Thursday, June 12, 2014

Monochrome Lives

by: Peter

I am alone though people surround me,
I am alone with only my thoughts
I smile to them who think they know me
But a chasm I keep and this is my lot.

Looking as through a window dimly
I see the people go wandering by.
Their senses dulled their eyes are sleepy
Living and striving to live the grand lie.

Alone in a crowd of monochrome lives
Straining to see the color that's waining
Bleached by a system their freedom deprives
Comforts their cry, their own ropes their weaving.

Through generations they've slowly faded,
To become the chattel they are today.
They have become the ones they once hated
Leaving the burden, their children to pay.

There is no help that I can offer.
To re-kindle the glow that once lit their eyes
Their freedom gone, they quietly suffer.
Their ears too dulled to hear their hearts cry

Alone and watching the people around me,
Wishing that they could see the sunrise.
The breaking day and the hope morning brings,
Could wake them from their monochrome lives.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blasted Blue Tarps

Another spring storm is upon us and as per usual the wind is blowing the rain in defiance of gravity. I spent the morning assisting a friend with the tarp on his boat; we had tempted fate the week prior in an attempt to keep his boat dry, (so that deck repairs could ensue) when we foolishly covered it with a blue tarp. I have always stood in wonderment when one of these “destined for the landfill” tarps stayed in place; I have seen this phenomenon only a few times when visiting friends so blessed as to live in an area of sufficient shelter as to allow for only the faintest of breezes . When we lived on our farm the wind had its way with anything that was not properly secured, as a tarp of that kind is incapable of being properly secured they were not often used. The few examples about, in the form of remnants shredded and tattered clinging to a barbwire fence on some forsaken hill, served as a warning to those contemplating their use. It appears that I like to live in such areas or more plausibly am not bright enough to live in more gentle climes, for now I live in another tarp molesting area of equal if not greater potency.
Note to self: If an area has hurricane force winds that are not called hurricane force winds and therefore not really even news worthy to the local residents... don't move there!

As I stood there in my rubberized rain gear, the kind the commercial fishermen use up here in Alaska, and felt the wet spots beginning to seep through my hoodie I wondered why we had thought that tarping the boat would work. It had never worked for me in the past, and now I was fighting what I knew in my heart from the start would be the inevitable conclusion to our struggles. We'd used a center pole on the flybridge to hold the center of the tarp up in an effort to shed the rain but at some point in the night this pole had fallen allowing the formation of a pool. Not a shallow pool mind you for the flybridge was surrounded by railings about thirty inches in height; we had a pool the size of a large hot tub to contend with. It seems when you are faced with difficult jobs the jokes start to flow and in true fashion my friend turns to me and says, “Maybe we should just buy a water heater and use it as a jacuzzi.”

No amount of joking was going to fix our deep predicament though, and it was time to remedy our shallow foresight. I brought a hose over to the boat placing one end in the pool and the other on the dock, I began to suck. Or in more technical terms: to create a low pressure on one end of the hose allowing the higher pressure of the atmosphere to force the water up and over the side of the flybridge giving gravity the opportunity to take over siphoning the pool empty. Evidently sucking is not one of my strengths as no matter how hard I tried I could only get a trickle to start then watch with fading amusement as it slowly petered out. Attempt after attempt failed till my mouth hurt from the sucking; that is when I found out that my friend had been placing the hose end too close to the tarp and as I drew in water the tarp would seal off the hose thus stopping the flow. Finally using one of the spigot hoses on the dock to back flush the hose, filling it so that when the full hose was allowed to flow it would start the siphoning and the pool could be drained. The water was finally flowing from the deck to where it had always belonged and now it was time to wait. You learn quickly in this weather that you don't ever face the wind directly, instead taking the stance of a scolded child looking this way and that but never at the persecutor, for if you do you'll bear the full brunt of their wrath and in this case cold and very wet! As I waited it gave me the time to reflect on how much I despise these blue devils and to wonder how a store could sell them in good conscious in a climate as this and how I had once again let myself be suckered into using one against my better judgment. These thoughts poured through my mind as heavily as the rain hit me from all sides, the flow stopped in the hose and I heard my friend call that the pool was empty.

We climbed into the flybridge, secured the center pole and called it a day. Walking down the dock through the horizantal deluge back to Nadejda it made me thankful I had spent all the time stopping the leaks that so greatly inflicted her after we bought her so that I no longer needed any of those blasted blue tarps!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Steel Umbrellas

Evening had settled in and with it the rain. The lights shimmered in random patterns on the black pavement when we crossed the road; our quick motion bobbed as we moved over it's uneven surface. The street was worn to deep ruts, thousands of little carbide chisels from tires of the cars that drove this thirty miles of road in endless repetition. This constant motion of vehicles perplexed me when I'd first arrived; no real place to go, yet everyone drove everywhere, even if only a block. I found the answer to my conundrum when a local lady unapologetically stated, “Hey, our cars are our umbrellas.” As we jumped to the sidewalk we dashed for the overhang that gave us respite from the constant soaking; here we would wait for the seven twenty bus heading north. Setting our bags down on the small swath of dry concrete near the building, the younger children busied themselves in floating debris along the curb's edge. Their small silhouettes dancing about, crouching and springing up to follow the unseen objects as they navigated around obstacles. Some of the older kids lounged on the bags of laundry while another sat holding a book at odd angles seeing if she could find enough light to read by. The sound of the rain falling around us was suddenly disturbed by the sound of a phone ringing and the rustling of a bag. Then the voice of my daughter, “Oh, hi Papa!”
“No, we are just waiting for the bus.”
“We just finished taking showers and washing laundry.”
“No, we are on our way back to the boat.”
My thoughts began to drift to the sound of the words just spoken and how alien they must seem in our society; how a family content with what conveniences available, had been willing to trade others for the freedom of not being tied down. Yet if any of those navigating the dark wet roads that night, safe within their umbrellas of steel and glass, passed by to notice our group of shadows under an overhang their thought of a life like ours would be incomprehensible. Not that I feel I am right and they are wrong; my mind was swirling with questions but few answers. What if one could trade some convenience for a little more freedom, would they? Is comfort really what life is all about? Are we more at ease with all the baggage carried, striving to meet a level of convenience acceptable to our society? Why do some in our society ostracize those that choose a path less traveled? What turns in my life led me to where I am? Would I go back if I could? This last question I was able to answer with complete serenity, “No, I would not.” I heard a voice as if in a distance; the voice of my wife calling, “The bus is here.”

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lost Souls

Many time as we were sailing on the ocean little land birds would land on our decks and ride with us for a few hours gathering strength to continue on their journeys. Here is a poem I wrote for them.

Lost Souls

by Peter

Upon the wind he was born, one who lost his way.
For he was far from the shore, a chill was in the air.
To my home he did flee, and for a time would stay.
His little wings wasted hung, in his eyes an empty stare.

As evening crept across the waves, then darkness on the deep.
We sat as two who knew no home, vagabonds were we.
The sound of water parting ways, and then a little peep.
He made his way beneath my coat, to hide beneath my lee.

The moon appear above the clouds, chasing the other light.
I sat in silence beneath the sheet, the bird did softly sleep.
What made him trust, when all his wild called him to flight,
It was his life that made him thus, his life so frail and meek.

The hours passed more slowly than the water below my keel.
I wondered if he was missed, if any noticed he was gone.
Or like me was he alone, with not a soul to call a friend.
Pondering I was upon these thoughts, the rigging sang it's song.

First was gray, a long thin line, and then more fire came.
As day was pushing out the night, from my thoughts I woke.
The bird who join me hours ago and had my friend became,
Was transformed in the night and now with joy he spoke.

We shared a night as kindred souls voyaging on till the dawn,
No time had I to share with him these deep and wistful thoughts.
For now renewed with sleep and warmth, quickly he flitted on.
Where he ended I do not know, I pray for the land he fought.

My journey was not about a place but in the adventure sought.
His journey was for his life, and as such, a lesson I was taught.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rudyard Bay

by: Peter

Time stood still as if a dream,
Of cliffs so high yet so serene,
Of water rushing to its fate,
To join again in peaceful state.

Of mist that was and yet was not,
It clung to trees and face of rock.
It seemed to hide and then reveal,
Before my eyes the scenes surreal.

Though few will know the things I've seen,
I shall for ever on these memories lean.
Remembering the time in awe I spent,
Between the walls of rock ice rent.

And in my heart I can always say,
"I have been to Rudyard Bay"

Friday, January 6, 2012


What is freedom? We live in the "Land of the Free"; shouldn't we know what it is all about? And yet I think many of us don't.

Google tells you freedom means:

The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Yet in our country if you asked people what freedom means you would probably get many varying answers. For some I suppose freedom would be nothing more than being able to do what they want to most of the time with out too much regulation. They "own" their homes and have jobs that allow them to pay their bills with enough left over for entertainment. For some freedom is found in their "stuff"; they collect their stuff and find security in the ever growing pile. Some find freedom in the regulation of others; I was once told by a friend that as long as everyone is regulated they don't mind if they are too; it made them feel safer. I think that too often we confuse freedom with security and think if we feel secure we are free. I think the opposite is actually true; there is little security in true freedom.

If one was truly free then they would be free to fail as well. There would be no safety net and no bailout. Sure they could do a lot more with less but hey they could also end up with nothing. Having nothing I think is where true freedom starts. Wisdom is oft where you find it and sometimes it shows up in the strangest of places. Like this little gem found in the hit 1971 song sung by Janis Joplin (written by Kris  Kristofferson) Me and Bobby McGee stating "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose" . While a concept like this is unfathomable to most our society today, it doesn't change its relevance. I have shared that line with several people over the years and usually receive a blank look in return. Our society is so attached to material goods and comfort that the thought of giving some or any of it up to obtain more freedom is out of the question.

I know for myself that when we "owned" a house and I worked full time to pay the mortgage, bills and the ever increasing property taxes I did not feel free. In fact the house felt more like a debtors prison than a home. Over the couple of years after 2008 as my wages decreased and my hair turned gray (which by the way has started to turn back to brown), I felt more and more trapped; the proverbial  "American Dream" became a nightmare. Thankfully the house sold and we were able to escape our self inflicted prison. It was at that time in my life that I realized I was no more than a slave. A slave to my debt, and slave to the bills, a slave to our societies expectations  and a slave to the state; through property taxes. I was far from free.

 As we were getting rid of stuff before and after the sale of our house we took about 10 full size pick-up loads of junk to the dump, plus an additional two or three to thrift stores. We also sold everything of value which amounted to many more loads of stuff. After 8 months of this "invaluable" stuff being gone I can honestly say that I don't miss it. I can honestly say that it never made me happy. Now I look around the boat and ask my self "what else can go". I have found more freedom in getting rid of my stuff than I ever found in owning it. Sure there is a certain amount of things that would be hard to live with out; but if you are honest with your self those items are few.

While freedom obviously means different things to different people, one thing none of us should be free to do is take away another's freedom for our personal security or gain.