Thursday, April 22, 2021


My days off fall into a pattern, my evenings after work are fairly predictable, there is talk I may have to go back to night shift as we are falling desperately short of 911 dispatchers. I am happy enough working day shift but we don't always get what we want and my comfortable routines may be upset one more time before I get out the door.
Summer time means long evenings usually with some sunlight, less traffic and sweaty walks with my dog and my small camera. IN summer I tend to use my Lumix LX100ii which weighs half the amount of my big camera and feels like less of a burden when my shirt collar is sticking to the back of my neck.
There isn't much to see in the mangroves so I look for patterns and shapes and colors and shades while Rusty runs back and forth nose down. It's a companionable way to spend 40 minutes after our nightly YouTube exercise sweat on arrival at home, when my wife cooks and Rusty and I walk.
Webb Chiles has gone sailing in a large arc across the Atlantic and as he got his boat ready for a trip around Bermuda I felt a twinge of excitement anticipating my own departure next year. The year ahead promises lots of last minute appointments and decisions and the deeper we get into the year the further my mind floats from the daily routine.
Reading about the Yukon and Alaska I have realized one thing and that is I haven't a clue about animals I keep hearing about. Caribou reindeer elk and moose and what is the difference. Google knows and apparently they are all forms of deer. 
The main differences between the moose, elk, caribou, and reindeer would be in their body size, as well as the size and shape of their antlers. All four of these animals are species of deer but among the four, the moose is the largest. The elk, caribou and reindeer are almost the same size. When it comes to the antlers, the moose is the most different since its antlers are flat and wide. The caribou’s antlers can be easily identified since they are tall and curved. The antlers of the elk and reindeer are somewhat similar. However, the reindeer’s antlers are covered in velvet.

Among the four, the moose is the only solitary animal, while the elk, caribou and reindeer often travel in herds. The moose and elk are browsers or selective feeders. Reindeer, on the other hand, are grazers or roughage feeders. The caribou is noted to be an intermediate feeder or mixed forager.

The moose can be found in Canada and Alaska, while elk live in mountainous forests in North America and East Asia. Caribou are found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Greenland, whereas reindeer live primarily in the Arctic.
I like how the notion that one wants to travel brings out the nanny in people who don't like to travel. I have been reading a history of the Great Game and when I compare the places I want to wander to the fates of people who got mixed up in Empire building and that gives me a certain perspective. I think of Colonel Stoddart who was held by the Emir of Bokhara for four years variously under house arrest and in a  pit filled with rats and scorpions before he was beheaded in the square in front of Bokhara's Registan in 1842.  I shall spare him a thought if I get the van that far. I doubt in any event I shall be put in a  pit of beheaded but I suppose anything is possible.
Rusty has got used to the van and he hops in and out like he has been doing it all his life. He sits outside while we park and watches the world go by. When he and I are alone he rides on the passenger seat looking down on traffic as we go. He won't lay down on the bed by himself when we are underway but if my wife takes a nap he'll join her. I think he will do well on the road and I rely on him to let me know if a caribou or elk or something is in the vicinity. 
I face a  life of stress at work trying to make ends meet without enough employees but knowing there is an end in sight makes it bearable. At home my wife has a spreadsheet developing with chores to do and services to organize. She found a mail forwarding service based in Florida so we keep our state residence which is much prized for not having state income taxes. She has her eye on an airconditioned third floor storage place near the Miami airport which looks unlikely to flood and to be close by when we fly home. It's all in the details.
Colonoscopy? Tooth cleaning? Eyeglass prescription update? Order spare parts for the van? It all has to be done before we leave. It is an object lesson in how many complicated ways our lives are weaved.   
We had a fully vaccinated dinner at the house of a friend and his wife, a refugee from Venezuela (a wealthy one, not a manual laborer) looked frantic and sucked air through her teeth as she put down her piece of steak and shook her head violently when I spoke cheerfully of my ambitions to sit on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. That notion went over like a fart in church and I got a long lecture about the communists in Bolivia and so forth as though I were planning to set myself up in business there.  The steak was good so I focused on that and let the hostess vent.
Her husband thought I was nuts and kept nudging my wife who speaks fluent Spanish and teaches English as a second language to avoid putting up with my lunacy. She of course wants to see Macchu Picchu in Peru and the wineries of Argentina and that provoked another fearsome round of warnings and head shaking. Dessert was a rather delicious cheese cake from Publix. I closed my eyes as well as my ears and focused on the creamy texture. 
Finally Manfred said he wanted to see the van so out we trooped and I was pretty certain there was another lecture in the works. Instead something very weird happened, and as I explained the van and it's systems he got a faraway look in his eyes. I think this might work he said. That's a good idea, he said and nodded in approval at the winch and the solar panels and all the stuff draped off the modest Promaster. 
He was a lot more thoughtful as we waved goodbye. He and his wife life in a palatial home on a  canal with all modern conveniences and great beauty and no way would she be seen dead on the road. And yet I can't help but think that there was a little seed planted there and in a  way I felt sad.
He spoke of slowing down and feeling less strong at seventy than he had a decade earlier. That sensation of life slipping away I suppose. I haven't felt it yet but knowing its coming pushes me harder in the direction of getting stuff done. I look forward to seeing them again, especially if he gets to ride along a bit, and the van allows him to bring out the boy as it does for me. For now I sit still and mark time and prepare to face all the daily irritations of getting stuff done. The payoff will come later.