Mud, mess and muddle

Like the week! All good though – a real mix, with some rain, some sun, plenty of mud in the school garden, and chances to get messy and mess about.

Mess about? There’s a story I can’t share with you from the school garden where two students thought it would be funny if they used the hose from the rainwater butt and pretended to be peeing into the watering cans. We’ll move on. Let’s not bother with their reaction when they heard me say water butt. I should have said barrel. We agreed they were children and eventually moved on. Overheard whispers: He said butt, water butt, hehehe…

Between rain showers

Mud on the trails was no hindrance, and (prompted by Jet, thank you) we’ve noticed an abundance of salmonberry flowers of late. Messing about with my camera phone in the rain, numerous attempts resulted in one reasonable image, shared below:

A great mix of new to me BC beers in store was a pleasant surprise. I know what I like, like what I know, and armed with too much fondness for hazy pale ales, I branched out, took a risk and chose…another hazy pale! And very good it was too.

Yum! Cannery Brewing, Penticton, BC

I have an app (RNI) on my iPad that has various settings to make digital photographs look like film stock. I messed about with this one evening, attempting to recreate what I remember old snapshots looked like in ye olden days before digital – you know, when life was in black and white, no colour, or maybe with some colour but grainy, and life was impossible without the internet. Or so some students think, when I share boring stories from prehistory. I won’t bore you with my many old/new masterpieces, and just keep it to the one image below:

Olden days (February 2021)

In between the mess of light rain showers, we’ve enjoyed the blossom found out and about. No camera filter tricks in the blossom photographs shared in this post, and if I’m honest, there is no need to change anything with these vibrant colours. Nature knows best…

Loud and proud, no filters

So there you go, a happy enough muddle through another week, and with the forecast for the weekend promisingly sunny, we’re hoping to mess about up and down a beach or two this weekend.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! (He did, he said water butt! Teehee…)

Damp daze

I received a WP notification the other day stating I’ve been blogging here for six years. Six years?! Who knew I’d be able to write a weekly post about going for a walk and keep that up for so long? Admittedly padded with the appearance of a beer photo or two along the way…

Damp

Well, here’s another one about going for a walk. We went to Florencia Bay earlier this week, a planned day off from work when the forecast noted it would be a sunny day. The forecast was wrong, and instead, we had a rainy walk, negotiating muddy puddles from the parking lot to the rickety wooden stairs leading down to the bay. Scout helpfully ignored my pleas to slow down as we descended the slippery rickety wooden stairs. When we got to the bottom, I looked back up, thinking how much I was looking forward to ascending the wobbly, slippery, rickety wooden stairs. No padding this week.

“You can’t get up here, can you, OldPlaidCamper?” Nope.

The rain didn’t ease. If anything, it fell more heavily and at just the right wind blown angle to get under a jacket hood and top up our coffee. From a hot espresso to a lukewarm Americano.

There was a (fool?) hardy surfer pretty far out, enjoying the pretty big waves. They had a companion spotter on the shore, but still. Braver than me. These were the only people present, and the wind and rain seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of the eagles we often see there. No sightings. A few buffeted gulls were skimming the surf, performing admirable manoeuvres.

Still damp

A day off being a day off, wet or not, we weren’t going to let a morning go to waste. We trundled up the beach for a bit, keeping a close eye on the turning tide, and happy that the rain couldn’t water down a decent bar of chocolate. So it was a touch chilly, and a little damp, but overall a good wander along a beach in any weather is bracing, and we felt better for it. Until we got back to the stairs leading off the beach. Did I mention those already?

A testing day…(thanks, Lynn!)

Thanks for reading, this week, and for some, any, or all of the previous six years. Let’s see if we can manage another six… I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

End of miles

I was staring out to sea the other day, with a partial lyric running through my head. I kept reaching for the song, and the performer, but it stayed just beyond my grasp. It wasn’t a particularly poetical piece, in fact, it was literal to my circumstances:

“You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back…”

Yup, that was what I was doing, and that was the fragment. Although, the first day, I wasn’t standing with mountains at my back, they were in front of me:

The other day, and it was sunny!

By Saturday lunchtime I got it the right way round, with ocean in front, but I still couldn’t remember the song. A Teenage Fanclub tune? Nope. Sad to say, I know their songs inside out, and it wasn’t them. Being a person capable of holding on to deep thoughts, and always prepared to grapple with a problem, I completely forgot the lyric for a couple of days and got on with whatever it is I’m supposed to do.

Ocean in front

On Wednesday, I received an email from an old friend. We’ve been plotting and postponing an old guy road trip, with stops at baseball places (for him), musical references in songs (for both of us), and craft breweries yet to be tried by either of us (for him!) The latest plan involved parts of California, a favourite for a road trip, and it had me humming “California Bound” by Black Francis/Frank Black or however he refers to himself. As well as being buddies in beer, my friend and I share the same dubious musical tastes, so Frank Black, the Pixies etc. would make it onto a road trip mix tape. Can you call a digital playlist a mix tape?

“You planning on getting to a point here?”

Much like a canceled road trip, you might be finding this post isn’t really going anywhere. Anyway, prompted by the postponed plans, I played “California Bound” and then let the album (Black Letter Days) run, because I’d forgotten how hugely enjoyable this rambling country tinged guitar and reedy/basso and sometimes falsetto voiced album is. He writes and performs as if, well, why not? So listen I did. And there it was! The song with the partial lyric that had wormed its way into my musical mind. “End of Miles” by Frank Black. Phew! Mystery solved, and a fine song if you like that kind of thing. The more complete lyric is:

“At the end of miles
You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back you think you’ve tamed”

Well, I haven’t tamed any mountains – at best, I think it is safe to say I’m always happy to head up and then make it back. Hiking, or on a snowboard, and especially on skis, getting home is the thing. I don’t tame mountains, but I do love them.

Yes, happy to be here

I haven’t reached my end of miles just yet. Very happy to be residing on the coast, between the mountains and the sea, but also looking forward to the “grumpy old git road trip“ and being California bound, likely now scheduled for 2022 or beyond…

I’ll leave it for this week, with a post almost as meandering as a Frank Black album, full of detours, and incomplete stories, but written because, well, why not?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Bonus track: “1826” by Frank Black Oh yes! Turn it up to 11 – if Mrs. PC is out. Probably not for everyone, but this should go on a road trip mix tape.

Space dragons

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite happy this year is drawing to a close. We’ve had to wait many months for positive news, and from early November on, it has felt like things have been slowly improving.

“What are we waiting for?”

The wait for reliable vaccines has been long, and it is good to see and hear there are options on the horizon, and an end to the pandemic is growing closer. A weight lifted – or is it? Brace yourselves, here come the space dragons…

Oh those conspiracy theorists are having a fine old time telling us that Bill Gates will be able to track us post-vaccine, with the aid of 5G unicorns, mini-robots, and space dragons. Bear with me, I’m warming up and a little hazy on the specifics.

Hazy? Space dragon brain beams will do that…

Don’t worry, we all know space dragon brain beams can’t penetrate your tinfoil hat to read your thoughts. Actually, I imagine that the thoughts of conspiracy minded folks aren’t worth the attention of most space dragons, but then I’ve been brainwashed by and under the mind control of the nurse who administered the measles jab I received many years ago. Remember the inoculations you got at school? And pre-school? Well, due to those, I am, like you (if you’ve had your vaccinations and choose to believe the anti-science conspiracy nut bars) an unwitting biddable agent of evil, presumably being forced against my will to be do bad things, all because the school nurse gave me booster jabs forty-something years ago. That nurse, and her malevolent hench nurses, are part of a giant plot to, to, well, I don’t know what the plot is exactly, but it is bad. Are you saying I’ve lost the plot here? Hold on. Gathering thoughts. Adjusting tin foil hat. Vaccinations! Developed by evil medical people to rig life against you. You don’t believe me? That you don’t believe me is obvious proof you’ve been got at by vaccine wielding deep state operatives. Is that clear?!

Phew! That’s a long time, long term conspiracy to be worried about – can a tin foil hat get rusty? I’ve enjoyed writing these last few paragraphs. There’s a strange freedom in not having to stick to annoyingly inconvenient stuff like science, facts, details, evidence, responsibility or common sense.

Keep your balance!

Back to reality! We enjoyed a long beach hike the other day. Sea air and salt water will rust things, but we felt quite the opposite of that last week. Buoyed by positive vaccine news, and feeling lighter with each passing day as January 20th approaches, we almost skipped down an empty beach. Scout was going full steam ahead, determined to get to a favourite spot of hers. Sticks, snacks, logs and rocks? That’s her kind of morning, and ours too. A second breakfast and extra coffee? Yes please!

For the time we were out, the weather got brighter as the morning wore on, with low cloud and grey skies clearing, and patches of blue appearing. I wouldn’t say it was warm, but it was warm enough. Shoulders back, deep breaths, longer strides, and goodness, can’t you just feel some of the mental weight drop away for a while?

Deep breaths!

Thanks for reading. Remember, there be space dragons, so stay safe, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Easy rider! Roustabout! Mobylette!

Easy rider? Roustabout? Moby what exactly? What’s going on here? I’ll start slow, then steadily pick up speed. It’ll be fine, just like riding a bike. Or falling off. It won’t be much clearer, even if you read to the end.

It has been pleasantly “steady as she goes“ the past week or so. Another big windstorm at the start of the week didn’t knock out the power – some disappointed students there – and we’ve enjoyed a cold and sometimes sunny settled stretch of weather.

Almost sometimes sunny

With the drier days, I’ve been zooming about town on my bike, speeding up and down hills with ease. Yes, the sun on my face, wind in my hair- …

Hold on a moment, Speedy – “up hills with ease” PlaidCamper? Yes, of course. My fitness is paramount to me, my body being a temple, and you’ll agree regular strenuous exercise has always been a feature. Oh, alright. It’s an electric bike. So, yes, uphill with ease.

I race up here (photo taken in a different season) – good view of the brewery tower from here

After many, many years of research, and countless conversations with Mrs. PlaidCamper, (yes, countless fascinating conversations – Mrs. PC) I admitted that recent ankle sprains and the approach of very early middle age meant the time had finally come to purchase an e-bike. (Peace at last – Mrs. PC)

Interestingly, as Mrs PC knows, because I mentioned it a million times, having a pedal assist bike is still exercise because the rider is pedalling and putting in a bit of effort. Mostly true, but probably less true if your e-bike has a twist throttle allowing no pedalling whatsoever. Care to guess what I’ve got?! I do pedal if there’s anyone around. It’s a small town and I’ve my fitness reputation to maintain. I haven’t ridden to the beer store yet. Yet…

It has pedals – useful foot rests…

Yes, years of research into battery duration, weight to power ratios (should that be power to weight ratios? I was too busy looking at the pictures), build quality, range and other important technical stuff. It had to be an informed decision. So I ended up getting a bike because it looked a bit like a mobylette, and I liked the seat. Yup, I’m shallow, easily persuaded, and must have been a Gallic teenager in a previous life.

Une mobylette! Tres chic, oui? (Photo from Motoconseils.com)
Yup, comfy seat

Having had it a few months, I’m happy to report it is reliable, fun to ride, very comfortable now I’ve decided it’s an e-moped and I let the battery do all the work, and I think I look cool. If looking like something from Wallace and Gromit is cool. Which it is. In my head. Please stop laughing. I’m going to get a biker jacket and a flick knife and a tattoo and get told off by the principal.

Adult soda

As this appears to be descending into a weird late 50s or early 60s retro type of thing, it’s probably best I leave it here. Anyway, I’ve got to go hang out at the soda fountain, run a comb through my hair, get admiring looks. That’s right, daddy-o.

Thanks (Roustabout link) for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Oh look – the American Johnny Halliday! Merci! Thank you for reading. Thank you very much! (Stock image from Alamy.com)

A tangle

A tangle? A muddle? The Gordian knot? I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping this coming Tuesday reveals the beginning of the end of the current mess we’re in. No speedy solutions are available, but a few steps on the path to some sort of recovery would be nice.

A tangle

We spent last weekend far, far away from being able to access news coverage. We bobbed about on the (mercifully calm) water. Part of the weekend was designed as an opportunity for me to be at the helm, getting some wheel time, and remembering some of the things we were taught on our boat course last year. It was good to finally have a chance to put things into practice. If docking is a controlled crash, emphasis on crash, then I’ve mastered it. It was an aluminum boat, all good.

“Who’s steering in there?” Note the glum PlaidCamper expression, as he contemplates the worst for next Tuesday. No, surely not?

We pulled up to an old US Army barge, and leapt aboard to examine the piled up treasures. An abandoned boat, fishing nets, old tarps, holed floats, assorted girders and planks, a wood burning stove, and rope. So much rope. Bear scat too, so an inquisitive bruin must have decided to swim out and see if there was anything good to eat? Didn’t seem to be anything obviously tasty. Nothing left over by the bears. Waste not.

Abandoned

A short piece this week as I gird myself for Tuesday evening – I’m planning on watching/reading/listening to as many reports as possible (I know, I know, not good, but I won’t be able to resist), hoping and hoping that this particular political nightmare is coming to an end. Even though it will be a school night, and way past my bedtime, I’m going to have a beer, either in celebration or commiseration. Fingers crossed the four year uncontrolled crash is almost over, and we can pick ourselves up, mentally speaking, untangle the confusion, and look forward to better days ahead.

Well, this needs sorting! (Nicely docked aluminum boat to the side there. Controlled, I’d say…)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Some calm

I’m writing this on Thursday, debating whether I’ve got the patience to watch the next and, mercifully, last debate. Debate? Did you see/hear the last one? Then you’ll know what I mean!

Thursday morning, outdoor calm – this was our transport last time out

Anyway, debate viewing or not, at least we’ll continue to enjoy some outdoor calm. We’ve had a few blustery days of late, but we’re in a slightly more settled period right now. Morning and afternoon walks with Scout have been pleasant. Calm water, a few clouds, a touch of fog, and colourful leaves holding on for now.

Hints of acceptable orange

Holding on for now. I hope our southern friends and neighbours can hold on for just over another week, and then find it within themselves to vote for some calm, even if not so inspired by Uncle Joe. I mean, look at the current fellow and ask yourself if that’s really what the world would enjoy the next four years?

So, if all goes well, perhaps the future will be a lesser shade of angry orange? It’s the hope that kills you, isn’t it? Please, please, please, please…

Cool, calm and a boat collection

A brief post this week, as we’re busy preparing for a weekend away with a collection of trainers and mentors. Our wilderness destination awaits, with a promise of overnight temperatures dropping to just below zero, but sunny daytime skies. We’ll be camping in the (allegedly) second wettest spot in Canada, if not the universe, so a dry weekend will be a bonus! More to follow.

I hope your weekend is a sunny and calm one – thanks for reading!

A medical history

Things of a medical nature have been all over the news cycle the past few months, and particularly the last week or two. A helicopter for an ambulance? A healthy glow?! Immunity! Don’t worry, this won’t be a PlaidCamper rant about miracle cures and inequalities in health care as personified by mango-hued tax dodging toddlers. Although it might have been, had the last sentence run on any longer.

No. No ranting. This is a post full of true and nearly true stories. Almost cinematic, full of visual poetry, and likely requiring a Terence Malick, Jane Campion, or Peter Weir to capture the moving intensity and subtle dreamy drama. A tale of a man at a crossroads in life. Cue voiceover: In a world…

Dreamy – one of the recent Planet of the Apes was filmed near here

Cut! Too much? Ok. Cut. Take two. This will be a post full of the brave exploits of a young-to-early middle-aged PlaidCamper, a potential boon to the medical world if only he would consider yet another mid-to-very-early life crisis, and switch careers. Montage! A white coat? Nice. A stethoscope? Yes please. Rugged calmness in the face of death and disease? Oh, yes doctor. Cut! Stop! Enough of this.

Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I almost swooned, understandably enough, at the thought of me in a white coat. Imagine a cross between George Clooney and Dr. Fauci, only many decades younger, and you’d be close. No? Assisted by soft lighting, and no close ups? And a wig? Not even? Where were we? Poor scriptwriting on this one. This is like Apocalypse Now, but medical. Let’s start with basic training.

Ongoing basic training, almost essential

Did I mention I participated in a Wilderness First Aid course? A week of skills and scenarios, designed to replicate real life situations, complete with all too convincing fake broken bones, buckets of blood, and stick on wounds and injuries too disgusting for The Walking Dead. All in a rainforest setting, and directed by a first aid trainer who looked nothing like Francis Ford Coppola. I think a young Martin Sheen, slightly too old for the part, yet fortunate enough to bear a certain resemblance to an OldPlaidCamper, will play me in the following scenes.

Cut, cut, cut! Sorry, Martin, we won’t be needing you. Haven’t you heard, PlaidCamper? Cinema is another victim of the virus. And Martin at any age looks nothing like you.

In truth, my never entirely realistic dream of becoming a doctor soon evaporated in the heat of simulated medical battle. I’m not a particularly good first aider, certainly not compared with how well our young participants coped in testing situations. They’d be elbow deep, or at least, gloved hands on, treating the injuries while I was still reciting lessons and trying to remember how to tie a sling. Fluffing my lines. Let’s just say I won’t be in any reboot of ER…

…unless it is in the patient role. I excelled! Lie down and grumble about aches and pains? Check! Fake a heart attack? I’ll do it! Food poisoning due to mushroom picking stupidity? I can fake that! Make up a medical history to confuse trainees? No problem! Wander off, pretend to pee in the woods, be startled by a bear and shoot myself with bear spray? I did that! Pretending, not for real. I was meant to do this! I’m a natural.

No bears in this scene

I really have had a near miss with bear spray, and know what it feels like. Method actor, that’s me. I search for the truth in stories and inhabit the characters I portray. I have to get under the skin of a role. Or under the skin of anyone nearby.

You’d like to hear my bear spray true story? One of Nature, red in tooth and claw? A terrifying tale of one man alone in the wilderness? Nope, it was none of that. I was in a supermarket parking lot, and walked round to the passenger side of the car to get my wallet out of a backpack. The pack was in the passenger footwell. I pulled on it to pick it up, when a strap got caught under the seat. Instead of slowing down and releasing the pack gently, I simply pulled harder, somehow breaking the trigger guard on the bear spray attached to the pack, delivering a dose all over the car radio and hand brake. Customers in the parking lot were treated to my first performance of man almost shoots himself with bear spray and scrambles backwards on all fours. If you’ve seen The Exorcist spider scene, you know how it went. Like that, but faster and with more swearing. It made my head spin, and some of the onlookers too.

I love the smell of bear spray in the morning

It took weeks to clean and remove the remnants. I’d be driving along, sipping a cup of coffee and changing the radio station, and a few moments later get a bad burning sensation around my mouth. It wasn’t how I made the coffee. A few particles of weeks-old bear spray really pack a punch…

Fascinating insight into the craft, don’t you think?

Yes, I brought all my experience to the patient role. I certainly tested the patience of fellow first aid participants. I drew the line at letting them volunteer me for staging a drowning recovery after falling off a dock incident, although it was kind of them to think of me. It’s an honour just to be nominated.

Under the dock

I got an email from Francis, our first aid trainer, just the other day. Imagine my surprise that it contained confirmation I passed the course! It was like winning an Oscar. If I had them, I’d like to thank my manager, my agent, the producers, my personal trainer, personal chef, accountant, my personal trainer’s personal trainer, the wig maker, George Clooney, Dr. Fauci, and the bald one in ER. Also, commiserations to Martin, but come on, only I could play me in this movie…

Oh, the monstrous ego. Cut! That’s a wrap. I’ve got to wait by the phone, be ready to take the calls from Hollywood. Fade to black.

Monstrous ego indeed. Enough of that guy. I’ll finish by acknowledging how well our young participants did in the WFA course, and how safe we’ll all be out on the land in the future. They learned so much in a relatively short time, and showed real leadership and an ability to act and think clearly in stressful situations. Nothing fazed them!

A screen presence! Planet of the Dog

Well, thankfully none of the plotless nonsense you’ve just read will ever get a theatrical release. Are you still here?! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Go with the flow

A brief post this week, written in haste as I prepare for a Wilderness First Aid course. If I don’t post anything next week, you’ll know I muddled slings with knots, tarps with triangle bandages, and ended up tied to a tree. Hopefully without an impalement injury, and dressed for the weather to avoid hypothermia…

Ready for any weather and all adventures!

I’ve not done a 40 hour WFA course, so this will be an interesting experience. I’ve heard stories about participants getting injured, especially during nighttime scenarios, so given my ability to slip, trip and fall in daylight, I hope my fellow participants and I can limit the after dark damage.

Talking of dark damage, how about the debate earlier this week? My brain needed a splint after that. Mentally speaking, I’m still in the recovery position. I won’t even mention my first response…

The photos this week were taken from our visit to Long Beach last weekend. You can see the debris and channels carved from the strong winds and heavy rain run off. I’m glad we moved the training from last week to this for the course – what a fortunate decision that turned out to be. The program was running whatever the weather, and the weather this week has been dry. Phew. Let’s not make my slipping chances any higher.

We’re taking some positive minded youth along for this one, and their energy and willingness to go with the flow when it comes to learning is something I’ll enjoy. I’ve heard mutterings about who they want to immobilize and carry out on a stretcher. They’ll change their minds and volunteer someone else when they think about my deadweight. “Carry him? Let’s shelter in place, he’s fine to wait it out!” I guess if they “accidentally” drop me, by later in the week they will know how to patch me up?

Stay safe, stay well, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Heading back…

…to school? Normality? Civilized discourse in politics?

The lead photograph this week is sadder than it looks. If you’re me. And I am. Me. I was in the office, busily counting paperclips and preparing for the new school year, when my phone rang.

“Can you see us?”

“Hey! Old man? Look out your window – can you see us?”

Two colleagues were puttering down the channel and out to the ocean, heading to a remote camp, to pick up a skiff and tow it back so we’d have another little boat to use for brushing up our nautical skills. Definitely education related, so why wasn’t I on board, heading out to the Broken Islands and beyond, on a warm and sunny day? Good question, so I asked it:

“Picking up the skiff and towing it back so we’ll have another little boat to use to brush up nautical skills? Definitely education related, so shouldn’t I be on board?” – in a whiny voice, because that always works.

“Is it your turn again? You grabbed the kayaking gig last week, remember? Oh stop snivelling – if you can swim out to us before we go past, you can come!”

Earlier in the week

I could have done that, and easily, but, you know, paperclips…

I was so happy to hear they had a brilliant day, picking up the skiff, stopping for a picnic lunch at the camp, then heading back escorted by four – four! – orcas. I organized the red and blue paperclips, and I’m totally prepared for the new school year.

Oh yes, the new school year. All pandemic plans are in place, with gallons and gallons of hand sanitizer situated in strategic locations, signage has gone up, arrows have been laid down, instructions have been printed and distributed. What could possibly go wrong? Young and not so young students will learn to follow bus and class seating plans, use appropriate mask etiquette and remain suitably distanced until a vaccine is ready, because, well, it’ll be good to try and have something resembling normal. For as long as it lasts…

Also taken earlier this week

Setting fears of a second wave to one side, I’m impressed by the effort and dedication educators have put in, in trying to meet this pandemic moment. If things go awry, it won’t be due to a lack of caring or commitment. Hats off. Let’s not use educators or children as a pandemic political football.

Right, I’d best leave it here. Four orcas! Four! I’ve dropped a paperclip, a blue one since you were wondering, and I know there’ll be a situation down the road that’ll stand or fall for the want of a paperclip.

If you’re about to return to school, have returned, or find yourself connected to folks working in schools, I hope it’s going well for you. Take care out there. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.