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… and you are?

January 13, 2011

I’m Allen.  In 2005 my wife Jude and I, dismayed and disgusted

by U.S. politics, sold our home in California and moved to Canada.  We took

our cue when American tanks crossed the Iraqi border.  Right after that,

Rumsfeld and others, cocksure about WMD’s the day before, said they might

have to poke about a bit to find them.

 

In 1966 I was a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend.  Due to what I

still blame on a spike in my testosterone level, I joined the Marine Corps.

I spent six months of my service off the coast of Vietnam and in-country,

helping sort out the dead and wounded.  That war, too, was started by a

president who misled the public.  Jude and I were already packing when

Bush was re-elected.

 

All we were seeking in Canada was a fresh start in a nation that picks its

wars more prudently.  We wanted Permanent Residency so we could

sponsor Jude’s teenaged sons and my grandkids if the draft was reinstated

and they chose not to take up arms.  And we wanted to do it off the grid

on some acreage where we could pursue self-reliance.

 

This blog is about what we’ve found: a life we couldn’t have imagined

when we left the states; a home bursting with friends and fulfillment,

humour and hope; a farm abuzz with the astonishing lessons of nature.

 

“Anchor Struck” is a reference to the one line of poetry I remember from

high school English: “Let now your soul in this substantial world some

anchor strike,” from  “An End to Travel” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Although Bob was referring to dying, I took it as elegant advice to find

where you belong and dig in.  I don’t believe in blooming where you’re

planted.  I’ve been in too many sterile to hostile soils to adhere to that.

 

When Jude and I drove away from our first visit to this place, I told

her it was scary perfect.  It was everything we wanted at a terrific

price, so I had to assume the worst.  Jimmy Hoffa was buried here.

Al Qaeda trained nearby.  A Wal-Mart with a casino and a nuclear

reactor to be built by Halliburton was going in next door.

 

I could find no evidence of any of that, although our dogs are still

looking for Hoffa.  I have finally struck anchor after a protracted

search.  Deep into my jot of time on this substantial world, I have

found where I belong.  I’m home.  The only downside is that I no

longer have any excuses for not doing what I need to do.

 

A few years after we moved in, I took the photo of the rainbow

and apple tree in the middle of our property.  I’m an agnostic.

By no means did I interpret this as a symbol of celestial approval.

As random chance goes, though, it was darned impressive.

 

The subtitle of the blog is a rift on a line from Dante’s “Divine

Comedy”: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”  It was in-

scribed over the gates of Hell.  Some historians think it was also

above an entrance to the infamous Andersonville Prison in the

Civil War.  My version substitutes “hype” for “hope”.  I’m asking

you to shed what’s not important so we can discuss what is.

 

I wanted to launch the blog on the solstice.  The first day of

winter used to be a rough one for me when I lived in populated

areas.  But here, where Mother Nature pulls me closer to her

breast each day, I see it more as the pagans do — the return of

the light.  And this solstice also featured a lunar eclipse and

meteor shower.  I couldn’t have arranged or afforded a more

dramatic debut.  Nevertheless, Big Ma crossed me up on the

local level.  That night we got 15 centimeters (6 inches) of snow.

I couldn’t keep the satellite dish clear enough to upload.  All is

vanity and vexation of the spirit, as Ernest Hemingway and

King James’s Ecclesiastes so sayeth.

 

Keen to get this adventure started, I quickly researched what

day in history coming up soon had the most cosmic significance.

Turns out it’s today.  Please hear me out.

 

On January 13th of various years, the accordion was patented,

Elvis recorded “All Shook Up”, the Beatles released “I Want to

Hold Your Hand” in the U.S., the Police began studio work on

their debut album, and a study revealed that noise levels at rock

concerts were harmful to teenaged ears.  The precursor to Britain’s

Labour Party met for the first time and the precursor to the Frisbee

(the Pluto Platter) was first produced.

 

Jan. 13 is the birthday of mirth makers Sophie Tucker, Robert

Stack, Charles Nelson Reilly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Richard

Moll.  Henry Ford patented a plastic car and the public first

viewed a gimmick called television.  One of 110 missing episodes

of “Doctor Who” was found.  Robert C. Weaver became the first

black U.S. Cabinet member and L. Douglas Wilder became the

first elected black governor of Virginia on the 13th.

 

Sadly, Ernie Kovacs was killed in a car wreck and Michael Jordan

announced his retirement.  Above all of this, though, January 13th

will be most remembered as the pinnacle of George W. Bush’s

presidency  — the day he choked on a pretzel and fainted.

 

I’m humbled in the presence of all this history, but proud to add

this new page.

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7 Comments
  1. January 14, 2011 4:22 am

    Welcome to the world of blogging, Allen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    Also – I do believe that I will now put an official annual day of celebration on my calendars for January 13th. Annual Choke on a Pretzel and Faint George Bush Day! What should the Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake say?

  2. January 14, 2011 6:41 am

    Hello! I came over from Kathy’s blog because your story sounds fascinating. I look forward to reading more!

  3. summergale permalink
    January 14, 2011 7:25 am

    I am very interested in your off the grid experience in someplace other than tropical. I will be reading! BTW Kathy sent me here and I’m glad she did.

    • January 24, 2011 3:00 pm

      One reason we chose Canada was because we reasoned that it will become the new tropics. We already have a local musician who can play steel drums. You were the second person to comment on my blog and I appreciate that. But just today (Monday the 24th) I learned how to answer a comment just below that comment. I hope you’re still reading.

  4. January 15, 2011 6:36 am

    Hi!! I wandered over here from Kathy’s (Kitchenlogic’s) blog. I really like what you have to say thus far, and am eager to learn more. Also I have to giggle at your wife’s inability to accept that watching a sporting event live is NOT THE SAME as watching it taped. My husband and I are usually both glued to the television on Sundays, though he’s usually the one suggesting to get out of the house. And I tell him, BUT FOOTBALL IS ON! Haha.

    All the best to you and yours.

    –Karyl

    • January 17, 2011 5:23 pm

      Thank you, Karyl. I want to wander over to your blog soon. Much to learn yet.
      Jude is actually an avid sports fan. We were married in San Francisco Giants
      T-shirts. She understands why it’s vital that I yell out instructions to my teams
      on TV. I doubt that the Giants could have won the World Series without my help.

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