And while I’m thinking about it, Jessica Chastain. And Lasse Hallstrom for director.

Continuing the casting fantasy of my book A Coward’s Guide to Living, the pivotal role of the red-headed Reverend Rose Beecham should go to Jessica Chastain. As Beecham is described as an unusually good looking minister, Chastain is the natural choice.

Her previous roles as a gambling entrepreneur (Molly’s Game), political operative (Miss Sloane), and author (The Help), position her as perfectly suited for the demands of a minister.

And as her last role as Tammy Faye Baker was that of a minister’s wife, she can take the pulpit for real in this one.

Lasse Hallstrom would be a great director for this. His story telling in The Cider House Rules; The Shipping News; Haachi, A Dog’s Tale; and The Hundred Foot Journey, among others, points to his understanding of the human condition in all its forms.

A bend in the road… and not for the first time.

It was near the end of the year and Jacob Will thought he knew where he was going until he didn’t. Like all plans upon the impact of the unexpected, they’re destined to change without notice. No map, GPS, or even the best of intentions will ensure an unfettered arrival. There will be turns or detours that might reveal something of value. And then again, maybe not.

But it definitely won’t be boring.

Watching the fog roll around and drinking wine.

After the initial concussion of our cottage by the bay, Carla and I are acting like we live there. We could do this – downsize and do it here. We don’t need all: the clothes, furniture, tchotchkes, appliances, whatever that we have. This is life simplified. This is life without pretense, life without malls, life without Walmart. This is good.

We go to the general store up the road for all the immediate essentials we need. We get to know the shopkeeper by name. That’s easy – this is Newfoundland after all. How many times have I said that? But it’s true. We chat daily and she shares with us her nephew is in a band (all teenagers) and we ought to buy their new CD. We do. It’s really good! No, it’s very good. The group is called Eventide and they’ve recorded a number of traditional Newfoundland folk songs. We play it a lot. Even the record store in St. John’s carries it. How cool is that?

Eventide CD (freds.nf.net)

Newfoundland doesn’t have some of the hangups the US does. Admittedly, there are some states which are more liberal than others, but I’m not talking politically. I’m talking about what are reasonable expectations. If you want to buy hard liquor along with wine and beer, go to the government store for the best selection. If you just want to buy some beer or some wine, hell, then just go to the general store and get some. What’s the big deal?

It was no big deal. It was late in the afternoon, we had done about as much traveling as we wanted to, so off to the general store and pick up a bottle or two of wine. If you’re a practicing locavore, try the Canadian Jackson Trigg wine, it’s surprisingly good and affordable. So we did. Or if you’re into beer, Quidi Vidi brewery out of St. John ‘s makes some mighty fine brews. Yes, I can attest to imbibing both of those.

Oh, yeah, good stuff. (signalblog.ca)

With our larder thus and properly stocked, we went home. It was just as well. It was getting on to dusk and a fog was rolling in. Time to get out on the porch, crack open a bottle of wine, sit back, listen to the waves, watch the fog make everything look mysterious and romantic at the same time and very much alive.

Yes, life is good.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to… (with apologies to Snow White and her minions, not to mention Steve McQueen).

In the estimation of my wife, I had become obsessed with Newfoundland. Yeah, alright, it’s true. (Could an intervention be far behind?) The two trips up there had been transformative experiences for me. Now that she had seen what I had seen, she wanted to go there. Who was I to argue?

Planning the trip was easy as she wanted to go to the places to where I’d been. Since we did not have as much time as I did originally, I planned a truncated version which I felt would give her good exposure to this land with which I’d fallen in love. Keepin’ my fingers crossed!

Our flight would get us into St. John’s well after midnight, so we would have to take a taxi to the B&B I’d booked. I stayed there on each previous trip as my starting point and didn’t see any reason to change that. Since we would be arriving late, they left me the punch-key code to get in and our room key outside our room. Cool.

As it was so late, the car rental counters were closed until later that morning. We would have to come back then and pick up our car. So, we hailed a taxi and were treated to a rapid, Bullitt-(the movie) like trip downtown. The driver was a typical friendly Newfoundlander and quite fond of using the f-word. “F” this, “F” that, entertaining to a point, but losing its charm halfway there.

Our driver only thought he was Steve McQueen.

We arrive at the B&B around 1:30 AM. I punch in the code, go upstairs, schlepping the luggage up (three flights!) to our room, look for the key, and hear snoring…in our room! Since I didn’t book a semi-private room, this could not be right. I tried calling the owners several times, leaving messages, but to no avail.

But we were downtown and just a block or two away from a large hotel. Down three flights with the luggage and out on to the street. Off we went to see if there was any room at the inn. Down a hill, up a hill with our luggage in tow. (Do you think I’m making a really good impression on my wife at this point? Surly is not one of her more attractive traits.) We enter the hotel and go to the reception desk and ask for a room. No, there was no room at this inn. There was a Harley Davidson convention in town and all the rooms were booked.

However, this being Newfoundland, the uber-friendly concierge started calling all, and I do mean all, the other hotels and B&B’s in town in an effort to get us lodging for the night. At 2:00 in the morning! But to no avail. The bikers weren’t the only convention in town. The other convention could have been Beanie Baby collectors for all I cared. (No, this was not starting out at all as I planned and my wife was quickly resenting this trip.)

The concierge was quite apologetic. He suggested we could leave our bags with him and go further downtown (four blocks) for food and music if we were so inclined. My wife was a bit apprehensive, no, a lot, about walking in a dark city at 2:30 in the morning. We both tried to reassure her this was OK. How could anything could be open at this hour? Hah! This is St. John’s! Off we went.

Within a couple of blocks, music of all types could be heard. People were out and about having a fine time. Before long, so were we. We got food and drink, listened to some music, and wandered safely back to the hotel where we were invited to rest in the lobby (!) until morning. Try that anywhere else and you’ll be arrested for vagrancy! In Newfoundland, you are truly welcome and they’ll go out of their way to prove it.

Later that morning, we’ll go to the airport to get our car, where I’ll make major points!

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