Capt. Cal and his Gallery

Capt. Cal is a retired ferry Captain of my acquaintance. We met at a local breakfast establishment that we both frequent. I go on my days off and he goes on his. Being retired, his days off come more frequently than mine. We used to nod and smile as we passed. Eventually he came over and sat down, always being careful not to be too intrusive. Very interesting and mannerly, Capt. Cal is one of my favourite characters around this town.

Capt. Cal had surgery a few years back for obstructed arteries. In human anatomy, the common carotid artery is an artery that supplies the head and neck with oxygenated blood; it divides in the neck to form the external and internal carotid arteries. Capt. Cal's was 95% blocked on one side and 100% blocked on the other. He did not think he would survive the surgery, or so I assume as he sent me a carving to remember him by. He was somewhat embarressed when he did in fact come out of surgery and back to the diner. I thanked him profusely for the stone carving. It was of a black bird with his head cocked. He stares out at me from my table.

In his retirement, Capt. Cal has taken up the art of stone and wood carving. He does primitive style work, full of personality. Today I went over to his place to see his gallery. Capt. Cal lives in a local trailer park by the river in a little (!!) pull trailer not even 10 by 7. He sleeps there and listens to the radio. He uses a community shower. He has the corner lot in this park, under a great cedar tree. Beside his trailer he has a tarp where his chairs sit. A picnic table serves as bird feeder and display case. Beside the table stand various carvings. Goddesses and imps, birds and bears, and a guardian with his arms raised over his head. I quite took to the guaradian and gave him a hug after bumping into him a few too many times. Capt. Cal has two chairs there where he sits smoking his pipe and carving. There is a faint smell of urine, mixed with the other woodsier smells. As I gazed at the figures he had carved I had the notion they were gazing right back at me, assessing me.

I came home with a stone carving. Two in fact. One that I bought is a tablet style with a man standing at a gate with a shepherds' crook in his hand. Along one side is carved *give* and the other side *take*. Capt. Cal told me he was inspired by the Book of Revelation. Although decidedly not a religious man, Capt. Cal listened to a tape version of the New Testament he found lurking in his car. 20 tapes. In a leather case. I know this because he sold them to my father who has more Bibles than any ten priests. My father is planning to gift them to my Aunt who is just as religious as my Father and completely blind now. She will enjoy listening to the King James version as read by Charlton Heston, I have no doubts.

My carving came with a little extra of a goddess I admired under the picnic table. The raccoons had their way with her and she was broken in 3 pieces. She will join my other goddesses in my bedroom.

This amazing man intrigues me. 81 years old and living like a nomad. He does this so he can pay for his longtime companion who is 91 to be in an extended care home on the Mainland. He visits her every week. They never married but have been together for 45+ years. Now that is devotion. I hope to buy a few more pieces from Capt. Cal as I can afford them.

The gallery can move to my place.