Montreal

I’m on a hedonistic, city-level capitalistic bender of an adventure.  It’s not productive at all.  It’s not well thought out, and is completely indulgent.  I have lots of things I could be up to at home, but I lit out on this adventure to make the break from working decisive.  It is that.  Since it’s not really underwritten by a mission, it’s kind of relaxing.

Work was hard this March and April and my response to that for decompression was correspondingly extreme- going to Montreal to catch a UFC fight.  Hitchhiking home would have been productive, to spark more book work, but my awesome brother ferreted out that VIA was having a 60% off fare sale, and so I’m going home on the train.  Another tick off the list.  I’ve always wanted to take this train.

But I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week surrounded by people, walking around Canada’s biggest cities, navigating the undergrounds, shopping, and searching for nutrition in concrete jungles.  It’s not only a sharp contrast to how I intend to live my life (and do), but it’s an immersion in things I morally disagree with.
Continue reading Montreal

Biodiesel!

Unreasonably excited about the first fill-up with Bio!

It went like this.  I asked everyone I thought of, “where can you get biodiesel around here?”.  Anyone driving diesels, when I was hitchhiking, anyone who looked vaguely alternative.  Most people knew where Bio used to be available,  and a few people said “there’s someone in the valley making it.”  But no one knew more than that.  Then one person had a name. “There’s a guy in the valley making it.  I think his name’s Chris.”  Then a couple more people also knew his first name.  Still, not enough to go on.

On my way through the valley with a friend to go to the hot springs, we stopped at the health food store for halvah and to ask about Bio.  “oh yeah, I think his name’s Chris Summers.  And here’s a phone book”  Waahahaha (the sound of sunbeams parting clouds)

We were at his house in minutes.  A dollar a litre, here’s a funnel.  This family is so fully in production, with 1000s of litres ready to go,  it’s astonishing to me that so few people for so long could put me in touch with him.  FYI for locals- phone book under Vallican, and he’s in the Pennywise.  You can buy 5 gallon containers to go, and he visits Nelson weekly to exchange empties for fulls, so it really couldn’t be easier.

I was absolutely ecstatic to pour Bio in the tank for the first time. That’s what I got this truck for, after all.  Felt so good and freeing, to be at the end of a recycling loop, instead of counting km and feeling answerable for every one in terms of global cost.  Do I really need to drive this today?  Total weight off my mind to finally find my source!

It seemed to me the needle was moving more slowly, too, but I’ll have to run a few tanks scientifically to know for sure.

Just as I’m about to leave for my ridiculous mission, the sun warms the grass and the air seems full of life and I’m touched with enthusiasm for rending and tearing and building.  I’ve been so buried in work I haven’t wanted to force anything else into my overcrowded brain.  But I had a look at the barn I need to work on and found it patiently and hopefully waiting to be shucked from its shell of disrepair and turned into something cute.  So much potential!

I need to create an envelope of insulated living space to move my stuff into it.  I’m thinking rockwool insulation, canvas instead of drywall, a couple patio doors replacing the barn doors for some passive solar.  Definitely bedroom in the loft.  Composting toilet.   I’m planning to partition the giant space and make a smaller habitat at first, that can be expanded later.  I’m still mulling over the plumbing.  How much is enough?

Then there’s the garden.  There are a number of retired gardens, all owned by grass again.  I’ve got my eye on the old pond.  The ruined liner is tattered, but the earth beneath is black and rhizome free because of the water and poly.  It would make a lovely terraced garden, and in the middle of the horse paddock, it’s already fenced for deer. The obvious downfall is that the depression will be a cold sink, with all the coldest air around pooling there, frosting earlier as well.

Then I can move on to camper renovations.

New Place.

Moved the scamper to the new place!  Kevin approves.  It’s fantastic to sleep every night like camping.  The cool clean air is rich, the stars in the extra-dark country sky are magnificent, and waking up in the yellow dawn and mist among trees is sometimes still like dreaming.

Pumpkin seeds

Washing pumpkin seeds before the last pumpkin pies of the year from my modest garden.  These were very nice sweet pie pumpkins with rich golden orange flesh, and I look forward to growing next year from the saved seeds.  Just thinking of how many pumpkins the seeds from one pumpkin could produce, and then how many pumpkins the following year…it’s as boggling as counting stars!

I drove to Ontario with my cat.  I was going to stay a month so I had to bring her.  I also brought two passengers from the rideshare board, to mitigate the environmental impact, maybe.  I just couldn’t be a single occupant vehicle for 3000 miles.

It was just during the coldest snap of the winter, when Regina was seeing -35C.  Almost miraculously, we didn’t see one speck of precipitation the whole transit.  And the coldest weather was scuttling away in front of us, or something, because the coldest my outdoor thermometer ever read was -22C. 

My right hand drive caused a bit of a frenzy at a truck stop in Northern Ontario.  A half dozen friendly natives were swarmed around, looking at everything inside, asking questions all at once and exclaiming in amazement.  They were just thrilled.

We drove the north route as one of my passengers was headed into Quebec.  After we left him, the girl and I were sitting up front talking when we passed a big billboard proclaiming “Book Store 75% off” .  We sighed together and looked at the time.  It was just after six, there wasn’t a chance that a small town book store would still be open.  Sigh, alas.

A half hour later, she bursts out, pointing to the right, “Hey that was it!  The lights are on!  And there’s cars.”  I screeched to a halt and whipped a Uey (or the transCanada equivalent), and we went back to it.  Open!  Until eight!  Oh frabjous day!

What. A. Bookstore.  Continue reading

Olympic excess

The fastest, bottom corner of the course

Took a tour of the Sliding Centre, where luge, skeleton, and bobsleigh events happen.  This was illuminating, and not only because it was very brightly lit.  I had to wonder why flash photography was verboten when the lights are so bright, and the luge athletes aren’t looking where they’re going anyways.  They memorize the course, because looking up slows you down.

The luge course is absolutely a feat of engineering.  A km and a half long, a four story drop just into the first corner, and athletes reaching speeds around 158 km/hr and hitting 5Gs.  However, the infrastructure to do this is hyperbolic. A building the size of an arena is for refrigeration- just to cool the course and allow ice to be built.  Pipes for the ammonia coolant run from the building the length of the (km and half) concrete and steel structure of the course.  The entire course is not just brilliantly lit, roofed for safety (so no one goes flying out of the track), wired for electronic speed and start/finish sensors that measure thousandths of seconds, but because the sun can change the quality of the ice, or snow can interfere, the whole course has blinds (not unlike roll-down window shades) to cover the open side, which if needed, will be vigorously manned by a large workforce who will roll them up for the cameras as riders pass, and then pull them back down to protect the precious (hand-groomed! and “spritzed”!) course from the elements.  Seriously. Continue reading Olympic excess

I was expecting chaos, mayhem, and frantic over-budget preparation, but Whistler is ready.  What construction is still on is placid and small-scale.  In fact, the only work-related phrases I overheard were “ahead of schedule, almost done, let’s take a break”, and “totally primed.”  Whistler is almost holding its breath for the onslaught, I think, but it sure seems ready.

My steez here was to find out what my job description was, and to sort out a place for my bro and I to live during the Games.  Done, and not done.  I’ve been chewing through my cell minutes, driving to and fro the breadth of Whistler, studying maps and knocking on doors.  Sigh.  I’ve learned a great deal, and am very glad I made this mission.  It’s invaluable to learn the town so well while I can still drive everywhere and park everywhere, and I wangled my way through the front line of security at the Athlete’s Village to meet the right people and get a sense of what I’ll be doing Games-time.

Accommodation on the other hand… I was parking in different neighborhoods and knocking on doors, randomly- a very humbling experience.  I was forcing myself to knock on the doors of the really nice homes, too, since I’ve learned from hitchhiking that the prosperous are often very nice and generous- perhaps those attributes contribute to prosperity.  People were unfailingly nice to the strange mendicant on their doorstep in the dark, generous with advice, and I got to hear many peoples’ opinions of their neighbors, neighborhoods, and the Games.  Continue reading

Off to Whistler


Made a headlong dash for Whistler this weekend.  Going to Whistler before the Games was something I “had to do”, but when the time came, I had a lot of resistance and put it off and put it off.  Oh well, we made it out, feeling unprepared and leaving too late, but as long as it gets done.

After an eight hour drive shared with my friend on thankfully bare roads in the passes, a fantastic meal in Van that included seafood and Bailey’s ice cream, and a sleepover on a king sized bed, I was off for Whistler solo.

I’m so glad for Stanley Park.  It really is a jewel in the city, and somehow that abundant lushness dampens the buzzing of frantic city energy, if just for the moments of passing through it.  Even the token postage stamp of a forest that it is still puts the rat race in perspective, as the canopy dwarfs the traffic and the bucked up windfall on the side of the road reminds of the strength of natural forces.  Then you roll out of that reprieve onto the threshold of Lion’s Gate bridge, rather a beautiful sample of engineering.

The Sea to Sky is finished now.  There’s a little bit of falling rock remediation happening still, but the new highway is a far cry from the last time I drove it- in white knuckled terror trying to keep the speed of traffic in an endless narrow lane on a wildly curving road all construction zone with high-hoes swinging over traffic and equipment perched on the edges of cliffs and rocks with only the Pacific behind them. Continue reading Off to Whistler

Happy about living naturally