The lost idea, now found in post 100..

For my 100 th post I have hopefully pulled out all the stops. This one has been sitting in the finish me pile for awhile.

Sunset over a Lake

The poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee was first told to me many years ago my Boy Scout leader, George Gimble. Maybe poetry is not your thing, I can’t say it is mine. But the story behind the telling of the poem is where the magic resides.  To get you to click on the link, I have copied the  first stanza of the poem, here goes..

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee.

Ok, how can you resist that opening stanza?  The poem was written by Robert W. Service in 1907. 

So, lets set the stage for this story. The back story if you will. I was in the Boy Scouts from age 11 when they would take me until after the age of 18 when I aged out. The scout master of the troop was a man named George Gimble. George lived with his parents and two sisters when I met him. Over the course of the years his parents passed away as did one of his sisters. One of his sisters may still be alive today. The sisters were world-famous concert pianists. I remember seeing posters on the wall of their house announcing the piano concerts featuring one or both of the sisters. George never married. He was a chemical engineer for General Foods in White Plains, NY for most or all of his life.

So, as one of the ten children in our home, having the ability to escape for a weekend, a week at summer camp or three weeks back country camping in Canada, was priceless. I took advantage of every opportunity I was presented with to go camping and get out of the house.  One of those opportunities was a yearly three-week camping trip into the back country of Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario, Canada. To be eligible for these trips you would need to be of a certain rank and have volunteered your time during the year for the various troop fundraisers. The trip took us by canoe about 100 miles from end to end. We would canoe in from the most tourist accessible boat ramp and canoe and portage until we were about as deep as we could go in the park and still get back to civilization in ten days.

The term “portage” means in this context to pick up your canoe and hike a mile or more over land to the next lake. As you might imagine (or not), not all of the lake were connected by water. Each portage would require at least two full round trips by each person to get all the canoes and supplies across. The backpacks were military grade, waterproof monsters that really dug into your back. Some days carrying the canoe was a better trade-off (if you got a trade-off). Everything we ate or needed except for water was carried in the canoes and backpacks. Towards the end of the trip, the food and provision packs got quite light. There were no garbage cans so you either burned your trash or carries it out.   Obviously there were no bathrooms, sinks, cell phones. This was before the age of iPod s and mp3 players. If you had a Sony Walkman, you came from a wealthy family.

When you were “in country” you were isolated from the rest of the world. If anything important happened, you might find out if the people traveling in had information and they shared it with you. On one of these trips we learned five days after the fact that Richard Nixon had resigned. We learned this from fellow travelers on a portage two days before the end of our trip. Days came early in country and night-time came early as well. We had few flashlights, batteries were heavy and after 10 days they were mostly burned out. Camp fires were an every night routine.  Food was cooked over the fire, dishes washed in the lake. Bathrooms dug in the wood before it got too dark.  There was a real sense of comrade between the travelers. I guess the shared hardship and overcoming those hardships truly built a team. This is one of the premises that we learn about when studying the building of teams that combine varied different team members.

Each night, maybe most nights, after the dinner chores were done, we campers would gather around the campfire for warmth and light. While it was the first three weeks in August, the chance for snow was not out of the question. Nor was the chance for 90 degree weather, either. As a matter of fact, I saw both during the four years I made that trip.  So, time to set the stage…

We would be sitting around the campfire, maybe eight to ten campers including the Scout Master. Being the young adults that we were, there certainly would have been some chop busting and talk about girls and such. The sun would have set. The sky, absolutely filled with stars. The loons would be calling each other across the lake. Click on the loon calling link and close your eyes, imagining that you are sitting by a campfire in the wilderness of Canada. You have not seen anyone else for two days of paddling and portaging. The fireflies are dancing in the woods and the stars are shining, I mean really shining, up above. The loons keep calling. The the scout master says, “Boys, I’m going to tell you a poem, written about the Canadian wilderness by a man called Robert W. Service.  Each of us are attentive, since anything new and different  ruled the day.

After the poem was over we would sit and watch the fire, imagining what it had been like to be in th Yukon during the turn of the century. Then the talk would resume about girls and cars. Slowly we would hear off to our tents, the next day was coming fast.


Obvious Dirty Harry reference needed, .44 (post) magnum..

Could not resist. This entry should start out with Dammit!, followed by an apology. I went to bed last night and suddenly had an idea for today’s blog. A really good idea. Such that I started to write the blog in my mind. Then, I shut the brain down so I could get some sleep. Ding, dong, guess what I forgot this morning? Right, what I was thinking about last night.  This is frustrating.  Now, the future game plan might be to write down on some paper near the bed the topic and hope that I can rebuild the thoughts in the morning. Or, just get out of bed and let the muse motivate me into writing.  I’m not really sure which choice I will make.  I would certainly hope that if I had written down the subject last night, that the inspiration would have returned in the morning.

For lunch today since it was not too hot or humid I took my sandwich and bottle of water over to Allaire State park in Wall, NJ.  The park is about 5 minutes from my office. Usually I have my iPod or Oakley mp3 sunglasses to provide the music for my walk. Both of these items are still in my camera bag from the trip to Lake Placid. I guess I did not do quite as good a job putting my things away as I thought. So, without music to distract me, I walked 1.5 miles each way trying to remember last nights topic. Frustrating. But on the bright side, today is National S’mores Day. There truly is a day for everything and everybody. At the Allaire State Park they have a railroad that goes around the park. The trains whistle blows and you can ride the circuit if you so choose. Click here to see a video of the train as it passes by. I shot this while walking back to my car.

So, I wrote the above part of the blog while waiting for the work day to end.  I got in the car to drive home, still thinking, thinking. I put Radio Margarittaville on, it’s always on in my car. And drove south on the GSP. Third or fourth song is Tree Top Flyer, the “hidden track” from the Barometer Soup album. And bamm, just like that, I had the blog topic from last night. This time I wrote the subject down. See, I can learn a new trick. I will work that subject, maybe publish Saturday or Sunday. I’m excited, I hope the end result meets my expectations.  Then, I head towards home, and instead of getting off at my exit I go to the next exit which is for Route 72. This is where all the stores are. Driving to work this morning I got the idea in my head that my DW had not had flowers on the table in a few weeks. I thought, self, she needs flowers. Not necessarily roses or anything fancy, just something pretty. So I am walking around the grocery store and I call her on my cell. She had a tough day and could I please stop somewhere for wine. Ok, I said, I’m downtown in the grocery store and will get wine when I’m done.

Flowers, wine, makings for S’mores. I am king (at least for today). Dinner was good, mosquitos chased us in early. I picked  half of a five gallon bucket of tomatoes. Some will go to work, the rest will go to the freezer. Tonight’s picture was sent to me by DS2 this afternoon while he was walking on the south jetty in Barnegat Light. He was working on his next song. Writing music near the ocean.  Enjoy the video and the picture.


Barnegat Inlet, Barnegat Light, NJ


# 43 Richard Petty (post) and other things..

No, this is not a NASCAR post. Sorry, hit the next button if that is why you stopped by. The title is a play on words that includes the post number. Some days I am more clever than others. Maybe not today. Yesterday was post 42, I forgot to include a mention about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the answer to all questions is 42 (and don’t forget your towel). It was an interesting book that DS2 encouraged me to read. I would suggest reading it if you get the chance.

While looking for inspiration tonight, I googled the number 43. It is a liquor (which I have had)I don’t remember if I liked it. It was probably a long night in my misspent youth. There is a website called I am not a shill for some bodies website, but I had to click. This website is where you can list the 43 things you want to change in your life. Do I really need a website for that? What if I have more or less than 43 things to change? Maybe change is the wrong word, the website specifically says to list your GOALS!  Change, goals, whatever!

We are getting down to the end game for college entrance prep. It appears that all three boys have their loans secured. I am still waiting for one company to finish the documentation. Fortunately, when I went to the school website, the loan was listed already. That is a good sign. Left to do, try this list (lists are how were organize ourselves)!

  • Three children to eye doctor, make sure everyone has contacts for the semester
  • Three children to dentist
  • Three children to pack
  • Two children to communicate with their new roommates (I mean let’s get the process started at least)
  • Two children to get school books ordered (on-line if possible)
  • Buy a laptop for DS3
  • Sign up for Parents Weekend for two younger students, oldest child parents weekend date conflicts with one of the other two. Book hotels for both weekend (one weekend already done)
  • Make sure  youngest is ready with summer reading, alcohol avoidance module, “that talk” with dad
  • Make zombies with DS2. He got me a zombie of the month calendar, and we are way behind making them See the picture for clarification.

I’m sure my list is short. I imagine it will inspire my DW to tell me that she has already started the list and I am Johnny-come-lately in that department. I am ok with that.

 DS1 has spent the last 24 hours with his college girl friend. When we last left her she was living 2 hours away in the Allentown, PA area. She recently took her state nursing boards and passed!  Good for her. DS1 went to celebrate. He needs to be here at 7 am so he can be on LBI for work at 8 am. It is certainly doable, he is in love.. He recently asked his mother how he would know if she was the one.  I won’t paraphrase the response since I was not there that night. I was playing lacrosse and they went out for a drink and dessert at Applebee’s.

Ok, picture time. Today’s picture is from Christmas time. My DW has a display of small villages that come out every Christmas season. DS2 helped me glue together these two zombies which we posed in her village. She rolled her eyes, but smiled.  Enjoy!

Zombies invade the holiday village