Done Or Gone

This arrow in the sky hung over the Strait Of Juan de Fuca for hours. It was a strange weather phenomenon

Sometimes good things happen. Yes really!

I first need to offer a kudo to an institution in Ladysmith, the ’49th Parallel Grocery.’ With all the flap, (and rightly so) about plastic bloody plastic, and single-use bags, the 49th has come up with a sensible solution. Heavier bags! Now they are multi- use bags, reusable! Wot a concept! I was a wee child when plastics were being introduced to the world, who could have seen the devastating effect this blight would become.

Paper sacks were what we used and they were hefty enough to be used over and over. My old mom threw nothing out. Even the wrappers from lard and shortening were folded and saved in the fridge for greasing baking tins. Of course those were also the days when folks still baked. All the separate ingredients were added. Today it is called “Baking from scratch.”Adding water to the powder in a box was not how one baked anything. Good grief we had it tough!

Speaking of “good old days” I had a wonderful experience today. I’m heading into the woods for a few days. Ayre is with me. I stopped for a late lunch or “lupper” in the town of Lake Cowichan. A fish ‘n chip shop advertised Deep Fried Ice Cream and so I assumed the main course would be fine. It was excellent! What intrigued me was their insistence that I bring Ayre in. She was then presented with her own little ice cream cone. Wow! It’s just what they do…screw the regulations. I love it. So did Ayre. It seemed like a surreal slip back into my childhood and it was certainly a dose of happiness, no extra charge.

A free sack to carry out your order. This wee chippy is well worth the stop
Fair Enough!
Bliss!

Our next morning has dawned with spatters of rain and drifting fo high on the cliffs above. We are beside the road between Mesachie Lake and Port Renfrew. A long time ago I drove this route on business. You followed a logging truck in the billowing dust and flying rocks and hoped for the best. Now the way has been paved and it is a beautiful drive where vehicles can fly along far too fast to admire the scenery. A sign at the head of the road warns that there is cellular service for the next 56km. “Sounds awful risky to me Darleen. Think we should turn aroun’?” We parked about two hundred metres away from it. I was amazed at the traffic all night long. Where the hell are they all going? Drug dealers? Over-enthused surfers? Night loggers? I can also note that the night was the darkest I’ve ever know. I can’t explain how my eyes didn’t adjust to see even a faint glimmer. There was only a truly full-dimension impenetrable blackness. It was grave-dark; I did not like it.

The bridge, age unknown. The parts are all clearly handmade and the crossing is at a site of a former narrow-gauge logging railway.
The stream water is sweet and crystal clear
It swings and sways and it’s magic.
The old rail grade beyond the bridge
At an old campsite beside the railbed I found all these remains littered about. How long since parts were rivetted together? Look at the U-shaped piece in the left foreground.
Don’t point that thing at me! Neo metal sculpture?

By coincidence we parked beside an old suspension foot bridge. It’s narrow and wobbly and probably won’t be around much longer, either falling down or being torn down. What its history is would be intriguing. There are the footings of a previous structure and a piece of well-worn train rail. The water in the stream would be invisible if it didn’t move or hold tiny darting minnows, trout or salmon spawn I cannot say.

A molly hogan. This is the name for a locking ring made from a strand of old cable. I didn’t notice the insect until I edited this photo.

There is a mystery and magic in the woods of Vancouver Island. They have been raped and left to fend for themselves but one cannot help but admire the energy and enthusiam employed to so thorougly devastate this huge ecosystem by hand. The forest has grown back enough to leave only traces of its former grandeur. What a time it must have been!

Ayre rose to all occasions this past weekend. She loved the beach.

Port Renfrew is a beautiful place yet it always leaves me feeling despondant. As usual, it wasn’t sunny today, but that’s not it. There is just something in the air and I’m eager to move on. I was backing into a parking spot next to a concrete wall, Ayre was bobbing up and down trying to see what it was in the mirror I was watching and yep, crunch. Swearwords! No major harm done but the general store I was going into was closed, the till wasn’t working. I guess a pencil, paper and adding machine don’t work anymore! I was a huge lineup of one and needed a bit of butter. Rhymes with bugga! Life goes on and so did we… in a foul mood.

The days offered perfect light and great images seemed to be everywhere. Editing was a hard job.

The road around the Soutwestern tip of Vancouver Island to Jordan River isn’t long, it just seems that way. There are breaks in the pavement which also bucks and yaws to port and starboard like some monster had crumpled the surface and then done a vague job of smoothing it back out. All of this in a succession of hairpin turns and steep hills.My old procession maxed out, without the trailer this trip, at 50 kph. It seemed daft to go faster. Others drove their sexy motorhomes and cars as if they were filming a new advertisement for their vehicle. Zoom, zoom the girl in the tight dress said. Holy shit people! Why is the world in such a hurry? Tick, tock, gotta go chill man!

A five pounder! Bear piles were everywhere. These huge markers indicated to me that there was a claim on this blackberry patch and I wasn’t going to be the usurper. We went back to the highway.

We spent last night in a seaside camping area at Jordan River and have decided to spend another. For $15 per night. What the heck eh? We found one spot available next to a washroom with slamming doors and clanging garbage bins. Tires crunched in the gravel most of the night as people came and went but I’m not complaining. The photos explain the rest of the story. On the beach this morning I was warned by an elderly lady, “Thet heaglez goona enjoy yer dog’s bonz fer brekfas’” then she cackled like a movie witch. Ayre, in oblivion, continued to attack bits of seaweed and yes I was aware of the pair of eagles chattering to each other. The woman meant well I’m sure.

We found it. A Garmin sport watch washed ashore. As well as recording different phases of time, it records pulse rates and various bodily states and several other bits of data.

The day wears on following Ayre’s lead with naps, frolics and more exploring. She has become a very happy dog and her company is so good for the soul. Having been my daughter’s dog, to nurture her is very uplifting and sometimes heart-rending when I am reminded of my daughter. There is, however, more bad news. My daughter, who passed in April, had a special friend. She inherited many of our daughter’s belongings.That friend also had a little dog. Libby was a buddy to Ayre. Now, unbelievably, that friend has just died. What the hell is going on? We’re going into Victoria tomorrow to rescue that dog, a daschund. This is one story I’d really like to end but when the gods call, a person must be willing to listen.

Morning at Jordan River. There lays the low road.
Low slack tide at dawn
Tide’s turn at night fall.
Surf on! This old sailor has an instinct to avoid surf, rocky beaches and immersion in cold water.
Note the inbound vessel on the far side of the strait. Surfers stayed out, clinging to the chance for one more moment of bliss riding one more wave.
Twisted anchors
Focus
Double focus
So high. This photo had to be manipulated so the viewer could vaguely see the cranes migrating south. Their calls from altitude are unforgettable.

Sunday morning dawns spectacular and warm. Ayre and I have patrolled the beach. Piss stones and kelp balls are all accounted for. Now it is time to get on with life. This is a splendid spot, full of people, mostly surfers, who all seem very positive and come with nice dogs. I’ve been driving by here for decades, funny how you pass by some really good places. Yesterday, while walking to a surfer coffee bar across the Jordan River bridge, I was tagged on the sleeve by a motor home wandering across the painted line onto the shoulder. No harm done. Fortunately, Ayre was on a short leash in my right hand. How close we come to disaster, all in a nano-second, done or gone! The vehicle stopped at the shop and I told the driver that I took being killed rather personally. The denials flew. Life goes on. All’s well that ends, Ayre is fine, I’m meant to live a while longer, time to go see why.

Sunday morning.

Boots and saddles!

Choosing the best course, the eternal challenge.

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.
―  John A. Shedd

Rite And Rong

Welcome To Campbell River. This aged Beaver CF-GBV is mounted on a pylon and marks the entrance to town.
In the colours of British Columbia Airlines, this beauty has survived the years and lumps and bumps without any apparent modifications.

Back in the jungle again. You know the tune, sing it Willy. The home front had enough of me, and I of it. Without much contemplation here I am back in Naka Creek with the whales and other urban refugees, and as it turns out, some international ones as well.

As I left town a great wall of smoke rose rapidly from the south, America is burning I hear. To add an apocalyptic touch, someone turned hard right and rammed head-on into two rows of vehicles waiting for a traffic light. There was a heap of carnage, a muddle of arriving emergency vehicles and a herd of geriatrics in spandex on bicycles running in dithering circles waving their arms. We make movies in Ladysmith. We’ll call this one ‘No Fault Insurance.’ You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. I let the wall of smoke chase me northward. It found me by next morning.

By the next day the smoke from US forest fires surrounded us.
BUMP! Floating just on the surface this old loader tire would definitely grab a sailor’s attention if they hit it.

I arrived at Naka Creek, my favourite place on Johnstone Strait just in time to see three southbound cruise ships returning from another Alaska jaunt. I remember meeting these gleaming behemoths in these waters when I worked on the tugs. It is an incongruous sight in the deep dark of an upcoast night. I imagine the passengers trying to dance their arses off after yet another gourmet buffet dinner all the while oblivious to the incredible natural world sliding by in the dark, but then endless miles of wilderness is not really what they came to see. It makes a lovely background for the ‘binderdundat’ mug shots they’ll proudly show back home in Donkey Shin Kansas or wherever their bombers takes them. By the time they’re home they will be crawling with viruses they’ve found on the cruise or the homeward flight but that strawberry creme flambe was worth it all. Laugh damnit, all humour is cynicism.

My old bush ape eyes spotted a strange fungus on this pine tree over the water’s edge. It proved to be a single remaining insulator. There must have been hundreds at one time carrying telephone or telegraph wire. Yet another coastal mystery lost to time.

My prefered spot was taken by an expedition vehicle with German license plates. It was one of those monstrous offroad boxes with the big wheels, too big really to squeeze along many of our roads. Still, I fancy them and wanted to chat with the owner. He pulled away and left. Incredibly another German RV pulled in to the same site a short time later. Soon the new neighbour befriended me. He and his wife were from Berlin. Their motorhome was built on a Citroen cab and chassis, powered with a Fiat diesel. The rest of the unit was built in Slovenia. It had a German license plate. How exotically European is that? With over 160,000 nautical miles of sailing offshore catamarans he, and she, who works as a wedding videographer in Quatar, had some interesting yarns to share. Avowed vegetarians, they declared that they ate “nothing that had parents or eyes.” And so the day passed with something else to consider.

An Adria, a European beauty. He couldn’t find any 240 v trees to plug into.
Gotcha! Berry pie a la road. Ursus Thumpus. Mounds of bear droppings on the road prove an excellent year for wild berries. Hit too many of these you’ll need some front-end repairs.

On Monday morning the day comes with overcast smokey skies. A dry rasping call of a solitary crow announces the stealthy arrival of his cousin, a brilliant blue Stellar jay. Fog rolls and curls along the water. It is quiet, it is peaceful… until an hours-long yuckfest developed on the beach and overwhelmed everyone else. Other campers clearly do not come for the same things I do. Tranquility, solitude, the music of nature; I prayed for rain. It did not come. I launched my dinghy and left. I powered north into the flooding tide and switched the engine off to simply drift and dream. The water was calm and the thin sunlight soothing. Soon I could hear voices. I could see nothing but eventually a flotilla of kayaks appeared from the far shore. The wilderness tranquility they came to absorb eludes them. Despite my persuasions, peace is not part of the urbanites agenda. The reason they see few whales and little wild life is beyond their grasp.

Out of the sunset a brilliance doth approach.
So where are the regulation navigation lights?
‘Grand Princess’
In the daylight they look like this…still out of place.
Yuk. Yuk Yuk, Yuk. Yuk.
Getting away from it all.
My beloved window. It is why I bought this old camper.

A call home on my mobile that evening informed me that an emergency was unfolding. I needed to return south quickly. I broke camp and stowed everything in the trailer. My friends had left earlier and so I went to nurse a beer alone on the beach as the last of the sunset faded. There was a roar, a blaze of light and grinding of gears. I refused to turn and acknowledge this latest intrusion. Yet another expedition vehicle! And yes, once again, more Germans! This machine was a monster military green box with a huge Mercedes emblem on the grill. As the growling diesel shuddered into quietude a thick German accent shouted at my back, “Are you vatching ze orcas?” Oh sigh! Isn’t GPS with backroad maps a wonder?

I left at 04:30. In the impenetrable darkness, fog swirled in heavy banks. Visibility was down to twenty feet in places. Over the mountains, into the valleys, across narrow bridges, around switchback corners I finally arrived on the main road out and began meeting loaded logging trucks with their bright lights. Their dust mixed with the fog. There is no headlight that deals with that. By the time daylight arrived I was back on the pavement, southbound for home by noon. All’s well that ends.

Jackson
Vinny meets Ayre
Covid Beetle or government drone?

Soon the rain and darkness of autumn will settle over this island. Perhaps I can go into the woods and be alone then.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beyond Youbou

Nitinat River. A tiny glimpse of how it might have been for a long time.

I’ve never understood why, when we live on an island plenty big enough to be a country, that everyone does not want to be on the perimeter shore that faces the ocean. But then, there’s a lot I don’t understand. Some folks prefer to go to the inside of the island and settle on the edge of a lake. Such is Youbou.

Once a bustling logging community, it is now a retirement and summer home village where certain people were once smart enough to buy properties at giveaway prices. No-one then wanted to live in such a place. The next nearest community is Lake Cowichan itself which is situated on the east end of the lake of the same name. The nearest full-sized town is Duncan, about twenty five miles eastward. There are now good roads and a regular bus service. If you are driving across to the west side of Vancouver Island, Youbou is the last place you can get gas, some groceries, beer, and a restaurant meal.

It is the gateway to places with names like Carmanah, Walbran, West Coast Trail, Bamfield and is a back road to Port Alberni. Youbou is also where you run out of pavement and must continue along active logging roads. Turn your headlights on, unfasten your seat belt so it doesn’t strangle you, and prepare to endure a washboard and pothole-studded tire busting trail onward. Use your air-conditioning to pressurize the cabin of your vehicle to keep most of the dust out. Always assume someone will be coming around a curve at you on the wrong side and never assume the right of way over a logging truck. These are not simply country roads. These are vicious industrial work routes not intended for the urban weekend warrior.

H64. At first I could not see what was wrong with the picture. Then I noticed that this equipment hauler was still dressed in McMillan Bloedel colours, and is  in very good condition. M&B sold out in 1999 for $2.45 billion. This truck carries a small load and illustrates why on this private route, you just don’t argue. He’s slowed down to meet me, but note the dust in the background.

Distances are measured by the sign boards nailed to trees, if they haven’t fallen off. Forget the time, you’ll be there when you arrive. After turning onto the Nitinat main road, I drove several kilometers to discover a road block saying the road was closed due to extreme fire hazard. Fair enough but why the hell wasn’t the sign put where you turn onto the road? I back-tracked and took other routes I know. Don’t expect things to make sense and top up your fuel tank whenever you can. I finally arrived at the native community of Nitinat where a sign advised me I needed to buy a permit for the camp ground I wanted to go to. No-one there knew who sold the permits. I didn’t feel like driving another thirty kilometres to be turned back so I’ve retreated to a nice spot I know on the Nitinat River. It was very hot and dusty so I stripped down and flopped into a lovely clear salmon pool here on a river bend. I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here. It is so pristine and peaceful here that staying put is a definite option.

Summer morning in the woods.
Bowing to the morning moon. This venerable spruce is slowly leaning down into the river and the cycle of life will turn again.

Morning arrived after a night of wonderful quiet. There was only the gentle murmuring of the river. An owl called once. The stars gleamed and splotches of faint light from galaxies I can’t begin to know were all visible through the moss-laden spruce branches. A meteorite streaked straight down trailing a tail of light. Seeing and hearing the earth as it should be I slept peacefully. The dust and clatter of the morning’s road lay beyond.

With the trailer backed between the trees, I had a nearly level spot. And… I didn’t pay a dime. Nearly everyone has their hand out.

Downtown Nitinat, early Thursday. No luck. The Doobeh Campground was closed. I learned that after a fine fellow phoned around until he found someone who actually knew. That’s the way it was and there was no point in asking why. These are good people, I didn’t meet anyone I didn’t like. I fell in love with a local dog. He was a year and a half old, black and white, with a head like a bull, built like a terrier and with a grin like a clown. After a few treats we were buddies. The fellow running a little shop told me he’d turn his head if I wanted to load the dog up and go but I just couldn’t do that. Somebody loved him but I can’t get him out of my head. He’s a long way behind me now. There are many kilometres of horribly rough logging road now past. There are detours set up on back roads. They’re hellacious.

This made the trip worthwhile. An old man, from the old school, started to build this dugout. He died. I think it needs to put on blocks off the ground and requires a roof built over it. Apart from its scantlings, there is a lot be learned here simply by looking carefully.
No lasers, no computers. It’s all done by eye and by heart. Just the art of picking the log was a skill.
What an eye! The symmetry on both sides of the hull is perfect.
Then the painter tookawalk.

I’ve ended up on the edge of Barkley Sound near a little spot called Poet’s Nook. I’ve repaired things which came adrift on today’s jaunt. There is dust everywhere. I can find no romance in any of it. Plastic sport fishing boats herd in and out of the marina in the ‘Nook’. The sky is cloudless but the beauty of the rugged islands in the sound is shattered with old logging cut blocks everywhere. Tonight I’m parked on an old equipment ramp where logging machinery came and went on barges. I was once fully immersed in the forest industry and have to accept my part in this rape. I often point out that folks can’t live in pretty, we need lumber to build our boxes and I’ve no idea how you can have a cake and eat it as well. No point in ruminating and cogitating about things you aren’t going to try to change. Think I’ll go and watch the sunset. That’s where my heart is, out there, over the dust-free horizon.

From stump to dump. That’s coastal logging in a nutshell.
Unfortunately, esthetics loose. The cost of removing this timber is huge and profits come first. Just remember where your cardboard poster and wooden stick come from.
Sunset in Barkely Sound, the back side of sunrise in Japan. Two hours later, there was low cloud, balls of fog, loud grumbles of thunder and pelting rain. Struth!

Day three of this masochism took me on a strange meandering route. Refusing to go further into this labyrinth of tortuous roads and ridiculous prices I back-tracked. Thumping and slamming my way along through swirling clouds of dust I finally arrived back at old Franklin Camp which is essentially the belly button of this part of the world. A massive project is underway to properly build a paved road to Bamfield. It seems that maintenance of the existing roads, and detours, is minimal and what do you do with hard rock and dust. When it rains the dust turns instantly to clinging greasy mud. In dry weather like we are having at the moment there also is the incessant threat of fire. One flipped cigarette butt can instantly become an explosive conflagration; a biblical disaster. To endure roads like this merely to look at the aftermath of extensive logging was not uplifting nor intelligent.

I made my decision and headed toward Port Alberni. Incredibly, after finally putting pavement under my wheels I chose once again to plunge onto yet another logging road. There is a route along the south side of Sproat Lake which, on my map, showed the possibility of several places to park on the beach. They were all taken, every one. I wanted to assemble and use my inflatable boat and motor. They have been stored for two years and need a workout. I want to find a place where I can just sit for a couple of days which will justify all the effort of shaking out the wee boat. For the last three days I’ve been enduring some sort of bladder problem. The agitation of the rough road has me needing to pump ship every few minutes. I have little value as dust control and feel generally poorly so it would indeed be grand to just park and relax. Of course the rules of the back road include one that forces cupboard to contents to flip over and spill. The camper held the wonderful aroma of curry, soya sauce and olive oil. A nice melange, just not in the cupboard. At least, unlike some new Rvs, my cupboard doors have not dropped off.

I finally found a spot on the rocky bank of Taylor River, well past the west end of Sproat. The water is crystal clear and cool. I sit on a rock with my feet in the stream, a beverage in hand, and wonder what, just what. Traffic, across the river by about two hundred metres whizzes past. Old Jack and I once spent a night here. I have a surge of missing him and wonder what’ll come of me. In the morning the traffic has swollen to a high-speed parade. I’ve had enough. Everyone seems to be out on the road. It is about two and a half kilometres to be at the spot on the highway across from my camp. I wait for one of those German off-road monster camper trucks to leave and I follow him out. By the time I’m on the highway across from last night’s stop, someone has taken my spot! It’s nuts. Passing through Coombs, I realize it is their rodeo weekend. Cars jam the shoulder of the road and folks wander in the traffic for miles on either side of the venue. It is madness. Then I pulled out onto the main island highway. Lemmings!

We embrace you. Seize the day. Winter is coming.

I’m home finally. Ayre the dog is happy to see me. What else is there? Later, I sit out on my back deck, another beverage in hand and look up again at the stars. It’s just not the same sky as the backwoods. I listen to the crickets sing their long summer song and wonder again, what else is there?

Ahhh! One for the road. It is, after all, the simple things in life. Wishing you a never-ending pint.

Some people try to turn back their odometers.

Not me, I want people to know “why” I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.” – Will Rogers

400

“Step into my mother’s garden,’ said Amantha.
“Walk toward the gate. There’s a whole new world just outside.” she said. “But I doubt you’ll ever get there.”
Daphny, the dog in the garden.

This is blog 400. I suppose that’s a milestone. It is not a very happy one for me. I’d planned to be writing this one aboard my beloved ‘Seafire’ while anchored in a lagoon somewhere on the opposite side of the planet. The boat is gone and the dream is in shambles. But, that’s the way the pickle squirts and all you can do is keep on looking ahead while also trying to make the most of the moment at hand. You only have this moment and truly do not even have the day so squeeze all the juice you can from every opportunity.

Wild
The warm aroma of dry and crushed leaves on the path fills the air. It will be lost in the earthy wet smell of autumn.
We stop often to smell the flowers.

Two days ago Ayre and I went walking in a favourite spot. It was late in the morning and by the time we completed our two kilometre loop back at the vehicle we were hot and thirsty.

No keys! “Oh gosh” I said. (Uhuh) They had to have fallen out of my pocket somewhere along our way so back around we went the opposite way hoping I’d dropped them later than sooner.

I’d chatted with a friend on my cell phone. Could that be the spot? Back at the car again after the second loop there still no keys. “Hey” I thought, “spare key!” I thought of all the other keys I’d need to replace but one step at a time. It took a while to remember where I’d hidden it but finally I extracted the precious item and inserted it into the door look. No result. I fiddled and wiggled and finally looked at the key to discover that it was only a blank, the key had never been cut. So what bonehead hides a blank key? I began to contemplate all the possible scenarios. What was best?

This was a moment when I wished I still smoked. After quitting over thirty-five years ago the urge still arises. I sat and thunk a spell. What the hell to do? I reconstructed events since our arrival and recalled that when we had arrived I had been accosted by a lovely malamute just as I opened the car door. Had the keys fallen out my pocket then while I was still in the vehicle? Finally my wide shut eyes noticed the passenger window was open about an inch. I fished the dog leash down inside and snagged the door handle. It, of course, pulled inward. Finally using a tree limb which I scrounged up I was able to eventually push the taut leash inward enough to open the lock. That was when the car alarm went off. It worked well. My keys were hiding peacefully under the driver’s seat. Never has a mouthful of hot bottled plastic-flavoured water tasted so good.

We are just a few days away from a huge crop of ripe blackberries. all we need is a few hours of rain for their perfection.
“Bugger off,” said the fly.
So they did!

All’s well that ends. My next stop was a locksmith. While he put things right, across the street police and paramedics removed the body of another fentanyl victim. Their activity seemed placidly routine which enhanced a sense of the surreal. The day progressed like a weird bad dream. We all have them. I wonder what sort of mental energy brings these experiences on. How can we harness that force to make good stuff happen? Oddly, later that same day, Ayre began barking furiously. I could not hear nor see anything. Several minutes later a rain squall arrived. Think of all the sensitivities dogs possess which we gave up long ago. A few days later, to photograph the trailer images below, I pulled onto a tiny short road so I’d bother no-one, nor they me. In the sixty seconds I needed, three different cars arrived at the spot where I stood in the roadway which I had blocked. Really! What are the odds?

My little circus parade. Folks ask “Wotcha got in yer trailer? A horse?” I reply, “Naw, just the kids.” I’m going to paint a sign on the side that says ‘Feel free to feed the monkey.’ There’ll be a drawing of a Sasquatch.
And there’s room for more. Motorcycle and ramp, kayak, inflatable boat and 10hp outboard motor, comfy bed, generator, air compressor, chainsaw, tools, ax and shovel, tent, inflatable mattress, bbq, tarps, jacks, hand winch, extra fuel and water, spare parts and “stuff.” Oh yeah, firewood! Note that there’s a hitch for a second trailer! Just in case.  I’ve built storage lockers in the front and some solar panels will go on top. As a boy I started out with a canoe and a tarp.
A friend suggested installing “Ram” ball mounts on my mirrors so I could fit the bike under the bunk inside the trailer. Great idea! The new mounts also lift the mirrors up and out enough for me to finally see the vehicle coming from behind. It’s nice to see who is going to crush you! Working mirrors are probably the most important safety item on a motorcycle. Thanks Jimmy!

We are at the time of the August full moon. I had been visiting friends on Gabriola island and missed a ferry homeward by five minutes. The next boat eventually left two hours later. I rode my wee scooter home in the dark. I now do not like driving anywhere after dark and realized that I’d never ever ridden a motorbike in the night time. My motorcycle jacket, which had seemed so cumbersome in the summer sun was now my saving grace. It seemed chilly after the heat of the day. My shorts were a cold frivolity. I ride the back roads. My little two-wheeled flivver just does not have enough power for the open highway of madmen at any time of day, let alone at night. The dark country road was my path, complete with glowing eyes in the ditch and the sudden, mysterious shapes of deer ahead. I eased my way along, tense for what might rise before me. The notion of being smacked in the face by the entire planet hung over me heavily. I tip-toed on my tiny motorcycle.

The gibbous moon was rising. It bathed the fields and forests in its soft light, the occasional window glowed warmly along the way. Soft clouds floated above. It was beautiful and indelibly eerie. Obviously I made it home and again, all’s well that ends. Today I stopped for gas at a station in a tiny island village. Fuel was selling for eight cents a litre than anywhere else. The protocol there was to first fill up with gasoline then go inside to pay. Yeah, I know it’s illegal. There were Canadain flags flying, nor protest posters, this guy was just exercising his free will and freedom. Isn’t that refreshing? No, I won’t tell you where is, for obvious reasons. That’s sad!

Osborne Bay. Sunday afternoon, August, low tide. Three golden retrievers ran out onto the mud flats which reeked wonderfully of clams and oysters. They charged about in the muck, their feet making loud splocking and squelching sounds. Then they rolled in the mud for good measure before coming for a cuddly visit. They were happy. And, so was I. It was only mud.
The knocker! His drumming filled the forest with rhythm. I know the feeling of banging my head on a tree all day.
La Puma. “Hey Woody, pull yourself together.”

Despite beautiful warm languid days there is a sense of late summer. There were spring blossoms just a few weeks ago! Now dry yellow summer leaves are falling. And get out a big pail. The blackberry crop this year is coming on fantastically!

You never know who’s watching.
It’s just a trickle but it is normal at this time of year.
En route, on track, on time. What purpose and precision! We don’t even look up.

What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Bob Dylan

( So Bob…how about a handout? )

Sunday

Dash radar. Two bogies, 10 o’clock. Range increasing. She waits on the dash when I’m out of the vehicle.

It is eerie. Sunday morning in Ladysmith, dead quiet. An early flight out of the airport is gone overhead and now there is nothing. A Harley Davidson clatters along the highway, accelerates to beat a yellow light then mumbles off into the distance. It seems very odd, there is usually a distant cacophony of traffic, sirens, lawnmowers and other distant noise pollution. All I can hear this morning is the eternal ringing in my own ears which come from too many years around noisy machinery. And, this is a quiet little town by general standards.

The same mystery which floats a tiny boat floats a massive ship. Apparently there are 2700 containers aboard the ‘Ever Shine’

Expect a flippening in U.S. Stocks.” That is what an ad read as I checked my e-mail. Well our weather has flippened. Finally we have some temperatures in the 30 degree range and I hear babble about heat domes and records being broken. “This is the hottest it has been since 1940.” No, it is called summer time. Simple. Normal. We can all check the records. It gets hot every summer and there is no need to go set yourself on fire. We’re not acclimatized and about the time we get used to some summer heat the trend crashes and someone is howling about a rainy day. STOP IT! Enjoy it while you can.

Amaryllis. Another mystery.

I sat waiting at the Gabriola Island ferry terminal a few days ago and looked across the harbour. In my brain I wrote, “Nanaimo shimmered. A band of hot air lay over the harbour like a layer of dancing prisms. There was no breath of wind. Waiting passengers left their cars to sit in the waiting room, basking in the air conditioning.” Yep, summertime!

This tiny five pound( or less ) poodle has lost her teeth, her tongue hangs out but she’s still full of love and is an essential  family member.

Such is life. I’m now picking up this blog after the August 1st long weekend. I know, the tardy old blogger! The pope has been and gone. Poor old geezer! He was hauled around like some battered trophy scalp and demanded to offer apologies for sins that go back over 500 years. The scapegoat in the housecoat wore every silly hat someone could think up for him to teeter on his old head. Good grief, who would want his job? I see the guy as a figure head, just like presidents and prime ministers; a puppet on a string. He says the words his board of directors told him to utter and now he is back home being prepped for his next mission of placation. Oddly he was not brought to British Columbia, a focal point of Canadian residential school atrocity which brought the whole issue to a boil.

I’ll keep my low opinions about all religions to myself and simply say that when the corporation of the Catholic Church, one of the wealthiest organizations on the planet, decides to embrace biblical humility and universal love, they’ll hang a REMAX sign on the Vatican and get on with the real teachings of Christ. It should be noted that the Catholics apparently administered approximately two thirds of the government-sanctioned cultural remodeling in these schools. The rest was left to protestants who were equally determined to crush the “Indian” out of aboriginal children. That is another part of the same ugly, tragic story which we have not addressed yet. The time will come.

When one nation conquers another it has always been standard protocol to impose ethnic cleansing, especially upon the children. Some purport that we were very close not so long ago to becoming a German-speaking people. At present China is trying to crush the Uyghar people in every way possible. That has always been a dark chapter in the history of man. It will never end. Power and control, that is our instinct. And so on and so on. Blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard it all before. Nothing changes.

The altar. Tiny creatures live in the pool at its base.
Busted. Wasn’t that a party?
This character was about 3/4″ long. It’s a beauty!

The back to school ads are up, soon Christmas sales will appear. If you let it, the swirling madness of our modern world can crush you.

Don’t forget to look for the tiny things.

Today I drove by the huge plastic-bound round bales of hay in the fields. They look like huge rolls of toilet paper. I reminisced about chucking hay bales up onto wagons in summer heat. If you could, you’d wear a leather apron to save your clothes from the ripping straws and thistles in the bales. You did it because you had to, the crop had to come in before rain came. I was a sinewy flat-bellied young man then. I couldn’t manage many minutes of that old heave-ho now! I recall how we did it from first light to last or so long as the dew was gone. The survival of your livestock, and so your farm, depended on a barn full of hay. 

What a different world today. Now hay is handled entirely by machine. No human hand touches the hay or the cow anymore. One man in an air-conditioned tractor can do more in a day than an entire haying crew in the old days. I actually recall some folks bringing in loose hay, not even bothering to bale it. That was an art in itself. And yes, grain was collected in “sheaves” which were then stood together on end in a process called “stooking.” You did that by hand after the sheaves had been collected and tied together by a machine called a binder. The stooks, once sufficiently dry, were then collected by hand and loaded on a wagon to be conveyed to the barn for threshing. It was complicated and all hard work but it was all folks knew. People survived, thrived and didn’t complain. Amazingly, farms much smaller than today’s were somehow able to support a few families each. It is what we call progress.

Back in the day. This is the flat-bellied fellow who used to chuck hay bales. Wonder where he went.
A storm approaches over the toilet tissue farm. It’s amazing what one man with a tractor can do.

This evening is already the third of August. It is overcast and a chilly 20 degrees. It is spitting rain.

Drifting and dreaming.
Some days don’t you just want to float away?

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.―  Albert Einstein

Home Again

Hey, that’s me! No, not the squirrel. I found this amazing work in a live red cedar in Sayward. The detail is great and the theme is perfect. The carver deserves  huge recognition.
This eagle with a salmon is incredible too. Well done, Greensides.   Glenn Greensides is a local carver in Sayward. His work is widely distributed. He has a website, just look up his name.

Muh dog’s gonna eat yers!” Ever have a period in your life when every little thing just seems weird? You begin to question your own sanity. If I’m a common factor it’s got to be something to do with me. Right? On Sunday, I tried to pleasantly ask a neighbour about an unfamiliar car apparently abandoned in our common property. I was met with a resounding shout, “Fuck Off Asshole!”

Um, ok?” Two days later there was a timid apology, which I accepted. This woman’s mother, my neighbour, had suddenly died and I understand the unpredictable emotions. What was bemusing was a man who appeared immediately after my rebuff. He refused to give his name, determined to stand belly to belly announcing that he was “The executor, ya know? The EXECUTOR!” Weird!

Last night at a campground in Sayward, just after arriving, little Ayre ran next door to greet two fuzzy little dogs. A trailer door opened a crack, a corpulent female figure appeared and roared out my opening sentence. I wanted to reply, “I see you’ve snacked down a few puppies yer own self.” but I’m learning to curb my own quick tongue. This morning, yet again, there was another apology. Geez Louise, is it my cologne? I keep having these strange encounters so hopefully the guy in the mirror comes up with an answer. It was a new moon last night, is that it?

Hey neighbour! This former German firetruck is an expedition vehicle capable of going nearly anywhere.

We’ve just arrived back at the Naka Creek campsite. Ahhh! Despite a light rain, the birds are singing, the neighbours here are friendly and I feel like I’ve come home to a sanctuary in the backwoods.

Home! Let it rain. Beautiful downtown Naka Creek.

I soon discover that I have managed to leave the power cord for this laptop at home. So, after doing some photo editing I’m down to my last giga-doodles of battery. The weather is wet but I’ll have to live a few days without life depending on my computer. It is lovely to just focus on the waves lapping on shore and all the birds exchanging insults with each other. Three northbound orca whales passed a few minutes ago and there may be more to come.

Ayre soon found herself a dancing partner. They could have waltzed all night.
Ayre  quickly found a way to launch herself up into the bunk. The view fascinated her.

Life without a computer, fancy that!    Well we’ve survived a week living together in a camper and now we’re home again with no more weird encounters of any kind.

There’s a hot spell ahead. You can feel it first thing in the morning. Heat domes we call them these days. I’ll bite my tongue and refrain from further comment. We’ll survive, like it or not.

Another Johnstone Strait sunset
Hope springs eternal.
There are a few places where the real old growth timber still stands as it always has. These Douglas fir are 12 to 15 feet in diameter at the butt and well over 200′ tall. These venerable grow with signs are any human interference. I won’t tell you where they are, you have to find them on your own.
Magic!
Look high, then look low.
Ripe.
Outstanding in the brush.
Sayward taxi.
Downtown Cumberland.
Stay cool.

Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.” Albert Einstein

JOEY!

Ayre and I both much prefer the quiet wonder of the woods. Who knows how long this old fir giant has listened to the symphony of the woods.

JOEY! SHADDUP!” The voice thunders down across the alley. It has awakened me countless times through the twelve years I’ve lived here. The women’s voice is deep and gravelly, a smoker’s throat. Her shout at her German shepherd grates out over the neighbourhood several times each day, like a Mullah from his tower.

Joey is a lovely dog, unlike her Rottweiller companion.(spell checker thought it should be rototiller…Close!) If I’m walking up the alley Joey will bark furiously but will come to the fence for a pat on the head, unlike her pal who snarls and drools like a hound from hell. The dogs never get a walk, nor apparently, much loving attention. They have a path worn around their yard just inside the fence. If the owner is in the yard, she’ll apologize, loudly and profusely, about not knowing what’s wrong with these dogs. We understand she is trying to make amends for the barking but doesn’t really care about her companions of so many years. “Just take them for a walk damnit!” Maybe she does care and her neighbours just don’t understand. Certainly, we’ve tolerated Joey’s imposition for all these years. There will come a time when we won’t hear Joey anymore. We’ll miss her.

The ant. I think the flower is a feral hollyhock, the ant was just passing by. It was lovely to my eye especially when I saw the insect.

Out of another alley last night, a black and rusty SUV rolled at a good speed. I braked, wondering what the driver intended. He gave me a vague but rude hand signal and so I proceeded. The other vehicle now lurched at me, a few feet at a time, like a bear threatening his intended victim. For some reason that triggered a mindless response from me to jam on my brakes. BANG! The vehicle rammed my car’s back end. I flew out of the vehicle and tiraded “If you keep driving like that you’ll keep meeting old assholes like me!” What the hell was I doing? I’d just broken all of the Four Agreements which I try to live by. I knew I was accomplishing nothing except to make an enemy. I’m weary of public mindlessness and selfishness but this was no way to deal with anything and what was I ever going to change.

Perfect! Not too sunny, not too cool, and ideal morning at low tide. Ayre is in the photo.

The other driver was adamant that I had violated his rights. Really? His rights? I see. All’s well that ends. My old car wasn’t damaged and life went on but think of the possible scenarios in my moment of knee-jerk madness had I been carrying a gun. I am not a reactionary thug but I am a human. It happens to the best of us when our karma runs over our dogma.

The skylight above my desk. I installed it years ago and love looking at all the different angles of the shadows.

Baxter Black, who’s he? Most folks have never heard of him but he was a cornerstone of the Cowboy Poets movement, which few have heard of. Yet in the wake of his death YouTube is filled with videos of Baxter reciting his work. He was flawless and humorous and a great inspiration as he dealt with the basic matters of life. He would always sign off by describing himself as being “From out there.” He has again proven that the big step in receiving artistic recognition is to die. Coming Bax, coming.

I went to a clock repair shop with an old wristwatch. I like these places, full of ticking time pieces and a sense that all is in control and in order. It’s a lovely illusion. When I arrived the proprietor was standing out on the curb in the pouring rain, cell phone in hand. Turns out that he was trying to spot an elderly lady who couldn’t find his shop. He works in a ground level basement of his home but somehow, despite his efforts, it was hard for this old soul to find. When she did arrive, in a late-model but battered Mercedes, the stooped old crone produced a hand bag filled with small clocks. She kept producing them, one after another all the while declaring that she was going to be late for a hospital appointment. I felt as if I was caught in an ancient Monty Python skit. “Can you fix ziz for ten dollar?” She demanded, handing over an antique alarm clock. “It vaz built in 1906 and has been vakink me up sinz I vas unt little girl.” The man behind the counter explained he couldn’t come down the stairs to his shop for ten dollars these days and besides, he couldn’t give her a quote until he knew what was wrong. “Ya, ya I must be gettink to ze hospital.” I cautioned her to drive carefully, the streets were slippery wet. “Ya, everyvon ischt beepink at me!” I find myself wondering how she’s doing.

Electric Harley. It’s not a bad name for a rock band. But struth, I’ve seen one! Throbbing, blasting, vibrating and big, big ,big was the realm of the ubiquitous North American icon. No more. It, to me, was like a biblical sign of the apocalypse. This mid-sized, black with no chrome motorcycle is owned by a man who claims it can go from 0 to 100 mph in 3 seconds. Then you come to the end of the extension cord. Haar! Seriously, I thought smoke and thunder was the whole point of a Harley. Nothing is sacred!

Modern Harleys, his and hers. Soon they’ll be antiques.

Joey! Shaddup!”

An old heart throb, the ‘Providence.’ I first met this beauty when she was packing fish for a living. The she was refitted and went into the charter business. I haven’t see her for years. She’s west-coast built and would look right at home in any European Harbour, Ketch-rigged, a wooden pilot house on a stout wooden hull, just a glimpse of her quickened this old salt’s heart and confirmed who I am.

The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” Dylan

Ps: Gone to hide in the woods for a while.

Long Weekend Saturday Morning

Aw shaddup! For some reason, there have been a large number of crows in the tree tops recently. Their croaking and rasping is not a pleasant bird sound, especially first thing in the morning.

I need to repair the paint on the back deck before everyone is awake and the wee dog comes to help me. And, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. In his last months old Jack had a hard time getting around and would content himself with peeing on the back deck. In time the paint in those spots lifted and now I go to patch that final shred of his existence. Can you believe there are tears in my eyes?

Hang on, it’s never over ’til the last petal falls.

A few weeks after Jack passed my daughter drew her last breath. I’m still in a permanent state of numbness. There is no joy, no sorrow, no beauty, no creative urges. I sit on my shoulder and watch as the world goes by. I know every moment not lived is gone forever but I just don’t have the mojo to grab the brass ring and ride on. I’m afraid of being permanently in this rut but it is up to me to find my way onward. Jill, my wife, has displayed an enormous courage and energy. She has dealt with an amazing mountain of things which one must after a daughter has died. I cannot comprehend her coping mechanism and can only admire her tenacity and grit. The little dog we’ve inherited is doing a tremendous job of motivating us.

Ayre, Queen of the Jungle.
I’ll take the high road, you look out below.
Little dogs unite!

This morning window is open. Warm fragrant summer morning air cascades in. There is the ubiquitous sound of a motorcycle and then the howl of heavy truck tires from down on the highway. There is a stop light there beside the old post office and I can hear the world accelerating into its rush to get somewhere, or nowhere. From that corner, a street climbs a steep hill to a four-way stop on main street. On one corner, every early morning, a tiny group stands in cheap polyester suits, covid masks, hats and sunglasses. They hand out road maps to heaven and will gladly try to persuade you of your sin. I wonder how they believe what they do and I feel a deep pity for them.

Up! Imagine all that this venerable giant has seen.
The organic Cadillac. Compare its life to the tree above.

On this same corner, years ago, a retired mortician used to sit on the iron bench next to the drinking fountain. I recall an old lady who said she was determined to stay alive until this character was gone. She did not want him touching her cadaver. After his retirement this obese old man sat for hours on this bench with his little dog. His suspenders were twanging taut over his enormous belly. He smoked heavily and coughed up bits of himself until one day the little dog was gone. Shortly after, so was he. Pity the pallbearers.  Life went on. The god-botherers came back.

The corner as described. The big building was  the Ladysmith Trading Store, two floors of mercantile goods. From dress patterns, needles, thread and buttons, to work clothes, boots, suspenders, long underwear and sundry household goods. All gone in a new world I don’t really understand. I liked it the way it was.

Well, we all have our persuasions. Like the mob who have taken the Canadian flag and turned it into a symbol of contempt against our own country. Despite all the problems in our nation, I haven’t heard of any of these self-styled patriot rebels packing up and moving to some place like Kiev. They damned-well know how good we have it here but I’m not convinced they actually know what it is they are protesting about. I’m bloody angry about the ridiculous price of fuel, especially diesel, these days but I’m not going out to interfere with anyone else over my peeve. I too am free to leave. I just can’t afford the fuel.

The day is rising into more glorious weather and it is time to abandon my desk. Live a little. The wee dog that was my daughter’s, and now is mine, is at the door wanting out for her morning relief. Life goes one. On Sunday we had a lovely life-giving rain, warm and steady all day long. We need it. The woods were getting too dry already. The RVs sloshing homeward on the wet highway did my heart good. I know, grumpy old bastard!

Canada Day weekend, 2022.

Fuzzy promenades down on the old Malecon.

I don’t understand all the fuss about rushing off to “Go camping.” Don’t people understand that they’re free to live in a tent and sleep on the ground all year long?” – Allen Farrell

Choice

Just grass.

I don’t like working myself into a political rant because it always alienates someone. I need the readership.

But, here I go again. I’ll be brief. I know we are Canadian, but whether a person likes it or not, we are all North Americans. We share a common border and a common culture. I hear a lot of anti-US sentiments, usually from folks who have not travelled much south of the border, but it is said that “Empty wagons rattle the most” and I’ll leave that one where it sits.

Welcome to de swamp.
Therein live some flowers.

New legislation in the US Supreme Court has once again further divided the US population over issues regarding a woman having a choice about her own body. It is mid-2022! What the hell? The term “Pro-life,” if examined, proves to be a grand oxymoron. ANYONE, who advocates people being denied basic rights about their personal well-being is mindless and entirely self-centred. I can tell you from my own experience that any person who would disallow safe, clinical pro-health and life procedures has never had to make the agonizing personal choice about terminating a pregnancy. You do not comprehend the pain of choosing to end the life of your own flesh and blood because of an overwhelming circumstance. I cannot voice loudly enough my contempt for your selfish uninformed ignorance.

A summer path.
Slug crossing. They’re marvelous creatures if you take the time to look and read a bit.

It is also very much worth noting, that same political persuasion which farcically declares itself ”Pro-life” is also the mob standing firmly against gun control. “Pro-life? Bang!”

Enough said?

Blackberry flowers already. Can you believe it?
The old trailer, of which I am very proud, but is now sold and the new old trailer. “Ya gotta horse in there?” I have several answers. It is proving durable and very handy for backroad wandering.
Indian plums are almost ripe. They’ll get a little darker and then they will be gone, they birds get them.
Gnombody home. A whimsical touch in the woods.
Tiger lilies in the forest.
Tiny flowers, as magic as bigger ones.
Ravenstone
Town flowers
On the steps to the pharmacy.
A brave new world.

 

Finally the weather has turned to summer. I’m going to go get me some.

We don’t like to kill our unborn; we need them to grow up and fight our wars.”
―  Marilyn Manson

What’s In A Name?

Mount Arrowsmith, a favourite view for me. The sunset is a bonus this spring.

Why do we name something with the noun or verb which we do? Why is a tree called tree instead of wrench or spoon or brainfart or porridge? In English an egg, in French un oeuf, in Spanish el huevo. There’s no apparent link but that’s the way the pickle squirts and we all understand each other; or not. How come hi means hello but not high? An old English expression says it’s a “Corker” which mean “unanswerable.” Bugga! There’s a lot to be said for grunts and facial expressions.

Twisted Rhubarb. Not a bad name for a rock band. Believe it or not this is growing in a garden on the front lawn of our town hall.
Also in front of Town Hall. I approve.

When I began blogging I named my website “Seafire Chronicles.” That was the name of the boat I owned at the time and I intended to document my journeys in body and soul aboard that fine little ship. Now, the boat is long gone and I’m still here (Not hear). I decided on a new clever name and renamed my blog Driftword.ca which, I thought implied travel writing, both by land and by sea. A web designer whom I hired said no. I trusted her. She’s gone now as well. I understood how hard it was not to think driftwood instead of driftword. I was probably missing a lot of “hits” because of that. I need a name which might not be poetic but will embed itself in one’s mind, be easy to remember, spell and to find. Good idea! Furthermore, she explained, anything British Columbia is a hot topic globally so best to incorporate at least “BC” into the name. And, I should register my blog as a home business for obvious tax advantages. It made sense to have a business name and an URL that were the same. My blog has essentially been a hobby and I want to produce some income with it so it is time to wax pragmatic.

A boy named Noah. This little float-a-shack looks to me as if it would be dangerously rolly-polly. Still I’ve learned not to laugh at another man’s dream.
It has character!

I looked up an available unclaimed URL and eventually came up with bcawesome.ca. It met all the criteria and although the name did not thrill me I decided to learn to live with it and applied to register it as an official business name. NYET! Someone else has a name which is remotely similar so the name and the thirty dollar registration fee were flushed. After considerable thought, lap after lap in the local swimming pool and day after day walking the dog I came up with a new name. It was one of three which I again submitted for approval. The name which was approved is BC BOGTROTTER.COM. Yes the URL was also available, it’s easy to remember and spell. Now I learn, I must apply for official provincial government permission to employ the term BC within my business name. Once that permission is granted, probably for yet another small fee, I’ll go and see if the URL is still available. Phew! Would you believe that one of the questions in this little inquisition was “What direction does your street run?” I wanted to respond, in degrees magnetic or true? Check out Google Earth and decide for yourself.

By all means, bloom where you are planted.

What’s a Bog Trotter? Well you may ask. It’s an endearment installed on me by my Scottish mother-in-law. I think it was originally an Irish term. It means lowest of the low, homeless one, eternal wanderer, despised, unwelcome, rough, course, primitive. An approximate close appropriation on my continent would be hillbilly or perhaps country bumpkin. I’ll take it, with pride. It has suddenly occurred to me that a bog trotter could even be a sasquatch. AHA! What could be more BC than that? If all of this comes together I’ll have managed a minor coup without pissing in my own knitting. Look! I can say what I want, after all I’m a bog trotter. Would you expect anything less?

BLISS! Winny laying in a muddy puddle with her ball. The ultimate.
Peek
Ayre works on her socializing skills…from between my feet. Gibson was a lovely dog and Ayre eventually played with him.
After months of nurturing two apparently dead stems, this orchid has appeared.

Frankly I don’t give a toss about being politically correct, socially acceptable nor fashionably appealing. That’s the problem with being a reprobate, your appeal comes from offending folks yet you need them in order to be sustained. Most successful comedians have mastered this fine art of balancing themselves delicately between being universally offensive and wisely charming all at once. You must manage to get folks to laugh at themselves and also feel enlightened. I swear that our prominent comedians are also our foremost philosphers and even leaders; Volodymyr Zelenskyy for example.

The old days. Check out the phone numbers.

And so we move on to the pig on a roller skater. I haven’t crashed my new motor scooter, yet. A friend who is a seasoned motorcyclist recommends some good protective gear. I’m sure losing a piece of your butt skidding along a gravel road is not a preferred weight loss method. The little fliver sits in the garage shiny new and red for the moment while I divert my attention to plan F. My little home-built trailer will grudgingly accommodate my stuff and my scooter but there’s no room for me to sleep in a pinch. I’ve happened to find a small livestock trailer which has never hauled a beast. There’s no rust from bull pee or other critter emissions and the price was relatively reasonable. It’ll hold all my gear and provide a little extra accommodation if the need arises. There will be no fancy upgrades but it will be a forever trailer which will stand up to back roads anywhere I choose to go. It may even have to become my home some day. You never know, the world seems to get progressively crazier and the notion of an old clown in a box is not that ludicrous.

My paddy wagon. It has allegedly never carried a critter and now it houses a horse’s ass! It is perfect for my needs.

Yesterday I bought some gas at a station while a tandem tank truck delivered a load of fuel. Another customer pulled in to the pump behind me. He began to rant at the truck driver about the high price of his gasoline. Pointing at the metre on his pump he screamed “I bet you’re not paying this price!” Fortunately the trucker was physically massive character. He could easily have defended himself and had clearly endured a fair share of morons. All the while an aroma of fuel vapours wafted in the air as the sparks flew. I’ve always admired these folks who keep our wheels turning and demonstrate a very high driving skill manoeuvring their massive tandem bombs in tight places. Then they have to face idiots whenever their boots hit the ground.

A crow and a beachcomber. I used to love doing that. The trade is another part of our vanishing ways.

I was hoping to end this blog right about here with something witty and humorous. Then I watched the six o’clock news. In the wake of the disgusting mass school shooting in Uvalde Texas, and the carnage in Buffalo the usual rhetorical tsunamis wash over us once again. There have been almost two hundred mass shootings in the US so far this year. They are not a big news item anymore. And don’t exonerate yourself from the pandemic of violence because you are Canadian. We are all North Americans with the same culture no matter what side of the border we live on. The sickness has reared its ugly head here as well too many times.

This old country boy has owned and used many different types of firearms. I’ve done a lot of hunting. I’ve killed as many deer with a tiny .22 rifle as with any other calibre of rifle or shot gun. Dead is dead, no matter what killed you. Banning any single type of weapon will NOT solve the problem of gun violence. There was never ANY firearm produced that is not capable of killing. That is their purpose and what they are perfected to do. SO STOP THE BULLSHIT! NRA be damned! We live in a violence-immersed culture in North America. The concept of violent death is our prime entertainment. Whether it is a video game, a movie, a book, yet another murder mystery, try to find one that does not orbit around death, death, death, the more graphically gory and violent the better. Violence is embedded in all of our collective sub-consciences. We endorse it. Even Christianity uses a symbol of capital punishment as its icon! Sorry God-botherers but violence is so much a part of our culture we are all desensitized to it.

So long as we refuse to look within ourselves, and admit our dark primal instinct we will continue to have this escalating issue. Our consumer culture tells us we are worthless unless we look like this, smell like that, own some of those, hang out with pretty people. We live with a massive insecurity and sense of inadequacy, frustration and smouldering rage. We all have an aching expectation toward things we are convinced since childhood that we are entitled. We cannot love others until we learn to love ourselves. That will not happen until we start using our personal intelligence and ability to ask questions which come from within ourselves and not from the politicians, the clergy, the advertisers and certainly not our news industry. I, for one, am weary of the notion that someone else has to solve our woes. Every one of us, is in some way, to some degree, responsible for the incipient violence in our culture. We continue to tolerate the embedding of acceptable in all our brains, both young and old.

I do not know how to sow the seeds for universal self esteem and peace. I struggle with this issue within myself. We are each a miracle, a product of amazing cosmic wonder, every one of us unique and special. We don’t need divine fantasy to realize that. Perhaps that is the problem, inverting mind knowledge to heart felt certainty. An ultimate description of evil is the destruction of innocence. But naivety and ignorance are not innocence. Wilfully ignoring darkness is not innocence. Let’s each take a long look in a mirror then follow our conscience.

Honeysuckle time
Wild roses too.
“Don’t pet the sweaty things and don’t sweat the petty things.”
George Carlin
Say goodnight

When a country with less than five percent of the world’s population has nearly half of the world’s privately owned guns and makes up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings, it’s time to stop saying guns make us safer.”
―  DaShanne Stokes