Monthly Archives: October 2014

Space Oddity.

As you may remember (see “The Boxer”) I had to move out of my old place before the new one was ready, and so it was that in mid September I was finally able to move in, in fact, I started the process the day after returning from Kauai (See “Une Ile”), so at least I was well rested. Rather than struggling alone, I bit the bullet and paid for professional movers to do the literal heavy lifting. There was no way I could play the beer and pizza card again with friends, and never even considered it, and in addition, I have one very special piece that I wouldn’t even dare move without professional help. It’s a fully restored Danish Mid-century Modern wall cabinet in Rosewood which I bought from a friend as a suitable home for my extensive and expensive booze collection, and it looks as good as it sounds.

As promised, two hefty lads turned up in a moving van and proceeded to load up while I filled the car with all the random crap that always takes an age to move. Yes, I know, but seeing as it was costing me $105 an hour, I felt it to be a worthwhile use of my time.  After the main items were in the house, including the bedroom set which had to be carried up two flights of narrow stairs with tight turns, the fun began: unpacking.

I say “fun” in a sarcastic way because one of my new places’ failings is the lack of storage space. It has a number of others, but I won’t go into all that now, except to say that reality fell far short of promise. Apart from the kitchen cabinets and pantry the only storage in the whole house consists of a small closet in each bedroom. I’ve spent much of the intervening four weeks finding interesting and creative ways to put a quart into a pint pot. It feels like everything I own is inside something else, like some huge, bizarre Matryoshka doll. The spaces under both beds are packed with essentials, largely spare bedding still in the packaging and the closets are organised in a manner that would make a Tetris world champion proud. In fact, it is only recently that the spaces under the coffee tables have not been crammed with banker boxes, although the only way to store my brewing gear was to stuff it into the bottom of the pantry.

On the upside, though, the move gave me the opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff. I’m not a pack rat, but I am a sentimentalist, although it was the pragmatist in me that walked two boxes of old soccer magazines down to the recycling bin. I’ve built up quite a stash since 1992,  but even I have to agree that if you haven’t read something in 0ver 10 years, it’s time for it to go.

I also took the opportunity to donate a very large bag of clothes. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight over the years, and many of my clothes whilst in good condition are far, far too big for me (see “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” and “Sharp Dressed Man”), so it was no great loss to bag up the 3XLT flannel shirts, 2XL polo and short sleeved shirts as well as all the old 38″ waist dockers that have been languishing in my closet for so long. I even got rid of some of the tee shirts I brought with me from England, including my Oscar Wilde and Sir Ian Hunt tee shirts, although even I have to admit that they were well past their best and not fit to be worn in public.

In the end, a certain level of harmony was achieved, and I can now move around the house without having to resort to the sort of gyrations that would put an Olympic gymnast to shame, or move every box just to find a single item. The only minor issue is what to do with my books. Having filled the only bookcase I have, and used both demising walls at the top of the staircases, I’m left with six large plastic storage bins crammed with books taking up a corner of the dining area that I can ill afford to lose to storage. Oh, and before you even think it, no, I’m not getting rid of them. Someone else can deal with that once they’ve nailed down the coffin lid and prised my last read out of my cold, dead hands

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Une Ile.

As I’ve said recently (see Darkness On The Edge Of Gastown), I’ve never gone too long without a vacation of some sort, and much as I enjoy Vancouver, my most recent sojourn was of a different nature entirely. Some time ago my sweetie asked rather hesitantly if I’d be interested in a vacation on Kauai with her and a couple of her friends from the Bay Area. Of course, I agreed, wrote the cheque for my obligations and waited for the day to come. My sweetie is a light packer and so we both set off each carrying only a small backpack and rolling carry on bag for a week in the tropics, which is much less than I’m used to stuffing into the car for a weekend in Whistler, but considering the climate and the extortion involved in checking a bag it was worth it.

The flight was uneventful and I won’t bore you with the details, but I miss the old days when my ex and I were Gold Club members and traveled regularly to Vegas in First Class. Alas our favourite airline decided to alienate their most loyal passengers and try to establish a national presence instead of remaining the best carrier on the west coast. I also resent being nickeled and dimed at every point on the trip, but such is life.

We were met at the airport by my sweetie’s friends and despite our tiredness we engaged in the obligatory shopping trip to stock the kitchen of our rented condo. Culture shock: Hawaii is bloody expensive. I mean really, bloody expensive and so I fought hard to bite my tongue and not start every sentence with “How much?!” However, a short walk from the condo to the beach – less than 100 yards – a quick dip in the ocean and a good night’s sleep restored me to the happy, smiling, witty life and soul of the party you all know so well.

One thing I appreciate about vacations now is the lack of an agenda or timetable and the ability to change either, even if there is nothing on them, and the lack of urgency in getting anything done or getting out of the house by a certain time. I most certainly appreciated the opportunity to simply sit on the beach, book in hand and listen to the surf, and that would have been enough for me, but you can’t come all that way and not do something. This is  why I found myself introduced to snorkeling. My sweetie travels all over the south Pacific and spends most of that time in the water so I could hardly refuse. In fact, the decision was taken before we left:

Her: “Do you want to go snorkeling when we are in Hawaii?”

Me: Internal dialogue – ” I’m a poor swimmer, haven’t snorkeled before and hate putting my head underwater.”

External dialogue – ” Of course”.

Four days in the water made me into a convert, although I’m sure that the octopus, Moray eels, scores of tropical fish and the turtle we saw had a hell of a lot to do with it.  I”m not the most adventurous person in the world, so it may surprise you to learn that I also had my first taste of boogie boarding. Yes, you read that correctly. I only tried it on two occasions and managed to catch a couple of good waves. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t end up a quadriplegic  smells like Napalm in the morning in my book.

One thing I couldn’t get over was the rain. On our first night we went out to dinner and whilst sat on the (thankfully covered)  verandah experienced some truly torrential downpours that ended as suddenly as they began, each being followed by absolute calm and a return in temperature to the mid 70s.

The trip also marked our first anniversary, and so it also included the ritual exchange of gifts – a pendant for my sweetie, and Aloha shirts for me. On seeing the price of the pendant she’d chosen I then understood why she’d offered to pay for the second shirt, although little did I know that she’d secretly bought me a third shirt I’d taken a fancy to but not bought a couple of days previously. Overall, it was a wonderful week away, a chance to bond with her closest friends and an opportunity to develop what for these parts is a healthy tan. Oh, and the kicker? when I finally unpacked, I found in the bottom of my case about a teaspoonful of sand from our favourite snorkeling beach that despite my best efforts had managed to cling to my clothes and smuggle itself through security. I guess that it’s only fair that having gone to visit the island, the island should come and visit me.


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Filed under Hawaii, snorkeling, travel, vacation