Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Value of a Mistake

The Value of a Mistake

From some painful mistake somewhere in our past

A memory will plague us and help to attest

That action before us, the things that we do

May have consequences we don’t want them to.

The cost of education is expensive, you know,

And money is seldom the force of the blow.

Embarrassing moments keep us from repeating

Some major faux pas, though the blush was but fleeting

Or some terrible blunder that caused an uproar

Will not re-occur cause we tallied the score.

So cherish those moments when you discover an error

They’re lessons so precious, they haunt you forever.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Finale "Challenges of a Housewife" Part 4

Final chapter of "Challenges of a Housewife"

My heart was beating like a bongo drum.  This was Judgement Day!  I didn't know if John knew what I had been up to.  I didn't know if he had spoken to his father.  The white car had driven in that direction.  Had Dad taken the strangers out to the field to meet his son and prove to them that not all of his family were raving lunatics?
John took his time.  He filled the tractor with fuel, then stopped into the shed for something.  In the house, suffering intolerable suspense, I waited impatiently for the axe to fall, sick to my stomach, my heart hammering out a staccato beat. Whatever was going to happen, let it happen now - and quickly.  I can't stop it!  I couldn't even pray. 
After what seemed like an eternity, John came to the house.  The absence of shock on his face when he walked in told me he had come prepared for a major cataclysm.  He must have had visitors out in that field.  Perhaps the well-dressed strangers had warned him about what to expect.  It was doubtful that his father could have been coherent enough to explain what they had witnessed. 
Wordlessly ignoring me, John walked around the kitchen, looking at the gaping holes in the wall; the stairs that were now missing the three angling steps; and the empty north wall where the foot of the stairway used to be.  He walked through the opening in the wall into what used to be the bedroom and noted the bottom of the stairway waiting for the three angling steps that would connect it to the rest of the stairs.  He stood staring at the patched up wall facing the living room, at the doorway that was no more. 
I was glad I had had the time to clean up before he got home.  The place looked much less daunting this way.  Still, I was paralyzed with fear.  I waited, my heart pounding wildly for some reaction that would indicate to me whether I should run for my life or just stand there silently, prepared to meet My Maker.
"How do you propose to finish this?" John finally asked.  His voice was calm and he actually sounded sincere in his query - like he honestly wanted to know!  I couldn't believe my ears.  My knees turned to jelly, and my heart leapt in relief and exhilaration.  Was he actually going to support me in this project?
"Well, all we have to do now is build a wall to close off this stairway, put a door here to this old bedroom and we have two whole walls for cupboards.  We can take this old little cupboard out and put the stove here instead.  That will make the room smaller for floor space but there will be a lot more room for everything else.  And see, behind this door we still have the stairs to the basement and all we have to do is make those three curving stairs up here and the stairway is as good as new - and out of the way!
I was rambling on excitedly now.  God had heard my prayers.  My husband was going to let me live.  He was listening to me and I was not only going to live, but it appeared as if I was going to have my beautiful new kitchen!  My enthusiasm was beyond all bounds. 
"I'll go get the plywood and some two-by-fours before Hryhorchuk closes the store."  Still calm, John turned and walked out to the truck and drove toward town.  I was all a flutter now.  Had it really been that easy?  Was it really going to happen this quickly?  Was I really going to get away this peacefully?  My emotions vacillated between relief and disbelief, excitement and fear.  "If I am dreaming, please Lord, don't let me wake up" I prayed.
It was now after five and I had to start supper, so I heaved the stove into position, connected the pipes and set out to make supper.  If my husband was truly as supportive as he seemed to be, I was going to make him a supper of all suppers!  He deserved it! 
After supper, there was still enough daylight left to do some work so we set up to make those three angling stairs to the upstairs bedrooms.  There was no way we could sleep downstairs in that dusty, and now with the stairway, crowded, old bedroom.  We needed those stairs, so we fixed them.  Then we hauled up the mattresses and by midnight we were settled in our new bedrooms upstairs.  We had worked calmly together, John didn't seem the least bit angry, though he said very little.  Still, I was eternally grateful. 
The next day, John did not go into the fields.  Instead, we built the wall, finished off the doorways, and he even got me some clay to patch those gouges in plaster around that closed off doorway. 
When we finished, John informed me, "I'm going to go see if Nick can come and do the cupboards."  Nick was his brother-in-law.  He was a carpenter.
Within a month, I had beautiful white paint on my brand new kitchen cupboards, along the whole north wall; beautiful new wallpaper on the walls and a kitchen that I was delighted about.  John and I even discussed replacing the old wood stove with an electric one someday and adding a refrigerator and perhaps even a freezer! against that brand spanking new east wall - when we get hydro in year or two.
Friends and neighbours that came to visit could not congratulate us enough on our renovations and John got most of the complements about it.  Few people knew about how those renovations came about.  I didn't care.  I got what I wanted out of the deal - my fantastic kitchen.  Besides, John deserved all that credit for supporting me, even if it was only after his options were eliminated.  Even my father-in-law was proud of the house when that kitchen got finished.  He had a "modern" house to gloat about now.  For years after, my evening ritual was to stand in the doorway and admire my kitchen before I went to bed.  Perhaps that kitchen would not have been the answer to every woman's dream, but it certainly was the answer to mine!
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it is desperation that makes things happen!  Faint hearts do nothing at all!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

"Challenges of a Housewife" Part 3

I was trapped!  I could hardly pretend I wasn’t home; the kids were out there on the lawn.  There was no time to camouflage my project and no time to clean up either the mess or me.  If ever anyone needed to freeze time, this was definitely it!  I had reduced my father-in-law's pride and joy to a shamble of dust and debris.  I was sure it would appear totally hopeless at this point.  I knew it would be devastating blow to his pride in front of these people he was obviously trying so hard to impress.  I was doomed.
I watched in horror as my proud, unsuspecting father-in-law led his guests to view what he had every reason to believe would be a "nice house".  Engrossed in his usual zealous prattle, Father failed to notice the pile of debris off to the side where I had deposited the broken sections of wall from the bedroom.  He was ill-prepared for the destruction that beset his eyes when he stepped across the threshold.  As his jaw dropped to reveal a gaping mouth, a cloud of dust assailed his lungs.  His discourse stopped mid-word and his face turned ashen.  At that moment, I was truly afraid he might just suffer a heart attack.
You could have heard a fly sneeze in the silence that followed.  Father and his guests stood motionless, staring at the wreckage before them.  I stared helplessly back at them, unable to think, to utter any excuse, any explanation or any apology.  There was nothing I could say and it was obvious that there was nothing they could say, judging by the shock on their faces.  Nobody moved or spoke for what seemed like hours, but honestly could have only been minutes, while each one of us tried to get past the deadness that had overtaken each of us. 
It was one of the strangers that finally spoke first. 
"I guess you are doing some renovations," he said and I stared at him mutely.  Dad was still in a trance.  His eyes were fixed, his mouth was still open, and his breath was coming in raspy gasps from somewhere beneath the grinding rapids of his racing heart.  The taller of the two strangers seemed to gain his composure first.
"We should let you get back to your work," he verbalized kindly, obviously trying hard to provide this stunned assemblage with the benefit of an escape hatch.  "We'll come back another time."
I just nodded numbly. 
"Come, let's go take a drive through the country," he urged but my Father-in-law was paralyzed with shock.  His mouth was still gaping and eyes were still fixed like protruding marbles in his head.  He hadn't blinked once since he stepped into the room.  The man put his arm around Father's shoulder.  "Come," he urged but Father stood rooted in his tracks. .  He had turned into a virtual stone statue.  In desperation, the man motioned to the other stranger.
Gently but firmly, they linked their arms with Father's and between them, they managed to turn Father around to face the doorway.  Then with great difficulty and with as much dignity as they could muster, they got him down the steps and onto the sidewalk.  Wedged between the two men, Dad staggered. zombie-style, towards the car where they helped him into the front seat.  As they all got into the car, I took my first deep breath since their arrival. 
As I watched the white car with the smartly dressed strangers and my stupefied father-in-law pull out of the yard, it suddenly hit me.  The result of this afternoon may affect me profoundly.  My father-in-law will come out of his stupor sooner or later and when he does, Heaven only knew what ramifications there would be for these rash actions of mine to deface his precious house.  He had a violent temper, I knew that, but he had never ever directed it at me.  Quite frankly, I could not picture him doing so, but then I had always been a docile daughter-in-law and had never given him any cause to vent at me - never, that is, until now.  This time I did it right though.  This was the mother of all misdemeanours.  Maybe I hadn't asked for reprisals till now but this time, instead of asking for a sample, I had demanded the full rack.  And that was not even taking my husband into account!  This may just be the last day of my earthly life!
The wind had totally gone out of my sails regarding the renovations.  Gone was the bravado, the enthusiasm and excitement of a functional and, perhaps even beautiful, kitchen.  Would I live to see it even?  And even if I survived with my life, would I be banished forever from the house and the farm?  John would probably divorce me on the urging of his very insistent father, his mother would land up taking care of my kids and I would never even be allowed to see my precious babies anymore.  I felt physically sick! 
Why, oh why, hadn't I left well enough alone?  This was no minor indiscretion I had been toying with here.  There were going to be major repercussions!  Helplessly I looked around me at the mess.  I tried to see it as Father and those strangers had seen it, without the wistful image of a neat kitchen to blanch the stark ugliness of the debris. 
That was it!  I could remove that ugliness.  Perhaps I could soften the blow of my impetuous action if I brought the image of that kitchen into the foreground.  The kids were awake and I quickly gave them more wieners and buns and Kool Aid.  Thank God they had not learned the art of rejecting a repeat meal yet.  I worked feverishly, packing the debris into a box that I could easily haul out to the garbage out behind the woodpile.  Then I finished anchoring the slab of wall into the opening between the bedroom and the living room.  I would have to plaster that wall to smooth it in preparation for the wallpaper, but for now, it looked half decent.  Next I swept and washed the floors and the walls, removing as much of the dust as I possibly could.  I was shaking out the sheets from the furniture covers when John came home.
Final entry next week

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Challenges of a Housewife Part 2

Continuation of "Challenges of a Housewife

I heaved the big cast iron stove out of its niche under the stairs, releasing clouds of black soot into the room when I disconnected the chimney pipes.  Then I measured off where I wanted to make the opening for the door to the bedroom.  This doorway had to be the exact same size of the living-to-bedroom doorway because I would have to use that slab of wall to seal that doorway laterI could not afford to make any error here.
Drilling the holes at the top to make clean-cut corners sent billows of dust to mingle with the soot that was already in the room, but when I started the chain saw to cut out the doorway I almost lost my nerve.  The clay plaster of the wall protested against the chewing teeth with a dust storm that would have made the Sahara wince.  And worse yet, every now and then the blade connected with either a pebble in the clay or perhaps a nail because I'd hear this blood curdling screech and fiery sparks burst from the bottom of the chain saw.  Heaven only knew what was happening on the other side.  I pulled the blade out and raced through the dining - living room to the bedroom to make sure I hadn't started a fire there.
No, it was fine but I knew that the chainsaw blades were being damaged by those rocks and nails.  Still I had to go on.  Back I went to my chainsaw to finish the cut.  It took me less than ten minutes to make the two six-foot vertical cuts.  The timing beat the hand saw by a mile but I was nearly choking, partly from the dust but mostly from the exhaust fumes from the gas powered chain saw.  I shut off the saw and staggered outside.
While waiting for my breathing to resume, I reassessed my situation.  This plan would work, but I had to make some adjustments if I wanted to keep breathing.  Wrapping a bandana over my nose and mouth, I tied it securely at the back of my neck and then went inside that dust bowl that used to be my house.  I opened every window and door that would open, upstairs and down, to let the breeze roam freely throughout. 
Now I was back in business.  The horizontal cut along the top, however, presented me with a problem.  The chainsaw was too heavy for me to cut a straight line horizontally above my head.  It took me more than half an hour to make the thirty two inch cut with the hand saw but finally I had the piece of wall isolated.  Careful not to let it fall and break apart, I pried it loose and walked it a couple of feet over then propped it against the wall in preparation for the next phase of my renovations - sealing off the living-to-bedroom opening. 
Checking my watch, I decided to make the other cut in the wall to divert those descending stairs into the bedroom.  This cut had to be made floor to ceiling on both sides except that one side had to go right up against the outside north wall and the top had to be flush with the ceiling.  For these cuts, I would be unable to use the chainsaw because there was no room for it. 
I made the internal floor to ceiling cut with the chainsaw, standing on a chair.  Fine.  Now for the more difficult outside wall and ceiling flush cuts.  I checked the kids, gave them some of their favourite wieners, buns, cookies and milk then ran back into the house to continue with my project.  I worked hastily, using the handsaw against the ceiling, fighting that clock that seemed to have entered the Indy 500 races.  The fuel on the big tractor would last till late in the afternoon but I had to have the basic work done before John came home or my project would be sabotaged for sure.  The knuckles on my hands were raw and bleeding, but I had the ceiling cut complete with only the outside wall cut left to do. 
I had to break to fix John's lunch.  With sandwiches and an ample supply of water and Kool Aid, I gathered the kids into the car and we sped out to the far field where Daddy worked.  In the field, I quickly unpacked the lunch before John got down from the tractor so he would not notice my bleeding knuckles then made light conversation to divert his attention to the kids.  I waited impatiently for him to finish eating so I could get back to my project. 
At home, I spread a blanket on the lawn in the shade of the big maples, brought out some pillows and told Jim to put the girls down for their nap.  They all thought it was neat idea.  There was no way I could let them sleep in the house.  They would suffocate in that dust but I didn't tell them that.  Jim was always a good little helper with the girls and as long as they had enough distractions, the kids could be fine with just minimal supervision.
I went back to that wall but as I glanced up at the spots of blood on the ceiling and then looked at the wall where I had to do another flush cut, I cringed.  I grabbed some rags, wrapped my hands to protect them from the abrasions, and sawed my way down along the wall.  Why didn't I do this in the first place?  I could have saved the skin on those knuckles. 
The cutting finished, I went to the bedroom and moved the mattress off the bed setting it against the couch in the living room.  The bed frame and dresser I moved against the far wall.  Now I had room for that slab of wall and eventually for the descending stairway!  From the kitchen side I pushed the cut-away section of wall away from the stairwell.  When it started creaking, I jumped back onto the third step and watched the curve of the stairway pull apart with the weight of the four by eight foot section of clay-plastered slats that held it together.  With a thunderous crash it fell to the floor of the bedroom sending ever more clouds of clay dust into air as the huge slab cracked into several splintered sections of debris.  I now had a gaping hole in the wall and the area was ready for a redirection of the stairway.  I had to clean that mass of clay wall off the bedroom floor next.  I took the garbage outside and cleared the corner to make room for the three descending steps. 
Then, using the crowbar I was able to loosen the bottom section of the stairway from its position but getting it to the bedroom through that thirty-two inch opening was a whole other matter.  Heaving it onto its side, I managed to push, pull and manoeuvre it through.  After more huffing and puffing, I had the stairs functional minus those three angling steps.  Great!
Now I was at the second stage.  If my luck would just hold out, if my lungs continue functioning, if my stamina endures, I just might manage to carry this off.  Some of my muscles were complaining and my lungs were pleading for clean air but I wasn’t taking time out to listen.  I couldn’t afford to.  Time was of the essence here and this was a “do now or die forever” project!
Now to close the doorway between the bedroom and living room.  I ripped all the mouldings off the living-to-bedroom doorway and stripped all the boards off leaving a raw hole into which I hoped to fit the cut out section of the wall from under the stairs.  I moved the big recliner against the opening to act as a sort of anchor to prevent it from falling through in case it leaned.  Panting from the exertion and rushing, I wedged and wiggled the slab to its new position, sealing the doorway between those two rooms.  Fitting it in was a challenge but finally I had it exactly where I wanted it.  To secure it, I gouged out some clay in the wall and in the slab so I could nail slats to both pieces that would hold the huge slab in position.  One more nail, strategically placed and this phase of my project would be done 
I was busily doing this when I heard a car pull into the driveway and my heart lurched in dismay.  "Please God, no company today," I prayed fervently as I ran to the door to check.
But God had given me enough help today with the cuts and with the walls.  His patience must have run out and He was allowing company to come in spite of my desperate prayers.  Covered with dust and sweat, my hair so matted it would have made a farm dog blush, I watched in consternation as my father-in-law and two smartly dressed strangers emerged from a shining white Pontiac.  From his animated gestures I could tell that my father-in-law was giving his listeners a glowing report of the farm and all the other assets as he proudly escorted them to the house.  

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Challenges of a Housewife Part 1


"There has GOT to be a way."  In exasperation, I gazed around my large kitchen that had no room for anything other than perhaps a dance in the middle of the floor.  My mind raced around brainstorming for ideas, desperately seeking some workable solution to my dilemma.  A room fourteen feet long and twelve feet wide and all I had for cupboard space was a credenza thirty inches wide by thirty inches high and twenty inches deep with a hutch above it that was only ten inches deep!
When I married, I had moved onto my husband's home place that his parents had left for him when they moved to town.  This house was his dad's pride and joy, a house he had built himself fifteen years earlier.  A modest home, as farm homes went, two story wooden structure, twenty-four feet by twenty-four feet, with a lesser concrete basement underneath, it was heated with a huge home-made furnace - an old 45-gallon-oil-drum-firebox enclosed in an outer shell of brick and mortar.  It may have been fine once, but now, even I, coming from humble beginning and a poor family, was used to having more cupboard space than this house provided. 
My own father was a jack-of-all-trades.  He built or added things as the need arose.  When more cupboard space was needed, he simply got some lumber (home-planed), put his saw and hammer to work and presto - more cupboards.  Here in this house, even with my meagre supply of dishes, pots and pans and grocery supplies, the space was dismally inadequate.
I had spoken to my husband time and time again about this deficiency, but my pleas always fell on deaf ears.  He was not a handyman around the house.  Had I asked him to build me a shed or a barn, he might have been able to oblige but cupboards for the kitchen were not his forte.  As well, he was probably reluctant to do any alterations to his father's pride and joy, no matter how necessary.  Therefore, for six years I had put up with this major inconvenience.  Now I was at the end of my patience.  Something had to change and it was obvious I had to initiate that change.
I knew I was treading on forbidden territory, but after all, this was my home now.  I had been patient and servile for six years.  Surely, I had served my sentence.  It was time to take matters into my own hands and make this kitchen work for ME. 
I took a quick inventory of the assets and liabilities of the house.  The main floor of the house had four rooms.  There was the bedroom in the north-east corner, nine feet by twelve.  This opened southward into the eleven by fourteen foot living room which in turn opened via a large seven foot wide square archway into the nine by eleven foot (almost redundant) formal dining room to the southwest.  The dining room was separated from the kitchen by a door that had to be closed on cold winter days because although both the living and dining room faced the south, they had large double windows on each outside wall.  These were so sealed that when a south or west wind howled at forty miles per hour outside, it slowed down to a mere thirty miles per hour inside.  Even with the primitive furnace puffing heat at full blast from the two floor rads, on those days the living and dining rooms were uninhabitable.  The upstairs had only three rooms because of the slope of the roof on the north and south sides but it was even colder with only the stairway door and one 15 inch by 15 inch ceiling to floor rad to let heat up there from downstairs.  “Forced air” heat was an unheard of term and convection heat was how things were done.
The six-inch clay-plastered walls covered with the wooden siding did little to preserve the heat.  Time had left invisible cracks in the dry clay underneath the siding and there was  no vapour barrier plastic to impede the Jack Frost’s invasion into the house.  So we closed the door to the dining room and between the wood stove and the furnace we huddled together in the kitchen to maintain a semblance of comfort.  Eventually, though, we installed a big box stove in the living room because, with three kids, it was just too crowed in the kitchen.
Now the kitchen, in the northwest corner of the house was a work of art.  The south wall - fourteen feet of it - had four feet under the elaborate stairway but that was utilized because my woodstove and wood box occupied this south east cubbyhole.  The other ten feet accommodated my “kitchen cupboard; the door to the dining room; and the remaining three feet of wall held the hooks for the coats - an absolute necessity in this closetless dwelling.  The west wall, twelve feet of it - had the outside door and a large double window against which we kept the kitchen table and chairs nestled into the corner of the room.  No room for cupboards there.  The north wall, just beyond the table had just enough room for a small washstand with the necessary basin on it that served as our bathroom.  The remaining ten feet were taken up with a huge bannistered stairway that angled in the corner to go up the rest of the way along the whole east wall of the kitchen, above the stove.  Underneath this, the wood box and the trap door to the basement.  That was it!  No room for cupboards in this huge room because monstrous stairway took two walls! 
What to do?  That stairway!  That was the culprit.  It had to go!  We had three bedrooms upstairs; we didn't really need the one downstairs.  Besides, with the kids growing up, we pretty well had to move upstairs now anyway.  We’d cut another rad into the ceiling to get more heat up there.  If I could redirect the descending stairway from the kitchen's north wall into the bedroom and wall off the main stairway on the east, it would make my kitchen ten by twelve but it would give me two full walls free for other things, Like cupboards, for instance
All I had to do, I decided, was cut out two doorway-sized sections of the east wall of the kitchen - one under the main stairs and the other at the descending end of that stairway and put one solid east wall to close off that stairway and voila! a north and east wall to do with as I pleased.  I could then redirect the descending steps to the bedroom, seal off the door between the living and bedroom and I'd have free wall space in the kitchen, the bedroom and living room  Entry into the east room would be from the kitchen side.  I was sure I could do it.  I had watched my dad do fantastic things with a hammer and sawI felt sure I could do it too.  Besides, I knew that if I didn't do it, I'd be living like this for probably the rest of my life and I was determined not to do that.
With my scheme finalized I waited for my opportunity.  I knew that if I told my husband what I intended to do, he was sure to veto the idea and then I would never be able to go ahead with it.  So I decided to wait - wait until I knew he was away for the day and then I would do it myself.  Hopefully, by the time he got home, the major work would be done so that turning back would not be an option.  That was my plan and I fervently prayed that it would work.
I often worked out in the fields with my husband - he on one tractor, me on the other, while his mother stayed at home with the kids and made meals for us.  But sometimes during the summer when the spraying and summerfallow were done and it was still too early for haying, we had a slack period.  I would then get a break and stay home while he went to the work the fields alone.  That would give me the chance to put my plan into action.  That was the day was that I was waiting for.
My break came one day in early July when my husband went out to the far quarter to do the summerfallow.  I was left at home with the kids.  He left shortly after seven and I wasted no time.  I had a great deal to do and I could not afford to waste a single minute.  I threw some sheets over the bed, the living room couch and chairs to protect them from the dust and set up the kids to play outside near the house where I could keep an eye on them.  Then I went to the shed, got the chain saw, a drill, a hand saw, a crowbar, an axe and a hammer and started "Project Renovation"! 

Continued next week....

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Oh what a hopeless race I run
As I vainly struggle to hang on
My days too short, my hours too few
To complete the tasks that I must do
My goals increase as I stretch my dreams
I divide the time to patch the seams
My mind is flying in all directions
No thought concluded, just multi-fractions
I chase about at hyper speed
And lose all sight of what I need
The things I need, I must confess
To get myself out of this mess
Are simple enough, no fancy frills
No drastic drugs or doctor’s pills
An attitude adjustment is where it’s at
A turn around to tell me that
The things I dread don’t really matter
To forget about them may e’en be better
I need exposure to lighter things
The magic lull when a bluebird sings
That golden moment when day is done
A few more winks of sleep at dawn
The promise of pleasure uncurtailed
A haunting melody my sense assailed
The wafting fragrance of a rose, 
All I need is just - repose!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Fishing stories

Fishing Can be a Blast

Fishing can be a blast.  Believe me, I ought to know.  I've been there, done that.  I even have witnesses to attest to that.  I possess a variety of interests, some active, some passive, some mundane and some downright intense but zeal for some of these interests has often channelled me into some rather bizarresituations.  Fishing is one of those masculine activities that I became hooked on when I got that first tug on my line on my first cast into the lake.  From that moment on, I was more hooked than any fish that bit my line. 

My husband, however, did not share my enthusiasm for the sport, so quite often he stayed in the camper and watched television while I went fishing alone. He would help send me off though; helping me load my gear into the boat, then give the boat a shove and I would be on my own.  I often attracted the attention of male fishermen, a lone female, sailing off alone to sit there by myself waiting for that exciting tug on my line that told me I had a fish.  I didn’t care.  I liked it that way.  Both John and I were doing what we enjoyed most, different, to be sure, but what did that matter?

There were times though that my adventures were not quite as private as I would have liked though.  At that time we owned a 12-foot Lund boat - not a bad boat, no floors so you had to balance yourself on the slippery slopes of the Aluminium V bottom but you got used to that.  No problem.  It was the motor that was the problem.  It was one of those old fashioned jobbies - four- horsepower with a small gas tank mounted right on the motor. 

Nowadays that would be illegal from a safety standpoint to have a tank mounted on a motor but back then, they did make them like that and we did own one!  This was probably about 1982/83.  How old the motor was, I have no idea. We bought the boat and motor second hand, therefore, for all I know, it could have come across with Christopher Columbus!

Anyway, it was a lovely day and I was determined to go fishing.  John, as usual, opted to stay indoors which I though was a terrible waste of a beautiful day but I never start an argument I have no hope of winning.  As we had done before, he helped me load up the gear, then gave the boat a shove and I was off. I paddled a few yards away to get into deeper water then went to start the motor.  I pulled on the rope a few times but it refused to fire.

Pull the choke out, John shouted from the shore and I obeyed.  I pulled the rope again, still nothing.  I wouldnt give up and I kept pulling that rope again and again but the motor remained obstinate.  After awhile, I could see some gas leaking from the fuel line but the motor did little more than grunt indifferently. 

Now close the choke before you flood it, John yelled and I complied.  Once more, I yanked at the rope and finally the thing sputtered to life but as the motor finally fired, I saw a spark strike the fuel line and the leaking gas ignited.  Alarm bells slashed through my brain.  As I watched the hungry flames licking their way around that gas tank, I knew instinctively that the heat from that fire was going to blow that little tank of gas sky high and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.  I had no place to run.  Not a good swimmer normally, I knew Id be hopeless in fishing duds.  Grabbing the oars, I started paddling furiously towards an island nearby, fighting against time with every muscle in my body. 

In the meantime, John had started off towards the camper as soon as he heard the roar of the motor, so he did not realize what was happening to me on the boat until a group of weekend holidayers noticed my predicament and started a commotion. 

Someone from that audience offered what he though was a helpful suggestion.  Put a blanket over it.

I have no blanket, I yelled back. 

I wanted to add I came here to fish, not to sleep, but I was too busy paddling towards safety to bother.  I seemed to be making no progress in getting closer to the island and those flames had that motor in a bear hug.  I knew it was only a matter of seconds before that tank blew.  I was about to take a dive into the water and take my chances when something clicked in my head about why I could not paddle to that island.  Was I beached?  I dipped an oar into the water. I was on a sandbar!  Without wasting another moment, I stepped over the side of the boat into the shallow water and clambered towards that island.

Just as my feet touched dry land I heard a terrific BOOM behind me.  I looked back to see a huge mushroom shaped cloud of black smoke shoot up into the heavens.  Back on the shore, my audience had multiplied to observe in awe, the finale of my adventure.  I stood alone on that island, shaking like a leaf, as I watched the fire consuming whatever fuel was left after the explosion ripped that little tank apart.  Eventually it burned itself out and the boat lay there forlornly in the shallow water like a beached whale, the charred remains of the motor hanging over the back like a wounded leach.

There was not a sound coming from the opposite shore as the stunned crowd remained rooted in their tracks.  My own brain was in shock, unable to process what had just happened. 

Then noisy shouting erupted from that astounded crowd that had witnessed the incredible spectacle.  My brain was blank, non functional and their noise was abrasive and intrusive.  It jarred me to consciousness.  I knew the boat was beached.  I knew that the fire was out.  I knew I could walk to the boat, push it off the sandbar and paddle it to the main shore.  So with a tremor borne of intense shock, I stepped into the water, got in the boat and paddled back. 

I understood little of what the people said to me when I got there.  I didnt want to hear their opinions about caution or conduct.  For one thing, I had no intention of repeating this adventure, and for another, their advice or criticism was too late to be of any use to me anyway.  Their comments were unimportant because I knew that, adversities or not, fishing, for me, was, and always would be, a blast and as soon as we got a new motor for that boat, Id be out there fishing again.  The very next day, we drove to town and, after a few inquiries; we were able to purchase another motor, - more modern - with a totally detached gas tank this time and, I still love fishing!

A reintroduction



Just an introduction for now.  I have to get home to do my real posting.  Right now I am just learning, getting acquainted with this new technology and it does have me baffled, I'll admit.  For all those  computer savvy young people that are so smart, I have one threat for you.  By the time you get to be my age, some young grandchild of yours will be trying to teach you something new about some more innovative technological advances and then you will know just how it feels to feel stupid too.  Surely I cannot suffer this alone.  I need company.  And by the way. I wish some smart kookie out there would standardise keyboard and stop changing those keys around.  There is enough confusion in this world already!