Hail & Farewell

Saw a friend off today, moving all the way across the continent from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

Got a pic of her RV, which is not as long as a bus but bigger than a 5th wheel. Inside are 10 cats and one large dog…and an ex, who’s going along for company and to help out at the other end.

Another ex is driving the U-Haul. I was too slow – didn’t get a shot as he drove by, the truck pulling car behind and with adult tricycle on roof. Inside it are two large cement statues, several large planting boxes my friend recently built and didn’t want to leave to the tender mercies of the new owner of her old place, a couple of large rose bushes and many boxes of household stuff.

Some of it is garbage – in last minute rush she got a friend&husband to come over and help pack and put into U-Haul, and they didn’t distinguish between what was meant to stay and what was meant to go. Owell. They also packed away a cache of kitty litter that was intended for the RV. Owell.

She left in mid-morning. Going up the Coquihalla (“Highway to Hell”, if you’ve ever watched the program, a route which is perfectly nice in nice weather…tho sudden snowstorms can descend at any time of year in the upper reaches). Stopping at first town, at vet, where she’s picking up cat tranks, medicine for the old one, and detouring to Walmart to replace the litter.

Then serious start to what she hoped would be a 5/6 day trip, done at high speed. But the U-Haul ain’t going fast, overloaded as it is.

The ex driving that is a mechanic, specializing in breakdowns on the mountain highways, so there’s that…

Most people have predicted a good week’s time on the road. Esp. since the ex with her in the RV has to stop at 2-hr intervals for a smoke…and to let the dog pee.

Cosily enough, everyone will sleep in the RV.

There will be, I expect, checkpoints at the provincial borders. But this trip falls under the category of Essential Travel and they won’t be lingering. Nova Scotia is particularly tough on people coming in – it’s the province doing the best with the virus – but my friend is technically a resident and her companions are along to help unload and will then return immediately in the RV (which U-Haul ex gets as payment for his part in this undertaking).

She’s a resident already, tho never having set foot in the province, because she bought a house there. Nova Scotia real estate is hot these days, with people from elsewhere in Canada and from the U.S. buying up property. But not as hot as B.C. She sold her tiny house with structural problems situated in a tiny yard for enough $ to buy a huge place on big property in N.S. With a big chunk o’ change left over. She bought sight unseen (which is the way of real estate these days, it seems). But she studied many property listings on-line and consulted with agents, got engineer’s report, and is confident that it will work. She’s an excellent carpenter and good at getting people to do stuff. It’s not a high-end house, but looks sound. (Tho there will, gulp, be a $20,000 expense off the top to install a septic system.)

She looks forward to moving in and painting the interior, one room at a time, camping out first in unpainted and then painted parts. Replacing windows. Painting the o.s. trim. Installing gutters. Setting up the large cement statues…

I and others have warned her about winter. There’s winter here in lower mainland B.C. and there’s winter everywhere else in Canada. She comes from Slovakia, but that was nearly 40 years ago and she’s spent all her time in this country in the Fraser Valley. She’s been studying the weather reports and says that there doesn’t seem to be that much difference in temperature between here and N.S. Ah, but it’s springtime. Wait for her first nor-easter…

BULLETIN BULLETIN – just got a phone call from her. They’re almost over the mountains, close to the Alberta border, and it’s only 5.30. At this rate they could be across Alberta and Saskatchewan and to the Manitoba border tomorrow. All is going well, except the vet didn’t have the insulin she’d ordered (she has enough for the trip).

Anyway, she’s dreamed of Nova Scotia for years. She has a thing for things Scottish. (I gave her some shortbread for the trip. Tastier than oat-cakes. Less messy than haggis.)

She’s been having moments of regret and sorrow…and panic. But she’s resilient, and it’s a whole new adventure. She says she’ll miss the mountains…but she’ll have a sea-view.

The man who bought her house has been living in an RV of his own since The Divorce, with a couple of cats. He’s looking forward to a house where his kids can come visit and he can have all his cats – two more are with his ex and one with his mother. He’s pleased to move into a place already broken in by cats – it has cat doors and a building at the back where some can hide out and walking/perching shelves on the wooden fence…

She and I reminisced the other night at our last fire at her old place. She’s my first and best friend here in this town. We got together because she’s Wiccan too – by way of internet-info, but whatever. And we had a lot of good times…touring the new age/pagan shops (some of them far-out, but one I especially remember for the proprietors: a black man in a white cloak and a white woman in a black cloak – too cute), going for a Midsummer dawn swim in a lake, then romping thru fields and forests and cruising the town’s back lanes (met interesting people – one woman invited us into her yard to admire her 30-yr-old grapevine that entwined the whole of the surrounding fence) to collect plants to set out on a noon altar, then naps, then an evening fire… I went with her to a doctor’s appointment where she had one last hope the nerve damage in her wrists could be fixed…she came out of the doctor’s office and wept, briefly, but then because I’d commented on some plants in the window box she went and got some for me, just a rooted sprig, wrapped it in wet towel (she noted that she was always prepared for such)…I think it was on the way home that day that she stopped at the side of the highway and crawled down the ditch to stand in a waterfall rushing down the mountainside…I didn’t join her because my knee was pre-replacement and ditch-scrambling didn’t seem feasible.

We celebrated the full moons, sometimes with people, sometimes just us – but once she got it into her head that we should drive a way up the Coq to get a better and earlier view, halfway up the mountains, and we sat eating brownies (just the regular kind) and drinking beer. She drove me to the hospital for an MRI – I thought she knew where she was going (she’d been, as noted, living in the general area for 40 years and I was a newcomer), but it turned out she didn’t and there was a frantic (for me) half-hour while she was smoking (she quit overnight later on) and on her cell-phone getting directions from the hospital switchboard and driving madly… (we got there half an hour late, but they took me anyway…the MRI showed nothing and I had to go back the next day for a dye version, and I drove myself). She slept in on the morning she was going to drive me for my knee replacement, but got me there just in time, driving in her nightgown and slippers.

There was the night she called me to come with her to go up the Coq a ways on a chicken rescue. Ah, but the chicken story deserves a whole instalment unto itself.

I went with her when she had to have her hedgehog euthanized. And over the years listened and commiserated about all the troubles with the exes and family back in Europe and etc. I’m a listener – I don’t burden people with my problems, of which I don’t have that many, and so become a repository of other people’s. I do find it wearisome eventually, but OTOH she made great potato pancakes and homemade ice-cream and fruit-infused vodka… And she was thoughtful – like bringing me an orange rose to plant on my orange cat’s grave, or leaving hunks of honey cake on my quarantine doorstep.

But in a way it’s a relief amidst the sadness to see her leave. We got together because of the wicca thing and hit it off in other ways. We were some time into our friendship when I became aware of her admiration for Trump and eager acceptance of nutty conspiracy things (e.g., that the income tax dept is actually a private company that funnels the funds directly to the queen and the pope) and really into thinking she knows better than the doctors…their inability to do anything about her wrists may be partly to blame, but at any rate she’s convinced that imbibing diluted hydrogen peroxide cures/prevents everything. She realized that I didn’t share a lot of this – my stunned silence and occasional polite demurral got the message across – and so we avoided a lot of political and other subjects. But I found it hard to cope with the cognitive dissonance. She is smart, funny, kind, generous… Not at first glance my idea of a crank … so it’s been educational knowing her, as otherwise my friends are pretty much lockstep liberal/sane (if you, like, overlook the pagan thing).

Been sort of getting weaned anyway, with the pandemic. Very little socializing of any kind with anyone. She of course doesn’t believe in the virus or vaccines or the lyin’ mainstream press, but accepted that I do and that on those occasions of seeing each other I required mutual masks and being outdoors. Yah know, it’s not everyday that you (I) can get along with someone from an alternate universe without disruption in the space-time continuum.

P.S. – It’s a couple weeks later. She’s now in Nova Scotia. Very different there – so much sky. Well, that happens when you’re no longer ringed by mountains but instead are by the endless sea. They got stopped at the Nova Scotia boundary. You only get to have one ex, I guess. U-Haul ex got turned back. So he unhitched car and is presumably on his way back across-country (leaving my friend car-less and him w.o. the RV he was going to inherit), and RV ex took over the U-Haul and my friend drove the RV. There are always, um, hitches.

The town seems empty now without my friend. I cruised by her old house, which looks the same but of course isn’t. She was a good friend and I hope I was too. (But no, despite her hopes, I will not be getting on an airplane any time soon to go visit.)

Photo is of my friend, with dog, roses and one of the statues…tho preview cuts off dog and much of statue…

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