Not Taken With An Apple iPhone

This picture was not taken with an Apple iPhone. This is the class of 1976, I was in Grade 1 at the time.

I am sitting in the front row, with red socks, a yellow shirt and an appealing haircut.

And here I am again, third from the right in the middle row,in the grey turtleneck. This is Grade 3, 1978:

Mungo wonders how the time has gone by so quickly.

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Holy Cow this is the last Friday Night

Holy cow,

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium we will spend in this condominium.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I will walk Monty here along Lakeshore watching the cars drive by.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium watching bad television, hoping a good movie will come on.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium before the last weekend.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I drive down the DVP into the downtown core to get home.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I spend thinking about snippets of events that happened to me at work.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I close the balcony door as it gets later because it gets cool enough that the sound of the highway beside us changes the equation.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I drive along to the Loblaws at the end of the street to buy our weekend groceries before I settle in for the evening.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I buy a bottle of wine from the LCBO there.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I slowly drive along Queen's Quay in traffic, watching people walk towards the parks there, and watching familiar faces stroll the sidewalks.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I run into neighbours in the elevators telling me they've heard we're moving and that they'll miss us.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium Monty makes the acquaintance of the concierge and the security guards and they tickle him under the chin and he plants himself wiggling at their feet.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I look out over the island airport and watch planes land.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium Spring lays in bed and reads her book.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium we talk about our day at work and the week ahead.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium that we sit and banish the thoughts of the day from our minds as we focus on tv or books or food or drink.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I go up the elevator.

This is the last Friday evening at this condominium I go down the elavator.

Holy cow.

Monty and his Knee

I am dropping Monty off at the Veterinary clinic next Monday evening, and Tuesday morning he'll have his knee operated on. Poor little guy. We'll pick him up Thursday, and he'll come straight to our new home - backyard and all.

Please send him wishes and get well soon cards or e-mails.

Mungo Says Bah - and hopes his knee recovers soon.

Civil War

So here is what I am thinking right now:

When I was 8 years old, my sister and I were sitting at the kitchen table at lunch time at home. We lived a block from school and would come home occasionally and spend time with my mother who would read us another chapter of a book - anything from Danny Champion of the World, to the Narnia stories and more. It was wonderful. It brought me to other worlds and countries and perfectly written moments in time.

Sometimes we would have conversations that would range to other issues, and I think at one point the radio was on and was detailing the civil war in Lebanon - in Beirut. 1978. We didn't understand what this was about - my only understanding of war was from heroic war stories in the English comic books I regularly devoured. My mum asked us to imagine our neighbour chasing our father, and shooting at him, or dad having to chase and kill our neighbour. My sister began to cry and I just remember quietly and suddenly realizing the sheer, local and corporeal horror of war.

Just now I was watching 60 Minutes and the correspondent was interviewing family members of a Sunni and then separately of a Shi-ite family in Baghdad. One family had been caught in crossfire on Haifa street for days, a particularly traumatic time for them. Later as the correspondent interviewed them, she asked a teenage girl what a particularly violent experience she had witnessed was like for her. She lifted her eyes to begin to talk and then dropped her eyes and began to weep. Separately the correspondent asked a 50 year old father how he felt about having had so many of relatives killed - 14 of them. He lost his composure and began to weep.

Every day in the New York Times I read about more car bombings and scores of bodies and snipers in Baghdad, in other cities around Iraq - and just tune these concepts, these stories out. I can't allow myself to connect with each event - who could?

Reducing the Mess of Camping.

I thought this post on the Moose Dung Gazette about the Leave No Trace mentality during camping and outdoor activities was a good one. While it certainly is hard to reduce one's pollution 'footprint' when both planning for and camping in the backcountry, there are things I can do to reduce my impact on the environment. I especially like the idea of getting wool and canvas items from a second-hand shop, like the Salvation Army thrift store etc.. when getting equipment and clothing and bedding. Cheap, but good quality materials that last and keep you warm. If you wash an old wool sweater in very hot water, you end up getting a warm, tight felt that can be reused for a number of items, including mitts and kit bags etc...

I always leaving a site cleaner that I find it. I pack out plastic and try not to buy food with too much packaging. One thing about camping stores it seems is the amount of packaging on every item. Hence making good use of second hand stores. Better to bring rice and pasta, than pre-cooked instant meals and MRE type foods. I guess cans are okay, of course as long as you carefully pack it all out again.

Keeping your camp clean also ensures that wildlife does not become habituated to human presence. A fed bear is a dead bear. However, a fed chipmunk can be pretty cute. A fed raccoon can be pretty annoying after a while though - I've had a very confident raccoon get into my garbage and practically sidle up beside me while I have a meal by the fire - I suppose having the hound dog with me this year will prevent similar situations.

Mungo says be environmentally conscious this summer as best you can.

Writing, Weaving Words and Cordage

The last few days have been rather busy, and I haven't made much time to write. In fact, I really do not write as much as I would like - I hope to set more time aside to do this. The funny thing about blogs is that they do not support much polishing and cleaning up of writing. There is a 'draft' mode, but I guess I do not really use this much. I wonder what it would be like to be a professional author. Getting paid to write - to clarify and expound upon the thoughts we all have. I work with journalists (quite indirectly) at my work, and they get paid to write, to research, to think and to put forth words. I get paid to write, research, to think and to put forth words too, I guess, but it is of a more business nature that I do this. I also do other things, like set up infrastructure and software and technology solutions to attain business goals. I create charts and graphs and matrices of information for reporting and for organizing teams and to ensure programs are overseen and projects are understood by all and implemented on time, on scope, on budget. I guess the type of writer I would like to be is one who gets to wonder aloud. I read a great book by Bill Bryson called "A Walk in the Woods":
"Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The Appalachian Trail offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes--and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there's the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz's overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson's acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods is destined to become a modern classic of travel literature."

The review from The Washingon Post Book World is perfect - they write that the book is "Choke-on-your-coffee funny." I remember reading it out on the balcony last summer, and nearly choking on my orange juice - getting orange juice in your sinuses is most unpleasant and astringent. I would love to write like Bill Bryson. He peppers his books with facts about biology and science, ethnobotany, and fun interesting pieces of history and geography. Now that's good readin'. I recommend this book to anyone who loves hiking and camping and nature and narratives - and a little choking on beverages.

Some time ago I wrote a little bit on a survival show that Discovery Channel hosts called 'Man Versus Wild'. It follows manufactured adventures of an ex-special forces British guy who shows off survival tips in the wild. I found it to be rather sensational and quite unrealistic. It bugged me. And at the same time, I could pretend it was me doing these things - but more carefully and thoughtfully and all the while calmly enjoying the outdoors. A fellow from New Hampshire named Tim who writes a blog called The Moose Dung Gazette got in touch with me the other day. He e-mailed me and said he understood where I was coming from, that he was actually the survival consultant on the show and that he from time to time tried to tell the producers of the show how implausible certain things were - but they said "It's TV" and left it at that. I can understand that, working where I work (at a broadcasting company). As our e-mail conversation went on, it turns out that he actually wrote to Dick Proenneke (I had written how I would love to to live in Alaska, and enjoyed the movie "Alone in the Wilderness"). Dick Proenneke wrote back to him and now Tim uses it as a bookmark in his copy of the book "Alone in the Wilderness". Tim teaches survival courses in New Hampshire, and turns out later this summer Mors Kochanski is coming down there to teach. Kochanski wrote the classic "Bushcraft" which I am presently resting my wrists upon as I type this post, in order to ward off carpal tunnel mayhem. I might decide to go to New Hampshire in the summer and take "An intense, five-day course on living and surviving in summer. Topics of instruction include:

* Dressing for the elements
* Making, using and living with fire, including igniting fire by friction, percussion (flint and steel), refraction, and air compression, wet weather fires and more.
* Shelters applicable and practical with regard to the northwoods in summer
* Crafting useful items such as a packframe, friction fire set, bucksaw frame, quickie longbow, sharpening kit and more.
* Making cordage, making rope with primitive spinners and with a rope machine, essential knots
* Edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful wild plants and making a plant collection.
* Knife, axe and saw safety and efficient use.
* Campfire cooking and baking
* Nets and netmaking
* Tracking and pouring track casts"

That would be amazing. Let's see how the summer goes. I want to take Spring for a summer vacation first though - maybe a beach somewhere. Or maybe Paris.

Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84 - So It Goes.

Kurt Vonnegut put words in my head years and years and years ago and they have remained as furniture in there ever since. Now, he's dead.

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

Breakfast of Champions (1973)

To be
the eyes
and ears
and conscience
of the Creator of the Universe,
you fool.

Kilgore Trout's unwritten reply to the question "What is the purpose of life?"

The waitress brought me another drink. She wanted to light my hurricane lamp again. I wouldn't let her. "Can you see anything in the dark, with your sunglasses on?" she asked me.
"The big show is inside my head," I said.

So it goes.

A Backyard Soon

20 days and counting until we move in... Wahoo!

I intend to grow potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a vegetable garden which I shall make. Spring will supervise while sitting in a chair in the sun, sipping on lemonade.


Camping Chairs & Moving House

We are moving out of our condominium and moving into our new house on May 1st. We are trying to sell some nice Ikea furniture before moving, including bookshelves, coffee and kitchen tables, an office chair, a file cabinet, other chairs, and other bits and pieces, so let me know if you are interested.

When I am camping, I sit in a folding camping chair while reading because I find it very comfortable - it is a luxury, I know, and I feel guilty transporting it in the canoe.

I suppose if I were camping long enough, I would build a nice chair out of branches and such. Here are 2 designs I suppose I could build fairly easily:

This camping chair would require 2 planks of wood, which I could roughly hew from a log - it could be fairly comfortable, as long as the planks were wide enough:

The other option would be this one illustrated below, but of course building this and the one above requires time and patience. Either way, they'd be rather satisfying projects - maybe I'll try it next time and post photos...


It's Cold Today

It is cold outside.

Snow was falling before while I was taking Monty out for his mid-afternoon walk.

We're all hibernating inside today, Spring is ready, Monty is snoozing in the light of the living room by the balcony window, and I have just watched 'Children of Men'.

Think I'll watch an episode of Ray Mears Bushcraft. I have them all in .avi format on my computer.

Tomorrow - Easter dinner at my sister's.

Before that though, we're off to see the new house to finish up some business. Can't wait to see it again!

3 weeks until Monty goes in for his surgery on his knee.

3 weeks until we move in to the new house.

Lots happening.


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