Friday, February 19, 2016

Growing old in Wales

Made home-made mayonnaise last night.
Spent five days in Wales with Murray. Five days with an old school British Officer, a Northern Rhodesia vet, a high-level martial artist. And he taught me how to make mayonnaise. And how to tell if an egg is raw or hard boiled. And the proper protocol for how, what and when an officer and a gentleman drinks*. And the elements of chip carving.

He walks with a cane. If confronted, the cane slips behind his back and every element of his face and body language looks like an old man shrinking back in fear, but that cane can come out from either hand, thrusting at at least six finishing targets or swinging.

His students are a little in awe of him. He has to protect his hip and back and he doesn't have the stamina of fifty years ago, so he finishes things very quickly, very efficiently. What he has lost in speed, he more than makes up for in timing. Where he probably used strength as a youth, he now uses precise targeting. At speed and under pressure, that's a product of both training and live-fire experience.

His creative energy is in decorative carving. In under three hours, he made a plaque based on a Welsh love spoon for me to take home to K. It's his meditation and the way he creates. And that's one thing: for the sake of sanity you need to do something creative. We all need to make palpable beautiful or functional things: Write. Paint. Build furniture. Restore cars. Garden. Something. There is an emptiness in your life that grows when you are passive.

We had a nice visit on a three-masted schooner, the Kathleen & May, the last running Welsh-built schooner. Murray's part of the trust restoring the Helen II a "nobby prawner" in Conwy. The sailing world is pretty small, and it was enough connection that the couple restoring the schooner took us on board and showed us around.

There aren't many people with certain backgrounds who are growing old successfully. Murray is one of them.

Create. Learn. Stay Dangerous.

 *Gin and tonic is strictly for lunch. Whiskey and soda at 1800. Wine with dinner. Port with cheese after dinner. If a night cap is necessary, then brandy.
"But I don't like port," I said.
"That's not the point."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

*Gin and tonic is strictly for lunch. Whiskey and soda at 1800. Wine with dinner. Port with cheese after dinner. If a night cap is necessary, then brandy.
"But I don't like port," I said.
"That's not the point."

I like this, but I can't explain what I like about it.

Maija said...

Awesome

Lise Steenerson said...

Love everything about this blog: stay creative, active and dangerous.

Mostly I love your uncanny talent at being able to learn something from everyone you meet.

Tiff said...

We discuss this topic a lot, my "family" and I. It's amazing how the most hardened operators are secretly the most talented artisans and poets.

Tam McCracken said...

Now I want to meet Murray - only with that progression of spirits I might be face down by the end of the evening : ).

Josh K. said...

:-)

What did he use as his base, if not giving out a trade secret?

My current favorite recipe is bacon grease from after cooking up a batch. As you go along poor the grease into a coffe mug to cool bacon bits and all.

Tiff said...

Dear GOD.....

Josh K. said...

What?

Josh K. said...

The full recipe:

http://paleoleap.com/paleo-mayonnaise/

Josh K. said...

Oops, Sorry Rory, hope you don't mind the link. Should have asked first.

Mimerki said...

"Create. Learn. Stay Dangerous."
I may need to put together a cross-stitch pattern for that.