Dinner, Wine, Sleep

November 29, 2007

She’s asleep.

I made a lamb stew, some bread. I opened a jar of the hot peppers I’d put up and she ate a handful. I poured her a cup of cherries I had preserved in sugar and brandy and gave her some Walker’s shortbread to drag through the mix of that for her sweet.

We chatted about nothing and everything and she’s now asleep in the cabin out back. We drank a bottle of red Spanish wine I’d been hoarding for a couple of years. She is beautiful in an almost not believable sort of way. Not flashy, just put out there in a manner that belies some practice.

During the latter stages of this evening, she got quiet. I think this happened for maybe the first time in her recent adult life. It was a complete change from her onslaught of news and emotional material when I first met her a few days ago. She was not withdrawn, it was a sudden letting down of some guard, or electricity.

Nobody knows where she is. How the hell could they? She, herself, has only the vaguest of notions, pointed out to her on a paper chart as we came up here after our meeting in Tofino. We covered the last several nautical miles in complete darkness. There is no phone signal here. I have a satellite Internet and I refuse to set up a phone on it. She is literally lost.

This, then, made her appearance this morning just magical, as she had no idea what this place looked like as we originally arrived in the pitch black before the moon came over the mountain.

It was a day of pure delight. We did not do a damn useful thing in terms of work. On a Wednesday, no less.

Tonight, I had the small eating room good, warm and dry as we partook.

The hot food made us too warm and I opened the doors toward the water. The wind was northwest and freshening.

The sea lapped at the rocks down the hill when I exposed us to the outside and, then, without warning, the wind shifted and quit (as usual) and it became so still we could hear ripples splashing on pebbles down the gentle slope. We could clearly hear the dogs softly breathing as they slept. They lay at her feet, adoring their new friend, and I had to close the door, as it was 3 C. outside and we swiftly felt the chill of the wet night move in. I poked up the fire.

She tilted her head back, shook her hair from side to side gently and, with her eyes closed, took a sip of the wine.

She said, “I am not supposed to be drinking this.”

I said, “drinking what?”

She said nothing and smiled.

The bread tonight was particularly sour and bubbly. A firm crust marked it outside and a soft crumb was perfect for soaking up the gravy of the stew. My prized carrots were a stirring addition, I think, as well. I like carrots. I did not seek any report from her on them, but she ate them all off her plate.

The stirring of the bread bits in the juicy remnants of the plate, without fork or knife needed, is a delight. Take bread, tear it, swirl across bottom of bowl, place in mouth, softly chew and savour the sensations and odors.

Rinse with deep ruby Spanish Rijoja. Bliss. Toothy, gummy delight. Tongue tingling wine.

I had all day to do this. My shop presently has no boat scorning me for my slothful ways of not carrying on with determination. I am in food and drink for the winter.

And, at least tonight, I live a ridiculous stiuation. This complete stranger is sitting in my home, eating this delightful fare, with a nobody like me. I can’t tell her about the fish chats. She’ll become scared. I’ll stick to tides and food.

The bread is inspired this night, I have to say, even if it is the wine and brandy writing at this second (and it is, I fear.) I got lucky, I suppose. Usually, due to my oven, I burn one bit of it by not rotating it around so the heat hits it evenly. Not tonight, however. I was out to impress. I am not fancy. I make bread and build small boats, therefore, here was my chance to show off.

I have a Frankenstein’s lab of sourdough culture fermenting in jars on a shelf in the kitchen, which is little more than an extension of the dining and living area. This collection appears to be disgusting, but it makes a fine loaf, or loaves. I have several types, I do. Sweet. Salty. Less sour, more sour. Rancid (French Ferguson’s favourite.)

Tonight, it was my sweet starter – pungent, with bits of rosemary I put in it prior to baking in the wood oven that often burns some section of the loaf due to my inattention (usually connected to my seeking another beverage.) The firebox is central and the oven is to the left. You must rotate the bread clockwise as it bakes and quickly, lest the heat escapes the box.

She had a bite. She leaned forward toward me and sort of nodded her head in a sharp, almost manic manner, eyes getting wide, as if to infer, “Oh, my goodness, this is wonderful!” or “Dear Lord, I am choaking on this shite!”

I found myself going Japanese on her, wordlessly nodding back in anticipation of what she was trying to say (even though my mouth was empty), except she could not speak, due to the fact her mouth was full of the bread and she was chewing. She must have had parents who drilled the table manners into her, for she would not say a blessed thing until she swallowed. We nodded at each other like two Tokyo bussiness people who had just struck a big deal. It had to have been a laughable sight.

“This is amazing,” she said.

I nodded again. “You like it?” I asked.

“Like it? This is the best bread I have ever had.”

“Oh, it’s good, then?” I asked. (I am an Irish, Newfoundland bumbling social outcast.)

She ridiculed me. She said, “Are you kidding with me, or are you really this vulnerable?”

I said, “What? In what way am I vulnerable?” I peered down at my pant’s front to see if my zip was undone, or what I might have missed.

She said, “Never mind. I love the bread.”

I was happy to hear that.

We discussed the rosemary. It really has taken on a prodigious footing on the property. You’d think I was a Greek. We discussed the swirling rain clouds she saw all day from the porch, sitting for hours, watching, drinking tea and simply being there. The rain came and went and the sucker holes, for which I think my place is notorious, opened tunnels to heaven and the peaks that comprise it.

I spied her looking up all the time.

I took her in the shop and showed her how to jig up and build a dory. She leaned in and looked at the plans and got them right. She put her right hand on my left shoulder and brushed my long hair out away from my left eye.

I noticed this sweet gesture, but said nothing.

After this day of my letting her be, unless she wanted to talk and see things, I felt a boundry was established. She is from a place I can’t fathom and I am from a place, currently, she has no idea exactly where it is!

This is a totally improbable stance we are in. Yet, I think she can breathe for a bit and I have decided to like her, despite all her complicated things she has underway. I invited her up when I’d had a few, and I was nervous and unable to say, “maybe this was a silly idea.” She could not say it, either, and she came along home.

I am not interested in what might be here. I am simply amazed this person is actually here. I sincerely do not know what to make of this.

Her smile tonight was often warm, then troubled and distant – at that, a crumple, not a grin. I did not pursue it as it danced along its latter mysterious path. I feel this woman needs a sea of room around her and I suppose this is just the right spot to land, for that is what she has here – a sea of room around her, not to mention towering slopes of woods and skys of wonderous shape-shifting mist.

I sat at the table looking at her as she gently and peacefully fell off to sleep, almost in mid-sentence. She was telling me about a rude guy named Felix who brought her out to a place in Los Angeles…..sleep. Just before I lost her after sweets, she’d looked around at all the crude little things I have collected and placed all over the house. She kept muttering, softly, words like, “beautiful, sweet.”

I think the wine got her and maybe I am not a good person for providing it. I just don’t know.

It was quite endearing, though, as my junk consistes of bits of odd driftwood, shells, a couple of fine wood carvings from a First Nations friend of mine and some small pictures and whatnot.

I felt at that moment she let go and trusted this stupid, improbable thing the two of us had done, meaning me bringing her up to the channel. Her literal escape from what I do not know was now happening.

Stupified by this situation, the sleeping stranger at my small table, I got the brandy and drank quietly as she nodded her head in slumber. One particularly hard jerk of the head got me concerned and I coaxed her to the sofa and put her there under the big Hudson Bay blanket I got in Vancouver last year. The dogs raised their sleepy heads, nodding them up and down and looking up at me as i grabbed her chair.

I turned it around and sat there with the canine approval permeating the room, sipping the brandy and running my right index finger through the cherries like a small kid stealing a taste.

I added two logs to the fire. She slept like a rock.

I am not sure what has lately allowed me to clearly see into other people’s hearts and understand their place they occupy. When Maddie Higgs left, I did understand, although I still feel the ding.

I kissed this woman in Tofino when she dragged me into her world because she and I wound up two silly centimetres apart when she pulled me to her. What else was there to do?

But, I determined early on, as we took Big Boat all the way back up the long run from Nanimo, that she was better off not talking, just looking around – and even better off not necking, because we do not know each other at all.

I will say, she was tender today in the shop. Considerate, respectful, curious and sweet.

My plan, upon arrival, was plain and clear. I decided I would cook for her a bit, show her the area, regardless of the weather and the price of diesel. So long as the sea is not set to make her scared or ill, I’ll take her out.

I am lucky. The hillside is still so green. The trees sway in the swirling winds. As far as she knows, she has come to the literal end of the Earth, which I suppose for her, she has. I have a metled person here, now.

The dogs have licked her feet.

I got her up and out to the cabin. She’s suddenly blessed, I sensed in her grateful, relaxed limbs, for however short a time this will be. I got her down and well covered. She stirred up and we said “goodnight.” I left the dogs with her for company.

Tomorrow, she’ll wake up, not knowing where she is, or, really, who I am. How deeply odd.

Then, I suspect, in a few days, she’ll vanish in the mist, as did Maddie Higgs.

A whole person again.

Then, I’ll start another dory.


West Coast Madness

November 28, 2007

Went ’round to the Wast Coast of Vancouver Island. Delivered the dory I was late on delivering. Oh, Dear God. Tofino has become a tourist haven!

I can’t mention his name, but a well-known personage of the area out there had lined me up with the client for the surf dory I just delivered and I have the full funds in posession, with an additional gratuity of unimagined proportion.

The client told me that the boat is, “So beautiful, I think she needs to be in the house, on display. She’s art.” I respectfully asked him to ask for the assistance of some friends and launch the boat into the sea as soon as feasible, for this was not a vessel meant to hang from the rafters of a massive home.

He told me he’d think about it.

Yet, I am financially set for the forseeable future. With this middling financial security blanket in hand, I attended some meals and social events that were beyond anything I’d ever previously experienced. I have concluded that those people who are the beautiful ones you hear about are in Tofino.

I never knew that the little, raw town and its environs had changed from a beach where a family that had farmed it for a long time and which had goats running across it into the tides – sea goats, in effect! – had been joined by a large number of people who had built large homes all the way out there. What a shock.

That family had some young kids who were the first to surf the area, I think.

I did know that the surf there was famous amongst the best surfers in the world. But, the surf alone is no longer the top attraction. This is a “secret” retreat for the famous. Someone pointed at a house and said, “that’s Brad Pitt’s place.”

I know who he is from his turn as the Irish pikey from the film “Snatch.” God, I love that film. “Ya like daags, do ya?”

I am told this “film colony” is a result of the moving picture industry exploding in Vancouver. There are numerous “Hollywood” types all over the village. That I have stories to tell would be an understatement, but let me say that there are artsy people lingering in Tofino at this time, as I understand that they are up against some sort of labour action by their writers in the States and, thus, presently idled. I was with a large number of these people for a few days as they celebrated the American ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday.

This was just too much for me. It became obvious that I had to leave. I have just arrived back.

However, I am not alone.

I do not even know what to think about all of this, but I have been conscripted by an actress with some sort of issues that are quite complex, while, at the same time, I have been betwitched by her. In this frame of mind, the entranced frame, I mentioned to her that I live in a place where “nobody can bother you.” What a useless mouth I own!

“Just what I need!” she exclaimed. Next thing I know, she says, “excuse, me, Taggs (I told her what those who know me call me), I need to make a couple of calls.” She pulls out a little phone and begins speaking. For the life of me, I remember coming to Tofino not too long ago and there was no phone service at all! Now, she’s on a phone that has no wires and I have no telephone where I live.

Done, apparently, after 30 minutes, she walked back over.

I was standing there talking to another group. She simply grabbed my sleeve and tugged me off, saying, “He’s with me.” I went along with it, being weak and a bog Irish boy in over his head.

There were many things she shared, far more than were appropriate. I was apparently seemingly willing or ready to hear about all of this, in her estimation. The conversation took place at one of these big Tofino homes where I was invited by my influential friend.

This got pretty personal. She was getting to the point where I’d have taken her for a bit of a “toucher,” as my brother would describe it in the Irish vernacular – meaning, she was seemingly after something from me. But, the whole thing went “scon” and somewhat quickly. You can look up the Irish slang on “scon” yourselves.

Therefore, I found myself transported back ’round to Nanimo with this actress along in the truck, her bags in the back. We were deposited in the marina and she stepped aboard Big Boat.

This all happened because I was forthright enough to tell her what I did, who I was and where I was from and, without much warning, she was attached to me and on the boat and we went back up the very, very long way to Blind Channel.

Now, she’s out back in the cabin.

So, I have an American actress with “issues” here taking a hiatus from her issues. She’s been to a “clinic” before, she said. She told me it was all a crock of shite, in so many words. She’s after “real” she said. That, and “peace and quiet.”

“Oh,” my mouth said. “That’s Blind Channel.”

I am the “last clinic,” I suddenly think.

I have sworn to her I’ll never reveal her name. I have sworn to myself to kick my own arse over hill and sea over this.

Yet, I am quite glad for the company. It’s been so damned quiet. We’ll see what happens.


November 21, 2007

nothing is my drum
pounding it
is acute

nothing is my mentor
learning from it is

nothing is my lover
for i have loved
nothing more

nothing is a moment
frozen in a simple gesture
of … nothing


November 21, 2007

it tears away
at the trees
bending them

it makes sounds
in the rigging
of the sailboat

it creates movement
where nothing
should move

the creaks
the moans
the crackling mutters

i feel it
laying as i do
huddled in bed

i wonder over it
then subsiding

it cripples my mind
and then wakes
it up

it haunts and mocks
and dances jigs
over open ground

the seals romp
in it and the waves

i see darkness
and sea foam
flying on the shore

there is no escape
nor should there be
it reeks of now

the wind

Naming Rights

November 21, 2007

I have decided to revert back to my true surname and will be taking appropriate steps to amend my legal records so that “Murnain” appears on my records instead of the adjusted, Americanized “Murren” that was handed down once an ancestor of mine landed in Boston and changed the name.

I have written about this in here under a different post that had to do with a cheese bill that put me straight on all of this.

My boat company will henceforth be Murnain’s Dories.

This web spot is hereby named, “Tadhg Murnain’s Blind Channel” as that’s what it is.

Pipe Fish Dreams

November 20, 2007

I saw a fish I’ll call a pipefish yesterday from Medium Boat. It was massive and had that fluted mouth and a long, two-meter scaly body with little whirling dorsal fins and a long, pointy, forked tail. It came right up to the surface in an area I know to be 50 fathoms deep, at least, and swam around the boat a dozen times or more.

It was whistling a tune I did not recognize.

I asked, “What do you want, anything?”

The pipefish looked up at me through its left eye, stopped whistling and dove straight down into the deep.

Last night the same fish came to me in my dreams and said, “I will return with some news.”

Names For Money and Two Rounds of Cheese

November 16, 2007

I was blasted awake early today by an oddity at this time of the year, namely a thunderstorm that struck with a vengence. Warmer air hitting the cold outside was at the root of it, I am sure. Or, it was unleashed by my long-dead relatives.

It produced intensely bright flashes of lightning that lit up the interior of the house in a disturbing manner. The experience agitated the dogs and myself. I was not prepared to wake up at 5 a.m. after having turned in at 1 a.m. The whole thing had a rather creepy effect that made me think the banshees might be just outside the door.

When the storm struck, I’d been dreaming about people I’d never met, yet they were very real to me. The dreams were chaotic and senseless. There were some old places I recognized, I think. There were people playing music in the front of a large living room that extended back up a set of terraces that had tables on them, as though the living room were a tiered combination of a theatre and a pub. People were seated eating food that was being prepared by a woman at a bar. I distinctly saw stuffed red and green peppers being served.

Strangers were speaking with me as if I knew them, or they were family. It was a casual setting and the music was good. But, there were unsettling elements. I could not find my wallet and, therefore, I was unable to order a plate of the stuffed peppers. Then, I received a telephone call, but there was no phone. I stepped outside and there was a massively long, curving bridge across a lovely bay that had a very green distant shore backed by mountains. I needed to drive across this bridge, but the car I entered had almost no petrol and I had no wallet, so back inside I went and then, “kaboom!”

The storm woke me up. The torrent of rain and the misty air were illuminated by the brilliant flashes of the lightning and the hairs on the back of my neck got this prickly sensation as I became suddenly very scared of who might be lurking out there. I could feel a presence.

I now suspect, as I write this down while it is still fresh in my mind, that some deep reading about my family’s past in which I am presently engaged has set off these dreams and feelings.

I came into posession a few years back of quite a bit of books and papers that had belonged to my Father and Mother and, before they had them, their parents and their parents’ parents. Within this trove of material exists quite a bit of family records of what I consider to be of an extrodinary nature. These “records,” for lack of a better name, are, in many cases, comprised of strikingly mundane items. For instance, I have read things like running account bills for goods purchased in small shops where the family had ongoing credit. These bills and such are, in a few cases, 150 years old!

It’s is quite humbling to thumb through and read things that pertain to your forebearers’ simple daily lives. Entries like “Cheese, two small wheels,” which, of course, was not written in English. The paper has written upon it “Irish,” which is generally quite hard to read, anyway.

However, I could clearly pick out the handwritten line about cheese on this one document that states, “Cais, dha’ beag cuars.” Which, literally is, I think, “Cheese, two small (little) rounds (wheels).”

This bill was written up by the cheese provider and presented to “Murnain, Killorglin.” Simple as that. Except, not so simple for me, as the bill dates from July, 1875!

All of the sudden, years upon years of my Father’s stories sprung to life. Not to mention the fact that it appears that they were even true! This direct line of my Father’s family had, it’s been told countless times in one manner or another, very nearly been wiped out by the An Drochshaol – the Great Hunger that was approximately 1845 to 1850. Some refer to this as the “potatoe famine,” which is a very simplistic and incorrect description for what actually took place.

What really happened was a genocide of convienence that was conducted under the guise of crop disease against the Catholic Irish speaking population of what was then part of the British Empire.

For many years, my Father, born just prior to the onset of the war in 1932, talked about his father, born in 1901, whose own father was born Padraig Murnain in Kerry in 1874. It was he who changed his and his family’s name to “Murren” due to the fact that his older brother had been admitted to the United States in Boston in 1886. Sometime after that, the brother began going by the name “John Murren” and was making some money in the shipping industry up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

Apparently, the Irish “Murnain” was some sort of a giveaway as to my great grand uncle’s deprived Irish origins (which he was doubtlessly eager to ditch) and, as the family story goes, he changed over to an “American name.” The fact that “John Murren” was making money and sending some of it back across to home was all the still Irish-rooted Murnain’s of the time apparently needed to have them scrap several centuries of their family identity in exchange for the idea that liquid cash beat poverty-striken heritage any day of the week.

There went the name for money.

I never paid much heed to these discussions growing up. They meant nothing to me as I went about my way in Newfoundland. But, Father died four years ago and my Mother is gravely ill and not in posession of her faculties any longer and I feel cut off from my roots, such as they were, because I do not have these stories and the company of family around anymore. My sister is back near Mother and my brother Sean lives in the Liffey River valley outside Dublin.

I gathered up as much as I could of the family’s items that were not wanted by Sean or Emily, meaning virtually all of the massive library, and carton upon carton of papers that had been safeguarded by my parents over all those years, both in Ireland and in Newfoundland. I had no need for the furniture and such and Sean decided to make a clean break of it when he went to Ireland to work for a big technical firm.

Lately, as the quietness has set in here on Blind Channel, I have been digging through all this stuff. I think my interest has clearly been lit by the fact I have been webbing about and this has opened me up to the world beyond my workshop each day.

As it went on my Father’s side of the family, I was told early on that the spelling of my surname was a complete crock. As I have now confirmed, Murren indeed was Murnain.

I have now also confirmed, by reading these cheese bills and whatnot, that “Murren” was hatched for purely mercenary purposes on Da by his father, who in turn suffered what I think is a terrible indignity at the hands of his father, the brother of the newly minted “Jack Murren” of Boston.

It’s no wonder that my inherent dislike of conspicuous wealth and people who pursure cash as a life “goal” has come to me. My Grandfather had to change the spelling of his last name to “Murren” from “Murnain” because one family member got lucky in Boston and thought he’d done so by hiding who he really was and from whence he hailed.

I understand the discrimination my people have faced going back centuries, because it’s all I ever heard about as a boy. Still, Uncle Jack sold himself short, I think. I can’t condemn him, they were hard times, I am sure.

Still, it’s good to know who I really am and I may now go forward with certainty to meet my extended kin, as the Murnain clan also goes by the names “Murnane” and “O’Murnain” over in a part of Ireland (southwest) that was anciently known as the “Territory of Thomand.” This is part of Cork, all of Kerry and most of Limerick, I believe, even up into Mayo.

That storm scared the shite out of me. Many spirits are hereabout today. I’ll offer them a few beers later.