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.

The Biggest Fish In The Whole World

November 14, 2007

Oh, dear me, I have had too much fun sitting at the computer with French Ferguson today. He’s never been webbing and the entire thing has captivated him and set off an endless string of requests.

I suspect I’ll either get over this electronic sloth that has kept me out of the shop, or I’ll soon be destitute. But, oh, the irresistibility of it all.

French has a difficult time speaking in a way that anyone who does not know him could ever understand. However, I am a trained Frenchologist. We sat side-by-side at the desk and I did not care about his typical odor. I am used to it, I suppose. Instead, I got us beers and I set to showing him this window on the universe.

His fascination with the instant capability of Google to deliver material off of virtually any request he could make was the stuff of a little kid seeing a very good illusionist at work. Rapture, plain and simple.

What a joy to see this moss covered grub of a fine human sitting here with the wonderment of a child, cold beer in his right hand, gesturing with his left, the light of the Angels in his “eyees,” his free hand pushing his unkempt hair back out of his face just before he’d take a healthy pull on his brew.

He would say to me things like, “Ehhhh, Taggs, kin uwe check to see wad da tempersure izz in Chesterfeeeld? (Chesterfield is a place just below the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Eastern Canada, the Native regions where so many British expeditions insanely searched for the Northwest Passage and perished centuries ago.) My brodder is widd da fish up dere, still, I tink.” (French hails from the east and his brother is a cold water fisheries policeman.)

My God, I got the temperature in Chesterfield and Baffin Bay in 15 seconds and Frenchie was stunned!

“Look, Frenchie, it’s all the way up to minus 16 (celsius, which is minus 3.2 degrees F.),” I said.

“So, izz is preddy dammned cold, eh?” he asked, just shaking his head in disbelief at what he was watching. “Ehh, Taggs, izz dis here for reeel? Dis ting here, how can dis be, widdout no radio for to tell us wadd da tempersure is over dere? Man, cold dere, ehh?”

“Yes, Frenchie, this is real. That’s how cold it is in Chesterfield right now. Pretty damned cold.”

Oh, the bloody wonderment of it all. What a joy, his expression!

My favourite request was this – “Eh, Taggs, wadd is da biggest fish in da whole world?”

I typed in his question and this is what we got:


updated 2:01 p.m. MT, Fri., July. 1, 2005
Thai fishermen netted a catfish as big as a grizzly bear, setting a world record for the largest freshwater fish ever found, according to researchers who studied the 646-pound Mekong giant catfish as part of a project to protect large freshwater fish.

“It’s amazing to think that giants like this still swim in some of the world’s rivers,” project leader Zeb Hogan said in a statement. “We’ve now confirmed now that this catfish is the current record holder, an astonishing find.”

Others have made claims of finding larger sturgeon, but the International Game Fishing Association says the largest sturgeon on record is 468 pounds. That fish has also held the record for largest freshwater fish caught.

Pictures accompanied the item. Frenchie leaned forward in amazement. “Ha! As big as de grizzley bear! Ha! Lookie dere at dat. Man, dat’s a big ugly one dere, ehh?”

He laughed so hard, pointing at the huge fish on the screen, I nearly fell out of my seat. Bonefish and Elliefish, the “daags,” as Frenchie calls them, got very excited.

“Oh, damn,” he said, “I sure hope dey eat ‘im so he don’t be goin’ to no waste,” Frenchie said. “But, oh man, bigger den da grizzley.”

He laughed again, slapped his knee, the “daags” spun around and wagged their tails like windmills. We drank our beers and got two more.

We were having a party!

“Okay, den, dats a fresh wadder fish. Waz da biggest fish in da whole sea?” Frenchie asked.

“Well, let’s have a look,” I said.

I typed in “the biggest fish in the sea” and hit the button.

The answer: the whale shark, followed by the basking shark. The largest bony fish is the ocean sunfish.

But, what caught Frenchie’s eye was a description down the Google page of a boy who caught the “biggest fish in the sea,” but then “the fish ate the boy, his family and the boy’s whole town,” according to the little bit of type they have on these Google things that pop up.

“Taggs! Did ya see dat? I wand to see dat!”

I clicked on the item and a web spot popped up.

It turned out to be a description of a child’s book called “The Biggest Fish In The Sea” by an author named Dahlov Ipcar. One could buy the book off this web spot, if one were so inclined.

“Ohhh, Taggs, I got ta reeed dat one, ehh?”

As I said, joy…