Category: My Writings


Inspiration

Just a short little post for my writer friends.  Where do you get your inspiration for your writing?  I have found a few settings that help me to think a bit clearer and allow some ideas to seep in, but overall I have to struggle to find something to write about.  I think it would be great if we could get a list together of suggestions from all of you writers out there.  Inspiration can be found in many things I suppose, not just location but state of mind, a scent in the air, a sound…. let me know how you were inspired to write, I am going to love hearing these.

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Behavior

I have read a lot lately about writers block.  I don’t know that I agree with all the “experts” on a lot of this.   I have not been myself for almost a year now, my writing has sat idle and I have gone into a shell of sorts, not even writing little tidbits for my blog.  Worse yet I have not even visited all of my old friends blogs to support them.  My personal life has suffered because of this attitude I have had and I was occupied with other things that I shouldn’t have, and won’t go into here, but suffice to say I was not exhibiting good behavior.  Those who know me best would tell you this is totally unlike the Peter they know.  There have been many reasons for this, turning the new 40, oh yeah 60 years old.  That one hit me pretty hard, facing my own mortality perhaps, realizing that after 60 there is what, 70?  Dealing with my own health issues this past year, too many days in hospitals with all that time to stare at the ceiling and think of what is ahead of me.

So I wallowed a bit in this self-pity, thinking I was the only person turning 60 last October, thinking I was the only one who could possibly have the problems I did.  I had no reason to write, no desire or energy to even look at the work I had in progress.  Just last week I felt it reaching an unbearable pitch, I finally broke down and talked to others, not writers, just my family and friends.  The common thing I got from them was that I had lost my passion.  I thought about that a lot, had I lost my passion for writing and that was the reason for everything else?  Or had everything else combined to kill my passion for writing.  I don’t know the answer to that one yet, I am going to start writing again.  I know that I have a fire in me to do that, so maybe the passion has been reignited.  I have made peace and amends with the people in my personal life that I have hurt or ignored this past almost year.  It will take time to completely heal those relationships, but I am willing to put in the effort to make up for this past year.  Now I am hoping to make amends to all my friends in the blogosphere over the next several months.  I think these two steps will help keep the passion alive in me to write again.

Opening Chapter

I opened this chapter on my computer and stared at it for an hour. I wrote it almost 9 months ago and still don’t think its right.  The scene portrayed in the chapter has very little to do with the book that follows.  I was looking to try and instill some excitement and sense of action and urgency in the reader to set them up for the remaining chapters.  Rather than start the book by steadfastly setting up each portion and character, I wanted something different.  I would love to hear what you have to say about this.  I apologize for any obvious errors in tense and grammar.

Chapter 1

Heavy eyelids closing over tired eyes, the watch commander tries to sleep, the adrenaline still pumping through his veins from the last call.  All of Station 7 of the Coral Gables Fire Department is quiet for now; the metalic ticking of the cooling engines is the only sound in the station.  Thinking, shifting on the cot, knowing the men are tired, six calls so far in their shift that started just sixteen hours ago.  Now rest, the Commander tosses around again, would he ever get used to sleeping in half of his uniform.  In the dorm area next door the rest of the men are trying to get the same elusive sleep, turning and trying to nod off as the Station slowly goes off to sleep.

Suddenly the horn blares, the Commanders eyes opened quickly, what had it been an hour, 30 minutes.  Swinging his legs off of the cot, taking just a brief second to get his bearings; the horn blaring insistent and loud as the speakers fill with the voice, the voice they always heard when the alarm sounds “2192 Rivera Drive, Station 12 standing by for second alarm” running towards the bays, grabbing the remainder of his gear as he jogs the short distance to the truck, a boot up on the running board as he slides into the passenger seat.  Turning the computer consol on as the driver assumes his position.  The back doors of the cab open and close quickly as the remaining two firefighters complete the crew. The driver runs his fingers over an array of switches as the truck comes to life, lights glaring off the inside of the fire station.  The Commander looked out the right window and sees the ladder crew in position in their cab, the Paramedics rig just behind.  Nodding to the driver Pumper 7 and Ladder 7 roll out of the Coral Gables Fire Station 7 into the hot sticky southern Florida night.

Punching numbers and addresses into the computer on the dash, the Commander is amazed at just how close the call is to the station, yelling to the driver over the scream of the engine and the sirens “Less than half a mile, right up here on Rivera then run down about 4 blocks, address should be on the right” the driver, hands gripping the wheel as he maneuvers through the quiet narrow streets nods in acknowledgement.

On the radio, the Commander barks orders to the other trucks behind him “Ladder, I want you set up behind us, the hydrant at Suarez, hook up to it and roll forward, you will be about 4, that’s 4 houses down from the fire.  Paramedics, roll past Ladder and follow us through to the fire, we will set up on the street and tackle it from there.  On my call be ready with all your equipment”

Checking his watch, 2 minutes since the alarm had been sounded.  Looking out the window of the truck he could see it in the distance, big tall flames flickering through the darkness just above the tree line.  Taking a moment, thinking how bad this looked before barking into the radio “Paramedics get your gear out as soon as you get there, this looks like it could be ugly” squawking on the radio as the paramedics acknowledged.

Passing Suarez the commander gets a glimpse of the stubby hydrant “Ladder, there on your left” the pumper slowed as it neared the fire, people running frantically around with no apparent purpose.  A man using a garden hose from the neighboring home, trying desperately to douse the inferno.

The pumper grinds to a halt and all four men jumped into action, pulling on SCBA’s the Commander runs to the back of the truck, watching one of the firemen hooking up the big four inch line to directly to the tank.  Silently thinking how this should be enough to get started until the ladder brings up the supply hose.  The driver stands on the other side of the pumper flicking switches and turning valves as the pump roars to life, water surging through the line as the two firefighters take the end of the hose and run towards the building.

Rushing past the small crowd of neighbors, the Commander moves to the front door with the men, his second in command right behind him, this was their job, going into the home with full gear on knowing that this intense a fire was deadly for anyone in the house, praying that it was empty, but in far too many fires that was not the case.  The two men on the hose begin spraying an arc of high pressure water over the doorway, the sizzle of heated water, the acrid smell of burning insulation and plastic siding flares their nostrils as they watch the commander push open the door.

The ladder truck quickly pulls up behind the first truck, hooking up the feeder hose from the hydrant to the truck, water, the lifeblood of the pumper was about to flow from the hydrant.  A radio call to the firefighter at the hydrant and the hose quickly filled and precious water flowed quickly into the tanks.  Moving like a well choreographed ballet, the crew of the Ladder truck hook up their hoses, extended outriggers and two firefighters climb into the small basket at the end of the ladder, hydraulics whine and extend the ladder as the firefighters stared to hose down the roof of the structure providing cover to the firemen at the door.

Dense smoke loomed in front of his mask as the Commander enters the home, flames dance all around him as the two firefighters continue spraying a pattern across the front room, the smoke spiraling into itself as the air currents are disrupted by the spray of cold water.  The steady opening and closing of the valve on his air tank almost as loud as his pounding heart as he moves, ten feet in now, he can feel the hand of his second on his shoulder, always keeping in touch this way, making sure that neither of them is left behind in a fireman’s biggest fear; a floor collapse; or worse a ceiling and roof collapse.  Suddenly through the darkness he spots a socked foot then the leg and soon the entire body of an elderly person lying still on the floor.  Reaching down, picking the frail person up and over his shoulder he shouts at his number two to back up and get them out of the house.

Moving past the hose as the firefighters advance in further, the fire intense and hotter than when they first arrived, they were losing this one, they all knew it.  “Back out, everyone out” the Commander yells as he carts the limp body over his shoulder.  Finally exiting out the front door again and into the cleaner air, water cascading on them from the ladder truck as they move further from the inferno until they reach the sidewalk where the paramedics had set up to triage any victims.

The death throes of the building groan loudly in the hot night air, brought on as the wooden trusses finally begin to collapse, their support undermined by the fire and the weight of the water cascading from above.  Louder still as the whole roof collapses into the building.  Debris flies out towards the street as the ground crew continues to spray water on the now burning pile of wood and shingles.  The ladder crew, satisfied that all firefighters were out concentrated their spray on the adjoining home, attempting to keep the fire from spreading.

Neighbors mull around on the street, watching in shock as the scene unfolds before them.  One of them runs up to the paramedics, seeing them feverishly performing CPR on the limp body of an elderly woman “that’s Maureen Braddock”.  The Commander asks if she lives alone and the neighbor nods his head.  Looking back at the now completely collapsed structure, thankful he had got the only occupant out.

Eight minutes since the call, five minutes on the scene and the fire began to die down, starving for fuel and saturated by thousands of gallons of water.   Fortunate the fire had not spread, the pair of hoses continued to flood the remnants of the single family home.  The paramedics continued to perform CPR as they loaded the stretcher onto their ambulance; the lead paramedic looked over at the Commander and shook his head before climbing into the back.  Pulling away from the curb they left, lights flashing, as the crowd of neighbors looked helplessly on.

My First 60 Years

My first 60 years, yes I am nearing a milestone in my life this month, I turn 60.  I sat mulling over the six decades I have been alive and I have discovered that a human being can do an awful lot in that amount of time.  I don’t mean as a society, but as individual people, women and men.  As a child I never understood the concept of individuality fully.  When I was young I was told that no two snow flakes are alike, how could that be, there a zillion of them falling all around me, surely two of them must be alike?  I think of that often and when I put it in the perspective of us mere mortals it is even more interesting.  On one hand it is nice to know we are all individuals, with our own little idosyncracies and faults, and our own talents too, but this means there will only be one Winston Churchill, or Abraham Lincoln, these men never again to be replicated.  Well you know where that line of thought led me, yes, what are my unique abilities and idiosyncracies?

My first 60 years,  I have lived in two countries, I have travelled both of them extensively.  I have been fortunate to make many, many wonderful friends both in the real world and here in the blogosphere and yes, I have had failures, many failures.

My first 60 years have resulted in two divorces, and thankfully a third marriage that has finally worked.  I have seen the death of my parents, I have seen the death of friends.  I have raised two children, and lost one of them.  I have worked, Lord how I have worked, as a youth from age 12 in the summers and as an adult (barely) from age 17 until today.  I have excelled in my field while failing in many personal areas.  I have disappointed many people in my life and many have disappointed me.  I have a failed relationship with my surviving siblings, to the point of finding out second-hand that one of them passed away.  I have done nothing important enough to leave a mark on this earth, I know my memory will live on in my children, for better or worse and I suppose that is all we can really wish for.

My first 60 years saw me go through the male mid-life crisis, I bought the sports car, I had the trophy wife, none of this really made me a better or happier person, I was just going through life.  I ruined a marriage by working, and working and working.  I didn’t realize then the constant maintenance required to keep marriage viable.

My first 60 years and my life finally became complete when I was 44, it was then I met my now wife.  From her I have learned everything I now know about being a husband and a partner.  She has shown me the frailty of life, how precious it is.  She alone has shown me that material things come and go, but true love is forever.  I learned from my wife that the human body can go through an incredible amount of pain and the inner person can still smile and say “its all going to be fine”.  My wife is my Rock, she never complains, her life has been so hard these past ten years, but she keeps slugging away, making a home for my son and I.   She is my biggest cheerleader, telling anyone who will listen how good a husband I am, how loving a father.  My wife is truly and angel and the most important single thing that has ever happened in my life.  Now, as her health diminishes, I only hope I can be as strong for her as she has been for me and that I can hold her hand and say “it’s all going to be fine”.

My first 60 years, where did the time go.

I had a moment of lucidity the other day, rare for me I know, but I had a conversation with myself about not being at my Blog post for the past 7 months or so.  I will have to paraphrase the conversation but it went something like this:

Lucid Self  “You know you haven’t checked your blog or email in over 7 months”

Self “Whats your point, we are surviving aren’t we”?

Lucid Self  “You might have missed a really important post on someones blog, you should check”

Self “But I am rusty….I don’t wanna” ~a little whine here~

Lucid Self  “Don’t be such a baby”

Self “They have all forgotten me by now”

Lucid Self “Probably, but you may be surprised”

So I thought about this for a while, yes I have just a tiny little spot here in the Blogosphere, I have only a handful of followers and probably a pretty low number of hits relative to other Blogs, but is any of this cause to come back to my Blog?

So I tentatively checked to see if I still had a Blog, after I fumbled around for UserNames and Passwords I managed to log on.  You know, I was pretty amazed that even after 7 months people were still stopping by my blog.  Maybe they were misdirected clicks of a mouse, or perhaps someone just surfing, but regadless there were clicks and that meant people still cared.  I was elated, fumbling around more trying to figure out how to post again.  I went to a few of my blogbuddies blogs (I will get to the rest of your blogs soon) and found that despite my absence for all these months people still remember me and care.

So what now? I went back and asked that smart alec Lucid Self and the answer seems apparent, I have to Blog, I need this outlet to vent, to shed my frustrations and disappointments I have had in my life, to lift that weight from my heart and put it on yours (nice of me huh?).  So what is life like without a blog, many of you probably don’t remember but here are some highlights

  • Supper is always warm
  • You can actually have a conversation with your spouse
  • Sunrises are beautiful and sunsets the same
  • Crossword puzzles and card games, aren’t that bad after all
  • There are plants amongst all those weeds in the garden
  • The real world can be painful, but it is beautiful to be alive

Im sure there are more but these are just the ones that come to my mind right now.  Yes, Blogs are fun, very emotionally and mentally satisfying, but please lets not forget our “real world” the one where we have responsiblities and expectations, where we are needed more than we probably know.  Don’t get so consumed in this that you don’t remember what the sunsets look like and your ability to converse with a live person is gone.

Retiring

Hello all my loyal readers, I want you to know how much your reading and input has helped me with this blog over the past six months or so.  However, all good, and even not so good, things must end.

I am going to take a hiatus from the Blogosphere for a while, probably a long while and I wanted to let you know that personally.

Once again, thank you for all your support and insight, you are all truly wonderful people.

Hugs

Peter

 

 

The Value of Life

I was having my morning caffeine fix before work today and was reading the headlines on Yahoo.  I usually just read the headlines but one story drew my attention and I had to comment on it here.  Norcross, Georgia (where I work) there were 5 people slain in a murder/suicide at a local beauty salon last night, 2/21/12.

Why is this story becoming the norm rather than those freak exceptions we used to have in years gone by?  Why do we just mutter under our breath about “bad part of town” and move on with our lives.  Have we totally lost all respect for the human life?  Have we put such a low price tag on ourselves that it is much easier to pull a trigger than to sit and deal with a situation, talk it out, therapy, whatever. 

Don’t take this as a gun control post, I have no problem at all with gun ownership, it is one of the reasons I left my homeland.  Taking the weapons away from the law-abiding won’t cure this problem, remember drugs are illegal.

So here I lament, just a single voice in the wilderness.  This post won’t do anything to solve the problem, however, if anyone reading this is reaching that point of instability, and you know when you are, PLEASE seek help, the answer is not like what happened last night.

My Struggle With A Chapter

I have discovered something about myself I did not think I would, I am not good at writing about a murder, the detailed parts of it, as you will see by the following chapter from my “work in progress”.  I have struggled with this chapter for about 3 months, leaving it, coming back to it, tweaking, twisting, turning, and I still feel I am far from finished.  Of course it needs some editing, but just what I have now seems somewhat lacking for me.  The character portrayed here is one of my bad guys.  He is in Port-au-Prince Trinidad, and has found a prostitute willing to do his bidding, so he thinks.  It is a bit long, I apologize, but if you have a moment please take a read and let me know if I am 20 percent or 80 percent or never gonna get there.  Oh, some adult content so proceed with caution.  Thanks.

The crumpled napkin in his hand, an address scratched out in barely legible writing by the man from the bar.  Smiling to himself Paterson pointed to a street corner as the rickety taxi pulled over to the side of the road.

“Here, drop me here”

Leaning over the back seat and stuffing a five in the cabbies outstretched hand, much more than the meter showed.  Reaching down remembering to take the small travel bag with him he slipped out of the cab.  The cabbie watched as the white man straightened his tall lean frame and shrugged as he pulled away.

Lighting a cigarette and taking a long hard drag, resisting the urge to cough as he let the smoke slowly out of his lungs.  The night was hot, very hot and Paterson knew he was perspiring, but he didn’t care, it was dirty and this place was all about dirty to him.  Walking a few yards to a side street, checking the napkin before turning and walking into the darkness, street lights were not common in this part of Laventille and the ones that were there rarely worked. 

Finding the address, he tossed his cigarette on the ground, grinding it out with his heel as he walked up the two steps to the front door.  The wooden door was covered with peeling and chipped paint, dirty, perfect.  Peterson rapped on the door hard with his knuckles, backing down one step as he waited.

The door creaks and opens just slightly, two small eyes peer out at Paterson.  The eyes penetrated his soul and he felt a chilled as they moved up and down his body before uttering a single word “money” as a small hand protruded from the crack in the doorway.

Paterson took two crumpled $20’s out of his pocket, he knew better than to bring a lot of money to this part of town and he knew that this was a princely sum.  Pushing the money forward to the small hand he watched as slender fingers grabbed the two bills and pulled them back into the building.  The door then creaked closed as Paterson could hear the unbolting of a lock and suddenly the door swung open and the hand reached out, gripping his and pulled him into the house.

Stumbling as he almost fell crossing the threshold, a small lamp in the corner barely giving off light, and next to the lamp stood a thin woman.  He eyed her up and down, probably about twenty he thought to himself.  She stood no more than five feet, probably shorter.  Looking at her frayed T-shirt he noticed her smallish breasts were unsupported but not sagging.  The slender hips were covered with a pair of tattered jean shorts and her legs were bare as were her feet.  French Creole he thought to himself, definitely not a Black or Indian and rare to find on this part of the island.  He began to wonder to himself why would she be here, but quickly put the thought out of his mind, he was here for a purpose, time to get on with it.

Starting to feel more at ease he quickly scanned the rest of the room.  Satisfied they were alone he began moving towards the woman, he reached out, his hand under her chin, lifting her head to look into her eyes “they say you are a Soucouyant, are you?”

A voice comes from her, not frail, not tiny like her body, but rich and demanding “no Dan, not a Soucouyant, much more than that”

Paterson was struck by her English, it was rare that you heard proper complete sentences in this part of Trinidad.  He felt a chill run down his spine as his fingers touched her face, her body unmoving as he stepped back, looking her over again. “I gave you 40 dollars, I want something special”

A grin appeared on the womans face, her lips parted and her perfect teeth radiated back at him.  She moved across the room to another door, opening it Paterson could see a bed, a dresser with nothing on it but a few towels and a pitcher of water.  “this way Dan, I have special for you”

Following her into the room as she closed the door behind them gliding towards the bed and undressing, her body glistened with a sheen of sweat from the hot evening, Paterson stayed dressed, watching her as she laid down on her back on the bed.  As she spread her legs he noticed that she was shaved, another unusual condition for this area.  He if she were a local, or from the mainland as he heard that a lot of hookers came over from Venezuela to feed off the tourist trade. 

Shrugging his shoulders in indifference thinking it didn’t matter, as long as she was up for what he wanted to do, as long as she would try to fight, to scream, to resist his advances and absorb the punishment she was about to receive.

Setting his bag on the end of the bed Paterson sat on the side of the bed next to her, his hand reached out and roughly caressed her chest.  Feeling her cringe at his first touch he smiled, oh yes, this one will fight, perfect.  His fingers gripped her nipple, pulling it hard, she let out a yelp and slapped at his hand, Paterson felt his excitement rise, yes, this is what he needed.   His free hand went to the bag, taking out the leather straps as he moved his body over hers, sitting on her stomach as she began to squirm, trying to toss him off.  Her legs bucking upwards, knees pounding his back, it just made him smile and press harder against her.

Leaning forward, taking her arm and wrapping a leather strap around her wrist and then around the bed rail, Her strength no match for his, he moved her arm as he wished, despite her efforts to stop him, he worked with surgeon like precision and speed and quickly had her two arms secured.  Reaching back behind him he took more straps from the bag, sliding his body down hers, being careful not to let the legs get free, she was half scowling half smiling at him as he thought to himself this was not the first time she had been tied.

That’s fine because he knew the rest would be her first time.  Securing her ankles to the foot rail of the bed Paterson finally arose and stood beside the bed.  Looking down at his bound victim, her thin body writing on the bed, partly for his benefit he was sure.  “More than a Soucouyant are you my little whore” Paterson liked this part, the taunting, the abusive language.

“Let me go Dan” the girl becoming a bit more frightened now, this one was different, he hadn’t even tried to fuck her yet.  “Please, let me go now Dan, I give you your $40, no problems please”

Paterson went to the foot of the bed, reaching again into the bag, taking out a short-handled cat of nine tails.  The leather-covered lead balls on the end of each tendril of leather strap weighed heavily in his hand, he walked to the head of the bed, reaching out, gripping her face in his hand, pulling her to his attention.

“Soucouyant or not, I am going to beat you my little whore, until you beg for more and only then will I think about stopping”

“No dan, no please” she cried, twisting a bit more frantically in her bindings now, looking into his dark, dead eyes. She watched as he lifted the cat over his head and then screamed with pain as the leather weights ripped across the flesh of her thighs, feeling the burn and sting, knowing she was bleeding as he lifted the cat again, his eyes still dark but a smile on his face, a wicked evil smile.  The cat struck again, she tried to bolt upright but her bindings were too tight, “ohhhhhhhhhh dan…..stop please stop ohhhhh dan you are killin me”

Paterson grinned, looking down at her, seeing the red welts on her thighs where each of the weights had scrapped over her, some of the wounds trickled blood, oh god how hard this made him, how excited he was to see this whore in pain. 

Moving upwards, the cat slashes across her flat stomach, howls of pain coming from her as she writhes on the bed, trying in vain to move out of the way of the whipping she is getting.

“Oh I see slut, you want more” he reached back into his bag and pulled out a one foot long tube.  Extending the telescoping sections out it became a solid, steel shanked riding crop.  The whores eyes grew even bigger as she saw what he had produced.  Through tear stained eyes she could see the huge tent in the front of his trousers, the bastard was fucking hard.  Looking down her body, seeing welts and rivulets of blood she knew this would not get better until it got a whole lot worse.

“Ede M se li ki touye m ‘” the woman cried out, Paterson in a blind of rage now as he raised and the crop over his head, he barely heard the door open as he was rushed by the huge black man, knocking him to the floor.  Patterson tried to push the intruder off him but he was no match for the bulk of a man who hovered over him, looking up Paterson saw the glint of metal in the weak light of the room, thinking to himself that it looked like a knife as the blade plunged into his neck.  Paterson’s eyes grew large just before everything became cloudy and faded a sting in his neck was the last thing he remembered as the life drained from him in the dingy room of a Laventille whore.

Towering over the thin man the black man pushed the knife into him over and over, blood sprayed the room.  Finally stopping the man stood up, kicked the body of the bastard once and then went to the bed, untying the woman.  The girl was frantic, speaking quickly in Creole, telling him to get the body out of here now, fast, that she didn’t want a dead white man found in her house, the local police would surely not believe her. 

Paterson’s body tossed over the shoulder of the black man as he headed out of the room.

“Wait” she called, then reaching into his pocket, fishing out his wallet “now go, get rid of him quickly” holding a towel to her stomach, trying to stop the bleeding from her lashing.

Sneaking out the back door and down the alley, the man watched around as shadows disappeared into doorways, every one trying not to notice the man carrying the body over his shoulder.  Two blocks away, an old cinder block outline for a dumpster, the black man lowers the body to the ground propping it up against the wall as he backs away, scanning around quickly one more time before jogging quickly past and out onto the barely lit streets of ghetto.

The Man

I miss the Man.

The Man who lovingly played with me at a tender age, giving me my nickname “Butch” which I only allowed him to call me. 

The Man who made our Christmas toys out of wood in the basement as we lay on the floor above, looking through the cold air vent, he spent hours shaping pieces of wood into cars, trucks and doll houses.

The Man who loved my mother so much that you could see her beaming whenever he was in the room with her.

The Man who taught me things that at the time seemed so minor but as I grow older are so important.

The Man who only wanted a better life for his children than he had.  

The Man who ingrained in me the work ethic, the desire to be productive, the urge to be a good citizen.

The Man who allowed me to become a Man.

I miss my Father.

A brief intro is required here, this is an excerpt from the 1970’s portion of my Autobiography.  It tells of a British Engineer we worked for briefly, named Colin.  Roy was a fellow technician and we were assigned to work on a barge complete with sort of sleeping quarters.  The following is the snippet of that adventure, enjoy.

I have one memorable experience with Colin’s loss of touch with reality which actually spawned two of Roy and mine “classic” idiotic things that we have been instructed to do.  Roy and I were assigned to do some geotechnical drilling off of a spudded barge in the shipping channel of Lake St. Clair.  We were to work at the north end of the lake where the St. Clair river deposits into the lake.  We had a CME 55 Bombardier mounted rig driven on to the barge, two sets of drillers and helpers and Roy and I as the technicians.  The plan was to work two twelve hour shifts and get the job done in about 4 days.  We loaded the barge up near Amherstburg and it took about 14 hours sailing time to get to the site.

Being the “senior” technician I of course elected to work the day shift, after all it was March and not exactly the warmest of weather. Roy, as always, did not complain and just brought extra clothes to endure the nights.  Before we even left we were given a detailed memo from Colin, which Roy still has, outlining our job assignment and sampling depths.  However, Colin couldn’t  leave it at that, he wrote something to the effect “whilst on the barge there should be no skylarking (idiotic statement #1).  If you fall in the water this time of year you will only have 13 seconds to live (idiotic statement #2)”.  Well Roy had to come to me for the translation of a couple of those words and we at first were quite insulted by the memo, but eventually it became common banter over the years.  What are you doing Roy, oh nothing Peter, just skylarking today.  I still don’t know what Colin’s source was for the thirteen seconds to live comment, I assume he must have watched National Geographic one night.

Off we went, we sailed up the Detroit River and through Lake St. Clair to our destination.  I will digress her and give another Roy/Peter classic moment.  The trip up the river and across the lake took about 14 hours.  With nothing to do, Roy and I decided to pester the Captain of the tug about navigation.  We would see all the flashing lights on the buoys and ask him what they were.  Finally, fed up I would imagine, he handed us some charts, an instrument used by mariners to sight themselves and a quick tutorial on which lights were which on the drawing.  “Now, using that information, tell me where we are”.  The challenge was on.  Roy and I took multiple sightings on at least 20 buoys.  We scaled the drawing, we triangulated, and we did everything we thought that Columbus must have done to discover America.  After about an hour we were appalled to learn that our current location was somewhere just west of Flint,Michigan, or about 100 miles inland.  Of course being good navigators we alerted the Captain that he was aground.  He didn’t find it as funny as Roy and I did. 

After some difficulty in locating ourselves (not our fault this time) we started drilling.  After a day or so, the weather started getting quite rough. Lake St. Clair outside of the channel is quite shallow, only about 20 feet in some places.  At the direction of the tug captain we towed the barge around to shelter near a small island.  Even though I was the Senior technician, I wasn’t a tug boat captain and knew that there was no way I could force him to put his vessel in harms way.  I told him that it was entirely up to him when we went back to work.  We lounged in the sheltered area for most of a day when the tug captain told Roy and I to hop in, we were going out to the drill area to see if it had calmed down any.  After about 10 minutes it became very apparent that things had not calmed down, the water was extremely rough, and in fact you could see the lake bottom at the low point of each wave.  The tug was bounced around severely and we started heading back.  The captain let me use the ship to shore radio (no cell phones in those days) and I called Colin.  The radio had a hand held microphone and a speaker, the conversation was out there for all on the tug boat to hear.  I apprised Colin of the situation and how we would be delayed for at least another 12 hours, or until the weather let up.  With the tug captain and crew listening in Colin made probably the most asinine statement I have ever heard from anyone in my life “Well Peter, I am looking out my window and the weather appears very nice here”.  Now I had been on a crummy barge for a few days, no showers, warm at best food, not much sleep and was currently getting my internal organs shuffled around by the pounding of the waves, I use that as defense for my reply to Colin. “OK we will tow this freaking (not my exact word) thing down to Windsor, put it in the parking lot and drill there”.  That was the end of the conversation and was actually the last conversation with Colin until we did return to land.  I gained a couple of new friends that day in a tug boat captain and his crew.  Roy and I spent the next several hours telling them who the moron was on the other end of the radio and why what he said did not really surprise either of us.