Interesting – stormy – times

I was sort of hoping 2021 would be a teensy bit boring. Having a pandemic to see out, and a change for the better, politically speaking, for our friends and neighbours to the south seemed like quite enough. Oh well…

Sheltering

Yesterday, I was visiting a classroom of 6 and 7 year olds. Well, aren’t they funny?! They are younger than most students I’ve ever taught, not exactly my school comfort zone, yet it turns out couldn’t they teach some adults a thing or two?

Their teacher asked if they would consider breaking a window to gain entry uninvited? Nope. Would they do something they knew to be wrong, even if the person inciting them was the principal? Nope. Is it ok to break things? Nope. Or fight? Nope.

Hmm

One or two had seen the dreadful images from DC on television the previous day, and they were genuinely confused that “grown ups” could act in such a way. They aren’t sheltered kids, and they’ve no doubt seen movies and TV shows they shouldn’t, but they were quite capable of understanding what they saw was not fiction and very, very wrong. Thank you, Grade 1 students, you provide hope…

Slightly damp out

The storms for us this week weren’t just political. We seem to be in the middle – near the end?! – of a lengthy stormy spell. Tuesday afternoon, the rain was blowing sideways on 100+km/h wind gusts, and very exciting it was too. According to one weather forecast, we were due to have rainfall at 15-20mm per hour, and I was tempted, briefly, to don rain gear and head out, just for the experience. Then the power went out, and I looked at Scout, and Scout looked at me, then out the window, and she shook her head. Yup, it’s the young ones with common sense I tell you!

Happy New Beer!

Brighter and better days are ahead, they really are.

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

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!

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)

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!

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!

Canadian Thanksgiving

We’re thankful to be living in Canada. As a nation, it’s far from perfect, but in this most troubling of years, we’re delighted to be here.

Delighted to be here

Looking ahead, I really, really hope I’ll be writing a thanksgiving post next year that includes giving thanks for a calmer, kinder and gentler post-COVID world, where a vaccine has proved successful, and we’ll be laughing at how ridiculous it was that “alternate facts” was ever a thing. You have to hope…

Calmer

We’re always thankful for our family and friends; near or far, wherever you are, we know we’re lucky to have you.

Lucky

If you’re celebrating (a safe, socially distant and bittersweet) Thanksgiving, I hope it’s a good one! If you’re not celebrating, I hope you’re safe and well, and you have a wonderful weekend!

Celebrating

Slow down!

What’s the rush? Tell that to autumn, what with fall racing in here on the west coast. The transition from summer to fall seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. I like the fall, but goodness me, the waves and banks of leaves along trail edges seemed to gather very quickly.

A rush!

We’ve had very heavy rain, and some exciting thunder, rolling in on wave after wave of storm fronts. No gentle transition into a mellow season. To balance that out, we’re lucky enough – if the forecast is correct – to be in for a few days of soft sunshine and late summer warmth after the current bout of rainstorms subside.

Slow down, 2020! A little calm would be very welcome – a lot of calm would be even more welcome – a chance to steady the ship in these tumultuous times.

A lot of calm…

The photos included this week are all shots from this past September, and apart from the rushing tide, are a reminder it’s good to slow down, find some quiet, and adopt a steadier pace. Perhaps the tide picture is a reminder to myself that some things happen irrespective of what I might think or feel, and I’ll have to accept it. (But if you’re eligible to do so, please vote in November to rid the world – politically speaking – of the orange hued would be tyrant. Oops! Calm, OldPlaidCamper, calm…)

A steadier pace

Calm! That’s exactly what we plan for the weekend ahead, rain or shine. A stroll past the Ukee Brewery takeout window will be on the cards – a friend mentioned they’ve a couple of new autumnal offerings, and it would be wrong not to do the necessary research.

“A stroll past the brewery? Let’s go!”

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

Sand and stone

Smoke and fog. Tree and bone. A happy dog. This is why I don’t write poetry. I couldn’t think of a title this week, or at least, I struggled to pick from these. I know, they’re all winners…

Smoke and fog, tree and log, sand and stone, that’s not a bone. And this still isn’t a poem…

What a week that was. The smoky skies gave way to wind and rain, and the fresher air was most welcome. I really, really hope there’s some weather help and rainy relief for those in need further south. I’ve been up and down, mood wise, all week. How not to be despondent if you pay even scant attention to global concerns? Answers on a postcard, or leave a comment below, if you’re so inclined. I guess it’s not all bad.

Maybe just sail away? I liked this one.

On the upside? Out here on the coast, there has been a noticeable drop in visitor numbers, enough that we ventured out to a couple of small beaches within walking distance, hoping they’d be quiet. The smoke/fog/rain appeared to have kept folks indoors. We weren’t out for too long ourselves, given the harsh taste in the air, but it was pleasant to sit at a couple of favourite places and enjoy the quiet.

A favourite small beach, our first visit here in over 6 months. Scout’s eye view.

More upside – slightly qualified? School is in, the new Premier League football season is underway, and a hockey season full of promise (unlike the current one, where the Flames sputtered. Again. Sigh…) is just around a distant corner. Welcome brief distractions from the noise and nonsense. If we’re all going to that hot place in a hand basket, then I’m going to jolly well enjoy what I can in between the bouts of worry and concern. Yes, we might be running out of time to save what’s left worth saving, and I’ll play my tiny part in slowing down the likely planetary demise, but I will also appreciate the sand and stone, mist, rain, fog, and enjoy the company of a happy dog. Otherwise, the ignorant, money grabbing hoarders and wreckers have already won. I mean, they haven’t won outright yet, have they? Hmm…

A happy dog! She supports Everton, and she’s still happy. Strange, that.

Well, there you have it for this week. Ups and downs, and some stuff in between. Like most people, I should think. I hope you’re well, staying safe, and not feeling too despondent.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sleepers and stringers

Sounds like something from a spy movie…

Bridge of Spies? Nothing as dramatic as that – good movie if you haven’t seen it, set in less complicated times(!) – but we’ve been building bridges.

Our trail work is going along nicely, and with chainsaw skills acquired, we’ve been able to tackle some bigger items, like staircases and bridges. Trees that have been felled for safety have a new lease of life, stripped of bark to make sleepers and stringers for new sections of boardwalk bridge.

This lot needs replacing!

The youth and young adults were shown once, then after that they got into building their own wooden bridges. Working as a group of two to four, they’ve been able to prepare the site and construct a bridge in less than a morning.

Part of the new section – no bridge needed here

It’s corny, but the bridge building has closed the gap between elders and youth, the trail to the community, and outside partners to the nation. The young folks will step across their bridges and on towards a future full of multiple possibilities due to the skills they’re learning. I’ve got something in my eye, sniff…

“Is he crying again?” “Yup!”

I can’t believe how quickly the summer is passing, and we’ve so much more to build! We had to down tools yesterday, and probably today, due to some very heavy rain and potentially strong wind gusts – the advice is forest-based work is high risk in these conditions. Still, when we head out there next week, we’ll be confident the raised sections are high and dry, in a good way, and we will see where drainage channels are needed.

“When can I come and see the bridges? They’re wooden? Can I chew them?”

Next week, I’ll include a photograph of a series of bridges built close together. I took a rushed photo in the rain earlier, but it’s mostly of my thumb. Next time…

Under construction – sleepers and stringers going in

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