We made it back alive! Well, think of that!
The Vancouver International Boat Show was its usual draining and rewarding self. Some people laughed at my jokes, and one woman sneered because I’m a liveaboard. “Like most people who live on their boats,” (I started well) “We leave less of an environmental footprint than those who live on land. We use not much water, we don’t use bleach at all, and like many of the people at Cowichan Bay, we own a composting toilet.” There. I ended by talking about our composting toilet – whitened throne, source of pride and. . . . MOST people who live on land don’t discuss their toilets. This is a subtle distinction between land-dwellers and boat-dwellers that isn’t often explored. Mercifully, I shall stop here.
She said she’d ‘think about it.’ By this time I was pretty mad at her. As I watched her self-righteous and indignant back, I thought loudly, “Don’t think too hard, Honey.”
So you see, my Christmas spirit of kindliness and goodwill to all has evaporated like the vinegar I spray on the urine collection chamber of our composting. . . Stop! Stop!
I sold 38 books, which is respectable and paid for six nights in our favourite two-star hotel and two ferry rides. We did not, of course, actually make a PROFIT. PROFIT is for other writers – like the kind who live in the US of A.
Last time we stayed at the Ivanhoe, we tipped our tiny Oriental houseperson $5.00, so THIS year we got a clean room – or at least clean by most standards. The sheets were nylon and a bit split at the seams, but there was a fridge (wiped out and sparkling), a radiator (leaked one day but someone came up and turned it off for us), a dribble of running water out of a clean sink, a mirror with an odd assortment of brass hooks screwed into the wooden frame, some crooked blinds, and out the window a view of the street below and a bit of park. The ceiling is very high and has pipes (painted white to match the walls and ceiling) running overhead. The staff at the Ivanhoe are lovely and very kind to us, the price is right, and there is free parking behind the hotel if you jostle for space a bit at about 4:00 pm as the sun is setting and people leave in their cars.
So when some of our fellow-authors made a pit stop at the Ivanhoe on Friday evening to borrow the facilities next to the bar, they exclaimed the next day that they had never before seen so many disreputable people in one place. “The Ivanhoe?” We said, “You should have visited us! We are staying there!” They looked horrified, but then some people have no sense of adventure. FYI, the patrons north of the bar on the 5th floor look a little down on their luck, but they are quiet and people are people. We had a great time.
By the time I’d made my last presentation (on Sunday – the last day of the boat show), I had all the juice sucked out of me, but my audience was polite, bless their hearts. The audience before them did not laugh at my ‘seagull stew’ story – they were obviously seagull-lovers, and they stared at me with strained and horrified faces. I shall stick to talks about anchoring, about which I know precious little, but that has never stopped me.
The drive back through Vancouver the next day was truly dreadful. “Left! Left! Merge your brains out! Right! Right! Take this exit – are we going the right direction on Marine Drive? Follow the signs to Whistler! Yes, I know we really want Departure Bay, but follow the signs to Whistler! Wasn’t that the exit to Turner? Woops – it was!”
Then home and I was immediately plunged back into substitute teaching. The night of the tsunami warning, at 3 AM our neighbour Gordie ran up and down the docks banging on boat hulls and roaring at us to get to higher ground, so John and I got dressed, grabbed the boat papers, personal documents and first-aid kit, a portable radio, a phone and my knitting,and we hot-footed it for the highest-sitting Tim Hortons we could find. iut of interest, you should know that I am not at my knitting best at 3:30 AM. We listened to our radio until Environment Canada told us the tsunami warning was done, and then we went home. At the side of the road we saw our neighbour unloading two sleepy children and a frightened cat. We were too wide awake to sleep the hour and a half we had left to us before the alarm would go off, and I actually had to work that day. so I staggered off to entertain some 12-year-olds.
I am too old for tsunami warnings, but better a warning than a tsunami.
To entertain myself, I am presently knitting socks with vibrant and clashing colours and reading (still!) Samuel Pepys’ Diary.Our man Samuel lived during the reign of Charles II of England, and survived the plague and the fire of London. I have found out who Samuel Pepys’ wife is. She is cousin to Lord Sandwich, who is Samuel’s powerful patron. Samuel is violently jealous of his wife’s dancing-master, yet he ‘towses’ Mrs. Lane of the fat white thighs, who will submit to all this for a lobster dinner. “John,” I told my husband, “what is ‘towsing’?” “I don’t know,” John said, “But for a lobster dinner I’d consider it.”
May God bless you and keep you. May the waters of despair never overwhelm you, and the Devil never tempt you to ‘towse’.
We made it back alive! Well, think of that!