While in Fenelon Falls last weekend I drove over to Handley Lumber to pick up 'gray-on-both-sides' barn board and was told to come back in an hour. They'd 'bin busy'.
No problem. I can handle free time. Off to a great flea market/antique store I did go - just blocks away - and saw something weird, maybe wonderful. After a bit of thinking ("This could be something. This could be...") I bought a tall CD cabinet made from well-aged knotty pine, not because I saw it as a suitable place to store excess CDs but because, after sanding and painting, it could be a pretty groovy six-plex for small songbirds who like communal living on somebody's back deck. Maybe even mine. But we'll see.
[I took it apart; it's now ready to paint"]
So that's a future 'off the beaten path' shop project you'll hear more about in the future. CD Cabinet Commune.
Shop Project Detour Number 2
"I'll come over and check it out, after lunch on Monday," I said to Mrs. King.
She wanted either a birdhouse repair or a new model because a furry buzzhead of a squirrel had done significant damage to the four-plex I'd repaired two times in the past. And when I saw the damage I came to a quick conclusion.
["They ate the front door and went through the wall!"]
"I want to fix it. I could sell you another one but your squirrels might make quick work of it too."
I like odd jobs, fixer-uppers, challenges, and the possibility of defeating a squirrel, even a nasty gang of them, turns my crank.
This type of redo could very likely keep me busy (and motivated) in the shop until I'm 100 years old. Rebuild & Repel Rodents!
Old South is great. Lots of trees. Some small houses very suitable for habitation. Two coffee shops near a hardware store. Less than a 25-minute walk to Milos'. But it's home to three billion squirrels and for a guy with a feeder, squirrels mean work.
["More work getting a good photo angle"]
["More work digging a new hole, but now I'm ready!"]
All winter I enjoyed watching birds at my feeder outside a study window. But in the early spring squirrels remeasured the distance between my window sill and the feeder roof, recalculated the 'leap for free food' equation and started pestering the heck out of me.
So, last week, when the earth was warm I dug a new hole and replanted the feeder farther from my sill.
"Foil me now!" I say. "Take that, you furry buzzheads!"
A WW2 Navy veteran’s request becomes a son’s great adventure
Previously on Bury Me At Sea...
Today, though he has been gone for eleven years, (my father and I) are very close and have very much in common. But when he was alive we kept very busy with our own lives, including our homes, hobbies, sports and hundreds of other activities, and very seldom shared serious conversations about important matters. Such is life, my father would say.
About my ‘no worry, no hurry, Dad’ attitude in 2001, I say I got lucky.
As well, I say my mother’s death broke the history of silence between us and helped make the impossible possible.
* * * * *
The Impossible Is Possible
‘Round about 1953, during a Sunday drive on the only south-bound road out of Burgessville, Ontario the family car caught on fire. My mother expressed heated concern about the smoke entering the car so my father pulled over to the side of the road and hit the brakes. Everyone important to me jumped out of the car and, with me, stood safely in a nearby ditch. Dad then popped the hood and smoke flew everywhere.
I was four or five years old at the time and cannot recall how long we stood in the ditch or how we got home. But I do know this - that car ride was the most exciting of my short little life.
The most exciting car ride of my adult life took place during the early months of 2001, not far from Burgessville as well.
[Exciting rides. The car caught on fire near the fiery red tip
of the toothpick. Quaker Street, if drawn on the map, would
run east to west, where the word 'Norwich' appears above.]
My father and I were heading east together on Quaker Street, toward Norwich, and looking at a few of his bluebird houses located on a family farm that was also home to a wee golf course. Conversation was steady, friendly.
[One of Dad's birdhouses on Bertrand's farm, Quaker St.]
And he turned to me and said, “I’ve decided about where I’ll be buried.”
He could have picked a better road before telling me. Quaker Street is very narrow and hilly where we slowly cruised, not a shoulder within miles, just steep-banked ditches. I felt the moment was very dramatic but I sat still in my seat, didn’t white-knuckle the steering wheel and kept the car safely on the road. I just turned my head toward him for a second and nodded.
“I’m going to be buried in Norwich with Edith,” he said. He didn’t go into details.
Surely I said something wise and discerning, like “That’s a good decision, Dad” or “I think you’re doing a really good thing”, but I honestly forget if I even spoke a word.
He couldn’t have picked a better road before telling me. Shortly thereafter we remarked on spectacular snow-covered scenery on the south side of the road where a railroad line from the Norwich Co-op to Woodstock used to be, where his mother used to walk to take meals to his father at the old tile yard. And a minute after that we passed the new Quaker Street cemetery where mother would be at rest in a few months.
With his decision made I felt relief. My family could go ahead confidently with plans for our mother’s interment and I could get final arrangements made related to particular notations and symbolic etchings on a double gravestone. And I found consolation in the knowledge that my mother’s burial wishes had been granted, that she would not be buried alone.
Had I been a wiser, braver son I might very well have turned to my father and asked how he felt about not being buried at sea, or what factors helped him choose the one over the other. But I wasn’t that son. While he was alive we never discussed the matter again.
After his death, however, it came up - and not out of the blue - one more time.
More to follow.
More photos of Doug Harrison's birdhouses at Bertrand's farm.
Cold-hearted snow landed this morning early while I was abed, ears covered warmly. I heard its thud, like a hammer hitting a sore toe. I heard a neighbour scream as he started to shovel snow. No matter the snow, I thought. I'll dream of where it's not.
["I'm heading to Halifax. Not a speck of snow!" June, 2010]