Tidal

Once a month, on a Wednesday at midday, the local tsunami warning system is tested. Loudspeakers wail, a disembodied voice booms over the water, up and down the inlet, and we get a voicemail and text from the district, letting us know it is a test, and to get to higher ground in the event of the real thing. The system works, but I do worry what would happen if there was a tsunami on a Wednesday lunchtime. Suppose we all shrug and carry on, thinking it is a test…

On the Hitacu side, looking down inlet

With the end of the current school year almost upon us, afternoon learning support has become even better attended than usual, with a tidal wave of teens flooding our little learning hub, keen to study then take final tests before summer washes over them.

Our up and down temperatures up and down the tidal inlet are leaning more to up. Yes, sometimes the skies may be grey, but the warmth of the sun radiates through, making for slightly muggy days, and slightly more mosquitoes. Got my first bite of the season, and I wasn’t fishing for it.

Warmer than it appears

I’ve taken to dragging a chair out of the office at lunchtime, to sit and eat overlooking the bay, bugs and all. Food tastes better outdoors, and if there is a slight tinge and taste of bug spray, I pretend it’s a lemony dressing, and the mosquitoes pretend to be bothered.

Entirely bug free

My bear sightings are trending up, although I suspect I am seeing the same bear each time, given it is in the same location as last week, and not looking any larger or smaller. The bear has moved, so I know I’m not imagining it or mistaking an old stump for a bruin…

Shortly after writing, I spotted a different bear! The black blob lower centre right above? That’s a bear avoiding a photo shoot. National Geographic, I do understand, but really, please don’t call, the bear is very busy…

Not so much to report this week, but the ebb and flow of early summer life is pleasant enough, and we’re looking forward to more of the same as we head to the solstice.

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

Tactician

We’re getting ready for summer, putting the finishing touches to learning programs that might – or might not! – engage young minds through the long hot days ahead. See photo below for long hot summer days preview:

Oh. Or chilly misty mornings, but we’re getting ready for summer take off!

It will warm up, then even more mist will appear, as it does during the summer months here. Our time in the school garden has been going well, with bursts of colour inside the greenhouse making up for the occasional damp and chilly mornings. It’s humid in there, and the nasturtiums seem to like it!

We like the sultry heat! And we’re good to eat!

The beds of kale are a big hit with the young gardeners I accompany. Young ones don’t like greens? Not true, especially if they’ve a hand (or foot or two) in the original planting. Kale grows quickly, and it has to the way it is being grazed by hungry gardeners. Do you like kale? Kale, yeah!

Kale yeah, we like it!

I’m not much of a gardener, or haven’t been in the past, beyond a vegetable patch when we’ve lived in sunnier spots. It’s been fun to learn alongside the budding farmers and growers, figuring out what grows where, or when to plant for best results in a less sunny climate and shortish growing season. Not everything works, but we’ve plotted carefully, and our tactics mostly pay off. You can’t eat laughter, but it’s a different kind of nourishment, and this makes my day every time.

Summer is hiding around here somewhere…

Looking forward to summer? Kale, yeah! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

One more burst of colour!

It had to happen…

…I’ve found a beer style that is, in my opinion, impossible to enjoy.

I don’t mention it very often, and this will be news to many readers, but I’m partial to trying a new beer or two over the course of a weekend. I’m not too fond of sours, or beers that have been flavoured with oddball ingredients or too much fruit. I find too much alcohol leaves a burn that is hard to enjoy. An ABV somewhere between 4 and 7.5% is just fine by me. Hops? Yum! Ridiculously hopped? Sometimes yum! At the other end of the spectrum, malty or dark beers are jolly good, particularly in the winter months. Or summer months. Oh ok, spring and fall also.

Springtime? Beer season.

So yes to beer overall, but no to my most recent exploration. I tried the beer in the following photograph, and after the first optimistic sip – new beer = high expectations – thought my beer enjoyment taste buds (the medical term is BETBs, as reported in reputable medical journals) had broken. Cue medical panic. Is there a doctor in the house? A nurse? A nurse with a doctorate? Yes. Dr. Mrs. PC, RN to the rescue. While I tried to communicate through mime (having lost the power of speech due to this “beer” removing the layer of BETBs) Dr. PC took a sip and made a face. The one that said so who didn’t read the tasting notes before purchase?

No, no, no, no, no. And no. I didn’t like this one. No. Not at all. It isn’t beer. It’s a salt shaker. But with more salt. Nope, can’t think of anything positive. Not yum. A BETB killer. Not recommended. Just say no.

Obviously, being incapacitated due to the medical reasons explained above, I was unable to say it was me failing to read the tasting notes. I didn’t know salt water is the primary ingredient in a gose beer. Actually, salt water isn’t the primary ingredient. Salt is. Other ingredients such as water, or hops are mostly an afterthought.

Pleasant distraction

In the interests of public health, and as a safety information service to fellow beer lovers yet to “enjoy” a gose, I’ll say don’t. Don’t bother. Don’t do it. Just say no! That last one always works in public health messaging from governments not prepared to invest in proper health promotion. Best stop that, let’s not go on a rant about public healthcare under certain governments. Anyway, that’s Dr. Mrs. PC’s area of expertise, not mine. I’m better left with making (sometimes bad) beer choices and reacting in a suitably responsible manner when it goes wrong.

Ripple pattern on a beach? Or a photo from a learned medical journal of a tongue with severe BETB damage? I’m not a doctor, but it seems clear to me…

You don’t believe my public health messaging? You think that the gose style is something you could gose for? Ok, on your head and damaged BETBs be it. If you really, really have to try a gose, yet can’t find one anywhere, go to your store cupboard, take out the salt, pour yourself a generous spoonful and start eating. It’ll actually be more pleasant than a gose, a close enough approximation, and you’ll have saved yourself a few pennies and some major disappointment.

Before I go, you’ll be wanting a medical update, because I think I’m right in saying there’s nothing more interesting than an early middle aged person talking about their medical ailments? Fair enough, and thanks for asking – my BETBs have made a full recovery just in time for this weekend. I’ve learned my lesson, and will totally not be trying anything odd sounding or too experimental on the beer front. Oh look, now what’s this?

Oh no, not another generic plum and rosemary saison…(actually, it was yum!)

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

A dragon?

Why not? Too strange? Perhaps not – wasn’t there a paranoid maniacal mango with delusions about trying to rule the world making headlines not so long ago? Exactly! Dragons then, not so far fetched…

A dragon’s skull

We planned to go for a long walk in the sunshine last weekend, choosing Sunday as the better sunny day. It turned out, meteorological magician that I am, we should have gone on Saturday. However, going on the slightly colder and misty day meant we had a dragon encounter all to ourselves, the beach being very empty. No visitors due to public health restrictions, or a well fed dragon? Seems clear to me.

Wary dog approaching the dragon

The following paragraph contains spoilers. A young reader I’ve been enjoying books with has recently taken to a series of “what if?” nature books. What if a rhino fought a hippo? Or a lion took on a tiger? A great hook to engage reluctant readers, with lots of photos, facts and figures to help us try and reach an answer. It’s the hippo, if you were wondering. No, really, the hippo! I won’t spoil the large cat one. Our favourite so far has been King Cobra vs Komodo Dragon. I backed the dragon. I was wrong.

What creature can defeat a dragon?

Anyway, I’ll be honest – in case you’re thinking is he losing it? – the dragon we saw last weekend wasn’t a real live dragon. Come on, when did you last see a dragon outside of Game of Thrones? No, this was a dead dragon, or the skull of a dead dragon. Evidence? Look at the photos for the evidence.

Close up – definitely deceased

I checked with my reading buddy, and we’re still learning, but it seems pretty clear to us there are dragon killing cobras somewhere nearby, and we’re going to be very watchful next time we’re out there.

Just the one and then an early night for you, OPC

A short post this week, as I clearly need to rest, catch up on sleep, and finish making my suit of armour.

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

Lighter

Setting out, there’s a little more light in the morning, and when I’m heading home, it is slightly less dark each evening. I’m drinking less beer and eating less chocolate. Throw in the transition events of Wednesday this past week, and it’s safe to say I’m feeling lighter. It’s also safe to say one of the previous sentences isn’t entirely true. You decide…

Light

Anyway, I think the world is a tiny bit safer, and things are a touch brighter. I know, and it’s an adjustment for many of us, but I’m being almost optimistic.

We spent part of last weekend on Long Beach, enjoying some sun, and wondering as we were wandering how the Biden/Harris inauguration might go. We settled for signs of things improving, and hoping there’d be no repeat or echo of January 6th.

Coffee stop. No chocolate?!

Later in the week, I was in the school garden with a future horticulturalist, and he noticed a bulb about to burst into colour. He was so excited! Due to the pandemic and a construction zone right outside the garden location (seismic upgrades and a new building to improve the two schools) the garden hasn’t been well tended the past year, so it was promising to see new growth emerging from the tangle.

Bright enough ahead

Did you hear Amanda Gorman perform her poem this week? Click on the link if you missed it or would like to enjoy it once more. Hopeful? I think we can be.

One last thing from Wednesday, and it certainly made me smile – did you see Bernie Sanders’ mittens? And some of the humour they inspired? It’s worth following the link, it really is. My favourite was:

I laughed!

A corner turned, and much work to be done, but doesn’t it feel good to be heading in a better direction? With a map? And people who can read it?

Almost optimistic. Maybe I’ll have a beer and, who knows, a cube of chocolate? Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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!

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!

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!