Saturday, 7 December 2019

Chapter 206: tomato sauce with my chips

The grandkids survey their food and think. Looks good. Just what I want.  Except for one thing. Where is the tomato sauce?

A waitress hovers protectively.

Kay: “Tomato sauce.”

Grandfather Alan: “Can you please the waitress politely?”

Kay: “Please can I have some tomato sauce.”

Me: “That’s good. Perhaps you could take it a step further. Perhaps you can educate her. Tell her that chips and tomato sauce taste really nice together. Perhaps she will learn something. You will get to help her. Get to make her life better.”

Kay: “You should eat tomato sauce with your chips.”

Bruce: “They are my favourite food.”

Bruce: “Hands up if you like chips.”

They all put their hands up. Without hesitation.

Now I can say: “Hands up if you have your hands up.”

They look at each other and think shall I humour the old man.

I then say: “Hands up if you like potato.”

No hands go up.

I tell them that chips are made from potato and they all think: We know chips are made from potato. We know chips taste better than potato. Everybody knows that except old men. Which means more chips for us.

The waitress returns with some tomato sauce and says: “I will try tomato sauce and chips. Sounds good.”

I look at the clean tables, sugar shakers, the expectant chairs, the indoor plants and ask them do you remember the last time you came here.

Bruce: “I am here when I was a baby.”

I then say: “Well when was that?

Bruce: “Last week.”

I could attempt to educate him but he is distracted by my plate.

Bruce: “Look grandfather has finished his food. He was racing.”

Grandfather Alan: “I was not racing. Take your time. Eat slowly and enjoy your food.”

Bruce: “There is food on your face. You have smashed food on your face. You should put it in your mouth not on your face.”

Kay: “I will get you a tissue.”

She is up and prowling the glass food display cabinet holding homemade cakes and muffins.  On the counter are some bottles full of water and a pile of tissues. She grabs a tissue and brings it back to our table.

Kay: “Wipe your face. And be careful next time you eat. Don’t rush.”

I wipe my face.

I am happy. They are embarrassed in public by a dirty retired old man’s face. They care about the old man. They care enough about me to tell me off.

I don’t like the subject of dirty faces so I say: “That is a long chip.”

Kay covers it in sauce and slowly sucks it to death.

Kay: “Chips are my favourite food.”

I say: “What about chicken?”

Kay: “Chicken is my favourite food.”

I don’t know how many favourite foods she has. I know she has three best friends but my eyes wander to the staff in the kitchen. They are active, busy, bending, stirring, decorating plates and preparing more favorite food.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Chapter 205: pill testing

My grandkids dance around the lounge room.

Bump and thump and grinding in time with the radio.

They say: Look at me.

They kick their legs high and say: Can you do this?

I doze and dream of twenty years’ time. I dream of them doing what they are doing now. Enjoying themselves. Exercising physically and socially. Listening to music and kicking their legs. Throwing their arms. Rolling their hips. Twisting and turning. In twenty years’ time I dream of them dancing at a music festival.  Maybe not after a bowl of porridge.

In my vision of future music festivals I see free and loose unrestricted dancing. I see people getting high on the music and movement. Not relying on drugs to lift themselves up.  I see them getting high by being with their friends and by making new friends. By dancing with other people. By enjoying physical movement of themselves and the people around them.  I see them enjoying physical contact with other people.

In this future fantasy festival I smell legal and illegal drugs amongst the swirling twisting legs and arms. I see my grandchildren obeying the law of the day. Whatever it is.  If they don’t like a law they will try and change it. They will know the law of the day and where it is made.  They will know how and why laws are changed and how to be a part of changing laws they don’t like.

In my dream of the future I see official government workers. Promoting and spreading messages about a healthy lifestyle. Promoting a drug free life style. Promoting safe, minimal use or no use of tobacco, alcohol and party pills.  

My dream contains a few dark clouds. I see some people taking illegal pills. I see some weak people attracted to a quick fix. I see people making mistakes. I see people who are not perfect. Who have not had perfect lives. I see people attracted to dangerous pills.

My dream shows me police not arresting people for taking illegal drugs. My dream contains police who treat taking of illegal drugs as a medical problem. Not a problem that can be solved by locking people up in prison. My dream shows the community helping the weak pill takers. Helping them understand that illegal drugs leads to crime, death and suffering. Locally or in foreign countries.

My apparition includes strong healthy happy people getting high on music and dancing. Living their life without the assistance of quick fixes. Not needing magic pills. Illegal or legal.

My vision contains a scene with positive and constructive people wandering around and talking to the weak. Give them advice and helping them get high by dancing and grinding. I see the strong helping the weak.  I see the strong helping others avoid a tiny little pill. I see crime death and misery avoided here and far away.

My hazy foggy view of the future shows me my grandkids enjoying a music festival. Enjoying the music and movement without taking illegal pills. My dream doesn’t include pill testing. My dream doesn’t include scenes of people taking good healthy pills. My dream includes the weak, troubled, naive being helped. Being helped by their friends and public workers.

I  see my grandkids enjoying music, enjoying their bodies and being sensitive and compassionate to the people around them. 

They can dance to music this morning before school. Why can’t they do it in twenty years’ time? In twenties years they won’t have their grandfather embarrass them by thinking he can kick higher.   

Friday, 15 November 2019

Chapter 204: Real Tasmanians

I meander on the Queens Domain with my grandkids. Along a track by the river we see the remnants of a pile of shells, some bones and charcoal. I ask my grandkids what has happened here. Did someone eat some shell fish? When did they eat the shellfish? When did people stop eating shell fish down here? What else do you think happened here?  

My mind travels back in time to years ago when these middens were made. And twenty years in the future. When my grandkids are adult Tasmanians. 

I want them to see the story behind these shells as their story. They live in Tasmanian. They see the future of Tasmania and their own personal future as being linked.  They are Tasmanians. They need to know where Tasmania will flow in the future. Before they know where we are going they need to know how we arrived at our current position.

They all go to a nearby primary school. Everybody at their school is unique. They all look different. They all have different heights, weights, hair and have different abilities.  They all have different heritages and different antecedents. Some were born in faraway places. Some can trace their family back for generations living on this island. All either came here or had antecedents that came here sometime from somewhere. Most are a mixture.

Every student at the school is the same, unique story. My grandkids have a wide variety of ancestors.  Their great grandparents lived in disparate parts of this globe with no knowledge of their coming connection.  Their great grandparents eventually came together; then the grandparents; then the parents and finally they were born. 

I would love to see all the school kids respect all their classmates because of their differences. Rejoice and appreciate the differences. Celebrate and laugh with the guy sitting on the next desk about the food he eats. 

I would love to see all the kids in all their classes accept the history of all Tasmania as their history. 
“A long time ago some early Tasmanians ate shell fish down here by the river” 
“A long time ago some early Tasmanians built this great big house.”
“I want to remember the people who selflessly and bravely fought in a World War 1.”
“I want to remember all the people who courageously fought for their lives and culture up here on the Domain.”
“Who was the Queen in the Queens Domain?”

Maybe my grandkids can learn from New Zealand kids.  Before the All Blacks play the team performs the haka. The haka comes directly from one particular Mauri tribe. This tribe is proud to share a bit of their culture with other Mauri, Pakeha and others. The rugby players coming from far off lands are all happy to accept the haka as their haka. All New Zealanders are proud of the haka. It belongs to all of them.  

In twenty years my grandkids will be adults. I want them to be proud Tasmanians. Proud of the history of all Tasmanians. Proud of the history and culture of early Tasmanians who lived here thousands of years ago. Proud of the history of the early Tasmanians because it is their history.  Proud of the aborigine’s knowledge and connection to the land. Proud of the institutions and connections the British settlers bought with them. 

In the future I hope my grandkids will live in a world without barriers and walls. A world without discrimination and prejudice. Where everybody around the world has equal opportunity to everything (health, education, housing and employment). Where everybody can live where ever they want to. 
Where everybody acts responsibly about their local environment. Where everybody knows it belongs to everybody. And where everybody assumes it is up to them to look after it. 

I hope my grandkids live in a world where the only tribalism is on the sport field. Where the sporting spectators are the only people who resort to bland stereotypes. In twenty years I hope all Tasmanians are proud of all Tasmanian history and see it as their history.  

Friday, 1 November 2019

Chapter 203: I love traffic

I take a couple of steps to cross the road.  I then see a car turning the corner and coming towards me so I abruptly stop. At the same time as I see the car and stop the car sees me and stops. Both me and the car are still. We are both motionless. We wait for each other to move.

Well if the car is not going to go them I will. I start to cross the road.  Simultaneously the car decides it’s time to drive forward. We both move towards each other.  And then we simultaneously stop again. We are mirroring each other. I now look at the driver. Trying to decide what is the next step in our dance. The next step is to share a laugh.

I continue my walk alongside a major arterial road. Ceaseless streams of cars.  An endless noise constantly changing. Trucks provide a throbbing, deep, bass sound.  Motor bikes provide a shriller, sharper sound.

The never-ending steam of cars perseveres. It keeps on appearing from nowhere and giving me views of the very fortunate drivers. The drivers are all fit and healthy.  They can all control the car by moving their bodies.   They can all see the road and the other cars and hopefully me.

Somebody has gone to the trouble of teaching them how to drive.  Somebody has become frustrated sitting next to them pointing out the obvious.

The drivers are all driving in a car which cost money. Most of them have jobs and have saved up to buy the best car. Which is normally a different car from the next driver.

The drivers are all watching the other cars and obeying all the rules. They are all driving on safe roads maintained by the fluorescent brigade leaning on their shovels.

And I see one guy driving and sitting next to a furry companion. The curious dog sits under a seatbelt and peers around. That guy looks very happy.  

I squint for a closer look at the next car as it flashes by. Dangling, swinging objects hang from the mirror. The car is a blank canvas which has been decorated. And the final work of art is displayed for everybody to enjoy.

And next car is a polished, gleaming car showing pride. With mag wheels and very thick tires. This gleaming, shiny car is not stained with stickers.

Unlike this car. A doll on the dashboard, flags from the aerial and bumper stickers. Telling everybody what footy team is the best.  

And now a car with cushions. Soft indulgent cushions lying unused in front of back window. They are very useful for making the driver happy.  

I then hear music pumping, thumping and causing a car to rock and roll.  The driver and passenger both sing along.
And I see a lucky guy who owns more than a car. He owns a mobile phone. And he sits in his balloon of silence and talk to people he’s doing business with. He doesn’t have to search for a public phone. He doesn’t have to hunt for petty cash.  He can settle and solve the issue now. He can save himself time. Today he can be more productive.  He is making the economy and us all richer.

ime for me to re-cross the road.  All the cars obey the traffic lights and stop when told.

All of the drivers are very fortunate. They are lucky. They live in a prosperous country. They live at a time when they can afford to buy a car. They can paint it their favourite color.  They can decorate the car.  They can fill it with cushions.  They all drive carefully and consider the drivers next to them.  And next to them is another driver obeying all the road rules. They are all driving along a road devoid of potholes. They can conduct business at the same time. They are fit and healthy.

The drivers are all waiting for me to cross the road. They are all very fortunate and very lucky. Except for one thing. They have to sit and fiddle with their steering wheel and watch me dance across the road.   

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Chapter 202: wander with my grandkids

I go walking with my grandkids.  I suddenly see a gap in the stream of cars and grab my opportunity and rush across the road.

My grandkids linger on the footpath.

I find myself, by myself, on one side of the road with my grandkids huddling together in safety on the other side of the road. I hurriedly rush back across the road.

I say to my silent grandkids: “I just did the wrong thing. Can you tell me what did I do wrong?”
Bruce says: “You crossed the road.”

I say: “Yes that’s right. I crossed the road when it was not safe. I should have waited.”

I then say: “I will now show you the safe way to cross the road. Stand safe on the footpath. Look up and down the road. Tell me when it’s safe to cross the road.  Look this way and then that way.”
They then say all the right things and we cross safely.  We don’t rush.

As we wander further we approach a low brick fence. Kay and Gertrude argue about who is going first on the fence. Bruce just climbs up and walks along the fence dodging the bushes. They all follow him. They tell me, “You are not allowed up here.”

We continue our amble.  It occurs to me that making a mistake has been a good learning experience. My mistake has raised an important topic. It has helped reinforce the correct way to safely cross a dangerous road.

I notice Kay has a flower in her hair. She looks charming and cute but there must be a garden we have just passed which looks a little more barren.  Must mention to her if she picks a flower other people don’t get to see it. Maybe she picked a flower overlapping the path and getting in the way?
Further along we approach a big, annoying, barking dog.

I must get them to learn that this is a dog to avoid. That this dog is not one to pat. He looks ugly, scary and frightening. More a guard dog than a friendly pet dog.

I stick my hand between the palings and pretend to pat the dog.

I then say: “Whatever you do. Don’t do this. This dog is not one for patting.”

Kay says: “Why not?”  

I turn to face her and say: “Glad you said that.”

The dog grabs my finger. I feel the teeth pierce my skin. I feel the teeth grinding on my knuckles. I can even hear it. Ah that hurts. It really aches. Please let go.

I pull and pull and pull and eventually unite my blood stained hand with the rest of me. Blood drips on the footpath and on my pants.

I garb a hanky and hid my finger in it.

They laugh uncontrollably. They laugh loudly.

They nudge each other.  They all say to each other: “Did you see that?”

As well as laughing they are curious. They all watch the blood stain as it increases in size. They are fascinated as the bool stain grows.

They all want to look at my cut finger. I exhibit my finger.

They are now quiet. So I say: “What have we learnt?”

Kay: “Carry a handkerchief.”

Bruce: “That’s right. You always need a hanky.”

Kay: “That’s right. You don’t want blood on your clothes.”

As we wander on I realise I have made another mistake. It was a mistake to think they only learn from mistakes.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Chapter 201: What we talk about when we talk about being political correct

A few days ago I overheard one of my grandkids say: “She said I could come to her party.”

Today we take her to the birthday party. She jumps from the car; screams; runs past some balloons and aims for the front door. The birthday girl emerges. She sees Kay and her present. She smiles and rips the paper.

Her mother takes charge of a growing pile of used birthday paper.

Another lady decides everybody is now here. It is time for some games. She raises her arms and yells: “We are now going to play some games. Everybody sit down in a circle.” 

She organizes pass the parcel, pin the tail on the bilby, musical chairs and free time on the trampoline.
The adults play a game called find someone to talk with. The men play the game standing holding a beer while watching sizzling sausages. The women play the game in the kitchen. Discussing what plate to use, where the plate should go and how people should serve the food. 

I hear a man say: “Well I can’t tell you another joke like that. That is not politically correct.”
Another man says: “But it was funny. You’ve got to admit.”

Looking around I see the kids are all being very politically correct.

One of the kids has an obvious physical disability. The other kids think about what games he can play. They decide he can have slightly modified rules.

All the kids are aware that some of the kids have parents who come from faraway lands.  That they eat different foods.  All the kids accept all these differences.

I watch as everybody (boys and girls) playing with everybody.  

They are all being politically very correct.

A sausage finds itself in the flames. A cook picks it up, wipes it and puts it back.

A passing woman says: “Well that is just typical of men. That is what you expect of men.”

I then decide I will help the women arrange the food on the table.

A woman says to me: “I’ll do that. You go and have a drink.”

She points me back towards the scrum of men cooking the sausages. 

The table finishes up laden with fairy bread, sandwiches, little boys, a fruit platter, party pies and sausage rolls as well as sausages. My heart is cheered when I see a lot of the kids devour the fruit such as strawberries and water melon and banana. 

My cheer evaporates when I see the drinks available. The soft drinks depress me.  Soft drink is empty calories. Obesity leads to more health problems than tobacco. It is possible for these kids to enjoy yourself and have a good time and drink something healthy.

A party is exactly when you should set an example. Set trends. Change behaviour. Change the way people see various foods. They will remember.  Show people that you can enjoy yourself in the short term and be healthy in the long term at the same time.

My thoughts make me feel morose, glum and lonely. I can’t have any kids see that I’m unhappy.
I tell myself: “It’s a party. Enjoy yourself.” 

My wandering brain reconnects with reality. Mum enters grinning broadly. Holding the special cake. The status of her family depends on this cake. Shaped like a unicorn and impossible to cut.  

Candles appear and are lit.  Cameras are poised waiting for the birthday girl to blow the candles out. The song “Happy Birthday” arises. I don’t know which way the song will finish. I do know that all the kids think it is a happy birthday and all have behaved politically correct.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Chapter 200 : Bruce is happy

Today Bruce is happy. It is his birthday. He is happy with the Beyblade he has just received. He then shows me how to spin a  Beyblade. He plays a game against me. I then manage to increase his happiness. I do this by playing the game like a know-nothing old man and losing worse than the Giants did.   

He then tells me about the names of all the Beyblades he wants in the future.

I don’t want him to live in a society where he gets anything he wants anytime he wants. He understand this. He also understands that Beyblades costs money. That somebody somewhere has to pay for it. Either his parents, his friends, himself or me.

I want him to look forward to a new Beyblade; to dream about it and anticipate it. To eventually get it and eventually enjoy it.

He has been to many birthday parties but he knows that birthdays are about giving as much as about receiving. He gets a lot of pleasure out of giving exactly what that person wants. He reaps what he sows.

We then watch the TV news. There are is a cavalcade of stories about what should be done. They should spend more money on the hospital, housing, roads, or at his school. They should stop ramping; they should increase the number of hospital beds; they should build a new bridge; they should employ more nurses; they should employ more firefighters; they should do something about the traffic; they should build more public housing.

He agrees with everything that should be done. He agrees that everybody should get what they want and do what they want.

I imagine him living in a better society than what exists at present.  A society which spends more on health, education, public housing and our roads. This society will need more money to pay for more spending. I imagine this society will have increased GST or increased income tax or users will pay more.

I dream of him living in a society where people love paying tax. Where people love contributing to their society. At present people are proud to crowd fund for the unlucky few, love volunteering or happily donate to help cure cancer.  I want them to be as proud about paying tax. To welcome it as an opportunity to support and help others in our society.  Those who are mentally ill, disabled, unemployed, pensioned or suffering in a foreign country.

I want Bruce to think of the government’s budget the way he understands his family’s budget. He understands that in his family money comes in which pays for all the food, the clothing and toys. He understands the amount they spend is similar to the amount of money coming in.

I imagine him living in a society where he will continue to watch the daily news. Where what he says and thinks matters. That he contributes to the general conversation via newspapers, radio, TV or Facebook.  I imagine him, in the future, using these opportunities creatively and compassionately.
In the future I imagine him feeling connected to the politicians. Thinking that it is a worthwhile activity talking to the politicians. That they listen and do the right thing.  That they do what is right and best for his local community, his nation and his planet.

In the future when I imagine him talking or writing about some issue I imagine him as doing more than saying more money should be spent on... I imagine him talking about the raising of money. He will suggests increasing income tax or increasing the GST. He will talk about new taxes and different ways of raising money. Or creative ways of getting the user to pay more. Ways the council, State or Federal government can raise more money.

As I dream about taxes Bruce is in touch with reality. He gives me tips and advice on how to spin a Beyblade and then does it much better than me. He is happy.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Chapter 199: an Aussie meets some ex-pat Aussies

On my recent trip overseas I encountered some expats Aussies. They were proud to be Aussies. Proud to celebrate the Australia that they left behind. Happy to encounter a real life Aussie.        

In Hobart the ex-pat communities get together to keep alive the culture they left behind. They do this via language, religion, music, food, dancing and making the kids wear embarrassing clothes.

In distant lands I encountered an ex-pat Aussie who told me about their local ex-pat community and what they celebrate.
They have a sweep and a get together on Melbourne Cup day.

They have a party on AFL grand final day. With people dressed in their team colors.

On a day close to Boxing Day they have a Boxing Day cricket party. Replete with plastic bat, ball and wickets, cossies, beach towels and a radio.

They don’t care about Sam Kerr. They don’t realise she is one of the best soccer players in the world. They don’t care about Elise Perry who is arguably our best cricket player.  You could argue Steve Smith is our best cricketer and she is number two.

They do know about Ash Barty. They had heard of her.

The ex-pats made me realise our society has changed. They are stuck remembering our society the day they left. They are stuck in a time warp.

While they have lived overseas and spent years remembered Australia, Australia has changed.

AFLW has arisen. Women are now playing football professionally with increasing media coverage. At the moment facilities are not quite at a similar standard but we are heading towards equal facilities. We are heading towards women and men having similar opportunities, similar leagues and similar facilities.

Cricket is travelling along the same path. We are heading towards a day when women will have similar opportunities to men. The will be able to play cricket in the back yard, local comps or aim for professional matches with all the associated opportunities and stress.

Since these ex-pats left Australia it has become more egalitarian than it used to be. More people have the opportunity to play more different sports. More people have the opportunity to be fit and healthy:  physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially.  And this is good for everybody.

If women play football at the local club then the men benefit as much as the women. The men live in a better balanced society with happier people and are released from their old straight jacking limiting roles.  When a woman is allowed to play football a man is set free. He is liberated and free to follow his own path.

When I look at my grandkids I imagine them as fit and healthy adults. I imagine them as being fit and healthy physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. I imagine them living in a society without discrimination. Without discrimination based on sex, heritage, ability or age. I imagine them as playing sport. Of having access to good facilities and well run competition against and with people they work and live near.

I would like to see them as being fit and healthy. I hope they finish up with good, positive, constructive jobs. If they finish up working in the media I hope they have equal opportunity to become a sports journalist. I hope it doesn’t depend on their sex. But if they do finish up in the sports media I hope they think about their health and fitness. Not the fitness of the players they are commenting on.

Based on my encounter with ex-pat Aussies they left Australia when it was not perfect. Based on living in Australia in 2019 we are still not perfect but we are heading in the right direction.  Towards a worthwhile goal.  Makes me proud to be an Aussie.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Chapter 198: Seattle: Photos


Chapter 197: Victoria: Butchert Gardens: Photos



Chapter 196: Victoria: Butchert Gardens: Words


We do an evening tour of the Butterfly house and the Butchert gardens. Our guide entertains us with some amusing and colorful stories.

The butterfly house contains butterflies, birds, animals and fish. Mainly tropical and sub-tropical.
We arrive at the Butchert gardens in the dark. Lights illuminate the paths. Our guide gives us a map and tells us to back at the bus at a certain time. We then decide to get lost. As we wander up and down the paths we continuing bump into our group. They all get in first and ask us which way to go.
After a while we give up peering at the stunning gardens and concentrate on being back in the bus on time.

Back on the bus the guide entertains us again with a story about the founders of this garden. They were in Europe booked on a return boat trip. They received a wire telling them an eagle had killed their European finches. They made a detour to Germany to get some more European finches and missed their boat back to North America. The boat was called the Titanic. When they eventually returned to Victoria they devoted themselves to building these incredible gardens.
These stunning gardens owe their existence to two people missing a boat.

Chapter 195: Victoria: Butchert Gardens: Photos

Chapter 194: Cruising to Victoria: Words

Cruising to Victoria

Elderly American lady: cruising. I just love cruising. I enjoy sitting, eating and having the waiter look after me. It is my fourth cruise. I have not done any shore excursions.

Another American lady: The gala night is my highlight. Getting dressed up. But it was not what it used to be. People even wore casual clothes.

Another American lady: We haven’t done any excursions. When we get to port we wander the shops selling curios. My husband wants to go on a different line next time. Says this line is just for seniors. No night life. I tell him we are seniors.

An Aussie cruiser: The staff get $350 a month. They don’t see their kids for 8 months. I want to makes sure they get the tip.

Chapter: 193 : Ketichan: Words


We take a bus to a guided walking tour.

We go past a short street. It is where a cemetery is situated. The sign had to be changed from dead-end street to no-through road.

Rains 300 days a year. Everybody lives on tank water. No town water supply. If it doesn’t rain for four days it is a drought.  This year has actually been very dry and the salmon have had trouble swimming upstream.

We walk in the rainforest looking for a bear. The forest is the second biggest forest in the world. The biggest temperate forest.

The guide shows us giant slug. If you put in your mouth your mouth will go numb. She proves this by putting it in her mouth and saying her mouth is now numb.

A female bear hibernates in winter and gives birth in a cave. She eats the feces of the cubs (to avoid attracting predators). Males will eat the babies if they can get them.

The salmon ie for a year in the stream then a couple of years in the open sea. They then return to their stream (smell) and migrate upstream. They spend about a month in the stream. Their flesh goes rotten as they prepare to spawn. In the stream bears, eagles and other bird try to eat them. After spawning they die. There are five different types of salmon in these streams. Each type forms a run.

We prepare to board the bus. The guide says she will refund us each $80 as we haven’t seen a bear. As she says this a bear decides to deny us a refund. A black bear waddles along the river. It eats fish, sits and walks unconcerned and uninterested in the crowd of tourists taking his photo.

Back on the ship I return to the gym. I gaze out of window and see a whale rise out of the water.
On the walking machine next to me a lady suddenly stops, presses buttons and screams out.
I ask her: Are you alright?

She looks through me and then back to her machine and then I notice she has earphones in her ears.

Whales then start surrounding the ship. Flapping and splashing on every side. Also a few dolphins.
That night I watch USA TV. One channel is violently, passionately anti-Trump. It doesn’t even pretend to be object and even-handed. Another channel barracks for Trump. I know understand why Michelle did not want to talk about politics. In the USA it is different. You barrack fervently for one team or the other.

After our walk in the woods I can now answer one question. I didn’t step in it but I did see it. Yes a bear does shit in the woods.

Chapter: 192: Ketichan: Photos B

Chapter: 191: Ketichan: Photos A

Chapter 190: Sitka: Photos

Chapter 189: Glacier Bay: Photos C

Chapter 188: Glacier Bay: Words

Glacier Bay

In the gym the view out the windows is of endless natural beauty. My old dental surgery has a video screen in the waiting room displaying such scenes. On this ship we have real life views of natural beauty.

Lunch is just as good as the views. Choice of many tasty, innovative, well cooked meals. Desert includes Peach Melba. Does anybody else know this desert gets its name from Melbourne?

We cruise past glaciers, rocky mountains, floating lumps of ice, seals, sea otters green grass on low slopes of the mountains. The sun emerges. No wind. Few clouds. I am a cruise passenger. I lie back with a full stomach and watch the changing panorama.

It is not possible to not enjoy this. All I can eat and drink, with no decisions to make, no work and no responsibilities.

Chapter 187: Glacier Bay: Photos B