Bombastic Bastard

Christmas kilowatts. This is the lower half of main street Ladysmith. The glow goes up the hill and then the homes try to compete with the gaudiness. Honey, just leave a candle in the window for me.

The weather girl in a tight skirt warned of a deluge of rain today, that dreaded atmospheric river. I opened the curtains to find a cloudless sky and watched as frost formed while the first light of day crept up the neighbour’s wall. So far so good. I hope she’s wrong about the snow.

The Christmas Arachnid. Not bad for the end of November.

Canadians are known for politeness. We are retiring and demure to a point of absolute timidity. We can find ourselves hanging off a cliff-edge with a bully standing on our fingers and peeing on our head. We’ll politely ask if someone could please bring us a small towel. Often when you stand up against an inequity you are branded as a troublemaker. Afraid of confrontation, we do nothing. I’m not suggesting that, like some of our neighbours to the south, we shoot someone for blinking but Jeeze Louise! It’s your life, eh!

Would you really pack your dirty knickers off to someone named Sue War?

Politicians are merely people we hire, or appoint, to do jobs we don’t want to tackle ourselves. That is so from the Prime Minister’s office down to the backyard politics of the strata council. There is the presumption that these folks have stepped forward to serve their fellows but all too often we have to contend with characters who have an agenda to massage their own ego by trying to manipulate and control their constituents. Being Canadians, we say “Oh OK eh.”

When we get to town what are we going to do? Chase cats? What if they’re bigger than us?
Ayre wise eyes. she’s proving to be an excellent big sister to little Libby.
My ball!

I live in a strata-titled development. There are eighteen share holders. We moved in after living in other strata-titled shituations but the appeal of this little home, and its location, were grand and so we took a deep breath and tip-toed in. We can easily walk to our small town mainstreet and they’ve now built a pub half a block away. Unfortunately many of our neighbours, and fellow share-holders, moved in as strata virgins and didn’t understand that there is more to communal life than simply paying monthly fees and letting someone else do the dirty work. Invariably, as in all politics, apathy is a prime breeding ground for those who have a craving for control and power, even at such a miniscual level.

Despite their furious denials, we have a couple of those folks on our tiny strata council. They try to manipulate their neighbours, telling them what they must and cannot do, and have expenditures without transparency. They constantly impose condescending tones on anyone who dares challenge them and even employ vindictive tactics if you challenge their petty tyrany. We hired a professional property management company to apply some objective direction but as it turns out, that agent slithered in with our questionable concillors and so we live in a dark little world of backyard politics. They are incompetent to the point of not knowing what they don’t know and adamnant that no-one else understands more than they do. I once named this home as our “Lock it and leave it” but it clearly requires some hands-on involvement. We’d just sell and leave but can’t find an equitable alternative, especially with certain health issues and all the hassles of moving. If you are considering a move to a strata-titled situation I suggest that it’s wise to go meet a few of your potential new neighbours and ask if they are content living there. Actually, meeting the folks next door before you are committed is a prudent thing to do before buying a new to-you home anywhere.

After the wind
Autumn Road

After living here for over a decade I finally went to our recent annual general meeting and raised hell. I was indeed the bombastic bastard who shook the bushes until the monkies fell out. In the end, I have only accomplished a new awareness of our strata council for my fellows and probably made some enemies. I know that will soon wear off, but it’s the best I can do. I am stunned that folks will allow a major investment which is their own home be so mis-managed with few or no questions. A person will pay the price of home ownership one way or another. I’ve become convinced that strata-titled living is overpriced for me.

There is an old wisdom which says “The fear of change is only overcome when the pain of a situation becomes too great to bear.” I guess we have a ways to go yet. Lordy, I miss my boat!

Yeah, I know, the greatest thing about living in Canada is that we are all free to leave if we don’t like it here. Sometimes, this stubborn old sailor is inclined to set out more anchoring gear when the wind rises. Grin and bare it Billy!

Meanwhile it’s Black Friday weekend, another milestone in our lemming consumer stupidity. “Buy now and save!” A wonderful and wise elderly lady once asked me “If ye canna pay for it once, how will ye pay for it twice?” It’s the wisest financial advice I’ve ever ignored.

A Tub Boat. Some folks will even pay to ride in a boat filled with water!

We go to our modern cathedrals, the malls, and worship our gods of consumerism. It’ll make us feel gooder for a little while. There must be some available credit on one card. All is well. First you have to find a parking spot somewhere on that vastness of mall pavement to leave your electric SUV. (Stupid Urban Vanity…it may never leave pavement) Later, you have to find it again. Perhaps that’s why so many new vehicles are available in garish colours. (Raspberry fluorescent green banana, range 3.7 km, bearing 176 degrees. Bleep it!) Then you have to get back into the thing. Some dufus has abandoned their vehicle an inch from yours so you can’t open your doors. You have to clamber in through the back hatch. That’s when the mall cop shows up. Christmas! Bumhug!

Glisten in the harsh light of dawn.
Ready for winter. No strata problems here!
Nice! No tree died in the making of this photo.

Get off your dead centers.”      Paul Harvey

CPR – Computer Please Recover

Fairweather Fog

I am sequestered at home these days. The cold November rain spatters down. A dull grey is as bright as the day will get. I’ve just posted my Remembrance Day blog and I’m not feeling especially brilliant myself. The doctor tells us that Jill’s recovery will be long and slow and that she is lucky to be alive. I’ve vowed to stand by her but I’m terrified of not having the courage to do this as long as she needs me. I’ve been the jut-jawed aviator and never feel as at home as when sailing a boat in heavy weather but this, this leaves me feeling wholly inadequate. Like all things in life, you deal with it one step at a time and then one day you emerge from the swamp, ground down but allegedly a better person. Yeah right!

Fogbound, smell the coffee.
Edge of the world

Yesterday, before I’d had one sip, I managed to dump my entire coffee mug into my computer. It wasn’t as exciting as low-level aerobatics but there was certainly a rush of adrenaline. I was brutally confronted with the reality of how much of my life depends on this damned lap-top, something I love to preach against all the while I swim in that addiction fully immersed. Well, I blew, and sucked and dabbed and heated until I actually got a murmur of life in the old computador to the point of being able to write this blog. Humiliated and diminished I took the doglets and headed off for a circumnavigation of the local fish hatchery. There are usually a few nice dogs with nice people in tow and one comes home feeling affirmed and uplifted. The salmon are spawning and there are bus-loads of junior school kids hearding around the streams and ponds. Those were a challenge to out-manouver and the dog’s faith in humanity was not too severely dented. We made it back to the vehicle without them finding any fishy bits to roll in. No cleaning up after that dreaded yum!

After the wind
We talk about it, but here is how we often actually think green. Packaging is one of our biggest environmental stupidities. The smaller box, cleverly packaged, came inside a bigger box, stuffed with more paper to fill the void. And then there’s the extra diesel to ship it.
Really? So how did dogs survive the previous thousands of millennia?  Wonder when there will be a “biologically” appropriate human grocery store. They sure ain’t now!

On the way home a buddy telephoned. I pulled off of the highway onto an extra wide part of the shoulder. Glancing into the rearview mirror there was a sudden image of a black pickup truck almost fully over on the shoulder zooming up from behind at warp speed. There is nothing you can do as you watch someone’s grill expanding in that little rear-view mirror! It’s amazing what can go through your mind in a nano-second. There was a rush of panic for my little dogs, the thought that I couldn’t kiss my arse goodbye while sitting behind the wheel and then the hope that this wouldn’t hurt too mch before the lights went out. All the while I’m trying to maintain my chat with my buddy. All’s well that ends. Life goes on such as it is. 

Chain Cumulus? I’ve never seen low- altitude cumulus like this before.
“Turn over a new leaf huh, well this is an old one!”

Last night I came home severely disillusioned. I’d travelled over to Gabriola Island to attend my friend Bob’s ‘Celebration Of Life.’ I signed the registry and departed after ten minutes. Bob loved people and was tolerant and accepting but the hall was filled with a mob whom I doubt many never knew him or he, them. Banks of acrid hydroponic pot smog formed an initial barrier around the entrance. Clots of guffawing folks blocked the doorways, and a milling crowd of gormless characters were tripping over each other while carrying heaped plates dripping with food. I know I’m jaded but I was repulsed at a yuckfest of jolly people helping themselves to the free buffet. I was hungry but refused to partake. I’ve been to wakes where the body was present in its coffin as if participating but this event showed no respect for my friend and I could not bear it. A photo portrait of him looked out on the hall with a bemused grin. It seemed bizarre to me. A sailor is, by nature, a lonely soul and this was not the way to send him on his way. Fairwinds old salt, we’ll see you on a distant shore. I later explained my cryptic view to Bob’s widow; she replied that he would probably have enjoyed the event. Dunno!

Wondering and wandering. Do dogs contemplate the meaning of life?
How about fish?

 

The worm’s way.

Back at home the dogs cuddled up close to comfort me. They know! We sat and watched the tide ebb in the last rum bottle. It did not turn back to flood. I went to bed.

Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.� Flavia Weedn

Don’t Forget

Remembrance Day. The weather is typical, cold, damp and rainy. I recall parades on this day over half a century ago when I was a pimply Air Cadet. I’d stand in rank on rank at attention in my immaculate blue wool uniform, very heavy Lee Enfield rifle sopping wet with rain or snow, fluttering pigeons trying to crap on the uniforms. You’d get an itch you dare not scratch and then the bugler would blow the ‘Last Post.’ Warm tears in that cold rain. At the time it was somehow romantic and en-nobling but then I grew up some more. It is always the young people who get charmed into going to become immortal. I got to know some real veterans and almost went to Vietnam (because the US Army would teach me to fly helicopters for free) That’s another story.

After getting to know some of those people I can tell you that Remembrance Day is more than a little twisted. Yes there are hundreds of thousands of military personel who never came home but there are uncountable thousands of dead and maimed innocent civilians that were left behind. Conveniently we don’t take time to remember them. Of the veterans who made it home, there are thousands with shattered bodies and minds who truly pay an ultimate price over and over again. We try to ignore them.

War is no video game. If you think so, try an all-inclusive holiday in the Ukraine or perhaps Afghanistan.

Well, there’s my annual Remembrance Day rant, but remembering the horrible consequences of our base human nature is a daily obligation we all need to fulfill. Pray your children do not get called to go run the gauntlet.

To The Dead

bc-bog-trotter.com

Late bloomer, the autumn crocus. They appear every fall, a sure sign that summer is finished. They manage to somehow bloom just before the autumn rain begins.
Autumn Pink. Forget the girl in the tight skirt telling you about atmospheric rivers and globular warming , get out there and see for yourself what’s going on.

I’ve said it before. There are certain types of courage I do not possess. The long-suffering patience required to be Fred The Nurse is hard-come-by for me but it is payback time. I owe Jill a lot. I’m not complaining and in fact appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate my love. I am bound to stick within a short radius of home and that’s a tall order for my restless soul. I am a good cook but it is hard to produce tasty repasts for someone who presently has a hard time eating much. Yummy bird-sized portions are a challenge and a body can only endure so much quiche and soup before rebelling. My wife is slowly recovering from her cardiac ordeal. There is a long road ahead but she’ll get there. A sure sign of progress is when I catch hell for serving more budget-priced groceries. “But it was thirty percent off!” Cheap bastard! I’ve got to be the rock she can rely on and I’m almost at the back of my Spam cookbook. Then comes ‘Beans For All Occasions.”

A friend is in Mexico for the winter aboard his boat. Another amigo in Sweden has me looking for a local boat to suit his needs and budget. I’m back in the world where I belong but may not indulge while in the middle of my urban land-bound penance. Another dear friend, ill with terminal cancer, has chosen a medically assisted end. I respect the dignity of that choice but find myself beneath a cloud of will for a miracle to bring him a return to good health and happy camaraderie. I don’t want him to suffer but I hate the idea of him no longer being around. I’ll never again be able to telephone him and hear a cheery “Allo Fritz.” I did get the chance to do that recently and now he’s sailed on already. But sailors are like that, gone before dawn with little warning. Nothing is forever, grab it while you can.

Find the dog
Find the dog
Gull dawn in Dogpatch, all was calm, all was bright
The hanging tree. Beneath, a robin feeds among red berries.
Seven salmon in the stream, do they know what their passing means?
We don’t have time. Shut up and kiss me.

I got the notice today. He’s gone. Just like that. He went at his own will and avoided the indignity of fighting the miserable inevitability of a terminal illness. His celebration of life will be next weekend. I’ll have a drink or ten.

There’s no point in blubbing about anything and I’ve got on with the long-overdue business of submitting manuscripts to literary agencies. That is like buying a lottery ticket. One realizes the chance of winning is impossibly small but it is the faint hope which sustains. It doesn’t take much to keep inching forward through the unbearable heaviness of being. As I try to write this my wife is in the bathroom dry-barfing. There is nothing a person can do except wish you can help. Bowing down at the porcelain alter is horrible and so is listening to someone kneeling there arguing with Ralph and Huey. All that altercation (pun!) cannot be good for a damaged heart. It must be her medication and it certainly does not sound like a path to wellness. Swear words!

No! I said sit! This lovely boardwalk is the bayside malecon in Crofton.
This carved face is covered up at high tide. It looks up at the boardwalk.
Last ferry to Saltspring Island. it’s not really, it just looks like it.

Once Jill is well again this mundane existence has got to change for both of us. I just can’t resolve myself to sitting around waiting. How many folks end up like this? Once you adopt this mindset, you’re dead already; just a stinky corpulent fartsalot in the way at the checkout counter trying to tell folks how you used to be able to live on twenty bucks a week. You shuffle along in your plaid slippers pushing a squeaky walker and then one day the walker is for sale and no-one can remember your name.

I was in Duncan yesterday to get the doctor to pump my knees full of cortisone. (He refuses to simply install grease nipples.) The relief was almost instant and I celebrated by going off to my favourite vegetable market. Their produce is never hosed down, some of the delicate items are displayed on a bed of ice. Wet fruit and vegetables is a favourite rant of mine. It enrages this old farm boy. It is the worst thing you can do to preserve organic items and perpetrates yet another urban myth.

While in the store I came upon a lovely display of firm, full, juicy blueberries. One of the icons of Canadism is the humble blueberry. A few hour later I’m slurping them down with a bowl of ice cream. Damn they were good! I perused the little box they came in, wanting see to see their exact origin. Peru! My rage was instant. Next I’ll find maple syrup from China!

October bloom. At the end of the boardwalk this desiccated flower stood determinedly in the cold wind. I think there is no greater beauty than a fading flower.

So finally, what’s in a name. I thought that changing my blog’s name to Driftword.ca was clever and artistic. It turns out that even I found myself wanting to say Driftwood. Perhaps deadwood would have been better. Earlier this year I was trying to work with a web host who suggested that anything “BC” is a hot handle and I should adopt a name which includes the implication of British Columbia. I had to leap through flaming hoops to be able to legally use that name, just in case I was representing something government (Oh sigh) but it’s official, my new blog name is about to become bc-bog-trotter.com.

Historically the term bogtrotter refers to the lower class of Irish peasantry who roamed across the countryside, among the bogs of Ireland. It is not intended as a compliment with any use but it was what my Scottish mother-in-law called me and I chose to accept it as a term of endearment. It is also where you’ll often find me, in the backwaters and backwoods, where I choose to explore. You’ll seldom find me near any bright lights.

A peaceful easy feeling.
Checking the pee mail.
An aroma of wood smoke set against the cold, damp bite of an autumn afternoon. Snug!

The weather has been descending rapidly into winter in recent days. Today the first steady, cold downpour has settled over us. It suits my mood. The dogs are huddled near the fireplace and I may go join them. Tomorrow may come. Maybe not.

This photo best describes my buddy Bob. I will miss him dearly. Thank you dear friend.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
―  Mark Twain

Tick, Tick

Heading out. Three men in a tiny boat go to sea in anticipation of finding a fish to kill
Under the high way. We live under a designated air route where commercial flights come and go to Asia. The weather has been beautiful, though dry, and we had best enjoy it while it lasts. Six contrails line the sky.

Tick, tick, tick, tick. It sounds like rain dripping on a roof. It is the rhythm of meters and gauges of the monitoring equipment wired and plumbed into my wife’s body. She’s had a heart attack and after a week in the hospital, things are going better. There’s a stint installed but after subsequent complications she is in an induced coma and a ventilator. There is a harness of plumbing down her throat and I feel horribly helpless. There is nothing I can do except just be there. And, nobody can piss off my wife simply with their presence like I can. Haar!

Wired. One side of the bed. The other was just as busy. All the wiring and plumbing fed into my wife’s anatomy. it’s so hard to just sit there and feel useless.

A week later, she’s still in the hospital. This and that have happened and now she is lost in a sea of delirium. I suppose if her rants weren’t directed so pointedly at me and the hospital staff, it would be funny. Even though I understand the situation, it is quite cutting and hurtful and it is hard to not take things personally; which of course is foolish. This will pass, but then there is the daily drive along the snot-chute which is the south island highway, then into the Downtown Victoria traffic and finally finding a parking spot at the hospital, only to spend a few minutes with your loved one before realizing your presence is upsetting her; that’s a crusher.

A fungal sweat, but this too has passed. Jill is home again.
I can’t resist saying “Look at the pecker on that one.” Blue herons are one of my favourite birds.

You reverse your route homeward with a heavy heart and despair that there is nothing else you can do. Meanwhile, every third zoom-head on the road seems to want to kill themselves and take you with them. I caught myself doing 120 km/h to go with the flow and still felt I was holding up production. Once finally home you spend the long minutes through the rest of the day, and the night, pondering if she’ll come out of this and wondering how long her minutes are. At least I have the two wee dogs and their wonderful company. One of Jill’s greatest frustrations is that I’m not bringing them for a visit and refuse to understand that they can’t come into the hospital. That breaks my heart. The dogs would do so much for her, if only they could indeed visit.

The girls. Remember how you hated being tickled when you were little?
The new girl in the house. Libby has made herself right at home.
My bookends
Da girls wuz here
Collateral damage
I’ve got your back.

I know that some folks endure this kind of ordeal for years. May the gods grant me that kind of courage to stand up to whatever challenges lay ahead. Even if it were not payback after all the years that Jill has supported my back, I just want to get her well enough to come home. So, enough blubbing about poor me. Jill needs everyone’s positive thoughts and yes, even prayers. She has had a horrible year and does not deserve this. Through her long career as a teacher, Jill has positively influenced thousands of lives, both students and teachers. That she has been dealt these hard hands this year is completely unjust but then life is seldom fair. Thank you to those who have offered and provided their support. It means so much.

Almost three weeks later she is home again. She is frail and weak and has lost a lot of weight. (Hospital food!) She has a stint and a pacemaker, covered in bruises and bandages. She is definitely not up for dancing on any tables but there is still a spark in her eyes. The dogs are thrilled to have her home and so am I. We don’t know what the future holds but we’ll take it on one day at a time.

Sadly one of my dear friends has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I can say without reserve that I love this man, a highly skilled shipwright and craftsman who has lead a wonderful life and drawn around him a brilliant assortment of friends who are also lovely people. He has taught me a lot and flavoured my life brilliantly. I’ll not mourn for him yet but am horrified that his days may end like this. BASTARDS!

What more is there to life than the ocean, a dog, a stick, sunlight and someone to share it with.
On the hook. Anchored beneath the October harbour moon. Don’t call me in the morning.
Nanaimo River low. In our seasonal late-summer dry season, the river runs clear. Despite the cries of the apocalypse apostles, this is normal until around mid-October. Then the rain will come, any day now, the salmon will spawn and the doomers will use the autumn weather as yet another sign of what they want to prove this week.
Meal with a view. On the way home from the hospital we stopped at the Malahat Chelt. The cuisine, the service and the prices are as good as the view of Finlayson Inlet at sundown.

Perhaps providentially, I found this poem today and post it with my blog instead of the usual quote. It is timely and appropriate.

To laugh often and much;


to win the respect of the
intelligent people and
the affection of children;


to earn the appreciation of
honest critics and endure
the betrayal of false friends;


to appreciate beauty;


to find the beauty in others;


to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,


a garden patch, or a redeemed
social condition;

to know that
one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.


This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you, Bob.

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

Around A Corner

The Bee’s Knees. Little Ayre tries to rule the house and I’ll admit she is an endearing enigma.
Remove all tags before operating.
Aw dad! Naaw! You said these were rolls of toilet paper. NOT!

Some times when I’m poking around YouTube I stumble onto something special. I came across a performance on America’s Got Talent which is a live audition of selected acts. What I saw was a woman named Jane Marczewski aka Nightbirde. She was skinny as a rake and incredibly beautiful, even seeming to possess an aura. She sang a song she had written called ‘It’s OK’ and brought the house down as they say. She was fighting terminal cancer and she said some amazing things. “I’ve got a two percent chance of survival but that’s a lot more than zero.”

She also said “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore until you decide to be happy.” Wow! Isn’t that warm and fuzzy? Jane has since passed away after inspiring millions. Her appearance has inspired so many other lives. It got me thinking. Head happy or heart happy? It is indeed a mighty challenge to make yourself feel happy by choice but to be happy is very different. I cannot even define that very well. I suppose it has to do with living within a sense of well-being no matter what happens to you or those around you. Then I thought further and wondered if folks like Mr Putin have inner peace. Suddenly I was exploring madness. Religions offer a promise of that, for a price, and a lot of folks have written books and make speeches about living in a state of divine nirvana. I once heard a therapist describe clients who all wanted to be happy and his perspective was that it can be achieved when one gives up expectations of bliss. Who ever told us we deserved to be constantly happy. There’s a headful!

Ayre’s favourite beach
Is that Canada over there? The mainland beyond the Gulf Islands and across the Strait Of Georgia.
Who says you can’t photograph a nightmare? This ant-covered flower seemed surreal to me.
They kept coming.
Is this better?
Some sunsets, the shoreline seems to take on its own glow.

Perhaps simply being content in the moment, at peace with a current reality, knowing that nothing is forever and that all things pass, both the good and the other. For years, on the bulkheads of each of my various boats, I installed a framed black and white photo of a storm-wracked rocky beach. I had written on it “A storm always ends, enjoy it while it lasts.” Good advice if only I would pay attention.

We’ve all been there!

One of my excuses for being tardy with my blogging is that I’ve been busy re-editing my second novel. I pushed it to the back of the shelf many years ago, having given up on the notion of ever getting published. This has been an especially tough year for me, emotionally it has been an all-time low, where I have often found myself simply staring at the wall. I decided that I had to do something to affirm my existence, perhaps find my “inner peace,” and so I began the odious task of correction and punctuation of every jot and tittle. Hey, it’s a pretty darned good read! Oddly, it is set here on the coast of the Pacific Northwest and is about an austere loner who can’t exist away from the sea. I don’t know what to do with it when I’m finished but the affirmation is wonderful. The sea and being on it is my passion and reason to be. No amount of denial can change that.

When I stepped off of my beloved ‘Seafire’ I wrote that if owning “stuff” defined who I was, then I was better off without it. Well, for me life is awfully dry without a boat. Most of my friends were seadogs as well, and so we have drifted apart. A boat is a tool to live my life where I do feel content and whole and somehow I must get back there. It is who I am.

“Could you pass the sunscreen?” I put him back in the water, but although still alive, he was done.
Medium rare.
Woof over! And no tail gating.
Pool Hog, but he’s happy.
Generscape. A backup generator and a Gulf Island landscape with a muffler.
The visitor. It has been raiding the nut tree next door.
Wind in the corn. Flowers and cobs already.

My old truck, camper and trailer will continue to be part of my life and remain part of my plan. One of the intentions of the recent trip where I took my rig along some very rugged logging roads was that it would be a true “shakedown” trip. Anything that was going to fail, has. Guess what I’m up to these days. I’ve been sorting out the wiring for the lights and brakes. Nothing can humiliate a man quite as well. The builder of this trailer hired someone right off the farm. Wire colours meant nothing to them, nor did sharp corners. Twisting wire ends together, soldering them and wrapping them in tape seemed to be their protocol, unless…someone else down on a farm has since had a go. No worries, now I know what I’ve got. To add to the challenge my strata council has forbidden me to do repairs in any of our parking and storage areas so I’m sneaking around in public places to find an obscure corner to go tinker. Damn! I miss my boat.

On the hot, hot summer sidewalk. Subtle and haunting. I think someone is very talented.
Walk on
The ‘Providence’ came back…then left again. She’s my kind of boat.

“A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.” ―Webb Chiles

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? )