Thursday, January 6, 2011

The stoic.

Two thirty in the morning . A winter wind rattling the shutters. Wilf is out in the garden for an unscheduled pit stop. It looks like we'll need to up the insulin dosage one more time. Through it all he remains so trusting and uncomplaining. An almost apologetic canine stoicism. ' I'm sorry to bother you but ...'

A Graham Greene quote I can't quite remember. A search in the downstairs library yields nothing. Something along the lines of ' You live until you're thirty and then you remember '. Can't decide whether it contains a hint of truth or is just a piece of trademark cynicism.

Strange what you think about at two thirty. Random memories of teaching at a summer camp in Scranton, Pa. suddenly escape the deep recesses of my mind. They've been kept padlocked there for thirty odd years. Just eighteen and put in charge of a small fleet of shiny silver canoes. Each had an indian name painted carefully in curlicew script on both bow and stern. The management keen to tell me that these were not just any canoes but Grumman canoes. It rained all the time so the aluminium armada remained largely dockbound while the unhappy campers spent their days tie dyeing . Arrived at a rain drenched Wilkes Barre from JFK on Allegheny airlines. What ever became of them? They seemed to have had an unfortunate habit of falling out of the sky. Like Eastern,TWA and PanAm, now part of history. Can Pennsylvania really be as wet as Scotland ?


  1. At age eighteen I was a Graham Greene obsessive. Do eighteen year olds read him these days, I wonder?
    Cheers, Gail.

  2. Me too -- read all and still have Graham Greene's work on my book shelves and many fairly close in my mind.

    But Angus, the real shocker, is that my mom married a TV tycoon from Wilkes Barre when I was sixteen or so and we spent summers at Harvey's Lake. A long way from la France profonde and la Floride profonde. My first flight ever was on Eastern. When it folded in the 80s, friends and I drove down 36th Street in Miami honking horns in protest.

    Brave Wilf. We love him so. What a dear chap he is with his trusting belief that all is well as long as he has his mates around him.

    xxx Joan

  3. I know that look you're referring too. It's followed by one of gratitude for understanding what they're trying to tell you. I hope Wilf feels better.

    There are still many summer camps tucked into the area of Pennsylvania that you refer to --I've been there, and they still have the indian names and there are still aluminum canoes and they still tie-die. Unlike airlines, some things never change.

  4. Wilf is such a blessing, thank you for sharing him with us every day. :)

    Blessings and Love,
    Janelle and Maggie Mae

    PeeS What a lovely and well deserved tribute to your blog and Wilf over at Tales and Tails.

  5. I hope that Wilf feels better soon. It must be hard to get the insulin dosage right. Funny, I've seen the apologetic look from all my dogs besides R. R drinks gallons of water and is not the least apologetic for making one of us stand outside in sub-freezing temperatures while he pees for 5 minutes - so long that he has to switch which leg is lifted repeatedly.

    I lived in Pennsylvania for a long time and it's not as rainy as Scotland, I can assure you. Funny to read about places that I know in your blog from France!

  6. The Allegheny Commuter - how I hated to be booked on one of those flights!! That had scuttled itself in the recesses of my mind.

  7. Goodness Angus, you stirred memories out of deep recesses this morning. Grumman canoes--you could ram those into anything. Graham Greene--thought I was an adult. Alleghany Air--'TreeTop Express'--oh how I hated that airline. Does that help tell you where it went.
    Wilfie: Zach has to go out at weird hours too, but he doesn't apologize !!!

    Zach's mom

  8. My grandparents lived in Pittsburgh so I was quite familiar with Allegheny airlines. In fact, the first time I flew alone was when I was 8 or 9 and flew from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. The flight was called back to the gate after my grandparents had left and I had to sit with a stewardess until the next flight and then I got bumped into first class! I believe Allegheny became US Air.

    Ah, those stoic looks. Petey can sigh like a long-suffering soap opera star!

  9. A small Beagle adopted us for a time. That wee boy could pee forever - I remember standing outside with him, suddenly realizing he was still peeing and wondering at the capacity of his bladder.

  10. Well, Wilf, you have to stay in shape for the next round of tire christening! No shame in that.

    From what I've heard, Pennsylvania is a lot dryer than Scotland this year. I just wonder, is there anyplace you haven't been?

    P.S. I hope you don't mind about the award. Sometimes I think it's just nice to hear that other people are touched by your words. I greatly envy your way with them! :)

  11. A great GG quotation is: "Like some wines our love could neither mature nor travel."

  12. I don't know about Pennsylvania and Scotland, but I know Arizona will never be as wet. We would like the ability to compare it one day!


  13. I often think the reason I like to be up in the wee hours is because the phone doesn't ring. But perhaps, as you suggest, it's because of all the unexpected thoughts that appear during those dark hours.

    Perhaps you were thinking about the quote from Schopenhauer...
    "The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it".

    At any rate, my husband always says that every writer has all the material they'll need by the time they're seven. I think he stole that quote from Harper Lee.... or maybe Eudora Welty.

    Love to the fellow!

  14. I had a dream last night that Wilf came to visit us. It was one of those dreams where you feel it is actually happening but at 2:10 am it ended when Diva Halle woke me up for her own trip to the yard.

  15. I just came across your blog today and it has been very sweet getting to know your Wilf. Beautiful pics! I have a weimaraner that graces my blog every post who coincidentally has just gotten through tough medical times so it was pretty cool to see the good news continue as far as Wilfs health. Good thoughts and great luck to Wilf and the whole family!!!

  16. Amazing what one thinks of during the wee hours of the morning, isn't it? Hopefully the insulin adjustment will be spot on and no more nightly trips to the garden. But we must say, what a handsome boy he is today!!! Keep going Wilf, you are wonderful.

    With love from your Canadian frozen peoples,
    Dianna along with Tor, Willow and Tucker

  17. I always wondered why those random thoughts appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night. I've decided (for myself, at least!) that it's because I'm not online, watching tv or talking on the phone. There's nothing to distract me so my mind tends to wander.

  18. Those hours of deep night have an uncanny way of unlocking all sorts of memories; happy, alarming, confusing, bitter sweet.. We don't welcome them. Hope it was a happy time for you.
    Could it possibly ha(e been Wilf just plain and simply needed to pass urine? We pray to God that it was.