Saturday, May 29, 2010

Launch on Heckman's Island

On Monday John invited me, if I was interested, to go with him the next morning for the launch of Ed’s boat down in Lunenburg County. I wasn’t sure about it, since I knew that John and Ed had sailed together many times and didn’t want to be just a tag-along. John reassured me that it was a social event and told me he’d be leaving around 8 if I was interested. I realized that I was.

The next morning we drove down to Ed’s place, which is at one end of Heckman’s Island, on a lovely little piece of Lunenburg County drumlin and shoreline. The day started with some discussion and consultation at the beach with Ed and his neighbour Lorne (it was reported that Dave, who had not yet arrived, wanted to jack the aft end of the cradle and get some oil or grease under to help get the boat moving) and checking out gear before we went up to the house for tea and more discussion.
When we went back down to the beach a few people had started to arrive. It was, as John had suggested, a social event, and some of the others had t-shirts that read Heckman’s Island Boat Hauling Crew, which suggested that they were not first-timers like me. Most of the others were guys and seemed from a quick look to be part of the same demographic as John and me; that is, there was a predominance of geezers.
We started assembling a skid way of six by six timbers that were still greasy from the haul of the Concertina last fall. Pulp hooks were the tool of choice since these slippery babies were not be picked up by hand. Someone used a pry bar while someone else knocked in the iron dogs that held the timbers together. Soon enough the skid way was built, with extra timbers set off to the side to extend it later, and some jacking and oiling was done. The boat on its cradle was also well secured with block and tackle and a bight around a tree in case she started to take off on her own.
The tide was dead low. Everything was ready. We all stood around the beach waiting. I understood that a guy named Philip was coming with a tow truck but that he was a little later than planned. When he did arrive the action started.
It was clear that Philip had done this before as he drove his truck down to the water’s edge, hooked the cable onto the aft end of the cradle, and began to pull. Guys with long pry bars stood by on either side to try to muscle the cradle back into line if it started to stray, but she moved down nicely, needing only a couple of nudges along the way. Once she was out of the shed, the first sections of the skid way were taken apart and moved down to the water next to the tow truck.
When Philip had pulled her down as far as he could, he drove the truck up into the shed and connected with the pushing device built out of a couple of tree trunks and heavy iron pins. We got the skid extensions put together and he proceeded to push the boat and cradle down into the water.
The last part was loading the lead weights onto the cradle so that it would stay on the bottom and allow Concertina to float off when the tide came up around 7 that evening.
I would like to have stayed to see that because she is a pretty boat (look here). However, others of the geezer crew were planning to come back later to make sure she did float off and help get her out to the mooring, so John and I headed back to the city. I may not have been able to help a whole lot, but I was a little more than just a tag-along, and now I have my own Heckman’s Island Boat Hauling Crew t-shirt.

Guess I’ll have to come back in the fall to actually earn the shirt!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gölyazı – an album

Shortly after we arrived in Istanbul, we travelled with Gül to her little house at Gölyazı (you can read an article from Zaman that tells some of Gölyazı ‘s geography and history here). This is the place where Gül hosted summer residencies for artists from Türkiye and many other countries a few years ago and where those artists made site specific art installations, many of which can still be seen today.
It is a place to talk about art.
A place with art on the walls.
A place where most people still live by fishing.
A place where gardens are in tins.
And a place where we had some great Turkish food.
If you are anywhere near Bursa, go west until you can see Lake Uluabat on your left, then watch for the sign. Gölyazı is always worth a visit.

More on Learning

My intention has been to write a few posts exploring some of the more notable events and images from our recent trip, but that will have to wait for the moment because something else has intervened that has pre-empted the news from Türkiye and Syria.

It started when I picked up T. from work on Thursday to bring him to our house for dinner. He told me on the way that A. had received a letter from “the big school”, which is the Elementary school a couple of blocks away where she will start Primary in September, and that she was very excited, running around the house with the letter in her hand and chanting, I’m going to the big school. She turned five in February and there is no question that she is ready.

He told me that she had made her first word, “click”. He said he wasn’t sure how she spelled it, and we figured it might have been “klk”. She has been able to print her name and her sister’s, and to copy other names, but to make a word on her own was pretty significant, I thought, and click was an interesting choice. We found out later from S. that the word was actually “lik”, pronounced lick, which is certainly apt because of the habits of her real dog, Dewi, and of her stuffie, Woofer, who both show their affection by licking. It also could have been her attempt to print "like", always a favourite of beginning writers like A.

Yesterday afternoon A. invited me to make pictures with her using the dry erase boards the girls had got at Christmas. I decided to make a picture that would include a sentence for her to read, so I drew a small boat with a figure in it waving and then printed the sentence: “A. IS IN THE BOAT”. We read it together. At the same time A. was printing her alphabet and numbers up to ten, telling me that she was getting ready for going to school. She has also been drawing hopscotches in the driveway to get her numbers right. Then, while I was helping with supper, she drew a long cloud with a small figure standing on it in the space above my boat and told me it was her sister E. It was a wonderful completion to the picture, and I printed another sentence: E. IS ON THE CLOUD”, which she was also able to read.

It is no surprise that A. should be putting together the pieces that will allow her to start reading, since she has always been read to (right now she is in the middle of Charlotte’s Web) and is a thoughtful and inquisitive individual, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy of watching her begin to decode the printed language around her as she constructs her own understanding of text. As T. pointed out, she is a bit of a night owl, and we both imagined her in the not too distant future with a flashlight under the covers exploring the worlds of reading. We are privileged to be able to watch it happen.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Back (Home)

Yesterday morning we woke up very early in our own bed, back (home) after four weeks away. The dawn was grey with fog and ships sliding quietly into the still harbour, and it turned into a day of re-entry and reorientation, a day of laundry and vacuuming and digging a hole and pulling weeds and resting and drinking rum punch and eating sweet corn, and a day of sunshine and blue skies. It finished with A. and E. out on the deck taking turns chasing bubbles from the automatic bubble blower I bought from a guy selling them near the top of Istiklal a few nights ago and nodding off later in front of the laptop.

This morning we are in our house and in our home, and it’s good to be here, good to be back. The ground ivy at the edge of our “lawn” is in full and happy bloom, along with the forget-me-nots, buttercups, and bleeding hearts, and there are chickadees and goldfinches in the treetops outside my window. It’s a bright morning here in Ferguson’s Cove.

One of the wonders of this trip, besides our many adventures in Istanbul, Ciralı, and the Syrian Desert, has been the realization that we have more than one place in the world that feels like home, more than one place where we feel welcomed and loved by the people who live there. It is both a privilege and a blessing, and it is always difficult when it comes time to leave – as Rashid loudly insisted, “No good-byes!” -- and to start those long leaps over mountains and oceans and cultures we need to make to get back here, back to this home.

My last post was completed in Ortaköy almost a month ago, a few days after we landed and before we headed for Syria. There haven’t been any more in the interim because we were too busy in Türkiye and because access to blogspot was denied in Syria, so my task now is to sift through the images and memories to construct a few posts to give some idea of what the whole thing was all about.

I will do that, but I’ll have to fit it in with finishing digging that hole and pulling weeds and mowing and planting the garden and getting to all the other tasks attached to this home. I will keep you posted.