Catching up,,,

It requires very little interruption for me to feel extraordinarily removed from the centre of the pendulum that is life.  Just lately for example I was swung far afield by an automotive disturbance, one which for me was especially compelling because, aside from touching upon my “things”, it evoked an element of repentance. I wrongfully imagined “I should have known better”.  And then, in what I am shamefully learning is my inimitable way under pressure of even the most moderate degree, I extrapolated to unknown situations by assuming that existing trends of defeat and destruction will continue. Such I suppose is the unenviable condition of an anxious person.

a weight hung from a fixed point so that it can swing freely backward and forward, especially a rod with a weight at the end that regulates the mechanism of a clock

It is no small coincidence that I adore clocks and timepieces generally although to date I have only preserved a family grandfather clock and carriage clock apart from the standard Apple Watch and several Bulovas which regrettably lie dormant in a chest of drawers except when occasionally adjusted such as upon the change to Daylight Savings. All of which only is to say, things change.

Of less mournful substance I can report that things are unfolding satsifactorily in our new digs at the end of Spring Street along the Mississippi River.  Admittedly it has taken some time.  We moved here around the first of May last.  So that’s over 9 months ago which you’d think would be a reasonable time to get settled. But with advancing age, and being in a completely new environment and having to accommodate the traditional growing pains of a new build, it has all been a bit of work, more than I would have predicted.  But, earlier today as I was tricyling in the subterranean garage (it’s only one floor beneath the building, down a skilfully produced and heated ramp), I began to feel accustomed to the place, no longer constantly awakening to new thoughts or habits, just tricycling, getting some exercise for this weary carcass of mine.  I pedalled back and forth for a full hour (that’s the Apple Watch speaking, it’s very particular, very precise, it even stops counting when I am motionless).

My tricycling was interrupted – thankfully – by a number of brief conversations I had with those who attended to collect or replace their automobile. The basement has become my refuge for casual social communications. The first was with my downstairs neighbour who, like I, is anxious to preserve his vehicle in a clean condition.  We have already discussed one another’s vehicles, glowingly acknowledging the credits of each, unanimously proclaiming the ingenuity of technology. But the devotion to cleanliness is seldom mentioned – even when he is in the act (which he regularly repeats) of hosing down and washing his vehicle (there is a very reliable and adequate hose available for use by the residents). I put my car through a car wash, never doing it manually, so the topic of washing and the comparisons never arise.  In any event, the truth of the matter is that car washing – however it is performed – is between us sous entendu. Thus we confine our discussion to our health and the weather, those sort of fluid conversational topics, perhaps diverting to trips south of the border; or, in his case, to Mexican where he has a condominium.

Later, and after having regained my athletic adherence (which by the way I ultimately extended to one hour), I spoke with my neighbour and her “boyfriend” (he’s presently filling the gap caused by the estrangement of the woman from her erstwhile spouse).  He and I ended engaged in a fruitful and animated discussion, attached primarily to Chelsea, Québec and subsequently Farm Point, Wakefield and Blue Sea Lake along the Gatineau River, gleefully touching upon youthful extravagances (whiskey and cigars) and renowned indiscretions of police, lawyers and the judiciary. Oddly there was no mention of the clergy which I can only attribute to the gentlemen being of the Protestant persuasion or aligned to the Church of England in particular because he was openly proud of his Scottish heritage from Ayre which is one of the six sheadings of the Isle of Man.

Not long afterwards I met briefly with the gentleman from the discredited Dungarvon building. He advised he was off to join family or friends in the Village of Rockcliffe Park for an evening meal (from which, for whatever reason, he indicated he would return tomorrow).  This abbreviated exchange was followed by even shorter acknowledgements with two ladies, one returning from shopping laden with bags of what appeared to be groceries, the other on her way to instruct the masses in the details of curling.

Meanwhile I had been keeping an eye upon the bit of the atmosphere which I could from time to time perceive when the folding garage doors opened.  I knew from previous examination of my weather App on my iPhone that snow was predicted over the noon hour.  As forecast, the snow had begun, flurries, but with a wind.  But as also predicted the snow stopped after one o’clock just as I was completing my hour’s worth of gruelling punishment around the track.  Accordingly I put away my tricycle then propped myself upon the cushion of my car and headed out.

The drive was acceptable but not my preferred encounter. The roadways in the subdivision were bound with snow but the main highways were clear (except when the strong wind blew drifts across the road).  In some places the road was as dry as if it were summertime. At the car wash in Stittsville there was a lineup (as I have discovered is predictable on a Sunday afternoon).  When I was in the wash, just at the point of being ejected, the machinery stopped.  I sensed something was wrong.  I waited, looking into my rearview mirror to see what I might learn.  Eventually the portly young attendant began walking from the entrance of the wash bay in my direction.  I knew he was coming for me.  I prepared myself accordingly.  Sure enough, he stopped adjacent my parked vehicle and beaconed me to lower my window which I did.  He greeted me by my first name, “Bill”, he said, “there’s something wrong, perhaps you could move forward, maybe we can get it going again?”  I was the vehicle most near the exit.  Indeed there were only steps ahead before the conclusion of the wash.  So I drove ahead and departed. On my way past the open wash bay I could see the truck or SUV which had been behind me was still there.  Though the attendant had invited me to re-attend the wash if I wished, I determined I could bear the deprivation especially as the lineup for the wash had noticeably mounted during the brief interruption. I therefore headed back home, thankfully not having to endure any further complications.

Notwithstanding this blip of my day it was otherwise extremely enlivening.  I recalled for example the beneficial conversation I had had yesterday on a whim with a dear ancient friend of mine concerning her own (and that of her friends) evolving tortures of living, from pet surgery, financial woes and kidney failure to psychosis. I recalled as well the more favourable pursuits of friends as far away as Australia and New Zealand, each of whom represents enviable activity and location. But by my own passably conditioned ability of insight and rudimentary thoughtfulness I preserved an unambitious and ungrudging sense of achievement and fulfilment.

I am increasingly developing a theory of accommodation or compromise which surrounds the critical elements of boundaries, familiarity, domesticity and age. Essentially the principles envision the inescapable degrees of reduction. The now topical feature of downsizing is not limited to one’s residential situs or belongings; everything else is similarly diminishing. My contradiction to this putative peril is not denial but instead reaffirmation.  But in a different manner.  There are always two ways down a river; viz., either where to go or where not to go.  It helps no doubt that I have seldom viewed my physical inadequacies as limitations.  I have spectacles for my eyes, a hearing aid for my right ear, a stick to deal with immobility and a brace for my arthritic ribs. And while my cycling on the beach on Hilton Head Island may not be as extended as it once were I happily anticipate the views and the related exercise of my photographic hobby.

Only yesterday for whatever reason I recalled the volume of large brass candlesticks once mounted beside the Vermont casting.  Gone too a myriad of furnishings including the statue that once stood upon the clever walnut pedestal production of Ian LeCheminant. There are of course greater losses such as that about which I unwittingly read this morning concerning one of my favourite writer’s Rupert Brooke.

Virginia Woolf told Vita Sackville-West that she had gone skinny-dipping with Brooke in a moonlit pool when they were in Cambridge together. He was also known for his boyish good looks, which were said to have prompted the Irish poet W. B. Yeats to describe him as “the handsomest young man in England”. He died (at 28 years of age) of septicaemia following a mosquito bite whilst aboard a French hospital ship moored off the island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea.

Brooke suffered a severe emotional crisis in 1912, resulting in the breakdown of his long relationship with Ka Cox. Brooke’s paranoia that Lytton Strachey had schemed to destroy his relationship with Cox by encouraging her to see Henry Lamb precipitated his break with his Bloomsbury group friends and played a part in his nervous collapse and subsequent rehabilitation trips to Germany.

A saying by Brooke was mentioned in Princess Elizabeth’s Act of Dedication speech on her 21st birthday in 1947:

“Let us say with Rupert Brooke, now God be thanked who has matched us with this hour.”

A poet of the First World War who never saw action, he is famous mainly for one sonnet, “The Soldier,” from a sequence of five, and then mainly for its opening lines: “If I should die, think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That is forever England.” Upper-class and stiff-upper-lipped, blond-haired and blue-eyed, eager to sacrifice youth and beauty for king and country, Brooke embodied a romantic and remarkably tenacious national fantasy.