous in the near future. He's got a good start
already. So all in all he seems to be living life the way it
should be lived.
My Chinese students should understand that many words
that Howard uses in his web comic are made up to suit his vision of a
science fiction future. This is part of the fun, but if you expect
to find "teraport" in a dictionary, you'll have to wait a few years.
The Honeymoon Tour - on
Storms and rain chased us all the way to Yellowstone Park, but kept
behind us. We arrived late at night, and all rooms were booked and
all the campsites full - it's the high season. We slept in the
car, making use of the Old Faithful Lodge washroom. Breakfast in
the lodge cafeteria at six in the morning, and we had a perfect day for
exploring the park. Rain clouds were rolling in as we left the
park. Our timing has been... miraculous so far.
Meeting People is Most
of the Fun
I'm just not a disciplined enough person to keep track of the names of
the people we meet.
I remember this family we met in Yellowstone, and how much we enjoyed
talking to them. But unless they send me an email, their names are
Occasionally we would meet a family from China, and
would enjoy shocking them by tossing off a few words of Chinese.
That was always fun.
to Yellowstone spoke Chinese, but she's now living in Calgary, Canada.
I'm hoping she sends me an email eventually.
And now I'm
going to throw in some pictures, without comment. The pictures
speak for themselves.
Chinese Word of the
(měi guů literally "beautiful country") the United States of
Chinese Word of the Day
(mž yuŤ literally "honey month") = honeymoon (it's still happening
August 17, 2010 Full
back in Maple Ridge, B.C. with my bride. We've had a wonderful
tour of the west that included five American national parks - Rocky
Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, The Painted Desert, The Petrified
Forest, The Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone, plus at least one state park,
the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. All were impressive.
Most were unforgettable.
Once we hit the Canadian border, we went up to Kelowna
to visit my former brother in law, Tom, and then on to Williams Lake to
visit my cousin Colleen and her husband Jerry. We completed the
circle with not a hint of a car problem, inconvenience, or grumpy word.
The impression I'm left with is that this world is beautiful beyond
belief, and filled with friendly, loving people. What a contrast
to the impression we get from the media.
In Williams Lake, Colleen and Jerry took us
to Karen's Cafe. Great food, and I would say this even if Karen
hadn't given us a complementary piece of pie.
Chinese Word of the
(gōng xǐ) = congratulations
August 23, 2010 Kids,
Dogs, Friends and Family
a great party my family threw to celebrate our wedding. Just
perfect. Great food. Wonderful atmosphere.
Isabelle is about to make a big splash at
our wedding celebration.
High overcast but no rain, which means comfortable weather for a party
in the yard.
topped off with an extensive sing along. Life is good indeed.
Ruth Anderson pictures
Thanks everybody, especially Alice and Steve, our hosts, my sister
Catherine, the chief organizer, all those who contributed food, those
who made the long drive from Vancouver, Surrey, or Kamloops, my fabulous
sisters and assorted cousins, and the kids and dogs who added so much to
the festival atmosphere. Uh... I guess this just means thanks
everybody. It was all good.
are also in order for my niece, Amanda Sublett. She won
a silver medal in canoeing at the Canadian Summer Games.
Amanda. Way to go.
Chinese Word of the Day
(qiǎo shž literally "coincidental event") = coincidence
August 19, 2010 Death
The mermaid above Ya Ya's Oyster Bar in Horseshoe Bay was carved in my
front yard in
Gibson's Landing by my friend Godfrey Stephens who was living in a
dugout canoe after
losing his sailboat on the coast of Mexico.
summer continues to be magical. Yesterday I took Ruth for a ferry ride
to the town of Gibson's Landing, where I owned a large house on the
ocean many years ago. Julie and Frank, the couple who now own that
house, welcomed our visit very warmly, and I was able to show Ruth some
of the renovation and improvements I made when I owned the place.
I also showed Ruth my daughter Reba's tiny hand print in the concrete of
the sidewalk. Reba was born in Marina House.
the coincidence (see the Chinese Word of the Day) comes in. Julie
and Frank married on July 28, just four days after Ruth and I were
married. They met over the Internet, and lived together for ten
years before tying the knot. Apparently a period of living
together before marriage is becoming much more socially acceptable,
which makes a lot of sense. It never seemed like a good idea to me
for virtual strangers to make a lifelong commitment to each other.
That's asking too much of luck.
This is all
that remains of Coles Machine Shop and Marine Ways. My memories of
this building go back to the sixties, when my uncle's commercial fish
collector, the Advise, was hauled out here to change the propeller after
he hit a log going under the Lions Gate Bridge.
of boat owners added their boat name to the wall, making it a pastiche
of history. When I lived in Gibson's, Dave Coles, the owner of
this shop, lost his life while kayaking in Chaster Creek. The
current swept him under a log jam, then sent his body out into the
Don's Water Taxi
a pause to feast on blackberries, and a brief stop to swap tunes with a
young fiddle player, we made our way to the marina where I bumped into
my old friend Don Scagel, owner operator of
Don's Water Taxi.
The Back Story on the
about this day brought back such memories for me. When I lived
here, I owned a Russian hydrofoil, identical to the picture above, built
for taxi work on the Volga river. The boat had a Czechoslovakian
made Volvo AQD32 diesel motor that put out a hundred and five horsepower
and would scoot my boat along at twenty knots on less than a gallon an
hour. It was a fun boat, and we had some good times running into
Horseshoe Bay for an ice cream with the kids, a trip that would barely
get the motor warmed up. But Dasvadania, as I called her, was only good
for relatively smooth water, a heavy chop at most, and so not ideal for
commuting to Vancouver, which is what I bought it to do. I decided
to sell it. With my son, Casey, age about six, in the passenger
seat we set off for a marina in North Vancouver to put Dasvadania up for
Once up on the foils, Dasvadania cut the tops off the
chop and gave a very smooth ride. Unfortunately it couldn't handle more
than a three foot swell without turning into a submarine, and off the
foils it wallowed along at only three or four knots, giving a most
uncomfortable ride. Leaving the Gibsons gap, the entrance to
Georgia Straight, we had three foot swells hitting us broadside.
We were rolling along cautiously, and I was thinking the trip would take
the whole day. But then we turned the corner toward Vancouver, giving us
a following sea, and I began to give more and more throttle.
Finally we were up on the foils, flying out of each wave and sending up
a glorious sunlit spray as we smashed into the next. Then we hit a
wave a foot higher than the previous ones. Suddenly green water
was rolling down the bow. It slapped the windshield down, smashing
it. For a moment I was under water. I couldn't see anything.
When my vision cleared, Casey was not in his seat. I thought he'd
been washed overboard, and was frantically searching the seas for his
red life jacket. Then I realized that he'd been swept down to
sprawl under the dash at my feet. I pulled him back onto the seat
and tried to calm him down while I inspected him for damage. There
was blood everywhere I touched. I was trying to find the source of
the blood on Casey when I realized it was all mine. The knuckles
of my hand holding the steering wheel had been lacerated by the
We limped on to our destination with me peering through
a four inch hole in the broken windshield. The man at the marina
gave me a lift up to the hospital to get some stitches on my knuckles.
I arranged to have the windshield repaired, and left the boat in hopes
of finding a buyer. But when no buyer came forward, I gave the boat to
Don on the "never never" payment plan. Don eventually sold it to a
drug dealer from Lasquiti Island, and handed me a brown paper bag
containing ten thousand dollars in very used bills.
Now for the
surprise. While I had a bad time with that boat, Don fell in love
with it. He's since tracked down and owned five of them,
sequentially, and has made his water taxi from the latest, removing the
big old diesel motor and replacing it with a 250 horse power outboard,
modifying the windshield to handle water over the bow, and installing a
top that let's him play submarine with impunity. So this is the
boat he took us out on. What a machine. After a spin in the
harbour, he took us out the gap to pull up a crab pot and present us
with two very large Dungeness crabs.
mugs in front of Molly's Reach, famous as the set for the Canadian TV
a brief visit with Don and his lovely wife, Nancy, we bought some ice,
collected our crabs in our cooler, and went in search of Paula and
Dennis and Paula
amazing artist, founder of Pavelka
Designs. Dennis is a scoundrel and adventurer with an amazing
knack for making money. He regaled us with tales of sailing single
handed from Cape Town to Brazil with a boat load of whiskey and a bucket
of Krugerrands. To tell you about this couple in detail would take a
whole book. Suffice it to say that they are incredible. They
now have Canada's largest company
making toys and games for restaurants to give to children when families
come for dinner.
Ruth reads her SF anthology in the car while waiting for the ferry back
to the mainland.
caught the last ferry home, and got back in time to cook up the crabs
and have a great crab feast. So all in all it was a perfect day.
Steamed, cleaned and ready to eat.
Two large Dungeness crabs on a very large platter. Thanks Don.
The Guitar Hospital
Before heading over to Vancouver Island, venue for our last Canadian
wedding celebration, I made a stop in Vancouver to drop my guitar
off for a setup.
There's nothing much wrong with my Martin D28, but I've
known since I bought it that the action is heavier than it needs to be.
So I brought it back to Canada with me hoping to find somebody who can
set it up. I was toying with the idea of just lowering the bridge
saddle, which I'd be willing to attempt myself if I had a duplicate to
replace it with if I messed up the job. But the process of finding
a bridge saddle lead me to Nicole Alosinac, Luthier, in Vancouver and
one look at her
was enough to sell me on her services. The $45 she charges for a
set up makes doing it myself a fools choice.
What a pleasure it is to meet an articulate and competent technician.
Nicole gave me a quick education into how to look at a guitar, and the
condition of mine. Her first observation was that it is dehydrated
(probably a result of its first owner living in Arizona) and she showed
me how to tell this by the ridges in the finish. She checked the
alignment of the neck and fingerboard, recommended a new set of strings,
explained that a light dressing of the frets might be necessary, and
promised to have the guitar ready for my by Monday when we'll again pass
through Vancouver on our way back to Maple Ridge. I'm really
looking forward to playing my guitar once it's been set up. I'm
expecting a big difference.
Chinese Word of the
(yě dž literally "wild earth") = wilderness
August 27, 2010 Waking
up in Pristine Wilderness
twenty after eight in the morning. Clouds hang low on the
mountains and the ocean is glassy calm. The air is so sweet I feel
like I'm drinking it rather than breathing it. The day before
yesterday I discovered that we had time and opportunity to spend a night
at a floating lodge managed by my old friend JoŽlle Rabu. An
opportunity not to be missed. Clint and Linda, our hosts in
Nanaimo, decided to come along, and provided the transportation to
Moutcha Bay, between Gold River and Tahsis here on Vancouver Island, a
three hour drive, the last of which was over a well maintained logging
Sound Lodge sent a boat to fetch us from Moutcha Bay, and here we are,
sitting in the lap of luxury in the West Coast Canadian wilderness.
welcomed us to the resort she manages so brilliantly, where the
appetizer tray looked too good to destroy in a feeding frenzy.
besides being a great resort manager and old friend, is also a famous
singer. She was one of the first performers to be invited to China after
the opening up, singing at the Grand Theatre in Beijing in 1986.
A night of playing music and singing with
and her brilliant musician son, Nico, was a delight beyond description.
My heart wells with gratitude and love for my friends.
The Nanaimo Wedding Party
was the conclusion of our Canadian wedding tour. Now all that
remains is our party when we get back to China.
Clint's been my friend since grade seven.
He and his wife, Linda, have been my summer hosts since I went to
China. Not too shabby.
was another wonderful party. A delight to see my Nanaimo friends
again. Special thanks to John Kenchentan for video taping the
highlights and burning six DVD discs for us to give out.
Last Day in on
what a day it was, starting with a visit with my old friend Tim
Johnson and his family, then proceeding to Victoria to visit
Ruth's cousin Denise, husband Andy and three of her children,
pressing on from there to see my artist friend Godfrey Stephens,
coincidentally moors his boat on the same dock as our friend
and former Lambton teacher (which means we met her on OUR campus) Lynne
Kailan has her floating home,
winding up the day with a visit to Doug Dodd to return the guitar he
lent us for the party.
of this would have been possible without the little blue car that Sadie
and Malcolm bought for our summer use. Once again we're feeling
August 30, 2010 The
Beginning is Over, The Marriage Begins
Chinese Word of the
(gǎn xiŤ) v./n. thank; be grateful
End of the Honeymoon
Trail for the Little Blue Car
left the little blue car parked in front of Sadie and Malcolm's, where
it was when I took possession. Sadie, my former sister-in-law and
her mother, Carrie, my former mother-in-law, gave us a lift back to
a stop to visit Aunt Jolly in Whiterock, before picking up my guitar on
The Guitar Setup
Nicole handed me my newly set up and strung Martin D28 this afternoon.
It was everything I hoped it would be. Not only does it sound
wonderful, it is infinitely easier to play.
want to thank Nicole Alosinac for making my guitar a priority, and
getting this done in time for me to pick up the guitar on my way through
Vancouver. Great work. Great service.
The Honeymoon is Over
So, that was the end of our
incredible summer. After picking up the guitar we went back to
Maple Ridge to say goodbye to my mother and sisters, and pack for the
It was hard to
leave such great friends and family, especially my mother, who reminds
me each summer now that this could well be the last time we see each
Of course she's right.
This is always true, all the time, for everybody. I'm hoping
my mother might last for another twenty years.
We still have one more party
planned, this one to celebrate with our friends in China.
2010 Good to be Back
our incredible summer, I had mixed feelings about returning to China.
love my work here in China, love my students and friends. But...
well, Canada is a beautiful place to live.
Fortunately, the warm welcome we
received on our return went a long way to ease such ambivalence..
found Jenny's note on our white board when we returned to our
apartment. Jenny is the friend who made the arrangements for
students to look after our dog. The Chinese characters in the note
read: "GouGou had a shower, we don't want to leave her."
Last night, Jin Bo, our liaison here, presented us with
the perfect Chinese wedding gifts, a pair of bedside reading lamps.
These are modeled on ancient oil lamps, converted to electricity.
One is a phoenix, representing the wife. The other is a dragon,
representing the husband. Very Chinese.
The Tension Builds
let me take you back to the fun time as we returned from China with the
wedding planned for July 24.
June 25, 2010 I'm Back
just for the summer. My updates may be a bit spotty, even more so
than usual, for the summer months. We return to China at the end
nailed for a stupidity tax at the Shanghai airport. Two reasons - I
wanted to take my guitar back to Canada with me, and I wanted to take
back my new bullwhip so I can compare it to the whip I bought back in
I thought I remembered taking my guitar on an airplane
with no extra charge, but those days seem to be over. The guitar
counts as another piece of luggage, and since they only allow two pieces
the nice girl at the checkout told me there would be a... gasp....$220
Canadian charge for the additional case. I whined and whinged and
she suggested that I check the guitar, but hold back my smaller suitcase
and take it on as carry on. Whew. Problem solved.
Except... I had forgotten that I put the bullwhip in the smaller
suitcase. Naturally one can't take a bullwhip onto an airplane.
Why, I could... wave it at somebody and make threatening noises?
What? There's no room on a plane to swing or crack a twelve foot
bullwhip. What could I do with it? But there you go.
Security theater demands that nothing that could be in any way
threatening be allowed on the plane. So they sent me back to check
in the bag, and pay the extra baggage charge.
Gotta hate those stupidity taxes.
July 13,2010 Not much
about China (It's all about me.)
Travels, friends and family -
back in Canada visiting all the people I love back home. It's been
an incredible vacation so far, and it promises to get even better.
This hill is steeper than it looks in this picture. My morning
exercise was to walk up it to visit my mother.
Cousins thrice removed. It's a growing family with great kids.
My son Casey took me out to his sailboat for a night of spiced rum and
visit with the grand kids.
My grandson Saorsa with his present from China - pi xiu, ninth son of
Nothing like a good plate of lingini.
now I'm writing this in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at Ruth's mother's
home, after driving all night in the car that Sadie and Malcolm bought
for me to use this summer.
little blue car that Sadie and Malcolm bought so they could lend it to
me for the summer has been running smoothly. All I had to do was
wash the bugs off it, and it's all sparkly again.
the way I visited my nephew Ean in Kelowna, and taught him how to play
Chinese chess. We've got a game going online right now.
also stopped in on Sheila, my ex-wife's sister, and went hiking with her
and her boyfriend, Les.
Next morning I met Sheila and her
sister Sadie for coffee. Sadie had been traveling with Laara and
Zel on their big honking motorcycles, but she was heading back to the
coast, and I was on my way to Saskatoon.
The People You Meet on
the Road !!
It's not often you see a couple on
a tandem bike working their way up the highway in the Rockie Mountains.
Shortly after I pulled off the road to put my lunch together, the biking
pair pulled in too. They stopped a fair distance ahead of me,
either not wanting to impose on my space or not wanting any company.
But I was curious and walked up to introduce myself. And that's
how I met Emanuel and Nawal, who started their bike ride in Bangkok.
Bangkok? You mean Bangkok, Thailand? That's right, with a
ride all the way through China. Now they are heading for Jasper on
their way to Winnipeg and ultimately Venezuela in South America.
You can check out their adventure
blog. It's in French but the pictures
tell the story.
July 17, 2010 Summer
leaving Sheila and Sadie in Kelowna I did an all nighter to Saskatoon,
to the home of Ruth's mother. It was a beautiful drive through the
badlands of Alberta. I should have taken more pictures.
a great day of hanging out with Ruth's mom before Ruth arrived by bus
from Winnipeg, to take the curse of the last leg of the drive.
Ruth's sister, Deborah,
runs a cancer research lab in Saskatoon.
She treated us to a tour and running commentary on her work.
recently had a
breakthrough and verified a molecular switch
that was previously not understood.
We all got a chance to look at cancer cells through the microscope.
Not that we could tell what we were looking at.
and I enjoyed a pleasant and uneventful drive from Saskatoon to Ruth's
house in Winnipeg.
friend David (Yes, another David. This house is full of them.)
is working with us. He was very impressed with
my new bullwhip (scroll way down if you
follow this link), which I've been showing off wherever I visit.
But below is the result when he tried to crack it. Ouch.
thought it would be easy to teach people how to crack a bullwhip.
Apparently I was wrong. So far I've managed to teach the skill to
nobody, and have only succeeded in inflicting pain on two of my friends.
Fortunately David came back for more, and I had to convince him to stop
trying when I couldn't stand to watch anymore. He says he wants a
bullwhip of his own.
And What Did You Do Before Your Wedding?
we're renovating a bathroom in the days before our wedding.
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