Spring has sprung and Sideways Sally is jumping between boats, So many boats!!
Plans change like the weather, so it is with sailors, we adjust, and adjust, and adjust we must!!
It’s been a long slog getting through to spring, winter did not want to let go. AND the world is a crazier than ever. My Community Mental Health team and I were desperate to blow out the cobwebs. We work, we play, we cry… no need to explain the obvious!
We planned on sailing OMOO to Howe Sound but she got stuck to land when the Skipper ended up waiting on a repair for his ticker.
SS had schemed for May Long weekend for months. I wanted to get as many people as possible on a sailboat and go chase some wind. It’s the biggest kick ever to introduce newbies to sailing. My wonderful work crew were so excited, and I could not bare to disappoint.
Instead of wandering across the Salish Sea, SS stayed in the Big Stink adjusting her schemes. So…
Eleven people signed on for an afternoon sail, and SS makes an even dozen. Suz and Oscar on TARKA – home port Horseshoe Bay, were also available for a rendezvous!
OH YAAA, we made it happen. Suz found a charter company out of Squamish and viola, the new sailing plan evolved. We all get by with a little help from our friends. The BIG boat was booked and we all headed to Squamish. We piled into TARKA after everyone arrived for serapy (no that is not a typo) and giggles.
We got so lucky with Mother Nature granting us a reprieve from a cold rainy spring. We jumped on the Catalina 41′ with crew Harli, Dave and Alison from Canadian Coastal Sailing.
Without a doubt we had the best wind on a sunny day, in beautiful Howe Sound, with a safe and educational crew. Anyone that wanted to take the wheel or winch were welcome to pitch in.
We tied up to a log boom for some snacks and some “crazy kids” jumped into the ocean. It’s most refreshing when youth and exuberance splashes onto those around them.
SS sat back and enjoyed every minute, watching the excitement and pleasure on everyone’s faces. It was a completely delightful afternoon full of rich moments and deep satisfaction.
Grab a fav bevvy and come along!!
Thank you so much, Harli, Dave and Alison, Canadian Coastal Sailing!!
Next trip is Prince Rupert to Petersburg, Alaska. I will join Hermitage who is currently in Port Hardy and waiting to round Cape Caution and proceed north on the Inside Passage.
SS will be jumping aboard soon, Here we come June!!
Meeting up with boats, and getting to know the crew makes for interesting times in the cockpit.
One sunny afternoon we meet boat #1, an American sailboat setting out on an adventure to Alaska. We’re anchored in a beautiful harbor inside the Canadian border, all enjoying getting to know each other, as boaters do.
An American Skipper pipes up about “not using the VHF radio while in Canadian Waters.” He claims that while researching for a previous trip in 2019 that he learned Americans were prohibited from using the VHF while transiting Canadian waters. I quickly reached for “Sailing Directions” and turned the page to information on VHF. It clearly stated VHF radios are internationally used as the main form of communication, especially used for safety.
Maybe he misunderstood the part where 16, the main channel cannot be used for chit chat? I’m thinking that the next time I see this boat I’ll lean out of the cockpit and yell as loud as I can, “Is everything OK?” while talking to my other boating neighbors on the VHF.
On another day, the Skipper on Canadian sailboat #2 pipes up with new information on how shell beaches got there. He claims that seals eat so many shellfish that they are the cause of the white beaches that dot the North West Pacific Islands. When I countered that they are “middens” which come from centuries of First Nations People harvesting shell fish he remained adamant that it’s from the seals.
All I could do was picture the seals swimming by the beach and spitting the shells up on the beach, since shells don’t float they must be able to spit a very long way!!
I’m giggling inside when the skipper from boat #3 enthusiastically describes how the trees along the ocean are so evenly trimmed because the fish are eating them. This came as a big surprise to the forestry engineer in the group. He kindly explained how saltwater is too harsh for the trees and they cannot grow below the high tide mark.
I can’t wait for the next time I meet up with new boaters and learn so many new things!
“The clouds are like headlines, on a new front page sky. Many before me have been called to the sea, up in the crows nest, shiver me timbers, I’m sailing away…”
Song is by Tom Waite. (link below)
Crimson clouds in the evening sky
give me a happy sigh
The Ocean is my anchor
cat paws ruffle
Sails fill, lines snap
she may falter
But comes to life,
top of the mast to the keel.
below the boom
where there is room.
Sideways Sally will be jumping aboard for a sail into Alaska this summer on a sailboat called “Hermitage.” She is a Maple Leaf 42′, home port is Shelter Island on the Fraser River, South Vancouver, B.C.
Sunday, May 8 2022
The dock lines are off and so are we!! The river at Shelter Island is shallow, and at 8 am there is a falling tide. It’s a narrow channel between the long dock and the land, requiring Don to navigate the Hermitage carefully, inching past the other boats tied to the dock.
It’s a challenge, but one that the Skipper succeeded in overcoming when the boat neighbors sprung to life, throwing us lines and pulling us away from the muddy banks that threatened to trap us. We all get by with a little help from our friends!!
We stop at Steveston for fuel and I get yacking while filling the tank with diesel. Sure enough, I overfill and spill. An early morning lesson, DON’T GET DISTRACTED!! We clean that mess up with an arm full of spill rags and carry on out the mouth of the Fraser on a chilly morning with no wind.
We catch the ebb across the Salish Sea and head for Active Pass.
Don, Paul and Hermitage have been busy for weeks preparing and provisioning. They are joining Geoff and Pam on “Knotty Buoy” from Seattle who have been to Alaska previously.
The Skipper is Don, who has sold his horse ranch in Alberta and is getting reacquainted with sailing. SS recruited crew on a crew finders facebook page and Paul signed on. Paul is a well experienced sailor from the U.K. with many nautical miles under his belt.
Paul aka “UK” is a lively, funny and welcome addition to the crew, “with one foot in the grave.”
The rendezvous with Knotty Buoy in Montague Harbor on Galiano Island. OMOO will catch up with us to meet the crew and take me back to Maple Bay. I will be flying to Prince Rupert later in June to join for the Alaska loop into Petersburg. YEAH!!
Grab your fav bevvy and have a listen, it’s so good!!
Finally… back to a lazy Saturday morning, coffee is on.
It’s been a slog, Sideways Sally is no longer friends with March. She’s been sliding into depression from too much bad stuff going on in the world. Trying to write, over and over, but negativity translates poorly.
She needed a stern talking to herself. She’s been there before. So the conversation goes like this: You’re tough, you know what to do. You know how to chunk it down, put one foot in front of the other. You know eventually you get there. You’ve never been patient. You do things too fast. You make a plan and get it done. There’s too much that’s been out of control for too long. The external world does not get an invitation to the internal world, so it sneaks in a secret door. The spirit is strong, but the mind is a freak. Emotions unleashed, words come out wrong. Learn to be quiet, and listen. Stop talking. Be strong. You’re tired.
So, back to endless cups of coffee on a Saturday morning, laundry is in. Perch on your bed munching Saturday morning snacks. The window is open and the air is refreshing. The good news is…
The west coast is in bloom, the sun is shining, daffodils are softly dancing in the spring breeze, boats are getting ready for summer sailing.
SS, FOCUS and turn to the sea!! Patiently wait for it to take you away, to that peaceful place where your mind is free.
I’m sitting out on the patio in a sunbeam. It’s March 5 in Vancouver, the sounds of children laughing and calling out to each other in the park across the street drift up to me with raucous joy.
The sun is bright and sparkles ripple off the water in False Creek. Boats at anchor gently swirl with the tide’s ebb and flow. Summer Sailing is enticing me to escape my land home and to join the wind and waves.
The best life, the best job, the best people in my life. The best is very humbling at this time in the world. I never have had the suffering of war or civil unrest that so many in the rest of the world have experienced. It’s a double edged sword, feeling helpless to change the world, when all I want is for humanity to be at our collective best, while careening recklessly into our collective worst.
STOP, make it all stop. Stop and listen, stop and think, stop and extend your hand to those who have been left behind to starve, to suffer illness, to die in the night from a bomb, a bullet, an overdose, a silent cancer.
I can’t let all the hurt in the world live in my head, and do the job I have of caring for the mentally ill, and supporting them in a caring, effective manner. To keep my wits about me when the world is exhausting requires a constant shift in focus.
So I swivel, focusing on today, on the task in front of me, and save the news for the end of the day, the week. So much of what is happening is history of what has gone before. To educate myself I turn to the records of the wars, learning so much more makes it worse, awareness of so much senseless suffering.
Feeling lucky to live where we live, yet with an uneasy anxiety of what is ahead. Watching the world dynamics, how quick it all can change. The price of oil soars and how quick it effects us all. As we groan under the increased cost, what will happen if it all is lost. When we have no fuel to keep us warm and no power to keep us cool.
The future of the world is now, is it too late? Ok I can’t go there and be OK, but I can’t stop looking and learning. From BBC today: “It is often tempting to look upon Vladimir Putin as the millennium bug in a human and deadly form.” How does one man get to inflict so much suffering on innocent people, how does he obtain so much power. Why, WHY, why??
Another writer Victoria Erickson, posted this poem:
Mundanity: noun, plural mun·dan·i·ties. the condition or quality of being mundane; mundaneness. an instance of being mundane: one of the mundanities of everyday life.
In response this so described my lucky, uneasy happiness:
And so it always has been..I think this is what poetry does for us, it unites us in our differences. It allows us to feel (or at least try to feel) each other’s heartaches . It stirs the unique, and the collective humanness in all of us. As we pray for Ukraine, so we pray for ourselves..lest any evil should make us numb to the suffering of others.
I know this is the weirdest analogy, but prose work when normal words don’t. It feels like there is an invasion of insanity, mornings are more bizarre everyday. People’s nerves are frayed, and we are irritable. We’re tired and have had enough, we quibble over nothing, or everything.
It gives me a need to make a list. What really matters, and what is noise for no reason. To be together again after two years this spring, in the best season. This is my focus, family, friends, love and peace, and staying away from fighting about cat litter. That is my list.
Canada, my home land strong and free. Never have I felt that I took that for granted. But when nothing makes sense, I look to our people, our leaders and the renewed strength during any crisis, any challenge.
My brain hurts from overload. Some days it feels broken. Between a few flights, I’m back on the ocean, full of emotion. Taking to the skies early last week I landed in winter.
From +10 on the west coast to -20 in the Canadian praires… brrrr. I was hiding in a hotel from snow and bitter cold winds. I was in a kid bubble. It was a good place to be.
Flying into Winnipeg, Manitoba and driving to my family in Brandon took me on a two hour stretch of highway through the flat white prairies. The four lane #1 Highway was full of big semi trucks and rigs delivering the goods that keep this country going.
I thanked them silently, knowing there’s good people behind the wheel working hard every day. Keeping going, mile after many miles through blustery blizzards and frozen nights, stopping long enough to grab a hot meal or a shower, far away from their families and the comforts most of us enjoy after a long day of work. These are the reliable truckers I am proud of. I respect and admire their fortitude through the last two years more than ever.
Getting back to the trenches in Vancouver for a few days of brain drain, I’m working in community mental health. The world feels topsy tirvy, on one hand we feel the lightening of restrictions and the return to normalcy in our communities. On the other hand we watch in shock as the city of Ottawa struggles to deal with “Freedom Protests” and the assault on our collective common sense. The additional stress on top of the last two years is the final straw for some folks.
The question I can’t stop thinking about is “WHY NOW?” Why in the middle of a long, cold winter? Why now, after two long years, when numbers of hospitalizations and deaths are trending down, and restrictions are lifting? Why now, when we are getting closer and closer to endemic? What changed that all hell breaks loose with these unvaccinated thousands protesting the mandates that have brought us this close?
The question is unanswered. It’s Friday and I’m back to the sky and the soothing sunset. Landing in Maple Bay on Vancouver Island, the smell of salt air mixed with the cedar forest is intoxicating. Relaxing from a demanding job and the travelling I’m tucked into a cozy spot by the soothing ocean. It gives me time to reflect…
We all want to get to freedom, free from the pandemic and free from covid restrictions. Our rates of infection and death are much lower than many countries, especially our close neighbors to the south. Here is why according to an article from the BBC:
Canada has a universal, decentralised and publicly funded healthcare system administered by its 13 provinces and territories.
“That means that people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to healthcare,” said Dr Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. “What makes that an important factor is that, regardless of where you are in your phase of illness, you will still be able to get healthcare.”
The last two + years we have learned how to look after each other and how to cope with the isolation, physical distancing in all venues, loss of income, health challenges, losing loved ones, and “managing expectations.”
Home… our true north strong and free. We’ve had an assault on our common senses. The “Freedom Truck Convoy” has spread a new virus of distrust in our communities, the pandemic of disinformation has resulted in a movement that has led to the disturbing disruption of progress in our great peaceful country.
How this affects us as a society is shocking. The shear power and noise of unhappy people behind the wheels of huge machinery has paralysed our capitol city, has gotten into our communities and in our face. Our drive into sleepy small town Duncan was totally plugged by huge trucks with flags flying, heading to Victoria to surround the Parliament Building, and disrupt another city. How do we manage our expectations around the force of roughly 10-15% of our population having the entire focus of our country and our government tied up to manage this ridiculous uproar?
All I know is this:
Victims of the Covid disease deserve much more. Our citizens who have been stricken with illness and loss of loved ones deserve so much more. The medical community, businesses that have lost income, people who have lost work, or worked all day in a mask all day, every day deserve more. Teachers and students in our education systems that have dealt with adjusting and readjusting constantly, to keep each other safe deserve more, much more. Our seniors who have faced horrendous illness, death and isolation deserve so much more.
According to MacLeans:
“They Were Loved”
“The magnitude of COVID-19’s impact on Canadians’ lives is difficult to fathom. Canada has already lost more than 20,000 people to the pandemic, with the number ticking steadily upwards; each of those losses has cascaded through families and communities, leaving many more thousands bereaved. Public health guidance around social distancing has resulted in restrictions around traditional mourning customs and rituals—heart-wrenchingly, many were unable even to say goodbye.” (https://www.macleans.ca/they-were-loved/)
NOTE: Feb, 2022 – Total number of deaths exceed 36,000.
I can’t help but think of my Medical Professional Colleagues on a daily basis. The front line nurses who have endured this horrible pandemic, some of whom have been overcome by the fight. The job is the most difficult it has ever been.
The crass behavior of those who brazenly demand their way of ending mandates while doing nothing to help end this pandemic, adds insult to injury. Medical staff have been warned in my city of Vancouver to refrain from wearing our scrubs to work, or to show our hospital ID while out on the street trying to get to work.
It’s absurd, and unfathomable. I understand the frustration with having to comply with medical protocols in order to work. I’ve had to do that for 30 years in order to keep my job as a nurse, I get flu shots every year, or wear a mask. It’s my choice.
Just as it is our choice to be vaccinated or not, in the interest of the public health to make us all safe, we choose, we work, or we lose our jobs.
These mobsters are not that special, anarchists have existed throughout history. They deserve what has now complicated their lives. We do not deserve how they have complicated other’s lives. It all comes down to simply making choices. Part of being a responsible citizen is taking responsibility for the choices we make, paying taxes, insuring homes and vehicles, abiding by the rules of the road, and using our voice at the voting polls. That’s who Canadians are. We wait and we watch, peacefully but horrified by the bad behavior of a very small minority.
We stand together for “OH CANADA, THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE.” I am a nurse. I proudly fly this flag.
Lately, you have not been letting me sleep. I’m watching my beautiful peaceful country becoming embroiled in an impasse. My people are hurting themselves and hurting each other. We don’t mean to, and we will apologize, but everything is so mixed up right now that we don’t know what to do.
I watch and I wait, like Sideways Sally, my mind takes off in all direction. My common sense side of the brain can’t stop thinking about how much omicron loves a crowd. My brain wants to go have a drink with Prime Minister, and make it a JT, (Justin Trudeau), for those disliking the flavor, it’s better than all the rest. I’ll tell him how much I love him and ask him to resign, but only if all the fuckers, I mean truckers get vaccinated and go home.
We are not going to win this, and it’s a dangerous game.
Covid, Delta, and Omicron are laughing and having an orgasm in the back row.
We are pretty used to winning. We’ve had the best odds. We’ve lived through the best times. We’ve always had plenty. There’s been challenges: disasters that have taken lives, floods, fires, tornadoes, unemployment, inflation and 35 thousand covid deaths. We’ve had the health, wealth and the knowledge to fix, or mend most of our problems.
IT’S NOT FUN LOSING, TO THE SCIENCE OR DEFIANCE.
We’ve seriously fucked up caring for our elderly, our Indigenous and our mentally ill. We locked them up or lock them out and threw them to the wolves. But the wolves run free and have lots to eat. YUP, the H.A. run the ports, and the drug dealers have profited beyond belief, right in front of our eyes.
The private care industries make their dirty money by ignoring the needs of our seniors. The mismanagement of our mental health system is fodder for the wolves who get fatter and fatter. Did I mention they get away with it right in front of our eyes??
The last stage of this pandemic is completely unknown. Is COVID-19 endemic?
“Officials from the World Health Organization have warned that it is too early to treat COVID-19 as an endemic disease, stressing that the evolution of the virus is uncertain and noting that on a global scale the pandemic continues to rage. Jan 29, 2022”
It doesn’t matter what any of us do, it’s really hard to stop an orgasm.
So how the hell can anyone make decisions when there are no magic formulas for the pathway forward? To keep things simple. Yes we all hate our lives the last two years. The stress on our medical systems, our health, our jobs, our economy, education system, individual and collective mental health is immeasurable.
We all miss going to our favorite places that sustain our body and souls. That can be the gym, the church, the pub, the rink, Tim Horton’s, you name it for Canadians. WE LIKE TO GET TOGETHER.
This is what we are seeing right now in Ottawa, people gathering together that have similar passions, beliefs and dreams. The common ground that they so boldly display invites the world to join in. That’s an amazing thing. That’s an amazing part of who we are as a country. People around the world can’t believe what’s happening, and neither can we. Something does not belong here, something is very wrong.
Truckers are our modern day knights in shining armor. They sustain our food chains, medical supplies, bring us fuel to keep us warm in our cold Canadian winter, and cool in our blazing hot summers. We can’t live without you.
Human nature gives us the ability to be strong and resilient. We have the freedom to choose our perspective on the challenges we face. We have a population of 38 million. We have 34 million vaccinated people. We have a few thousand having a temper tantrum.
When it comes to a pandemic, we are toddlers. We’re trying to learn a new and exciting way to get around, after having enough of sliding down the stairs on our bums. There’s lots of advice and encouragement on what’s the best way to walk, we have gadgets that prop us up and contain us in safe places so we can’t get hurt. We lay on the floor kicking and screaming when we can’t get our way. When we get what we want by having a fit, it encourages us to have an even bigger fit next time. The good part about a tantrum is all the attention it gets. The bad part of a tantrum is that if it lasts too long it gets harder and harder to calm down, wears everybody out around you. And makes us not fun to be around. When we learn that having a tantrum put us in a time out, it makes us think about our actions and make better choices.
It gets so confusing when there’s too much information that my mind can’t keep up. We feel like we don’t quite have control over what happens next, cause we don’t. Then we get brave and try again. Then for no apparent reason we get bitch slapped again by Mother Nature, omicron is just pissing us off.
We are learning many many things during this interesting period of time in our country. Most of us have not lived long enough to go through the last pandemic. We are learning what our family, friends and neighbors are thinking and how they’re behaving. We’re learning how to stir up so many issues in one pot that it gets too thick and starts to burn.
When we lick the spoon it tastes like crazy shit burnt soup. Our peaceful, democratic country is burning the bottom of the pot. On the side there’s a loaf of depression and anxiety, it’s all really expensive.
Thank God we legalized marijuana. That was perfect timing. It does help me sleep…
A nurse and a trucker hold hands. Drawing by my four year old granddaughter Wendy Jean.
Leaving the city on a floatplane shakes the city off of me in minutes.
The harbor separates the North Shore from downtown Vancouver and creates a unique community close to the wilderness and the wildlife.
Sailing into Howe Sound in the summer we pass in between Horseshoe Bay (right) and Bowen Island (left). There is almost a gaurantee of wind in the Sound, created by the inlflow and outflow of the land breeze in this wind tunnel.
The float plane was full of passengers either commuting home from work, or travelling to explore the Gulf Islands. It was promising to be a warm January weekend which is a welcome reprieve from the previous two weeks of unseasonal cold and snow.
Sideways Sally has been pulling double duty in the job she loves the most. “They” say keeping the brain active is the best way to stave off dementia.
Along with case management at the community mental health team, she is doing intake for new referrals coming to our team. It’s a transition to full time intake, but the process takes time.
Being Sideways to begin with, it’s easy for her to get goofier and goofier. The shenanigans that go on with her work family keeps things going. It’s laughing hour over lunch that keeps her going back for more.
Yup, those people know how to get the work done, and have fun. There is no better way. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Sideways and team have devised a plan to “work smarter, not harder.”
Of course, we have our bumps in the road, like roadblocks. Eventually we find a way around them. The team of twenty clinicians, psychiatrists and admin staff look after 600 folks in the community.
The best moment in Sideway’s week was when she was able to bring a young man to an addictions support group for the first time. She’d been talking to him about it for a year or more. In a state of psychosis, exacerbated by crystal meth use, he smashed up his room in the group home and was taken to hospital. Finally, after being away from his crystal meth use, he was able to think straight and make the choice to get treatment.
Sideways Sally would love to get her hands on the drug dealer and heaven help them if it ever happens. Seems like no one else is doing a damn thing about it.
But work/life balance is vital so she’s heading home sweet home.
Listening to so many stories in one week, and now she gets to tell them to you, she thanks you for listening. The kindness and patience in listening is sometimes all that is needed.
Ummm…. as for her brain, she thinks she broke it. But it will be fixed after some twelve hour naps… and some sunshine.
Home sweet home with Hershey!!