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

North

Nothing like the peace a nice little camp fire brings. The wind break marks my preferred spot on the beach at Naka Creek Camp
Ready for another night. The axe shows the wear of over fifty years of proud ownership. I bought it at the Squilax General Store, on the side of the Shuswap Little River BC

Sunday morning, Naka Creek. I sit inside my camper with a fresh, stout black mug of coffee beside this keyboard. It is chilly. I couldn’t be bothered to stoke up my propane furnace so instead I wear a heavy flannel shirt. Outside a low overcast races before a westerly wind and balls of drizzle wash over my campsite. I had the happy foresight to stow things away while it was still dry. Soon I’ll be on my way.

The view from my bunk.

Across Johnstone Strait a sail advances in the murk, westbound into the wind. It is bucking against the wind and tide. When the tide turns fully and the ebb begins to run in the boat’s favour, but against the wind, the seas will rise and those lumps will continue to hold him back. The boat is fast but for every six miles it tacks the position on the chart advances only a mile. I used to do that long ago, just to feel manly and salty but I eventually gave it up and motored directly toward my destination, having decided to bring a gun to the knife fight. Still I ache to be out there, cold and wet though it may be, it is in some people’s blood to suffer for the religion of the ocean. I am one. I think this boat is a participant in the R2AK motorless race to Alaska. Whoever is out there bashing along deserves full kudos for their drive and spirit. Puget Sound to Alaska is one bloody long way, I’ve done it often enough in a tug boat and even that was wearisome. Travelling the coast in my own sailboat was a dream. There was a time when the globe was being discovered by Europeans. This coast was explored entirely by wind power and muscle alone.

Then came the night again.

From where I sit I can see northward to Blinkhorn Pennisula, beyond famous Robson Bight and marking the entrance Beaver Cove. Past that are the radio towers of Cormorant Island and Alert Bay. In the far distance are the shoreline humps near Port Hardy, where the island shoreline turns sharply to the northwest. I know these waters with their labyrinth inlets and archipelagos. I ache to own a boat once again so I can vanish into secret anchorages.

The hard slog northward racing in the R2AK. The expanse and distance of our coast is overwhelming. At this point, after several days enroute, the race is not yet a quarter complete.
The big easy, southbound. One salmon says to the other “Look at all the canned people!”

Advancing from behind the sailing boats and passing quickly out of sight ahead is a gleaming white motor yacht. I wonder how many barrels of fuel per hour it burns. Powering along, level, warm and dry I wonder at other perspectives on manliness. Then I nod off, my thick old fingers on the keyboard produce two pages of ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp’s. Time for a walk. I clamber up to the secret waterfalls which are as beautiful as ever. I muse that on my last visit here my beloved companion, Jack the dog, was with me and I plunge myself into momentary sorrow. He will always be with me and I try to cheer myself with recollections of all the happy moments. He loved this place. Once again I can see him rolling happily on his back in the long grass and daisies as well as the smug look on his face when he had returned from running off on his own to visit other campers and their dogs. He never made an enemy. Today I have some lovely neighbours and new friends. I am grateful.

Our secret waterfall. It is about eighty feet high.
The fool’s caravan.
“Got a horse in there?”
“Naw, just a friend.”
Nuts!
The view from my camper side window. The crows were picking my old corn cobs out of the fire pit.
Here’s a story. How does a very old brake shoe end up in the gravel on the beach?
A burger tree. Actually it is a fungus. When baked dry then lit to smoulder, the smoke makes an excellent insect repellant.
An organic nose flute. Just more fungi growing on a stick. It is amazing to see what is under the leaves.
Organic camping, becoming one with the earth again.
I wonder about the child who rode this. Grown now, with children weary of tales about Naka Creek.
The Mack Attack
I’ve been driving by this truck for nearly forty years. I reason that one day this North Campbell river landmark will be gone. A simple photographer’s tip is to take the photo while it’s there.
From when men were men and their arses were sore. Note the lack of stereo, air conditioning, air bags and upholstery. You hooked one arm through the steering wheel and used both hands to shift those three levers in unison with much double-clutching. If you blew a shift you had no gears to hold you back on a hill. The brakes would soon overheat and the pedal sank to the floor.. What a feeling!
Be still my redneck heart. Ain’t she a beauty? Someone has done a wonderful job on this restoration. I wannit!

The weather evolves from winter-like conditions to a flawless summer day in a few hours. I change costumes and emerge with my fluorescent shanks sticking out of old camo-patterned work shorts. How have military motifs ever become high fashion? That bemuses me, the old poster boy of the thrift stores. I’m “stylin’.”

Home again it is time for tinkering on my little circus caravan. Minor repairs, some upgrades and I’ll be back into the woods somewhere on this magic island.

Ayre my new little dog put on a very happy face for my return home.

Let’s have a moment of silence for all those North Americans who are stuck
in traffic on their way to the gym to ride the stationary bicycle.h Earl Blumenauer

It’s Official

Last Camas. To see more come back next spring. Life rolls along no matter how we feel.

After a continuum of applications, fees, phone calls to yet another number, then another, emails and dictums ad nauseam (Computer wanted to respell that as nutcase) I am officially accepted as the BCbogtrotter.com. It’s signed, sealed and delivered. Now here I sit on the first Saturday of June, and yes it’s raining a little more. I wonder where to go from here. Funds have run out. I’ve done some repairs on the truck and am trying to set up the new old trailer for my specific needs.

Then comes the Lupins

Meanwhile there are moments of delicious hot sunshine before the next front creeps overhead. The media is determined to predict massive flooding and devastating wildfires. I just want to get out there and perhaps get flooded out for a few weeks. At home, life is a wade through suburban mediocrity. Ayre the wee beast is in my lap as I type. The din of a small town waking up is amazing, if you listen. There is the hum, roar and howl of the highway passing below the town. There are often sirens. Often we don’t even hear them they are so common. Is it an emergency or another run to Tim Hortons? A large murder of crows nearby argues over some point of bird decorum and then the neighbour fires up his lawnmower. In the distance an excavator with a chattering rock hammer gouges out the footings for another million-dollar bungalow and from that white noise emerges the clatter of a passing helicopter.

My name is Moses. This old Min Pin is nineteen years old and still has lots of light in his eyes.

Doggy now sits in the window of Jill’s office howling like a little wolf trying to will her Alpha human to come home again from her day’s work.

Ayre the backwoods marauder. She is discovering the big world out there and loving it all.

Well now! Near-silence. Several days after I began this blog I now sit on the shore of Johnstone Strait at Naka Creek Camp. If you have enough out-of-town savvy to find this place, you too deserve this little piece of heaven. I’m sipping hot mint tea at noon after a lazy morning and a late brunch. A US Coast Guard cutter powers its way southward against the last of the morning ebb. The throb of its engines is clear above the mild clatter of my tiny generator, charging up camera and laptop batteries. Soon there’ll be only the twitter of birds, the lapping of water on the shore, the gentle whisper of the wind in the trees, and the eternal hope of seeing more whales.

A Maple Flower
Mountain Lilies, strangely growing by the beach. There is only one clump and it blooms briefly each spring.
By all means. Spring turns into summer and thequest to survive goes on everywhere. This little folwer took root in a niche in an old piece of driftwood.

This place is an old logging camp. The forest is trying to take it back. Slowly it wins. It is essentially maintained by the users and although much loved by these folks, the jungle is creeping back to claim its own. I can see the progress since last year. Jack, my old dog, loved it here and I miss him dearly. I remember his joy exploring here and visiting with new dogs and their owners. This was a place I held hope of bringing my daughter but that is never going to happen. My wife is busy with things only she can do. I try not to feel sad or lonely but I watch couples and families and groups and yes there is an ache. Thankfully, the area is occupied with few this weekend and those folks all seem to hold a reverence for this oasis of peace and sanity. Kindred, even if we never speak.

“Honey, we’re getting down on eggs!” At a farm market Ladner.
“Whazzamatta? Never seen a pig on a roller skate before?”
In the belly of the whale. Yep, that’s my tiny piglet parked in with the hawgs. I’m thinking of having a vest embroidered that says “Hardley A Davidson.”
Old, tired, rotten and cracked but centered and well-spoken.

At night the camp fire burns reluctantly, the wood is damp. The sea air seems to suppress any defiance to its eternal shroud of dampness. Still I nudge the fire, my feet to the warmth while holding a partial mug of rum.

There are worse ways to spend an evening.

It’s all in how you look at things.
  • “If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.”            —Lao Tzu

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

Closure

Closure

Yeah, yeah just another damned flower. The point is, they keep coming. There is a life force which I don’t understand, and at times don’t even want to be part of, but one may as well enjoy the ride. It’ll end soon enough.

I sure hope it is, however I can’t say the worst is over. At least we now have our daughter’s ashes. The modern term is “closure.” Those remains are in a beautifully engraved stainless steel urn which we have brought home. There is a permanent grimness to it but this is much better than the horrible wait for medical reports and finally the cremation itself. For the first time in about thirty-five years we know where she is this night. So much for my attempt at humour for the moment. We have the business of dealing with our daughter’s belongings and clearing out her apartment. That seems like a mercenary thing to do but it needs to be done like it or not. There will also be the random hits of paper work but we’re braced for that.

She will always be with us and always be loved. We miss her, dearly.

The little dog we’ve inherited from Rachel is settling in nicely with us and her trauma is slowly fading. What comes in the wake of the last six weeks is a total mystery. There is a defragging period to come I’m sure, but at the moment a heavy numbness is what we are living with. I’ll say it one more time, hug your children and understand that each time you say goodbye to anyone may well the last. There is no rewind button.

This wee dog has become the center of our lives. Yes, even me. I think I’m a sort of dog whisperer but this one is very slow to respond. Intellect clearly has nothing to do with brain size. She is flamboyant to say the least.

Meanwhile we continue to endure a cold and wet spring. The flowers and blossoms are brilliant and intense when they finally burst out. They seem to pass quickly under the battering received from the rain and wind. Better days are ahead I’m sure, soon I’ll hear someone bitching about the heat. I’ll kick them. Many men having been wearing shorts for a while now, I’m bemused at seeing their fluorescent shanks glowing in the gloomy cool weather. My arthritic knees throb like bad toothaches at the sight of these guys and whatever it is they are trying to prove. Surely they are not all retired postmen!

I’ve decided to indulge in another sort of masochism. I’ve bought a tiny motorcycle. The prices of used ones are insane and the dealer’s price on a new unit was amazingly good. It’s an old marketing ploy. Get some product out there and once it’s selling itself, bring the price into line. I’ve wanted a small two-wheel conveyance to explore around campsites and to run to town for supplies instead of breaking camp each time. I’ve acquired a Honda Navi. It’s a new product in North America. I refer to it as my scooter cycle. It has a tiny 109cc engine and a scooter’s cv transmission. There are drum brakes front and back, which I don’t like. I do prefer crunching gears to relying solely on minimal brakes but life’s always about a compromise. I suppose I can crack my skull well enough at 80 kmph as 140.

“Hardly a Hawg!” With no intention of Easy Rider exploits, it’ll get me from campsite to town for beer and chicken. The view is from South Ladysmith looking over power lines eastward to the Gulf Islands and Canada way over there. Deepsea ships wait in Trincomli Channel for a berth in Vancouver.

I don’t expect to get the 100mpg as promised but with gasoline now bouncing at around $2.25 a litre it’s much better than my other vehicles. I have to remember that when wing-dinging along at 75kph feeling like a pig on a roller skate. I brought the wee contraption home from Nanaimo, a distance of about forty km, first through a rain squall and then a hail storm. I found no romance in that ride as I wobbled along back roads most of the way. It has been over thirty years since I last travelled on two wheels. I know that this old fart is not nearly as reflexive nor intrepid as he used to be. As long as I keep that in mind I should be fine.

Country humour.
Duck and cluck, fresh from the butt.
Yes, really! Un-retouched.
It was glorious!
Fetch! She didn’t come back without it.
There’s a sixties rock song here.
Up close and personal
1933 Packhard. From back in the day when men wore three-piece suits, rode on running boards and carried machine guns.
No air bags and the trunk is a fold-down rack on the back.
Two spare tires…for good reason.
Well spoken.

The problem with “stuff” is that it usually demands more stuff. Now I have to rebuild or replace my home-built “stealth” trailer to accommodate the motor bike. Around and around we go. I built it three years ago with some cheap plywood which has essentially rotted and dissolved in our climate. The price of plywood has become ridiculous and I thought I’d save a few dollars. I knew better. I’m quite proud of my engineering but I’ll concede that having standing headroom the full length inside is a simple feature which I had not considered. “Keep it simple stupid.” The hinged lid has proven to be very hard to lift with the added weight of anything stored on it. Everything is a compromise. I just want to quit messing around and get to southern latitudes.

There’s a lot to be said for a backpack and a thumb.

Trillium fading. All things must pass.

“Closure is a greasy little word which, moreover, describes a nonexistent condition. The truth, Venus, is that nobody gets over anything.” -Martin Amis

Good Grief

Broom Flower. Collectively despised by many because of their overwhelming allergy affects. Individually, they’re quite stunning.

Over the past month of shock and emotional devastation after the sudden loss of our daughter, it has occurred to me that grief is simply a massive attack of self-pity. Now then, I am one of those who prefers the company of dogs to people so value my opinions at your own peril. I can certainly tell you that dogs do grieve but they have also found a balance of living in the moment and getting on with simply being. The little dog Ayre which we have inherited from our daughter has endured a massive trauma from the loss of her prime human unit but she has attached herself like a limpet to Rachel’s mom. She is learning to trust me (a male human unit) and allows me now to show her affection without employing her piranha teeth. She possessed a natural dread of men in general and we have climbed a steep and slippery slope in the past weeks.

Ayre the dash dog. Remember those little cardboard critters with the bobble-heads that folks put on the hat shelf in their car? I’ve got a live one!
Ayre meets Leo. He’s 16 and still a feisty independent wee dude.
Teaching a new dog old tracks. She loves to explore.

Each day is a triumph in the development of our relationship and we enjoy long pleasant walks on the wonderful trails here around Ladysmith. I’ve reluctantly allowed her to wander along off-leash and she is proving to be quite trustworthy. I also find myself scanning the sky for eagles, I’m sure she’d make a nice light snack for them. We also have cougar, coyotes and other predators so I’m constantly playing father goose as I allow my wee hound the full parameter of being a dog. I learned long ago that to establish a full and lasting bond with any dog is that you must demonstrate your trust in them. I don’t pick her up whenever another dog approaches so that she can develop confidence in her abilities to socialize with her own kind. I focus on the other dog’s owner and I may pick Ayre up if I can detect any darkness. I’ve watched these creatures in action in their native Mexico and know how well they can fend for themselves. She has to learn that too.

Camas flower. They are stunning. Their bulbs were once a staple food for indigenous people.
A dogwood tree in full glory. What a wonderful time of year when so many flowers are blooming at the same time.

Speaking of darkness, my website designer, in whom I had placed my trust, suddenly announced that she would go no further with my account. She had put together a proposal of how to develop my talents and provided a quote. The quote seemed reasonable and the proposal was exciting. I did mention to her that I had no money pit and operate on a very tight budget but accepted her terms. I also asked to meet her for a few minutes, just to hang a face on the voice. Our working relationship has been amiable and complimentary. I know that I have a social skill-set of a badger at times but I don’t know what brought on this prompt flush. Strange! Folks these days develop intimate relationships with each other although they are on opposite sides of the planet. Someone five minutes down the road wants to have an arm’s length interaction. I am one confused bog-trotter on this one.

WANTED One local web designer.

Gramma’s house. The effect was enhanced by the aroma of fresh cinnamon buns from the bakery next door.
Above the bakery. Leave a light in the window.
Mountain Lilies. Rare and already fading.
This rock in the path looked like a pig’s head to me. It has only taken me ten years to notice it.
The trilliums are starting to fade. What’s more beautiful than a fading flower? Take that as you will.

So suddenly, my little home-made stealth/transformer trailer needs some major attention. I was quite proud of my clever fold-up design and it has impressed many people. However, I made it with bargain-priced plywood from Chile. It was beautiful but after a couple of our winters it’s falling apart like old cardboard. To complicate my Fredondrum I’ve just bought a tiny motorcycle which requires a partial dismantle and a full set-up of the trailer every time I want to load or unload. Yep, here I go again, rip and rebuild. I’ve decided that maybe always being to stand up inside, the full length of the trailer is a good thing. Not having to erect and assemble my contraction is a good thing too! Some sniffing about turned up a few old truck canopies, for FREE, and so here I go again. Now I have a solid top with sides and windows and all (yeah right) I have to do is fit it to the trailer base and make it look like something which did not come from Clem’s garage. Stay tuned as once again I try to reinvent the wheel.

NOW WHAT? Here we go again. More Fredizing. Normal folks would just go buy what they needed. But not me. Inventor of the square wheel.

More on the new motorcycle next blog. I drove it home from Nanaimo to Ladysmith today through and hail. Yet I live. I just can’t feel anything. Thank goodness for the face mask I just bought. I was worried about catching bugs in my teeth. “Haar Billy, back before global warming we used to have insects. They were all crusty on the outside and gooey in the middle. Some didn’t taste so good.”

The dream. Whenever I see evidence of a young dreamer I feel a little hope.
Mommy is that a tree hugger?
A square peg in a round hole. Long live the misfits!

Every morning I wake up to perform my one and only character. A Rising Phoenix in spite of it all.”
―  Michele Bell,