Small bubbles

A short one today, as we enjoy the season in our small social bubble, and safe harbour, perhaps with a glass containing small bubbles.

Frothy on top – a mild wintry west coast day

We hope you stay safe and well, physically if not socially distant, with small bubbles of your own to see you through.

Always in our social bubble!

Cheers, thanks for reading, and enjoy the long weekend!

Safe harbour and small bubbles – cheers!

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)

Slowing down

With new COVID restrictions – or are they the same ones with greater amplification? – we are attempting to appreciate an opportunity to slow down.

Earlier this week I found myself staring out of the office window (thinking deep and meaningful education thoughts, of course) and enjoying the sun setting over Ucluelet across the bay. It was so pleasant, and I was so busy, I stepped outside to take a couple of photographs. A smoke break. Ok, I don’t smoke. A coffee break? Yes, that’s allowed! If accompanied with deep and meaningful education thoughts.

Educational

A variety of shore birds were flitting up and down the exposed mud flats, in silhouette as the sun dropped below the trees on the Ucluelet side. It was a calm scene, with a slight breeze disturbing the surface and rustling the last of the leaves holding on after the recent storm.

A heron was stalking tasty morsels, moving back and forth with deliberate and elegant intent, watching, winding up, and then striking. It seemed to be doing well, as far as I could tell, given the fading light.

A happy heron hunts here

With fewer student contacts, and increased “office” time, I’m looking forward to further coffee breaks overlooking the mud flats. I might not see any bears this time of year, although I have spotted them into December, but I’m hoping to catch sight of a wolf. I’ve been told they are sometimes seen patrolling the shore along the Hitacu side. I sense my caffeine intake might rise, and replies to emails will be delayed…

“Don’t you have any work to do?!” “Yup, in a minute…”

No, I’m not really slowing down to the point of a sacking! I appreciate the current good fortune of being in employment when so many are struggling. What a year. I find myself thinking “what a year!” over and over, as if repeating this will yield a better understanding or calmer acceptance. Not there with that as yet, and I think it’ll take the turn of the year and a good many steps into 2021 before some equilibrium returns.

This will slow me down

In the meantime, it’s steady as we go, and enjoy the slow down, as far as we can. Take a cue from that heron, and maintain (the appearance of) elegant poise…

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

On hold…

…or holding on?!

What a week! We lost electrical power briefly on Monday, and then for longer through Tuesday. It wasn’t so bad, once the 100kmh+ winds died down. Cooking and coffee on a camping stove, and enough supplies in our store cupboard kept us chugging along just fine.

The calm after the storm

The storm wrecked the work week, and the blogging week, so I’ll apologize here and say I promise to catch up on your blogs over the coming weekend, and also respond to comments left in the past week.

As well as the storm, sadly, we had our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in our little community. That’s a big splash in a small pond, and the ripple effects have been considerable. It’s looking increasingly likely we’ll be working from home pretty soon, and my contacts with the schools and students will be heavily reduced.

Ripple effects

As a small coastal town, we’d hoped for the best, so fingers crossed we’ve planned for the worst, and now we’re in a similar situation to many other places, and we’ll see what unfolds. Life back on hold? Most likely, until effective treatments become widely available.

Life back on hold? In that case, make mine a double!

A very brief piece this week, and I’ll finish by hoping you are well, that you stay safe, and you have a wonderful weekend!

A hint of change

Something different? Positive change, one hopes…

We’re still processing the results of the election for our southern neighbours. It takes time to come to terms with change, and clearly the present occupant of the White House is struggling with his loss. We’re hoping the tantrum will soon be over, acceptance will follow, and bags will be packed. Ready to go! No need to share updates, just quietly disappear…

Ready to go!

We’re in a very autumnal phase, with quite a bit of wind and rain, and that’s blowing away the mental cobwebs, as well as many leaves. It’s exhilarating, and hugely preferable to what felt like endless mental exhaustion. For now, the stormy days, grey skies and heavy winds don’t seem so bad when there is some positive change blowing in!

I sense a change…

We’ve enjoyed hints of sunshine and a few warm hours, both on the beach and in the woods. Scout is always light of heart and bouncy in step, and we’ve felt more like that ourselves the past few days. We’re almost keeping up with her!

Yum

We have celebrated, and hasn’t that felt better than all the recent commiserating? Four challenging years are almost behind us. This year has been particularly miserable, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s pleasant to be able to look ahead and hope for better days. No, we’re not thinking the next four years will be all unicorns and rainbows – we realize all the unicorns have been taken by those pro-Brexit types and are being readied for release onto the sunlit uplands – but some return to slightly better will be just fine.

A fairly brief post this week as we look forward to a quiet weekend. Some beach time, some forest time, and perhaps we’ll explore another 33 Acres of Ocean!

Sunlit (the unicorns pranced away and out of shot)

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

Evidence! Do you think this will stand up in court? (Thanks to DJT for sending me this)

Positives?

Well, wasn’t that quite the week?! As I write this, late in the day Thursday, it would appear that by January, there’ll be a change in White House occupancy – phew! Even if a blue wave didn’t quite appear, I’ll settle for being able to listen to a presidential press conference without wincing. That’s a positive.

A blue ripple

Bigger picture? More to be done, but please let’s enjoy the hope that steps are being taken towards repair, and an opportunity to build, not tear down. The restoration of a more civil political discourse? Maybe? That’s a positive. Instead of denial, working as a collective to arrest the worst of a looming climate disaster? You have to hope…

Things are looking up

I’m keeping it very brief this time. I’m exhausted, but enjoying the notion we can breathe a little easier, politically speaking, if only due to the reduction in noise that ought to happen as a result of the tight result. We can welcome a greater reliance on accepted facts and shared understandings, instead of alternate facts and divisive lies. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Space

The photographs this time are all from our wilderness trip a couple of weeks back, and they were chosen for their sense of space, scale, and a pleasant bigger picture. Of course, given the way this year has offered up too many unwelcome surprises, maybe next week I’ll be writing about how the results all went the wrong way after Thursday evening, and the White House occupant remains the same after January 2021. No, surely not? Let’s stay positive!

Bigger

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

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!