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Sunday, March 25, 2018

What's Going On?

"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away." ~Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, 161-180 ACE

     What can I say? First of all many gracious thanks to everyone--boaters and land lovers--who contacted me after the Middlewich breach occurred, to ascertain whether or not I was affected and if I was all right. I am on the Shropshire Union and have been for the past month so I am okay in that respect. 
     Some of you may have noticed the absence of my last post. I was attempting to clean up some Blogger stuff and accidentally deleted my last post titled "The Beast From the East." Sorry Pip and Mick, Steve and Angela, Phil and Mike and the others who left comments for me. If I could ge it back I would but I don't think that is possible. 
     Time is strange in its passing for me. Each day seems to drag by so slowly and yet all of a sudden four weeks have passed and I have yet to post anything. I still have to talk myself into getting out of bed and facing a new day. Those slow passing days are consumed minute by minute by me attempting to figure out how to move forward into a life I did not ask for and don't want; a life without Les in it. March 19th was his seventy-first birthday and March 24th he will have been dead fifteen months. From mid December on to mid March I have felt as though the world was tilted on its axis and I was sliding into a major depression from which nothing could rescue me. Buffeted by doubts about getting on my feet and moving forward--not just here but in two countries, I've suffered profound regrets at choices made and changes embraced without any real worry about my future. I gambled on trusting the universe with my fate--and I've lost. I am frustrated at how hard it has been to find a job. Actually I've found quite a few and applied for eight, interviewed for a couple but not gotten a single one of them. Back in the States I have always gotten every single job I've ever applied for and wanted but the last time I applied for employment in America was seventeen years ago. I think being a sixty year old woman is counting against me. Employers want fresh school leavers (high school graduates), or young people with newly minted degrees. I am now a part of the invisible generation. I don't feel old, and I don't think of myself as old, but when I look in the mirror without my personal preconceived ideas about who I am, I see an older women staring back at me. I guess this is what employers see as well. All of my education and experience doesn't count for much over here. The other trend counting against me is that applications and all the rest are on-line now and some mathematical algorithm determines whether or not I am worth bothering to interview. I miss the days when one actually went to the place seeking to hire, spoke with a live person face-to-face, filled out an application by hand, turned it in, and then hopefully interviewed and got the job.   
     I seriously considered selling the boat and moving back to the States despite the fact life would be only marginally easier there as it is my country of birth. But I would have to start all over from the ground floor literally as I walked away from my home in Pullman in 2011, losing $40, 000.00 in a crappy market economy in which houses were not selling. Returning now I would have to buy a car, pay a premium on insurance because I have not been insured in the last two years, find a place to live, and find a job--hopefully one that offered decent health care insurance and one which would not count being a cancer survivor as a pre-existing condition which was the case when I moved over here. Yes, I know this issue is supposed to have gone away with Obama Care but I also know many people who are still without insurance due to this issue. Companies find their way around all the laws they can when it means making a profit. I would be giving up a life I love, one I dreamed of before ever meeting Les, and one filled with so many wonderful memories of Les and I together. One thing I do know about rebuilding life (Yes, I've done it more than once; in fact I've done it four times) is that nothing much happens until one chooses a path and stakes a commitment to it. I am my own worse enemy in this respect, and I need to make a decision and come to an acceptance of life as it is. This is how I've been feeling since December. Now with the actual arrival of spring, the longer days splashed with a bit of sunshine and visitors galore, my spirits are lifted.  Having neighbors like Elsie and Eric nearby makes me feel at home here in Cheshire.   
     Elsie and Eric Fletcher on NB Bendigedig called me a couple of weeks ago to ask if they could come and visit. Of course! One partly sunny day they showed up when I was moored at Hurleston Junction. After a cup of tea we walked back up the flight together and they were kind enough to take me to lunch at a lovely place, Alderford Lake, near Whitchurch. The cafe overlooks a lovely lake where one can swim, canoe, or saunter along the edges. Inside the cafe building is also a bijou gift shop with some really pretty items and outside plants of all kinds are for sale. After lunch we drove to Whixall Marina where Eric and Elsie live aboard their boat. It is a truly lovely spot on the Prees Arm of the Llangollen Canal. Thank you both for your fine company and for a lovely day out seeing the beautiful Borders countryside. 
     About four days later I had two more visitors and of course in true Biggs' style I forgot to take their picture. Ah well, it was Robert Rogers and his sister-in-law Sharon. Robert used to own wide beam Wind in the Willows. He is one of the many lovely souls we met on the cut and he became a steadfast friend--and really more like family to me and Les. After grappling with the difficulty of staying in England and living aboard his lovely boat or giving up his life here and becoming a British ex-pat in Brazil, he chose a new life in South America, marrying his lovely Roseni and living a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean. Robert's work brings him back to England several times a year and he was kind enough to come find me and to bring his lovely sister-in-law with him. Time spent with Robert is always deeply spiritual and satisfyingly soulful and I hit it off with Sharon as well. Thank you both for blessing me with your company, and for removing the old chimney and putting the new one in place. And thanks Robert for the figurine. It means more than words can say. 
     Last Friday Debbie Davies of NB Tickety Boo drove down from Liverpool to spend the day with me. Debbie followed Les' blog prior to his meeting me. Then she followed my blog "So This is Love" avidly. She continued to tag along with us as Les and I blogged together. I discovered her blog in 2009 and followed it closely from the States, waiting eagerly for each new post and enjoying her writing and beautiful pictures. Les and I always hoped to get up to Liverpool to meet her. Now that I am based in Cheshire, I was close enough for Deb to come and find me. What a a wonderful day we had together! The two of us are kindred spirits. We have shared experiences in common, and as I sat listening to Debbie talk about nearly giving up her boat  and then deciding that she loved her life aboard too much to sell up, as we chatted about what living on a boat is like as women who live on our boats alone, and all the things that need doing, and all the amazing things Debbie has done to her boat to make it the lovely home it is, I began to compare our conversation with one I had with Robert, talking about the logistics of selling up and moving back to the States. I knew suddenly that I am where I belong no matter how difficult life may seem at present. As soon as I get a job I will be all right. I will even be able to move forward on my own without Les. I may not like it, but I will find joy in life once more and part of that is staying on NB Valerie and making the best of the situation I have been dealt. So I offer soul deep thanks to Robert and Debbie for reaching out to me, and listening with their hearts while I poured out my own, and thanks to Eric and Elsie for ttheir welcome company and cwtchs. That's Welsh for hugs.
     Part of my dissatisfaction with life has been the realization that I am having to become one of those boaters who cruises a short distance in a local area. I am not a bridge hopper and I am not a continuous moorer but I am no longer a continuous cruise cruiser in the sense of the meaning Les and I enjoyed.  I have no choice but to cruise a specific patch of cut in order to access buses to Chester, Nantwich and Crewe to look for work and then hopefully to go to work. I cannot afford to take a marina or on-line mooring. I have considered both and neither are anywhere in range of my pocketbook.  I have been in touch with CRT and I have been assured that as long as I cruise a minimum of 21 miles in a year and don't overstay anywhere without legitimate permission, I will be okay. My circumstances cannot be helped and it is what it is. But I don't like it and I feel guilty for having to do it and for judging others harshly in the past without having any understanding for what their circumstances might have been. So I am working on letting this go as well. 
     At present I am moored up back in Nantwich after having been down as far as Bunbury. I came back up here for doctor's appointments. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy in six weeks which is the soonest Leighton hospital could fit me in. In the meantime I will cruise slowly down to Chester, staying two weeks anywhere I can access the bus. Where I am currently offers a morning alarm clock provided by the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which wakes me with both its drumming and its call.  At night I am serenaded to sleep by owls calling to each other amidst the canopy of trees along the cut, under the sparkling stars and the waxing crescent moon. Life is all right--for now.  
Moored up at Hurelston Junction. the gap is caused by the infamous "Shroppie Shelf," a concrete lip that sticks out about eight inches below the waterline It was originally intended to keep working boats from causing damage to the canal. Now days it is a trial for boaters mooring up because we cannot actually pull in flush to the side of the towpath. This requires the purchase of tire fenders which fill the gap. It also requires me to make a jump to board the boat or risk doing the splits!
Two of mine and Les' favorite boaters: Eric and Elsie who live on board their boat NB Bendigedig which is Welsh for Fantastic. 

Looking down the four locks from the top of the Hurleston flight which starts the Llangollen canal. It is a nice half mile walk from where I moored on the Shroppie at the Junction, up along the locks, across the field and along a very dangerous busy roadway to the bus stop which takes one wither to Nantwich and Crewe or to Chester. The saving grace: Snugbury's Ice Cream farm is just up the road and makes the walk worth it with fifty flavours to choose from!
Standing with the lock flight behind me, looking across the farmer's field towards NB Valerie moored on the Shrophire Union canal, on the right of this picture. 
Looking back at the first lock at the bottom of the Hurleston lock flight.
Standing by the bottom lock on the Hurleston flight and looking at the Junction where the LLangollen meets the Shropshire Union canal. To reach NBV I walked along to the right, over the footbridge and down onto the towpath. 
The footbridge over the Shropshire Union at Hurleston Junction. 
The CRT barge heads off for Calvely in the early morning. 
Robert Rogers gave me this lovely figurine of two swans titled "Together Forever." I cherish it as every time I look at it I see Les in the larger male swan and the way he always tried to look after me. 
The lovely Debbie Davies at lunch--without her glasses!! 
Ruth on NB Mountbatten, breasted up with their butty Jellicoe. She is holding the boats steady while Richard fills my tank with diesel. This is Chamberlain Carrying Company who usually ply their trade on the Llangollen canal. They were headed for the working boat convocation in Chester next weekend and blessed me with an appearance at just the right time. The breach of the Middlewich branch cut off Lee and Roberta on NB Halsall, from their usual carrying route and means they will have to take the long way around each time they run their route now.  
Richard in the process of stacking nine bags of coal on my roof. 
This is how the clothes get dry in winter...
and my first load of clothes hung out to dry in today's lovely sunny, warm spring air!!


Judith nb Serena said...

Lovely blog. Glad to see you back, I've been wondering where you were and how you were doing. Life must be very hard for you but I'm pleased you now have it in your mind that you are on the right track, that can only make life easier for you. You have such wonderful friends, it must warm your heart. I love the swans, it's a beautiful figure. Glad you survived the snow, spring is with us now, life can only get better. We are at Audlem at the moment deciding what to do now due to the breach so hopefully we will eventually meet up. Hope you have more luck on the job front. Love and hugs Judith nb Serena

Anonymous said...

Dear Jaq ... It must be a relief to feel that you've come to a decision and acceptance. The coming of spring and the clarity I hope will brighten up you days. Sooner or later some employer will recognize the contribution you can make and I hope it's sooner. So fantastic what supportive good friends you have. Yea!
Karen in Pullman

Unknown said...

Hi Aunt Jaqui,
So nice to read a blog from you again. I have missed them. I will email this week. Love you, Brandy XO

Carol said...

Hi Jaq, sorry to hear that you've been feeling very 'down' and that now that spring seems to have arrived you've come to a decision that your life is here in the UK onboard Valerie. When I saw the figurine of swans I remembered a photo I took a long time ago (June 2011) when we were on the Thames. My memory told me that I'd posted it on the blog but also perhaps on fb explaining that it reminded me of two very lovely people very much in love. Here's the link, I hope it works. Keeping our fingers and toes crossed that you soon find employment. Lots of love and hugs to you.


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Judith,
Thank you and yes, life is just a bit easier now that I am certain I am where I belong. Doubt is such a crippling emotion. You are so close!! How long will you be at Audlem? I could take a bus up there.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,

Yes! Yea to spring, to assailing doubt, and to the amazing and wonderful friends we have on both sides of the pond. I know you understand where I've been on this journey as well as where I find myself now, because you've been here, there, everywhere. Sending you and Jim deep love and hugs,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Brandy,

I look forward to hearing from you as always. Spring break around the corner?? And summer, soon, soon! I hope all your chil'un0s are behaving and they appreciate what a great teacher they are fortunate to have this year.

Deep love and hugs to you and Rick, and your momma too!

Aunt Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,

I remember that picture on your blog very, very well. I was so touched (and still am) by it when you posted it.

The depression is an understandable consequence of grief. loss and the requirement to begin anew whether one wants to or not. It is a part of the journey and all I can do is live with it and try not become overwhelmed by it to the point I stop functioning. I have many decades of experience with depression so it has stood me in good stead. I am simply grateful my heart and soul have turned a corner in the healing process. One never knows who long profound grief will keep one company and to be honest it is as tiring for me to wake up each day to face it as it is for all of you to hear about it. But this is a process that one cannot gloss over or escape without dong severe damage to one's being and life so I plod along and do my inner work in an effort to make sense of the world and my place in it. At the very darkest times I know how fortunate I am in our friends. You've all been such a comfort to me and your love and care has made this difficult journey a little more bearable.

Love Jaq xxx

Pip and Mick said...

Hi Jaq
You deleting your post 'Beast from the East' was only pay back for me having deleted a comment you left on our blog, it was by accident. Glad to hear you've weathered the last bit of snowy weather, here's hoping the world stays green through Easter.

I'm selfishly glad that you've changed your mind about returning to the States. We'd only just go to meet you, now there is more chance of us seeing you again.
Hope spring will bring the right job along.
Much Love
Pip, Mick and a purr from Tilly x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Pip,
Thanks so much for your kind words and loving support. I am relieved to have made up my mind. I don't do well with indecision and of course I would be chuffed to bits at our meeting up again some day.

Love and hugs to you, Mick and Tilly,
Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs